Nothing impacts the construction industry quite as negatively as material shortages or supply price increases, and in Canada the industry has been dealing with both of these issues in spades since the onset of the pandemic.
For an industry so reliant on strict adherence to schedules and pre-set pricing, this is a major issue.
Headlines have focused heavily on the lumber shortages – and rightly so, as that is one of the biggest issues affecting the construction industry in Canada – but those shortages have been experienced by builders across the board, not just in lumber.
This has all contributed to the year-over-year costs of construction in Canada rising massively, with some pointing to an increase of up to 5 per cent in overall construction costs in Toronto and a rise of between 1- 4 per cent in other areas of Canada, according to research from Altus Group.
And because these various price increases are mostly the direct result of material shortages, it truly begs the question: as we see lockdowns continuing to ease up and construction sites returning to normal, will they have the materials they need to operate at full capacity?
Recent research would suggest that there exists at least a couple of issues within supply chains that will keep that from being possible.
Device downtime a primary concern
When looking for the major issues currently holding back the supply chain from operating at peak efficiency or being resilient enough to deal with a major disruption like a lumber mill shutdown, there are a couple areas that should be of primary concern.
The first being the number of days of productivity lost due to technological issues. Put another way: device downtime.
In this category, according to SOTI’s Mobilizing the Delivery Workforce: State of Mobility in Transportation and Logistics 2021 study, Canada ranked dead last.
While the other countries that were surveyed – which included the U.S., Mexico, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, and Australia – clocked in at around one day per month of lost productivity due to technological issues, Canada for some reason doubled that rate at around two days per month.
So while in years past, a lack of technology has been the main issue, these companies are still struggling with the technology they do have.
Of the T&L professionals surveyed in SOTI, 70 per cent of them pointed to device downtime as a primary concern in their industry and 80 per cent said they had plans to invest in new mobile technology, such as devices, wearables and IoT sensors.
Systems must be integrated
Sticking to the theme of technological issues in the T&L industry, one of the other top concerns among decision-makers and professionals alike is a lack of integration in the technology they deploy.
So as businesses look to invest in new technology to create the efficiencies they need in the supply chain, they must do so in a strategic manner. If they do not do so, they run a major risk of ending up with a patchwork of technologies that do not integrate with each other and do not operate together efficiently.
To put it succinctly, a failure to plan your technology investments will create many more problems than it could ever possibly solve.
As it stands, this issue is already having a major negative impact on supply lines, as 72 per cent of professionals surveyed in SOTI’s study answered that their company’s systems were not integrated, and consequently, 45 per cent claimed that updated information was not being shared with their team and staff had to manually update multiple systems.
Preparing for the next disruption
So as companies look forward and strategize how to prevent future disruptions from affecting the supply chain so negatively they must truly evaluate every step along that supply line; speaking with every employee along the way to find out where the efficiencies can be created.
Applying those lessons learned into their strategy for technology investment will help them create a roadmap to success, and prevent them from falling into the traps of unintegrated systems or ill-fitted technology.
As it relates specifically to device downtime, businesses should be researching and investing in remote control software, which allows your IT department to deploy, manage, and service any of your organization’s mobile devices remotely. This not only eases up the burden on your IT team – who no longer need to scramble to get on site – but also the end user who no longer loses countless hours to downtime awaiting a technician.
Moving forward, it will take some time for the supply chains responsible for the construction industry to catch up and return to normal; this is unavoidable.
But if those responsible for managing the construction industry’s supply chain are able to better prepare themselves for major issues with strategized and meaningful investments in technology, they will be able to navigate the next crisis with very little disruption to the construction sites that rely on them.
Shash Anand is vice president of product strategy at SOTI. SOTI is a provider of mobile and IoT management solutions, with more than 17,000 enterprise customers and millions of devices managed worldwide.