Who Says Creativity Isn’t Key in Commercial Construction?
By Chase Sebastian, Partner & Director of Influence, QuickFrames
Construction is one of the few industries that has been around since prehistoric times. Humans started building with materials like mud bricks and eventually evolved to using stone, more advanced tools and machinery. Take one look at the pyramids of ancient Egypt, and it’s clear that the act of constructing functional and beautiful buildings has stood the test of time.
But, does the age of the industry mean you have to stick with longstanding processes from the past? Certainly not. Innovation can – and should – happen. Here’s a deeper look.
Eliminate “The Way We’ve Always Done it”
Even though evolution and progress have driven construction since it began, there’s a common mindset that prevents it from continuing further. It’s the “we can’t try something new; this is how we’ve always done it” mentality. Even if you don’t subscribe to that mantra personally, you’ve probably worked with someone who does.
Many fabricators get stuck in the rut of familiarity and routine, shunning new tools, solutions and technology because they require flexible thinking and a learning curve. But to get the most gains from your next project, creatively and otherwise, you must shift your thinking from a “we’ve always done it this way” mindset – to an open mind.
Switch Up Your Processes
We all know how it goes. Every party on a project has his or her defined role and sticks to it. Stay in your lane, and things go smoothly. Venture out? Well, it’s just not done. But, who says that everyone must follow prescribed processes no matter what? If they’re working and your team is optimized, then sure. Continue what you’re doing.
But for most fabrication shops, there’s a lot of room between where you are now and how optimized you can get. If you start looking at each project from a bigger picture point of view, you’ll start seeing it differently. You can’t change other people, but you can offer new ideas and get creative. Here’s an example.
One of our customers, Project Manager Mark Dutton with Jeffords Steel, was tired of waiting for roof opening details from mechanical contractors. Waiting meant that they, as the fabricator, were constantly under pressure to get RTU frames fabricated with no time to spare. The team at Jeffords Steel found themselves in this situation once again with a recent job, waiting on skylight locations that still hadn’t come.
So, Mark got creative. He knew about our adjustable, engineered RTU frames and kept some in stock for times like this. Mark offered QuickFrames rooftop frames to the General Contractor and showed his team how easy they are to install. He asked the GC if he could provide a credit for the install and shop hours for fabricating angle frames. The GC agreed, and then told each of the associated parties (mechanical team, skylight installer and everyone else) that they were responsible for installing their own frames in the right locations.
This process was completely new, unlike how jobs are typically handled. It was creative and bold – and it paid off. Mark said: “I’m pushing for this process on other jobs. If the location information can’t be provided, why doesn’t everyone just use QuickFrames? They can be moved, expanded, changed. It’s like magic.”
Dream Up New Applications & Ideas
Piggybacking off the point above, you’re not limited to using the same products in the same ways every time. View each project on its own. Of course, you’ll draw from experience as you create a plan, but also consider opportunities for improvement. Can you reconfigure the way you fabricate a certain component piece, so you can maximize your shop time? Is there a different way to bend the steel to increase strength?
Also consider new ideas for responding to seasonal, economic or industry fluctuations. A McKinsey & Co. report stated that “it’s all the more important for the construction industry to clamp down on inefficiency and improve productivity levels, which are second to last among all U.S. sectors,” during times of economic strain. Adopting lean principles, as an example, could help improve construction’s average 1% productivity growth. Eliminating waste is a key part of such an approach, which fabricators could try by identifying and eliminating inefficiencies. Could you incorporate prefabricated materials, or set up just-in-time deliveries to better align with project schedules?
Just because you’ve done things a certain way in your shop over the years, or since the beginning of your career in construction, doesn’t mean you can’t innovate and improve. In fact, it means it’s probably high time to get creative and come up with better ways to evolve. If you do, everyone will benefit – your customers, your projects and your bottom line.
Of course, using QuickFrames helps modernize your approach to RTU frames, free up shop time and increase productivity. Get a Quick Quote here.