Case Studies 2021

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Are Robots Taking Over Construction Sites?

Are Robots Taking Over Construction Sites?

As the world progressively marches towards more and more automation, would it be arrogant of the construction world to assume that jobs are untouchable, or is there a very realistic chance that robotic construction is going to transform the building world? We know that robotic building is on the rise, with some reports suggesting that use of robotics in construction will grow by 25% annually through 2023. There are definite benefits to using robotics in construction… · No sick days – on a big job this reduces a lot of lost time · Consistent performance – a predictable rate of construction, allowing deadlines to be accurately predicted and kept to · Easier management – no delays with contracts, site licences, proof of qualifications and associated paperwork · Reduced back end costs – fewer project support administrators, significantly less management time and reduction in salary requirements · Limited ongoing costs – machinery doesn’t require ongoing salary, so it’s a largely one-off cost · Fewer wasted materials through human error · Longer working days possible – machines don’t need breaks and aren’t subject to labour laws · Faster work output – machines are capable of working faster than humans, reducing build times Despite these benefits, does this mean that construction as a whole will become solely reliant on machinery, or is there a future for tradesmen? Human workers are still needed The reality is that although many jobs can be done quickly and accurately by robots, the technology just isn’t in place for them to do everything – nor is it likely to ever be. Wiring, plumbing, roofing and internal joinery are just too far beyond the reach of robotic technology and will remain so for a long time. There are also the issues concerning navigation of a building site. They’re not perfectly-formed, flat-surfaced rooms. They’re uneven, sometimes chaotic and difficult to navigate. These are big problems for robots at the moment, so construction workers need not think about retraining any time soon! What tasks are robots capable of currently? With present technology, robots are capable of doing simple, repeatable tasks in a clear environment. For example robots can lay bricks quickly and neatly. They can plaster fresh walls and they can paint walls with a great finish. That sounds good in theory, but even here there are human interferences required. These machines have to be manned, programmed, have their materials topped up etc. It’s not as simple as plug in and away it goes. They can’t think for themselves, they can’t problem-solve and they can’t liaise with a client to make on the job changes. Predicting the future It’d be wrong to dismiss the impact of robotics in construction – they’re here to stay and their role will only get bigger. The likelihood is they’ll largely be kept to the new build, large-construction sites. This will help large construction companies operate more accurately and will allow projects to be completed quicker. In theory it should also drive down the price of construction as there are fewer labour and material costs to meet. The domestic market just won’t have the budgets or requirements for much in the way of machinery. They’re also not going to be suitable for intricate work such as plumbing, wiring, hanging doors, repairing rooves etc for a long time so just simply won’t be an effective replacement for tradesmen. Making contract management simple Robotics should make life significantly easier for project managers to control labour and costs. For help with contract management on your construction jobs, call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com or visit www.mpsprocess.com.

Do All Building Infrastructure Contracts Overrun?

Do All Building Infrastructure Contracts Overrun?

One of the biggest cliches in construction is that building projects aren’t delivered on time or on budget. It doesn’t matter what level of construction you look at, whether it’s a small domestic extension or a huge national infrastructure project, there’s an overwhelming likelihood that contracts overrun and costs can spiral. Common causes of contract delays and overspend are environmental, technological failings, poor project management, staffing issues, opposing views and differing expectations between stakeholders. Research by McKinsey and Co shows that 98% of projects overrun and costs blow out of control – average overspend on large global construction projects in the research data set was 80%. This was data collected from many developed-world nations, so it’s not a third-world issue where technology and supply chains may be to blame. This information casts the construction industry in an awful light and opens up a lot of questions… ● Why does this keep happening? ● Is contract management not effective enough? ● Are material costs under-quoted? ● Is construction slower than we think it is? ● What variable costs are we not considering in project forecasting? ● Is a large enough labour force recruited in time? This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it shows a small sample of the considerations you need to have before engaging in an infrastructure project. Beware of ambition There’s an assumption that many projects are delivered late and over budget because of ambitious bidding. In an attempt to win work, many construction companies will promise quicker time frames and reduced job costs. Whilst this may look impressive on a tender bid, the question has to be asked how they can promise the work on time and on budget? Understanding the fundamental workings of a job can prevent future frustrations and difficult conversations with stakeholders. If bidding parties are cutting costs by reducing labour force and promising low material costs, these are often out of the control of a contractor, so a plan needs to be in place for unexpected cost rises or delays. Being upfront about timescales and enforcing financial penalties for underperformance and delays will often reduce ‘project creep’ where the focus is lost and timescales are allowed to slide. Solving infrastructure project delays Whilst there is seldom one single reason for project delays and spiralling costs, one of the fundamental issues is with the organisation of contract management and delivery. In an industry where delivery is on a project-to-project basis, open communication and tight project management is fundamental. An issue in construction for too long has been poor contract management. A lack of clear communication between relevant parties, deliverables not being met and an absence of consequence for late or over-budget work can allow collective standards to slip. To help avoid these issues, Management Process Systems created the contract management software CCM. This allows project managers to effectively communicate with stakeholders and construction companies to ensure smooth delivery of an infrastructure project. CCM makes communication much smoother, helping to avoid a major hurdle to smooth construction project delivery. For more information call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com or visit www.mpsprocess.com.

