Reluctance to adopt new tech among subcontractors
MELBOURNE - May 11, 2023 - Work site injuries, labour costs, and a skills shortage are just some of the challenges the New Zealand construction sector could overcome if the industry was more open to embracing technology, says the CEO of a leading safety and work site management platform.
Ben Leach, Founder and CEO of HammerTech, has seen first-hand how technology can help increase productivity and offset many of the increasing costs and challenges the industry is facing.
“In our experience in New Zealand, Australia, and the US, some companies and subcontractors are reluctant to adopt new processes, especially when it comes to incorporating technology. Many just flat out refuse a new process or platform, especially if it’s not easy to use.”
He says the use of technology is key to attract new talent to construction and future growth across all sectors, yet the construction industry continues to lose out to other industries who are moving faster.
“There are significant opportunities for Kiwi companies in the construction industry who become early-adopters of evolving technology to help increase productivity, drive higher quality work, and make work sites safer for their teams.
“The increase in workplace injuries is an example of where the right construction-specific technology is proven to deliver significant benefits that serve the whole construction ecosystem — even subcontractors,” he says.
WorkSafe statistics for the New Zealand construction industry show injuries resulting in more than a week away from work totalled 5,880 in 2022 (up from 5,826 in 2021). There were 12 fatalities in 2022 and 12 in 2021.
“Access to accurate safety data means a company can identify what injuries are occurring and put measures and policies in place to help reduce the occurrence of these instances.”
For example, says Leach, data about the prevalence of hand injuries can highlight to employees the extent of the problem, provide greater awareness of how to prevent these injuries, and encourage updated policies to bring about change.
HammerTech is the market leader in construction site operations and health, safety and environment (HSE) management software in Australia. It entered the New Zealand market in 2020 and is undergoing significant expansion with leading construction companies such as Mansons TCLM, LT McGuinness, and Maycroft Construction using its platform.
The HammerTech platform holds all health and safety data in one system and enables decisions to be made with real time visibility across work sites.
Barriers to change
There are numerous barriers to technology uptake in the construction industry, from reluctance by tradies and sub-contractors to adopt new technology through to limited budgets to implement new tech tools.
Leach says other industries are moving and harnessing new technology, and construction needs to do the same.
“AI tools like ChatGPT are highly disruptive and can be seen as a threat to many industries and peoples’ livelihoods. Whilst there are significant opportunities and benefits from this technology, what we need to focus on instead is much simpler and doesn’t involve job loss but rather simplifying existing burdensome processes like paperwork burden. This gives time back to everyone plus safety and construction experts can focus on improving standards through training, coaching and analysing trends.”
Deloitte’s State of Digital Adoption in Construction Report 2023 found the main barriers to technology uptake by companies was lack of digital skills in the workforce (44%) followed closely by budget limitations and lack of confidence in skills.
“With the growth in vertical construction in New Zealand due to the move towards higher density precincts and neighbourhoods, there is an opportunity as construction employees upskill to adopt technology and provide those entering the workforce with the opportunity to utilise new ways of working and new technologies. This is what will attract the tech-native younger generation.”
Insight, capability, and change
HammerTech is focussed on making work sites safer and more productive, as well as supporting companies to meet their changing health and safety needs.
“Having more accessible information allows managers to analyse health and safety and operational performance in real-time which enables better risk and operational management,” says Leach.
HammerTech’s digital platform and its reporting capability provides insights that help to significantly reduce the time and expense of handling occurrences such as incident reports, ACC claims, and client disputes.
“Having everything to do with safety and site operations in one place saves the hassle of multiple systems because too many apps and platforms restrict growth and takes up valuable time. Producing quality data for reporting purposes is essential and going digital is the easiest and most efficient way to do it.”
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