Time is money – Concrete and Contractor Profits

A streamlined, efficient workflow is ideal for concrete contractors, but it’s not always the reality. Rework, for instance, is commonplace due to a lack of communication and collaboration among subcontractors, general contractors, and design teams. Obviously minimizing–or eliminating–rework will help concrete contractors make more money. Even for the rework that does occur, communication still needs to be effective, clear and concise. 

It’s common for contractors, general contractors and designers to go back and forth on plan changes. When these documents and communications are paper-based or rely on outdated systems like Excel and email exclusively,  missed information and mistakes are likely to occur. Today, concrete contractors need the support of mobile and cloud-based document management to help streamline changes and design updates. The big value of making sure such tools and devices are mobile-friendly is that they allow the respective parties to make their markups and changes from the field on their phones or tablets. In turn, this will enable alterations to be made faster and keeps field teams abreast of the latest project changes in real time.

To improve profits, rework communication needs to be done effectively and efficiently. That’s where software tools that help provide a central location to collaborate can come in handy. Whether it’s the office, trailer or another location, software tools like PlanGrid allow general contractors, concrete contractors, designers, and all other project stakeholders the ability to come together and manage the project. When software tools provide a central location to collaborate–it reduces both the amount of time spent on inefficient communications and the risk of installing concrete work to outdated specifications. One of the major debilitating factors on concrete jobs is lost time. It often involves a lack of information, a lack of documents, waiting for answers from engineers or concrete workers being shifted or moved to new areas.

There’s always the high likelihood for Mother Nature to throw a concrete job. As we know, concrete is a material that is particularly affected by elements like heat, cold and moisture. Basically, any small weather abnormality can put a job behind schedule while workers wait out for the right working conditions.

While it’s important to pay attention to the weather forecast so that you have a general idea of the daily conditions that will be unsuitable for work and plan accordingly, which may include buffering in extra job time, it’s also critical to have a backup plan you can refer to. Another significant benefit of BIM software is that cement contractors can adjust on-the-fly to accommodate scheduling for the intangibles, like the weather. With BIM software, you don’t have to worry about drawing new lift drawings, as the input can be easily adjusted in the model and then redistributed.

To increase your profits on concrete jobs, you need to work with high-quality people. Working with cement is complicated–way more than it seems. That’s why hiring and retaining good workers is so essential in cement contracting. And once you hire them, it’s crucial to continue investing in them so that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Invest in your employees’ growth and happiness, provide opportunities for ongoing training and always be in the know with technologies that can make their work better and more efficient. We encourage you to keep an open door policy with your workers, as you can increase productivity through transparency too just as we detailed a few sections earlier.

Additionally, consider technology to be an investment to aid your staff. It’s essential that your workers know what you expect for them, not just on a per-project basis, but on a daily basis. Mobile technology allows staff to do more with less and can keep field teams up to date with the office and allow for making streamlined, up-to-the-second changes in a seamless fashion. It will enable the entire team to view standardized reports in real-time, thereby allowing for a more thorough understanding of factors like performance, schedule and other things that need to be addressed moving forward.

Material timing can be essential to the overall success of a concrete job, and lack of accurate tracking is a common frustration among cement contractors. This is especially true if laydown space is limited, as poorly timed deliveries can lead to major headaches if there isn’t even room to adequately and safely store the necessary materials. To improve material tracking in concrete construction, one solution to consider incorporating sensors connected to the Internet of Things into your operations. Data from such sensors have the potential to track fleets, concrete supplier trucks and more so that you have a specific idea of when materials are set to arrive and can plan accordingly, thereby minimizing profit-killing downtime. Proper planning is especially vital if pre-cast concrete is being used on a job. That’s because pre-cast concrete requires extensive pre-planning so that installation is timed properly. If there’s confusion around when this delivery is coming, the timing can be thrown off entirely, dipping into job profitability.

Finally, concrete contractors should always be in the know about current and emerging trends in the cement field of work. With the rate at which technology is changing, cement specialty contractors should always have a finger on the pulse of the industry. A lot is happening in the concrete construction space right now that has the potential of improving profit margins, and some examples of promising technology are

Concrete 3D printers
Super-hydrophobic concrete
Bio-concrete
Rapid-drying concrete
Thermal insulation 

Profit margins for concrete contractors are traditionally slim. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider any technologies or practices that can help increase productivity, and thereby profitability. When time equals money, you can’t afford to be wasting it.

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