Are We Suffering Supply Chain Issues As a Result of Covid?

Are We Suffering Supply Chain Issues As a Result of Covid?

All across the construction industry, building firms both large and small are struggling to procure materials at usual prices and times. The downstream effect this has on the industry is enormous, because it puts pressure on delivery times, margins and project management. Whether working on small domestic extensions or large scale infrastructure projects, the ability to get hold of materials at expected prices and lead times has caused additional headaches for construction companies and project managers alike. Dealing with the perfect storm of supply issues Construction firms are dealing with a perfect storm of problems at the moment, forcing them to act to protect supply chains. These problems have come from both expected and unexpected sources… ● Record low interest rates have lowered the cost of money to fund construction projects, which has seen an uptick in demand ● Covid closed down manufacturing plants the world over, reducing production of timber, steel, cement, plaster products and piping ● Brexit trade delays have seen goods from the continent delayed at the channel border ● The Suez Canal delay was something nobody saw coming, but has had significant (if short term) impacts on the delivery of Asian steel and materials. In order to cope with these issues, construction firms have had to stockpile materials when they become available. The problem of course is that this creates shortages and drives prices up, impacting the wider industry and makes the problems of material supply and price worse. The only real winners in this scenario are the merchants, who are seeing record profits. Even then, they are having to disappoint customers with long lead times and limited supplies. Supply chain issues and rising prices There is widespread reporting of the inflationary pressures on building materials. Basic supply and demand have seen prices of timber rise 80%, steel and copper rise 40% and paints rise up to 60%. This has squeezed margins for construction companies and has seen the price of construction work rise rapidly. The impact affects everyone in this circumstance, so the industry is hopeful normality will resume soon. Post-pandemic supply chains will look dramatically different. The flaws in the current system have been exposed, so governments and businesses will seek to address these issues by increasing domestic production of materials. The over-reliance on offshore supply of essential goods has put many countries on the back foot. Some sectors of the construction industry have benefitted from the short term price hikes, but the wider industry has suffered from the high prices and lack of availability of essential materials. If we’re going to build our way out of the Covid setback, we have to ensure our construction firms are able to procure materials quickly and at reasonable prices. Project Management Support With current additional problems of supply and margin pressures, construction projects have never been more difficult to manage. By using the MPS contract management software you can make a tough job significantly easier, staying abreast of all aspects of contract management regardless of whether you are using NEC3, NEC4 , FIDIC or JCT. For more information call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com or visit www.mpsprocess.com.

How To Spot Trends From Contract Data You Already Have!

How To Spot Trends From Contract Data You Already Have!

