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Welcome to the Construction Informer blog – featuring news, information and commentary for contractors

The New Promises of Construction Equipment Telematics

The new functions coming to construction equipment telematics promise to make life easier for owners and equipment managers. Sure, they're reducing waste and lowering costs, but the real transformation on the horizon is one where advanced streams of data combine to...
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Define Your Best Construction Customer, And Sell To the Right Ones

Here’s how to define your best construction customer so your marketing is spot on and your project outcomes meet your goals.

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Trip Up the Grim Reaper with a Safety Program

This definitive guide to developing a construction safety program includes the rationale, a video overview and a list of resources.

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Natural Lighting Challenges the Unnatural

Natural lighting offers benefits to building occupants as well as to companies involved in residential and commercial construction. Find out what researchers say about natural lighting and see examples of the components you would use in a natural lighting installation.

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4 Essential Questions to Ask When Buying Job Management Software

Buying job management software is no easy task especially for service-based business owners strapped for time. By asking these four simple questions though, you can narrow down the field of choices much more quickly. By Jay Crain More field service business owners are...
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EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Offers Boost To P3s

Updated 1-9-2017. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was extended to April 28, 2017, opening the option for more infrastructure construction using foreign wealth.

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Go Around to Cut Square

Almost every construction project requires square holes for electrical sockets and other boxes but for years electricians have struggled to create them with rulers, pencils and handsaws. QUADSAW solves this problem thanks to its unique four-blade technology that cuts square holes in seconds and with absolute precision. QUADSAW is a simple attachment to a power drill that uses patented technology to convert rotary motion into linear motion – in four planes at once. It has built-in spirit levels and the blades can be changed in seconds at the push of a button enabling the user to switch between single and double socket sizes.

A New Solution to a Safer Working Environment

Cordapillar deals with the predicament that is all too familiar to everyone: extension cords running loose on the floor, creating potentially hazardous conditions in the working environment. Tripping is serious and there are 4,000 cord-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms every year. About half of the injuries are from people tripping over cords. You cannot always make the extension cable run in straight lines. If your protective solution consists of rigid, straight pieces, the bends can remain unprotected. The designers of Cordapillar have solved the problem in a brilliant way. It consists of modular segments that allow unlimited length and bending around corners. You just snap the segments together.

If You're Gonna Dig, Call 811

The April National Safe Digging Month was created by the Common Ground Alliance (GCA) to make people more aware of the need to dig safely. This initiative promotes an overall focus on the safety of land workers, and reminds diggers to take safety precautions before digging. GCA says to call 811 before digging underground. The service doesn’t cost, and will get utility lines marked. No excavation job is too small to place the call because utilities vary in depth, and many are closer to the surface than expected. A message from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Benefit Everyone with the New Stub-EASE

Until now, conduit stub-ups had been universally accepted as a necessary evil in concrete construction applications. Previous methods of protection and awareness varied from spraying or flagging the stub-ups, to setting concrete blocks over them, only serving to highlight or hide the hazards on a raceway.

Stub-EASE allows the customer to keep future extensions of the conduit from projecting beyond the top of the concrete slab, by attaching to the embedded conduit via a threaded coupling. After the concrete pour, the HDPE (High Density Poly-Ethylene) sleeve and support are cut down to the top of concrete elevation and left in the slab until the future raceway is ready to be safely extended into a wall cavity. At this time, the electrician can use a driver with standard size paddle bit on the plastic partition wall in the middle of the sleeve, to expose the embedded threaded coupling.

Discover Ancient Origins of Construction Estimating

Ancient Estimators is a web series focused on the oft-forgotten key roles estimators and construction managers played in the building trades from the dawn of civilization. Watch the new web series “Ancient Estimators” which explores the primitive origins of modern-day construction planning and estimating in ancient times.

New Drone Portal Amplifies Collaboration

Hangar’s JobSight Project Tracker is a team’s portal to visual records of their job site. The company claims that users get quick and clean access to site-specific aerial data and the information teams need. Save meeting time, eliminate redundant communication, ensure teams are working with thorough, up-to-date data and enhance collaboration by connecting the field to the office in an established rhythm. This interface gathers team members around the same information virtually, and keeps them informed and equipped to verify their projects are on task, creating streamlined project management and a more efficient site, according to Hangar. Other benefits claimed include fewer meetings, better communication, a safer work environment, and true on-site results. Now integrated with Procore.

