Although the construction industry has been wrought with major issues, such as approval delays, resource shortages, and lack of funding before COVID-19, these issues seem to have magnified even more amidst the pandemic.
In this article, we’ll look into what COVID-19 has exposed about these issues in the construction industry and how Antoun can help.
Skilled and Unskilled Worker shortage
Many construction companies have struggled with labour shortages and acquiring skilled and unskilled construction workers with a 21.5% notable decline in construction trades apprenticeships. The impact of COVID-19 and ongoing border closures have made it even more difficult to hire qualified talent.
At the moment, architectural, building and surveying technicians, contract, program and project administrators, and civil engineering professionals continue to land in the top three most in-demand jobs in Australia.
With the current surge in construction and infrastructure projects, the industry continues to face a skills replacement gap, especially in the coming years as the workforce turns over. Looking at the current apprenticeship system, it is unlikely to produce the required number of workers needed to support new projects.
One of the main factors contributing to the skill shortage is that megaprojects continue to be prioritised over smaller and maintenance projects. Long government approval times are also partly to blame with many stakeholders having to stand idly, waiting for projects to be approved.
Amidst all the uncertainty, it is crucial to fast-track return to service as much as possible.
Product Shortages & Increased Costs
COVID-19 has significantly disrupted supply chains with notable shortages and delivery delays in construction products from overseas. Australia relies heavily on China to import building materials and equipment to get the most of lower costs and higher efficiencies, but because of the pandemic, manufacturing productions declined, including the volume of exports.
With a weaker Australian dollar, the cost of imported products and materials have increased, especially in supply-and-fit projects where more expensive alternative materials are used.
Even if construction companies decide to buy materials locally, supply will maintain higher costs and delays will continue to be expected. Most contractors and businesses will have to remain with their original suppliers.
COVID-19 could very well force many industries, including construction, to explore how it can transform its global supply chain model, which continues to be a vulnerability for organisations.
Through it all, a lack of information on the changing market is also undermining confidence and hampering decision-making in businesses.
With international travel limitations and border restrictions continuing to pile up for foreign companies, companies are expected to reconsider the regions they plan to operate.
Inefficient Processes & Methodologies
COVID-19 has also forced many businesses to rethink their current processes and methodologies. For example, in Australian airports, saving every dollar is paramount after huge losses from travel restrictions. A condition-based replacement could be an alternative in the maintenance of airport assets. Condition-based replacement would mean that if a slab section needs 70% replacement, repairs can be focused on this while keeping the remaining 30% as is. This ensures only poor and degraded areas that require repair and replacement undergo maintenance repairs instead of bulk replacements. Antoun can provide flexibility to achieve condition-based replacement, using our innovative Rapid Set concrete.
The Need to Innovate & Embrace Technology
Now more than ever, resource shortages and project delays have raised the need to fast-track projects to save time. In an industry where being physically present onsite is crucial, many construction companies have had to adapt to working remotely. This need has made the industry more receptive to new technologies such as web-based meetings and other helpful applications to ensure business remains as usual even for those who are working further apart than ever.
Site virtual tours are now more common. Even designs can be discussed and shared online.
The pandemic has forced many businesses to accept the reality that transforming their business is crucial to survival.
Need for Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects
The current infrastructure maintenance backlog in Australia has impacted sectors such as energy, water, and transportation. All this highlights the need to re-prioritise certain projects in the short-to-medium term while keeping bigger-infrastructure city projects firmly in the pipeline.
Maintenance projects need to be on top of the agenda, just as much as new infrastructure projects. Companies must re-calibrate and prioritise projects that are critical to economic growth and keeping the public safe. Neglected infrastructure only leads to safety issues and asset degradation, which can pile up more reconstruction costs over time.
Companies will need to invest in proper data and reporting across sectors to analyse the viability of projects and determine which infrastructure assets are in dire need of preventative maintenance.
How Antoun Can Help
COVID-19 has brought many underlying issues in the construction industry to the surface, issues that may have been discarded and ignored many times before. The construction industry today can no longer turn a blind eye to labour and supply shortages, higher project costs, outdated methodologies and the need for infrastructure maintenance projects. Until these issues are addressed, new infrastructure projects that are essential to economic growth will be ill-equipped to deliver any real value.
With skill and supply shortages resources are hard to come by because of unprecedented global disruption.
Getting your project right the first time, minimising unnecessary costs and overruns can make all the difference in addressing skill and supply shortages and inefficient systems.
Antoun’s E6 Methodology is the gateway to fast-tracking critical infrastructure projects using innovative and agile solutions like rapid-set concrete, which provides clients with the added flexibility to choose the best solution that meets their budget while exceeding timeline expectations.