It’s no secret that the majority of construction projects overrun their budget. Indeed, research shows that 98% of building projects in the UK run into budget problems. Cutting costs and saving money is not always an easy task, particularly when you consider that around 70% of the budget is on repairs and maintenance, and just 20% on design, planning and construction. Persuading construction companies to invest in technology-driven tools to help them save money when you’ve got these percentages can seem a bit like pushing water uphill. But that is exactly what can happen when data analytics are used to automate operations, thereby reducing the number of errors and improving efficiency. Data’s role in managing budgets With the coming of the digital age, data has become a key instrument in helping construction companies not only stay on time, but also within budgets on projects. In fact, with the introduction of business intelligence software and real time data analytics, how some construction companies are operating, on and off-site, has significantly changed, and for good. Project managers are starting to utilise the valuable insights gathered from big data to help them make better, more informed decisions. BIM, or Building Information Modelling, is the latest technology tool that is making a name for itself in the construction industry. BIM enables project managers to use historical data on past projects to estimate more accurately the materials and labour required for future projects, as well as visualise time frames and calculate budgets. Having this real time analytical data ensures that future projects are cost-effective and sustainable, particularly with a greater focus on energy efficiency within construction, now and in the future. A study by the Boston Consulting Group, using BIM within the construction industry to carry out a building-wide energy analysis can potentially save a project as much as 20% on energy costs. Added benefits include less material wasted and a better sustainable environment. Data and the mobile workforce The very nature of building sites is managing a mobile workforce. For a project manager who needs to split their time between the project’s stakeholders, their office team and their team on site is a bit like a juggling act. To have virtual ‘eyes on the ground’ can have significant benefits. Using mobile technology and business intelligence software, project managers are able to gather and analyse critical construction site data in real time, giving them a valuable insight into a project’s progress, whether it’s meeting its deadlines, labour and material usage, as well as budget updates. Using this information enables more streamlined operations to improve efficiency, optimise time management with real time updates on project scope and schedules, as well as updating or adding essential documentation. No more paper trails that can easily get lost. Data is becoming the key ingredient to running successful building projects; how you analyse the data and use it to improve a project’s outcome depends on different variables and the project’s strategies. To help with your contract management, visit the MPS website to see how our unique CCM Contract Management System can revolutionise the way you do business please call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com We can also show you how to turn CCM data and other information into comprehensive interactive BI dashboards.

A Closer Look at the NEC Facility Management Suite

A Closer Look at the NEC Facility Management Suite

NEC have attempted to bring the facilities management sector into the 21st century with their new suite of contracts. The latest suite replaces the old NEC3 which were brought to market in 2005. These updates are a welcome introduction, clearing up some of the grey areas not covered in the previous contracts. By writing a sector-specific version of the contract, there is hope that much needed evolution in the industry can take place. The NEC4 suite is designed to align strategic and operational goals between operators and managers, ensuring the smooth delivery of services and preventing any future problems. The contracts have been produced in conjunction with the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) and have been designed to be written in plain English, using much of the terminology already familiar to operators in the space. Fundamentally the contracts are designed to improve efficiencies and avoid disputes. Like any contract their success will largely be dependent on all parties abiding by the terms of the agreement, but the hope is the additional clarity and the early warnings of any problems that are written into the contract will avoid small issues escalating into larger problems down the line. The main NEC4 principles The new contracts aim to improve the facilities management sector by embodying the following main principles… ● Stimulating effective and clear management of the relationship between the two parties involved in the contract. By doing this, the work produced as per the contract should be bound to certain standards. ● The contracts can be used in a sufficiently wide variety of commercial situations. This opens up the contracts for use in multiple locations and across different sectors of the facilities management industry. ● Ensure that the contracts are clear, written to be understood by everyone and free of vagaries. They are written in a language and with a structure that outlines the terms of the deal in plain sight. The contracts are not designed to be full of loopholes, allowing sides to point score and take advantage. There’s a genuine sense of enthusiasm for the contracts in the industry, with NEC receiving praise from many industry commentators. The hope is that by simplifying the terms by which facilities and services providers operate, conflict resolution will be a much easier and clearer process and that costly, time consuming litigation will be a thing of the past. The contracts will allow much easier and simpler collaboration between parties and that can only be a good thing. Working clarity is the future of the sector… At MPS we’ve long been advocates for clearer relationships and project delivery in the construction, facilities management and civil engineering industries. We’ve made it our business to make life easier for our construction and engineering partners. We believe that simplicity is key for effective communication, and when we communicate clearer, we’re more effective operators. To help with your contract management, visit the MPS website to see how our unique CCM Contract Management System can revolutionise the way you do business or call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com

Is BI in construction worthwhile?

