It’s fair to say that not too many industries were prepared for a world-wide pandemic. Coming off the back of bushfires and floods, the construction industry has faced some very challenging periods over the last few years, and while we see the housing market booming, behind the scenes the construction industry has had to change many of their ways on the fly.
Construction has fared better than many other industries in Australia due to being classed as an essential service. In many cases, the construction industry hasn’t been exposed to full closures like many other industries have, but the industry hasn’t gotten away unscathed.
Supply Chain Disruptions
It’s not just the supermarkets that have been affected by supply chain issues. In recent years, Australia has become more reliant on importing business materials, and with countries shutting down due to COVID spread, there has been long delays in getting materials. However, one of the big changes to the industry has been the rethink in managing the supply chain.
Paying suppliers early has been one of the critical changes that is likely to remain post-pandemic. This change helps to ease cash flow issues for smaller subcontractors ensuring they can mobilise quicker.
Companies are starting to look at their suppliers (and the suppliers of their suppliers) and looking at options to diversify and potentially start to use local suppliers.
Remote Work Technology
It’s hard to imagine the construction industry working remotely, but there has been some adaption in terms of digital collaboration and coming together remotely for meetings or discussions with contractors and home buyers. Many embraced systems like Zoom, as well as Building Information Modelling and simulations allowing changes mid-build to be discussed and handled with little delay.
To the outside eye, construction may have been continuing like normal, but to those working on site there has been a marked difference to the number of people on site. Social distancing requirements set by Governments minimised the number of trades allowed on-site which has meant timeframes blowing out. In NSW and Victoria, the governments have introduced new rules allowing days of operation on site to be extended. This has alleviated some issues however some builders are pushing for 24-hour access, which will be interesting to see what develops.
Increase in Off-site Construction
In a world that requires social distancing, building components off-site is starting to pick up. Taking this away from the construction site allows for the movement and interaction to contractors to be monitored, as well as increases the speed and quality of the materials being constructed. The use of pre-fabricated components has been increasing in recent years, however COVID showed the industry just how useful it was to build components elsewhere, and then having minimal contractors on site to put it all together.
The next few months will be interesting to see what issues persist and which disappear, as well as seeing which changes stick around and which one developers and builders get rid of.
One thing that hasn’t changed during the pandemic is Laurus Projects drive to create projects that have a positive impact on the community.