The impact of the pandemic has been far-reaching. Yet, despite the challenges it presented to the world at large, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies, like several others, are anxious to turn the page. In fact, all manner of construction companies with expertise and interest in building infrastructure, expect that President Biden’s infrastructure-driven “Build Back Better” program will fast-track their road to full recovery. Once approved and applied, the program envisages substantial investments in infrastructure and associated projects. The program is positioned to renew America’s stressed public infrastructure, hence the “Build Back”, but the onus of building “Better” lies entirely on EPC companies.
There’s a strong case to be made that the only way organizations can Build Back Better is by embracing modern technology solutions that strengthen their decision-making capabilities, improve operational efficiencies, and make compliance easier and less effort-intensive.
Challenges of the EPC Industry
The EPC industry has not changed much over all these years, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Many challenges impact the productivity and safety of workers, affecting project delivery, and, as a consequence, constraining the profitability of the sector. Here’s looking at some of the challenges of the EPC industry:
- The growing shortage of skilled workers is one of the greatest challenges affecting the EPC industry. This talent shortage not only impacts project completion times; it also results in additional project costs while impacting the efficiency and productivity of existing workers.
- For projects spread across several teams and locations, fragmented value chains, a general lack of standardization, and siloed departments result in a lack of effective communication – impacting cross-functional collaboration.
- Despite the dependency on multiple assets, inefficient resource utilization causes low levels of efficiency. Increased waste; errors and duplication of efforts are endemic to manual processes.
- Lack of data aggregation and standards, as well as manual, error-prone reporting tend to impact business decision-making and increase SGA costs, often putting contracts that are complex (and of high-value) in jeopardy.
- Managing HR and payroll is another Herculean task for EPC companies as workers constantly move in and out of the system; so is maintaining daily logs and monitoring worker attendance. Compliance with union payroll and certified payroll needs becomes complicated and takes time.
- With injury rates and the number of hazards constantly on the rise, ensuring the safety and well-being of workers through the implementation of the right safety measures is also an ongoing challenge.
- Hamstrung by manual and fragmented processes, companies have a hard time closing the books at regular intervals over the duration of projects, as well as at the end of notified financial periods. This is especially a problem for listed companies that are under pressure to finalize results every quarter.
Building Back Better
As EPC companies look to build back better, there is an urgent need to embark on the digital transformation journey. The right technologies can help overcome process challenges, simplify compliance, and aid the business in improving ROI in the long term. Here are some ways in which EPC companies can focus on building back “better”:
- Embrace integrated solutions: Integrated enterprise-grade solutions provide fast access to real-time data. This enhances the visibility of operational data and enables better decision-making. An ERP solution can automate complex construction planning, accounting, project management, HR, and payroll processes. It can also help save time, increase accuracy and make all demanding tasks more manageable. These solutions seamlessly merge with many back-end systems and applications, and they are scalable and will address the needs of EPC companies.
- Standardize processes and streamline project planning: Standardized processes can track project budgets, cost journals, project invoices and change orders. Contract trend notices can lead to transparent and efficient project management. Real-time monitoring can deliver visibility of projects across teams and the resulting integrated insights can uncover bottlenecks that impact the delivery of projects. Since project status and progress are available for everyone to see, time spent emailing and meeting can be put towards project work. Teams can make use of powerful project tools to keep track of daily details on project sites including timesheets, equipment, material used, incidents, activities, transmittals, and submittals.
- Enable speedy risk mitigation: Identifying problems before they occur and calculating their impact on the business enables risk mitigation. Using IoT and analytics technologies, EPC companies can automate maintenance schedules for complex equipment and machinery, thus reducing downtime. These technologies can also help in consistently monitoring known risks, evaluating the effectiveness of solutions, documenting safety incidents, and analyzing job site hazards – ensuring worker safety around the clock.
- Improve agility across the entire construction value chain: Modern integrated solutions can also help improve agility across the entire project. By integrating processes and automating workflows, these solutions can minimize errors and make complex (but necessary) tasks easier and more manageable. EPC companies can leverage these solutions to deliver large, complex projects quickly. Having ready access to a customized audit trail of communication, tasks, actions, and financials protects business integrity and reputation.
The roadblocks in the way for EPC companies are many: from segmented data, fragmented processes, talent shortages, high rates of attrition, safety risks, and more. As EPC projects build up steam and as the demands for better performance grow, building a strong digital backbone can help EPC companies overcome slim profit margins, bid inconsistencies, and scheduling inefficiencies.
This will not be easy. The technology backbone will have to be built keeping the unique challenges of the EPC industry in mind. Contact us today and allow us to show you how to build a holistic solution to optimize your assets, enhance productivity, and ensure better project delivery by leveraging the power of a specialized solution.