Sustainability

Get digital: How contractors are boosting productivity and growing their businesses

This blog is Part 2 of a two-part series titled, “ Evolution of the Contractor.” Follow this link to read the first installation: 3 solutions for safer and more efficient construction projects.

 

Efficiency gains in construction have essentially flatlined over the past 25 years. What’s behind this statistic? Some attribute this slow growth to the challenges facing the industry: labor shortages, ever-changing safety regulations, and economic booms and busts.

But there’s another factor to consider: Digitization.

Compared with almost every other industry, construction has been slow to digitize — it currently ranks 21 out of 22 in digital adoption. Not surprisingly, industries reporting higher efficiency gains, such as manufacturing, are more likely to use digital tools and processes. And contractors that have already invested in digitization report higher productivity gains and cost savings.  We simply can’t ignore the link between digitization and efficiency.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. However, you can take small steps toward your own digitization to boost productivity and even grow your business starting now. Here’s how.

How electrical contractors can boost their businessWhat is digitization? 

Digitization involves adopting digital technologies to operate more efficiently. And any organization, regardless of industry, can transform digitally.

Sometimes, all you need to do is switch out older, manual processes with digital ones, such as using a project management software in place of paper records. Other times, digitization includes connecting operational technology (OT) with informational technology (IT) to produce, analyze, and act on data. With this data, generated with products such as sensors and meters, project stakeholders have greater visibility to monitor operations and assets, identify trends and issues, and take actions to perform better.

Work more efficiently with digital tools

Digitization in construction takes many forms, such as software and apps to manage scheduling and personnel, and digital tools to speed up processes. But how do these tools and systems actually boost your efficiency while you’re on a project?

Here’s an example of what digitization looks like during the construction phase.

Let’s say you, like most contractors, spend nearly 35 percent of your time on non-optimal activities on the job site, such as searching for materials or doing rework. It turns out, there’s a software tool that helps you spend less time on tasks such as mapping subcontractor activities, purchases, and your employees.

You no longer have to comb through paper records to find an old invoice, or wonder if you ordered the correct busway — it’s all tracked in the cloud. Not only is this setup more convenient, but it also allows for much higher accuracy, which means less rework down the road.

After taking steps to digitize your manual processes, it’s not uncommon to see efficiency gains of between 14 to 15 percent.

Grow your project offers 

Mastering digital tools delivers benefits beyond your own productivity. It also helps you guide your customers down a path toward digitization, which can increase their own operational efficiency, and establishes you as a digital facilitator instead of simply their installer.

As a digital facilitator, you still install OT — panelboards, switchgear, metering, transformers, and so on. Except now, the OT your team installs connects to sensors and controls that capture data. From there, you can offer on-site data management solutions, such as building management systems for customers to manage their OT on-premise.

And finally, you can even connect your customer with software, services, and apps that enable long-term, remote monitoring and control over the equipment. One example of this is Digital Logbook, an easy-to-use collaborative tool your customers can use to keep record of construction documents, maintenance schedules, etc.

Move beyond “installer” to service provider 

When your customers commit to digitization, this sets you up to offer additional services past the initial installation. These may include preventive, corrective, and predictive maintenance; consulting; arc-flash studies; modernization; and end-of-life services — solutions that collectively represent around 68 percent of the construction industry’s revenue.

Including future-ready digital products and solutions into your offers makes good business sense. First, it has the potential to grow your company and stabilize your income. Factors such as economic highs and lows, weather, and politics can impact your business, but diversifying your revenue stream with services helps mitigate these impacts.

And for your customer, digitization means potential improvements in their processes and performance, such as maintenance schedules, cost savings, and efficiency.

Take the first step to benefit from digitization 

Undoubtedly, your role as an electrical contractor is changing. And this pace of change has only accelerated over the past few years. As a contractor, you can keep up with this evolution by investing in digital technologies.

In doing so, you optimize your efficiency, expand your offerings, and foster long-term relationships with customers.

Looking for help to get started?  We have recently expanded our free Electrical Contractor Portal, a hub for training opportunities, product resources, and a digital tools library that will help guide you through your own digital transformation.


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