Is BI in construction worthwhile?

One of the last major industries to embrace Business Intelligence (or BI for short) is the construction industry. Essentially, BI is the collection and analysis of data across a given project. It has been used in manufacturing, finance, telecommunications, distribution and the like to great success, but the question remains – is BI in construction worthwhile? Construction projects amass a staggering amount of data. Everything from soil type, wildlife information, tree data, material use, labour force information, financial data and power use. There’s data for everything, but can it be used more effectively? The benefits of BI in a business sense Embracing business intelligence allows construction businesses to operate far more efficiently, which in turn increases profitability, reduces project timeframes, improves reputation, reduces carbon footprint and material wastage. Application of BI on a construction project If you’re struggling to see how an application of data can benefit construction, here’s a few examples of how effective use of data can save you time, money and resources… Improve staffing levels The nature of construction projects means that manpower will ebb and flow throughout the job. Different trades will be required at different times. By employing BI effectively you will ensure you have only the staff you need on site, reducing labour wastage. With labour being a major financial outlay, it’s a way to save potentially millions of pounds on each project. Time efficient deliveries Leaving materials on site can cause them to damage and degrade. There’s also human error that leads to materials being ordered and delivered when they simply aren’t needed. Managing a project with BI means these errors will be a thing of the past, reducing material wastage and, ultimately, costs. Reducing plant costs If you are a company who brings in external companies when plants such as diggers and cranes are required, you can monitor the need for such machines with more precision. Plant machinery can cost thousands per day, so it’s expensive to have it hanging around a site when it isn’t doing anything. Reduce this cost with effective BI use. Completed project analysis Using business intelligence for the duration of a project allows you to build a dataset on construction methods efficiency and profit margin, as highlighted by Jenn Said in Contractor Magazine. This reporting style is a global trend that the UK needs to keep up with. For example, if you find a modular building is more profitable and efficient than steel framed projects for example, you can tweak your designs and building practices for future work, reducing costs and improving margins. Better, more accurate reporting When you employ BI in construction, your project leads can deliver back reports armed with facts and data rather than just opinion. Research presented at the 2018 Indonesian Association for Pattern Recognition International Conference (INAPR) conference shows this is a game changer when it comes to the validity of reports. This is because you can be sure they’re accurate and allow you to make forecasts, costs and profit projections with far more certainty. With margins always under pressure, accurate data can be the difference between a project being a stellar success or catastrophic failure. In summary, is BI in construction worthwhile? If you take the points here, you’ll understand why BI isn’t just worthwhile, it’s arguably vital if construction companies want to modernise and survive in the future. If you don’t embrace the available technology, your competitors will, and they’ll leave you behind. You can’t be analogue in a digital world. To help with your contract management, visit the MPS website to see how our unique CCM Contract Management System can revolutionise the way you do business or call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com You can Share Our Blog On Social Media Apps;

