From Rust to Sawdust: Construction Facts

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There are parallels between construction and manufacturing, and they are increasing all the time. The lines between construction and manufacturing have blurred. Disparate companies are inspiring each other. Considering the advantages of manufacturing-type processes, that age-old question, “Why would I change anything?” becomes “Why wouldn’t I change?”

In the “Rust Belt” – that swath of the US that starts in New York and passes through Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and ends in Wisconsin – unused manufacturing facilities have been retooled to accommodate different products than they made in the past. In the Bridging the Gap podcast, “The Inspiring Actions of Manufacturing,” Bianca Holtier Coury explained that old facilities have been put back to work and repurposed. This change was brought about by the challenging times of 2020, and they spurred new energy and revived creativity. The resulting revitalization and economic growth shone a spotlight on what we have in this country: a unifying spirit to help other people and invest in employees. Technology, specifically automation and robotics, has become the unifier bridging these two industries.


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About a half-century ago, the manufacturing industry desperately needed to retool its processes and become leaner and more efficient. Now the construction industry is realizing the benefits of efficient manufacturing methods. More and more construction companies are envisioning the “new possible” spurred by methods like modular construction, offsite construction and prefabrication. As pointed out in the Forbes article, “Assembly Required: Construction Is The New Manufacturing,” 3D modeling, the eight processes that are included in additive manufacturing, plus digitized processes are moving the industry in the direction of assembling constituent parts rather than building from scratch onsite. And that is not only because of production pressures.

Manufacturing-esque processes enable more efficient and safer construction. They enable a company to invest in the skills of its people. They also help companies master site logistics and can help reduce outside forces that slow construction progress and present hazards, for instance the weather. The trio of offsite, prefab and modular enable companies to refine processes while building structures to last.

Prefabrication is straightforward, more tidy in terms of wasted materials and can accommodate sustainable practices. Prefab increases productivity and helps with tighter scheduling of expensive rental equipment, reducing the wasted expense of downtime. In addition, cash flow is more predictable, leading to profitability – something that has motivated many an owner to make the required mental shift to implementing these changed workflows. In considering manufacturing types of processes, planning, setting priorities and scheduling take a front seat.

When challenges hit the construction industry, we see how resilient and creative its people can be. While change might threaten to overwhelm them, a huddle with teams can communicate what’s possible and bring clarity and a greater sense of purpose. 


If you’re looking for a partner to help you identify inefficiencies and improve processes in your company, contact Applied Software today. Let the experts of Applied help you prepare to take on more work when opportunity comes to call.

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