The Role of Continuous Innovation in the Construction Process

How can home builders implement innovative solutions when it comes to employees, trade partners, and the products they use? Monica Wheaton, Director of Customer Success at ECI Software Solutions, facilitates a discussion on the topic with experts in the industry. Panelists include Joshua McMahon, Director of Construction at Schell Brothers, Ed Hauck, Senior Consultant at Builder Partnerships, and David Burleigh, who is Consultant at BOQ Virtuosos.

Joshua starts the discussion by giving tips on how to manage employees with the goal of continuous improvement. He talks about the importance of establishing goals centered around improvement and sticking to 1-3 goals at a time, as well as developing a scoreboard so everyone is engaged with progress towards the goals. In terms of developing relations with trade partners, Joshua stresses the importance of asking questions, such as “Where are we falling short and how can we improve?” and “How many days, or hours will ‘x’ activity take to complete?” Key in this process is the ability to empower one’s team and trade partners, which involves communication, trust, and support when wrong decisions are made, so employees can get to the next level. “That’s how you prevent people from leaving, too, they will be with you forever,” he says.

Ed focuses on cost and delivery efficiencies involved in lumber operations. In terms of cost, he recommends comparing how components are designed and priced, since they can vary in labor and in margin from different suppliers. In terms of delivery, Ed advises breaking up delivery loads into smaller bundles and separating them by use and in order of use. He goes over the important roles of framers and superintendents in this process.

Ideally, superintendents ensure that framers are following your plans and details, all materials are being used as specified, they know plans inside and out, and use a checklist for frame punch. “We do a lot of superintendent classes, our average age of superintendents is going way down, we are bringing kids in, which is awesome, but we have to teach them, since they don’t come from the trades like they used to,” Ed says.

David delves into the role of technology in working toward a process-built organization, automating in order to take advantage of repeatable functions, and consolidating data for quick decision making. He goes into the benefits that technology can provide for builders and trade contractors, such as streamlining work orders, providing real-time updates, and improving the estimating process. “We don’t want to integrate technology just to have it,” he says.

The group discusses the importance of standardization and consistency in order to get the end results as perfect as possible. “Without that standardization, you don’t really know where you are, so you can’t innovate, you can’t make any improvements,” Melissa says.

Watch the full video to learn more.