3 changes you should make to your construction forecasting today
We’d all like a crystal ball to help us see what lies ahead for our business – but making three key changes can make a real difference to how well your construction forecasting works.
Hang on – what just happened?
The construction industry shot out of the recession. Business is booming, materials are getting scarce and skilled labour is in high demand.
Not everyone saw that coming, so read on for our three top tips on changes you should make to your construction forecasting that will help you plan better.
Managing the complexity of change
Many construction companies use forecasting to predict what’s ahead, how projects will progress, what materials and labour they will need and how prices might rise or fall.
Construction forecasting is complicated. Why?
- Projects evolve – especially long ones.
- Unexpected business comes your way.
- Subcontractors let you down.
- Prices shift.
Preparing for better construction forecasting
These are the three changes you should make to your construction forecasting:
- Get real about your software.
- Make sure you’re joined up.
- Take advantage of automation.
Why? Good construction forecasting means great preparation – and successful companies know being prepared means getting ahead of the game.
1. Real time, real life.
Is your construction forecasting software fit for purpose - or did you let it slide during the recession? Opportunities in construction are finally on the up, so now’s the time to make up for that false economy.
Your construction forecasting software needs up-to-date data to give you accurate forecasts.
Real time updates mean real-life estimates and real profits.
“The past six months have seen consistent and strong growth within the industry, with demand for materials and output reaching levels not seen since the onset of recession in 2008. New research shows that prospects are even brighter for the start of next year.” – Construction News
2. Join it up
Plenty of construction companies have accounts systems, HR systems, retentions systems and procurement systems.
But do your systems join up? Do the people who run them know what their colleagues’ systems say?
Make sure your construction software joins up. That way, you get instant access to all the information you need.
We’re talking about seeing the bigger picture – all the time. So you can make truly informed decisions about where your company is going.
3. Taking advantage of automation
Have you been tied up recently worrying about the Construction Industry Scheme?
Plenty have – UK construction companies have already been fined more than £130m recently for mistaking employees for subcontractors.
By adopting the right construction software that offers automation, these issues can be taken out of your hands – it will record, verify and report all your CIS payments automatically. HMRC will love you – and you can get on with running your business.
- Construction forecasting is about the future – but you need to do it now.
- Good software gives you real time data to make realistic decisions.
- Joined up systems give you the bigger picture about your business – all the time.
The construction industry is changing as the economy grows, materials get scarce and skills even scarcer. There are opportunities to grasp – but also challenges to overcome.
Discover how the changes you make to your forecasting will improve your finances by downloading: How to Reflect Construction Industry Changes into your Financial Management
Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration
Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.
But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.
Resonance v Impulse
There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.
Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.
On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.
Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.
Potential impacts from human induced vibration
Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:
- Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
- Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
- Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
- Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.
How to avoid it
As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.