NEC4 ECC explained - from positive incentives to preventative measures

NEC4 ECC explained - from positive incentives to preventative measures

In construction there’s two opinions when it comes to good performance and project delivery – the client’s and the contractor’s. Both parties have their expectations and their requirements from the outset, so delivering a finished product that suits the timelines, design ideals and quality of the client whilst achieving the margins desired by the contractor is a balancing act. To help provide some stability and regulation to proceedings, the NEC Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) can act as the perfect mediator. The ECC is specifically written to contain a variety of provisions that attempt to ensure excellent performance by the contractor. In the cases where this isn’t achieved, the client has the option to pursue a form of recourse in the form of a pre-agreed action or financial penalty. As a contractor, you are obliged to maintain levels of quality workmanship and hit milestones within pre-agreed timeframes. Should these not be achieved there are preventative measures and negative incentives. On the contrary, if targets and timelines are achieved, there are positive incentives to reward excellent performance. Preventative measures in action Fundamental to all NEC contracts is the obligation for both parties to act in ‘a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation’. This collaborative approach is designed to pre-empt problems and find appropriate solutions in advance. Specifically, clause 15 requests that the project manager and contractor are to proactively identify risk and notify all parties, especially when time, cost or quality is likely to be compromised. Such warnings should come via early warning meetings and communication tools, where solutions are recorded by the project manager in an appropriate register. Time and quality incentives In situations where timelines and completion dates are set in stone, clause 36 allows both parties to propose acceleration towards job completion. This is done in mutual trust and agreement – the project manager cannot enforce the acceleration and is required to accept the quotation from the contractor for the acceleration to be granted. Quality control is maintained via clause 40 insisting that the contractor operates a stringent quality management system, quality policy statement and quality policy plan. Should the terms of the quality plan be breached, the project manager can request corrections without any financial contribution. Rewards for outstanding performance Should the contractor achieve pre-agreed time and cost savings, there are various measures by which they can be rewarded in the ECC. One such incentive is where the contractor is paid a share of the cost savings of the job. Additional incentives include early finish bonuses (assuming all quality control tests are satisfied). The ECC is designed to ensure a desire to complete projects to a high standard, on time and within budget is mutually shared between client and contractor, thanks to sufficient incentives. NEC4 ECC practicalities and problem solving The practical application of the ECC ensures all bases are covered – there’s a clear and open relationship between the client and contractor. There are pre-agreed quality measures in place and a mutual benefit to completing a job on time. When the contract is adhered to and all parties hold up their part of the bargain, the ECC will help to deliver excellence in construction. To help with your contract management, visit the MPS website to see how our unique CCM Contract Management System can revolutionise the way you do business or call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com You can Share Our Blog On Social Media Apps;

A closer look at the NEC Contract Horizon platform

A closer look at the NEC Contract Horizon platform

New agreements, new technologies and new projects come with their own levels of anxiety and confusion, but one way to streamline the drawing up, editing and entering contract information is to use the new online NEC Contract Horizon. By engaging the online tool, users can have complete control and visibility over the contract at all times. The latest version of a contract is online and easily accessible, helping to prevent the long paper trail that is s ynonymous with contracts on construction jobs of all sizes. The contract can easily be shared with collaborators and allow their voice to be heard thanks to their comments on certain sections and clauses being visible. It’s also extremely safe because it is stored online – no hard copies to go missing or be damaged. Let’s take a look at the additional features of the NEC Contract Horizon platform… Save time in future The NEC Contract Horizon platform allows you to save previous contracts, so rather than draw up a whole new agreement with every new project, you can save existing templates and adapt them to make them suitable for subsequent jobs. This 21st century efficiency saves time, money and confusion. The contracts are entirely customisable, and it’s easily done, thanks to a library of z-clauses within the software. Sharing and approval The online nature of contracts means that they can be shared with management teams, legal teams, the board o f directors and associated bodies. This means the approval process is much faster and easier than the traditional printing of lots of copies of long contracts. This outdated and paper-heavy process can create further work when handwritten comments across multiple copies have to be scrutinised, ratified and added to a new amended document. Instead, the online contract can be instantly distributed to all parties and their comments and feedback viewed i mmediately online. There’s also an ability to control who can comment and amend a contract, to prevent too many voices being added to the contract. Streamlining and efficiency When contracts are particularly large and complex, the platform allows multiple contributors to work on it at once. This teamwork saves valuable time and money, especially when you consider everyone is working on a single document. This allows it to be updated in real time – not at a later date when multiple amendments have to be collated in the ‘latest’ version of the contract. The evolving nature of the NEC suite means that the platform will be updated alongside the new contracts that are released, so it’s a technology that will always stay relevant and won’t lose its functionality with the passing of time. If anything, it’ll likely get easier to use and become more efficient as more features are added over time. Final thoughts on the NEC contract horizon platform As the wider construction world is pulled into the 21st century by embracing technological developments, the legal element of the industry should follow suit. When employed correctly the NEC contract horizon platform will save organisations time and money, allowing us to deliver high quality work without any unnecessary delay. MPS provides contract management solutions that allow contractors and clients to work together on projects effectively. To help with your contract management, visit the MPS website to see how our unique CCM Contract Management System can revolutionise the way you do business or call 01223 597933 or email sales@mpsprocess.com You can Share Our Blog On Social Media Apps;