Embracing Change Collaboratively Can Improve the Construction Industry
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Embracing Change Collaboratively Can Improve the Construction Industry

Todd Stevens, Vice President of Industrial Construction, MetroPower
Todd Stevens, Vice President of Industrial Construction, MetroPower

Todd Stevens, Vice President of Industrial Construction, MetroPower

Todd Stevens has over 25 years of experience  in the electrical construction industry working  in engineering, construction, operations and  business management sectors. He entered the  electrical skilled trade side of the electrical industry  in his teen years and evolved over time to take up  an executive management role. After spending most  of his career in North and South Carolina, Stevens  took up the leadership role opportunity to support the  industrial portion of the company covering offices in  South Georgia and North Florida.  

What are the significant challenges that have been  impacting the construction space lately?   

One of the biggest challenges that the construction  industry face today is supply chain disruption, as most  of the material comes from overseas. The Russia-  Ukraine war and COVID-19 have compounded  these issues more than anticipated, as Ukraine is the  argest exporter of nickel. So the impact is hitting  the industry from many different directions. Also,  whenever copper mines or any other raw material  providers go on strike or face unexpected situations,  it affects the supply. For instance, the entire industry  is impacted when the supplier of medium voltage  cables fails to deliver. However, we can convert  this supply chain challenge into the opportunity  of controlling our own needs. We have the chance  to onshore supplies and become independent as  opposed to offshore.

There is a need for change  in the construction industry to  improve. According to industry  analysts and economists, the  construction industry is lagging in  terms of continuous improvement.  Though everybody is trying  to change something, nobody  addresses the real problem, as  rapid-fire change doesn’t fix  age-old issues. In fact, it creates  inconsistency and instability.  What we need is strategic change  with clear intentions and goals  rather than change for the sake of  changing. 

Could you tell us about any  latest project initiative that you  have been working on and the  technology that you leveraged  to make it successful?

Technology helps us from an  ease-of-use and consistency perspective. However,  technology doesn’t think. Humans have to do the  thinking. We have to implement new processes  around quality controls (QC) and quality assurance  (QA) to ensure a better change. Recently, we have  developed QA/QC approach early in the process,  even at the estimating stage for projects.

As a result of this change in the process, we can  help the execution and operations team focus on the  areas of importance that make big dividends at the  end of the project. For instance, in a recent project  for a chemical plant, we took this QA/QC process  and thinking to such an extent that when the client  mobilized with their commissioning team, within  two weeks, they sent half of their team home as we  were fully prepared.

 If we want  to see the industry  improve, we have to do it through collaboration  and  innovation 

This was the project in my entire career where I  had a zero-punch list. It was the result of the project  summit concept that I created in collaboration with a  group of executives about how to approach a project  in the construction industry and build an industrial  facility. We deployed this collaborative innovation  and continuous improvement process in the gas-air  separation unit for the chemical plant and achieved  a zero-punch list.

In essence, we have to establish the basis for  change and ensure the process is convenient for  people, especially in today’s world when there is a  limited supply of material  and labor. 

Where do you see the  construction industry  heading in the next two  to three years? 

The future for construction  looks more like an  engineered solution. I  believe the engineering  and construction sector  are working closely  to create and share  intellectual knowledge  that needs to transfer from  the owner’s vision to the  engineer’s design to the  actual execution of the  project while considering  an engineered solution  such as prefabrication.  The constant learning  and improvement will  allow our industry to get  better. We need to go methodically through each  component, ensuring that everybody is on the same  page. Then we must obtain feedback and share it  with all the people that participated along the way  as if the feedback doesn’t ever come back, then  there is a chance that we have missed the continuous  improvement process completely. 

What would be a piece of advice to your fellow  peers in the industry?

Our business is based on relationships and people. So,  we have to work collaboratively. Try to work together  rather than working as a bunch of individuals. If we  want to see the industry improve, we have to do it  through collaboration and innovation. For example,  we have improved in safety year over year as safety  is not economy, we need to embrace the change by  working collaboratively. 

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