TomTom: construction sustainability in the spotlight
The Green Construction Board recently highlighted the changes the construction industry must make if the government’s carbon reduction targets are to be met.
Ambitions of a 50 percent cut in built environment emissions by 2025 and at least an 80 percent reduction in national greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 are extremely challenging.
According to the Board’s recent ‘2015 Routemap Progress’ report, ‘capital carbon’ – a measure that includes the carbon footprint of the industry’s own processes and transport emissions – “has shown a trend for gradual increase across most construction sectors as economic growth has taken hold since 2009”.
With the reduction of carbon emissions from construction processes and associated transport a key element of the government and industry’s joint ‘Strategy for Sustainable Construction’, more efforts must clearly be made to ‘decarbonise’ the supply chain.
Research findings a cause for optimism
TomTom Telematics recently conducted its own research to provide a snapshot of the industry’s commitment to long-term environmental responsibility and the findings did offer cause for optimism.
75 percent of the 149 construction companies surveyed said they now operate a low carbon or carbon reduction strategy, with 58 percent regularly monitoring and measuring their carbon footprint. This commitment to the green agenda is boosted by client demands – 51 percent of construction operators claimed their clients require them to record and act on carbon emissions as project performance indicators.
The fleet operation has been identified as a key focus for CO2 reduction; 68 percent of companies we spoke to have systems and processes in place to reduce fuel consumption across their vehicle fleet and, of these, only 23 percent use a telematics system to do so. Fleet operations are a major source of CO2 emissions but the data provided by technology such as telematics can allow companies to pinpoint trends and tackle the root causes of fuel wastage.
52 percent of respondents cited road traffic congestion as the biggest cause of unnecessary fuel consumption, followed by vehicle idling and inefficient routing, both at 11 percent. Five percent named vehicle speeding as their biggest drain on fuel wastage, while unauthorised vehicle usage was cited by a further five percent.
But while performance efficiency is clearly crucial, old habits can die hard. Nevertheless, initiating meaningful change can prove a straightforward process if approached in a structured fashion.
Technology for effective fleet and route planning to minimise wasted mileage can be introduced swiftly with minimal business disruption. Smart navigation, incorporating live traffic information, can help drivers avoid congestion, slashing their journey times and their carbon footprint.
Involving and empowering drivers
Change does not need to scare employees, even when it involves monitoring driving standards.
When implementing a performance programme, it is important to involve drivers in discussions from the outset, involving union representation if appropriate. This gives them the chance to ask questions, raise any concerns, and to start a two-way dialogue that helps to demystify the process and give staff a sense their opinion really counts.
Taking construction giant Skanska as an example, all employees are provided with mandatory leadership and values training as a part of their induction, quickly setting the tone for what is expected. A right to challenge has been established where anyone can challenge a colleague on negative behaviour regardless of position or status. Suggestions for improvements are welcomed, with any changes clearly communicated to staff.
Creating advocates and champions can also help. Instilling a sense of pride and responsibility among selected workers can help to put them in a position where they can spread the word and highlight the benefits of driving more efficiently. These benefits might range from improved safety to cost savings that can help to safeguard jobs.
Business policy could also outline what consequences might be faced as a result of breaches of expected standards, such as excessive incidents of idling or speeding. Any disciplinary process should be clearly outlined and communicated, while giving staff the right to reply.
Data insights to achieve change
The amount of data available to construction companies to monitor and improve standards is now greater than ever but collecting, analysing, and reporting on it needn’t be an arduous task. Telematics systems, for example, are ever more sophisticated, creating individual profiles for drivers based on their performance in a number of key efficiency areas.
Management can drill down into specific areas of performance to gain greater insight into specific problems. Data is available on a range of behaviours, including speeding, fuel consumption, harsh steering and braking, idling, gear changes, and constant speed.
The latest telematics tools can also maintain the theme of two-way feedback and collaboration by empowering drivers to adjust their driving style in real time. The driver will receive an alert through their sat nav device to inform them where they are able to improve. Devices can even provide predictive advice that unlocks even greater fuel and carbon emissions savings. Drivers are told when to take their foot off the accelerator on the approach to roundabouts or junctions, allowing them to drive in a smoother, more fuel-efficient manner.
When it comes to achieving sustained levels of engagement from a workforce, incentives such as extra holidays or cash can prove beneficial. Drivers for plant hire company Garic, for example, receive a weekly bonus if they hit agreed fuel consumption performance targets. Simple recognition and acknowledgement can be equally effective however, with positive feedback and constructive criticism fostering a culture of collaboration.
TomTom Telematic’s research found that 95 percent of construction companies still believe the industry as a whole could do more to reduce carbon emissions. However, by following a set of established guidelines – creating a culture of excellence, providing strong leadership, choosing data to suit objectives, and working with employees to achieve improvements – best practice and impactful change can be achieved.
Read the July 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine
How could drones be used in the construction industry?
The use of drones and drone technology including artificial intelligence in several industries has become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether it’s for security purposes or even a bit of fun, drones are a convenient way of monitoring situations from above. So, could this be beneficial to the construction industry? In short, yes, and here are some of the ways the industry can use them.
Whenever a construction project is complete, it’s always important to take images of it looking its best so that the project itself or even a business can be promoted. With drones, the ability to record aerial footage and take photos from the sky adds a new dimension to displaying a construction project. A drone, provided it specced correctly, can capture video and photos in 4K HD from unique angles and provide an interesting perspective on a building project. A drone could be particularly useful to estate agents who are looking to show properties that they are trying to sell.
Occasionally surveyors need to laser scan parts of a building for planning and design reasons. This can be particularly challenging when trying to scan higher parts of a building due to not having a laser scanning tool that can reach. However, laser scanning capabilities in drones mean that they are able to capture things like the exact detail of topography and buildings while also having the ability to point cloud scan, which was previously difficult due to the restricted access of high points on buildings.
In construction, there are often times when a high level of risk is involved. This usually means have to complete certain tasks virtually. Drones can help workers do this through the use of their First Person View (FPV) technology. With this, a drone can stream HD footage to the project team and provide them with a live view of what it is seeing. This can be enhanced further with Virtual Reality (VR) glasses.
Activities on-site don’t always go as planned and if it’s a large site, it can especially difficult for managers and other interested personnel to determine the location of their workers, tools, and vehicles. Thanks to a drone’s ability to be operated remotely, they can provide managers with a birds-eye view of the whole site, as it flies around to each individual area. That way, they can gain a better understanding and awareness of exactly where everything is.
Drones, therefore, have many uses for the construction industry from security to locating specific tools or vehicles, to laser-scanning features, all in 4K HD video. Maybe drones will become the future of not just the construction industry but many others, too.