Construction Productivity is in Decline

Lean Construction Institute’s article Construction Productivity in Decline reveals embarrassing data on the US construction industry. Sadly, the same is true in many other countries as well. In spite of all the positive developments around construction, labor productivity is getting worse.

The article refers to two studies, one by Stanford University Professor Paul Teicholz, and the other by University of Melbourne Senior Lecturer in Construction Matt Stevens. According to Teicholz, construction industry’s labor productivity has declined roughly 0.32%  per year from 1964 to 2012. Matt Stevens calculated that productivity in 2013 was lower than in 1993. There was, however, a productivity surge  in 2008 and 2009.

What is the cause of the dismal development? Lack of consistent stakeholder engagement has resulted in an uneven flow of project information. Contracts are also to blame. Each party acts with as much legal insulation as possible. Right kind of team members with the right kind of contract are the a keys to success, according to Stevens. He also suggests that design students should complete internships on job sites. This would reduce conflicts between stakeholders and lead to more constructible designs in the future.

Teicholz believes that a consistent use of BIM is imperative. Both seem to promote prefabrication as a productivity booster.

You can download the article from June 2014 at Lean Construction Institute’s website.