Simplify Your IoT Home

FetchitGo is your universal home device controller to interact with all the IoT devices and mobile services and keeps track of all your tasks and reminders.

 

 

A press of a button can turn on a smart light and start your coffee at the same time, and also add reminder for “out of milk” and taking medication. Through machine learning have IoT’s mirror the personality of the household to take away the pain of programming.

Elevated Foundation Helps Deal With Volatile Soils

In North Texas, active soils often cause foundation problems due to movement and settlement. By using a field-tested, patented process of elevating a slab-on-grade foundation, Tella Firma creates a protective void between the ground and the foundation itself. This application isolates the slab and guards it from damaging soil swells, contractions and unexpected movement. Most foundation damage results from soil movement that can be caused by expansion and contraction of clay soils due to moisture change and other changing conditions that affect the soil.

 

 

Faulkner Perrin Custom Homes used Tella Firma Foundations (www.tellafirma.com) for two high-end spec homes under development in the Preston Hollow neighborhood in Dallas.  One project will be completed by the end of this year, while the other project is just under way.

Roof Design for Builders

CASTLETON ON HUDSON, N.Y., June 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Attention to Detail announces the release of Easy Rafters 4.0, the latest version of its interactive roof design software for builders, remodelers, architects, engineers and do-it-yourselfers. Easy Rafters has been completely rewritten with new features, better support for the latest versions of Windows and a new licensing option. In addition to the Gable, Shed, Saltbox, Hip, Valley, California Valley, Gambrel, and Bay Roof options, the new Polygon Roof (3-12 sides) option has replaced the Octagon Roof. Other new features include jack rafter layout drawings for Valley Roofs similar to the Hip Roof layout drawing, roof sheathing drawings for several roof types, DXF output in AutoCAD 2000 format, and Print Preview functionality.

Sunscreen to the Workers

WATERFORD, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Skin cancer is by far the most common form of cancer and too much exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases the risk of skin cancer. However, according to a 2016 survey Deb Group commissioned, 71 percent of outdoor workers are not provided sunscreen by their employer’s to use at work.1 A new survey commissioned by Deb Group, and conducted online by Harris Poll among 2,057 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, examines the public’s opinions on sunscreen at businesses. The study found that 74 percent of adults believe businesses with outdoor workers should provide sunscreen for their employees to use while at work.

Very Tough, And They Plunge

Mt. Prospect, Ill., June 14, 2017 – The days of having to change jig saw blades in the middle of a job for fear of hitting a nail or a screw in wood or laminate are over. Bosch Carbide for All-Purpose and Bosch Carbide for High-Pressure Laminates (HPL) jig saw blades are tough enough to withstand a nail hit and keep going – no change-out required. A Bosch-exclusive carbide brazing technology delivers 10X life versus standard bi-metal blades.So one jig saw blade really does do it all in tough laminate, wood with nails and hard materials. Premium Bosch Carbide for All-Purpose jig saw blades rely on Progressor® Technology that is a combination of aggressive small teeth that work together with larger teeth to increase speed and life.

New Wearable Sensor For Safety Alerts

NORWALK, Conn., May 23, 2017 – Triax Technologies Inc., just released the spot-r, a lightweight wearable sensor that alerts safety personnel to slip, trip and fall incidents in real time so workers can receive aid faster. It also logs key data for insurers on when and where incidents occur. The IoT device comes with a dashboard that provides visibility into worker location and site operations. This unprecedented Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled technology makes the digitally connected construction worksite possible for the first time. It helps to improve worker safety and reduce incident response times, while enabling general contractors to better manage projects and labor productivity.

Shedding Light on Lighting

“The most recent Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) collected new information about lighting control technologies and strategies in the United States in 2012. Compared with other investments in energy efficiency—such as upgrading heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems or replacing insulation—lighting controls are often relatively easy, accessible, and affordable changes. A new EIA report, Trends in Lighting in Commercial Buildings, details these strategies and provides information about lighting technologies in commercial buildings.”—EIA

commercial building lighting controls

Confidence Slips

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (the Foundation) releases the May 2017 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI) today. Designed to collect leadership data, the index reports a qualitative assessment of both the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $1 trillion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market eased again in May to 63.2, down from the April index of 65.8.

