Technical advances in the construction industry have been and are continuing to be built upon the intelligence and experience of workers in the past. Using the experience of the outgoing workforce will help build and maintain enthusiasm within the incoming workforce.

Prefabrication is one example. The efficiency characterized by the old adage, “measure twice, cut once,” when brought into a controlled environment, can reduce the probability of clashes among all the trades on a job. Creating efficiencies in this way feeds into a long-term view of construction as a thriving and vibrant industry. Prefab brings a value stream to the industry, and that feeds enthusiasm for the prefab process by like-minded people.

Productization delivers combinations of value, efficiency and personalization, including the processes of prefab, modular and DfMA (design for manufacture and assembly). It is gaining popularity in the industry, as well as with consumers. Productization is being adopted by an increasing number of companies and evolving in a two-step process:

  1. Transitioning from AutoCAD to Revit.
  2. Building on the resulting efficiencies.

To see more widespread adoption of productization in the industry, more information needs to be disseminated about its benefits. Not surprisingly, this can be a financial issue for companies. Every company wants to save on overhead costs, labor and materials expenses. It becomes a real bonus when a new process builds efficiencies into a project for its long-term life – for instance, more sustainable features and options. Not only do these features offer a more streamlined, cost-effective approach to construction, they can also meet emerging consumer demands for low-energy components and water conserving fixtures.

Productization also enables companies to adapt to changes in the labor force.

As a group, people in the incoming workforce are more attuned to sustainability, higher efficiencies, modularity, prefab, and productization overall. They are more open to new technologies and advancements that can be incorporated into buildings.

Although there has been concern that we are losing a large pool of construction knowledge as people retire from the current labor force, in an interesting turn of fate, some of the advancements and features we are seeing have been developed using the decades of knowledge and experience of that outgoing workforce. New features and advancements can still reflect the industry’s core values.

Of particular concern inside and outside the industry has been the shortage of people entering the skilled trades, creating a labor gap that has required new processes to take up the slack – one of which naturally being productization.

The conversation is slowly changing around entrepreneurship and the trades. Attracting new talent to the industry involves overcoming the cultural stigma around “blue-collar” jobs, even though civilization would crumble without the trades. What is needed is more education around the benefits provided by entrepreneurship in the trades. There are amazing things happening, and educating people know about them at an early age will help build that future workforce. In this way we can embrace prefabrication into the future by involving younger generations.

Bridging the Gap podcast, episode 197 with guest Ryan Dobbins of KLH Engineers “The Changing of the Guard”

Bridging the Gap podcast, episode 197 with guest Ryan Dobbins of KLH Engineers "The Changing of the Guard"
Bridging the Gap podcast, episode 197 with guest Ryan Dobbins of KLH Engineers “The Changing of the Guard”

Tune in to episode 197 of Bridging the Gap Podcast to hear more about generational change in the trades. 

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