Embracing the ‘new normal’ of construction

Learning to adjust

How strange to think back to the beginning of this year when part of Conquip’s well-laid 2020 plans were to carry out higher face-to-face interactions with our customers and more collaboration on projects! It took a global pandemic and a complete lockdown to scupper those plans and send us back to the drawing board.

However, as usual the commitment and determination of our team has meant we have quickly adapted to new ways of working to ensure our customers continue to enjoy 'next-level' service.

We have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the global economy, forcing new, unprecedented measures to be put in place to ensure its survival. For the construction industry, it is not just simply a case of returning to site, picking up tools and carrying on from where a project had been left. This pandemic will affect every aspect of construction, so it is inevitable that the industry will need to evolve and adjust to a ‘new normal’ way of working.


How the industry has adapted so far

Contractors should be applauded for how they have adapted to the new measures in place after the pressures they faced in the initial weeks of the pandemic, with overcrowded canteens and large numbers of site staff operating within close proximity of each other, just some of the issues highlighted on construction sites.

Technology has already played its part with the rise in video calling, which has all but removed the necessity for so many face-to-face meetings and video may well play a larger part in the future, reducing site visits and minimising unnecessary human contact.

However, what about social distancing on site? This is surely one of the greatest challenges facing the industry. Government advice is to ‘maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible’ and where it is not possible, reduce the number of people each person comes into contact with, by using ‘fixed teams’, or ‘partnering’.


What we can do to protect our staff

One solution, already implemented following the return of construction, is shift work, which enforces the government’s guidelines as closely as possible. Shift work means less site operatives working at any one-time, minimising the number of people a person has contact with and easing the logistical problems of social distancing. Staggered arrival and departures to and from site reduce the chance of gatherings before a shift starts or ends.

Contractors, Willmott Dixon, have used a combination of technology and new practices to adhere to social distancing measures. They have 95% of their sites open after finding ways to implement the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Site Operating Procedures.

Examples of the new practices include:

  • Hiring large marquees for welfare facilities
  • Enforcing one-way systems, especially around bottleneck areas of sites
  • Using GoPro technology to film progress
  • Remind operatives of social distancing using voiceover systems
  • Making hand sanitiser available in communal areas and site entrances and exits
  • Staggered break and lunch times with clear signage for social distancing in communal areas

To view the CLC’s Site Operating Procedures, click here

Similarly, Vistry Group Executive Director, Keith Carnegie outlined how they have revised operating procedures on their sites:

“All of the construction activities which are commencing today are doing it in a safe and measured manner and we will learn what works, what doesn’t work and how we need to adapt and learn new habits in respect of how we are going to carry out construction in the months ahead.”

Could other contractors follow suit? One thing is for certain, for the industry to survive, sites need to be open and for that to happen, procedures need to be put in place to ensure government guidelines are being followed and staff are protected.

How Conquip can help you adjust to the ‘new normal’

Conquip are renowned for finding ways to improve the efficiency of building processes through our innovative products. With so many projects now behind schedule, time is now more prevalent than ever, so improving the efficiency of processes on site is highly desirable to any contractor.

Recently, Sean Carney of Carney Construction highlighted how the Excavator Pouring Bucket was key for helping "keep 2 metres social distancing on site" by removing the need of people working closely together at the concrete discharge zone. Find out more about this here.

It is great to hear the Excavator Pouring Bucket, designed to improve safety and efficiency on site, is now also helping site operatives maintain a safe distance between each other.

Talking about time-saving products, our revolutionary BulkX has a track record of continuously improving efficiencies on site both domestically and abroad, axing 12 weeks from the Stepney Green Dig programme and cutting excavation loadout time by 30% on a Mainland Civils project at Parramatta Square, Australia.

Get in touch

We may only be beginning to understand what the ‘new normal’ may look like but construction has proved a resilient opponent to adversity in the past and the early signs are that the industry can recover once again. Anything that we can do to help get your site back up and running or operating more efficiently, just get in touch, it’s what we do best.