22.6% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, a decrease from 36.7% in April. 71% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, an increase from 63.3% in April. 6.5% believe business conditions will worsen, an increase from none the previous month.

Slowing M&A Deals Blamed on Uncertainty

From PwC’s Global Engineering and Construction M&A
Deals Insights Q1 2017

Q1 17 M&A activity decreased to $12 billion which is the lowest level in the last three years. While there are some seasonal influences on the first calendar year quarter in any year, the drop in Q1 17 was far more pronounced than in previous years suggesting ongoing levels of heightened market uncertainty as well as tempered demand from Asia, and specifically Chinese investment. – Colin McIntyre, US Engineering and Construction Deals Leader

PWC MA activity Q1 2017

 

  • Deal value in the E&C sector decreased from $23.3 billion in Q4 16 to $12 billion in Q1 17. Deal volume also dropped by more than half from the previous quarter.
  • Two megadeals were announced in Q1 17 with a total aggregate disclosed value of $4.8 billion.
  • The civil engineering category had the largest share in terms of both value and volume – 47% and 35%, respectively.
  • In Q1 2017, financial buyers deal value decreased by 43% and 38% as compared to Q4 16 and Q1 16, respectively. Strategic investors had a higher drop in deal value, decreasing by 51% and 53% during the same period.
  • Asia and Oceania continued to lead the region, but only marginally in an otherwise down quarter across the globe.
  • China M&A activity in Q1 17 continued a trend of declining comps versus the prior year, reflecting continued influence of currency controls in the market making completion of overseas transactions more challenging for Chinese outbound investors.

 

Using Ice to Lower AC Costs Really Works

Courtesy CALMAC

How To Stop Silica Dust Dangers

Infographic Courtesy of Bosch Tools

Seismic Celebrations Present Concern Over Safety In Stadiums

By Douglas P. Taylor, CEO of Taylor Devices, manufacturer of seismic dampers that protect structures during such events as earthquakes and high winds. He is inventor or co-inventor of 34 patents in the fields of energy management, hydraulics and shock isolation.

With his team leading 34-30 in the final minutes of a Wild Card Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints in 2011, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch took a handoff and exploded through the hole, beginning what would turn out to be a 67-yard touchdown run.

Odds are as Lynch was sealing the victory for the Seahawks against the defending Super Bowl Champions, nobody in the stands was worried about the structural soundness of CenturyLink Field. Sitting a few thousand miles away on a tiny island at North Tonawanda, NY, just outside of Niagara Falls, Douglas P. Taylor, CEO of Taylor Devices (www.taylordevices.com/), no doubt looked at Lynch’s run through a different lens than most Seahawks fans that day.

Taylor’s daily job involves controlling and stopping the movement of masses. No, he’s not a linebacker, he’s an engineer, and his company manufactures seismic dampers that protect structures during such events as earthquakes and high winds. As Lynch rumbled down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown, something else was rumbling in Seattle that day. Lynch’s run led to such a frenzy in the stands that jumping fans caused a 1.0 earthquake to register at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. Lynch helped set off seismic alarms again in 2014 on touchdown run, and football fans of another sort on the other side of the pond got into the act earlier this year, causing what amounted to a 1.0 Earthquake in Spain in celebration of an FC Barcelona win.

Taylor’s firm wasn’t involved in the construction of either facility in Seattle or Barcelona, but it was heavily involved with BC Place, a new stadium in Vancouver, and Safeco Field, the retractable roof stadium that serves as the home of the Seattle Mariners.

“Those who are going to sporting events should be made aware that technology already exists to protect a structure and its occupants during wind and seismic events,” Taylor says. “My hope is that a fan’s biggest worry is the score of the game and not whether the stands around him are going to collapse.”

Of Major League Baseball’s 30 stadiums, 18 were built in 1995 or later, with five of those opening in the past decade. When play opens on the 2017 NFL season, 10 of its stadiums will have opened their doors in 1994 or earlier, with the remaining 21 opening in 1995 or later.

“Any stadium in a high seismic zone that was designed before 1995 probably does not meet the updated seismic codes,” Taylor says. “For stadiums subject only to high winds, older designs may well meet the current codes. However, these codes usually only provide a structure that won’t totally collapse.

While certain weather and nature-related phenomena such as hurricanes and snow storms can be identified by meteorologists well in advance to postpone games, there is no early-warning system for an earthquake. Several professional stadiums – not to mention a large number of college football stadiums – are near fault lines in California and in the Midwest. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is a seven to 10 percent chance an earthquake magnitude 6.0 or higher will strike in the next 50 years along the New Madrid Fault Line in the Midwest. California on the other hand – the current home of five MLB teams and four NFL teams – is staring down the barrel of a gun ready to fire off a 7.0 magnitude earthquake or higher at any time.

“The northern part of the state is long overdue for a powerful earthquake (7.0 or higher) along the San Andreas fault,” Taylor says. “San Diego and Los Angeles aren’t safe either. A new fault line was discovered in the Southern part of the state earlier this year that could cause an earthquake as powerful as 7.4 on the Richter Scale.”

Gaps and Opportunities Between Professional Member Organizations and the Members They Serve

AUSTIN, Texas, April 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Abila, the leading provider of software and services to associations, nonprofits and government entities, announced today findings from its Member Professional Development Study: Aligning Education Strategy with What Matters Most to Members.

Key Findings Include:

  • Attracting younger members can be challenging: The number one challenge identified by professional organizations is attracting younger members to education and training programs. Millennials turn to their employer for professional education, first, and the associations to which they belong, second.
  • Content is king: Across all age groups, the plethora of new, readily accessible, lower-cost education options is a threat to associations. But expertise in content can be a differentiator. The number one reason members across all generations engage in continuing education or professional development is because of the content. Specifically, practical, skill-based information that can be used immediately is highly valued by members.
  • Association members are turning to a variety of sources for professional development: While associations and employers remain the top “go-to” sources for professional development and training, members rely on multiple resources for their development – and value all of them for opportunities for growth and career advancement.
  • Technology is a challenge for associations: Finding the right technology tools and learning management platforms remains a challenge for many associations. Only a third or fewer of professionals surveyed are “very satisfied” with their ability to target outreach, run reports or provide interactive features for their members participating in courses.
  • There is a gap between the way associations charge for professional development and what members want: Most members want education and training to be all-inclusive in the membership dues, while only about one-third of associations take this approach. Many associations are committed to a pay-as-you-go model, but this has very little appeal to members – particularly Millennials.

Half of Mature U.S. Workers Will Wait Until At Least Age 70 to Retire

CHICAGO and ATLANTA, March 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Is 70 becoming the new retirement age? According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 30 percent of U.S. workers ages 60 and older plan to retire at age 70 or older. Another 20 percent don’t believe they will ever be able to retire.

While delaying retirement can be fueled by a number of reasons, financial motivations typically top the list as mature workers work to ensure they have a large enough nest egg. But, just how much they’ll need in the bank to enjoy their golden years remains a mystery or moving target for some. One third of workers ages 60+ (34 percent) say they aren’t sure how much they’ll need to save in order to retire.

Asked how much money they think they’ll need to save in order to retire, 42 percent of U.S. workers ages 60+ believe they will need at least $500,000. A quarter (24 percent) believe they’ll need less than $500,000.

  • Less than $500,000: 24 percent
  • $500,000 to less than $1 million: 25 percent
  • $1 million to less than $2 million: 13 percent
  • $2 million to less than $3 million: 3 percent
  • $3 million or more: 1 percent

When asked if they’re currently contributing to retirement accounts, more than 1 in 4 (26 percent) workers 55+ said they do not participate in a 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan.

Three out of four workers ages 55+ (74 percent) don’t earn their desired salary, and they’re taking steps to change that. Eight percent took on a second job in 2016, and 12 percent plan to change jobs this year.

Moody’s: Progress on addressing US infrastructure gap likely to be slow despite calls to action

While federal government proposals calling for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending would be credit positive for state and local economies, several constraints suggest that investment will be slow to ramp up, according to Moody’s Investors Service in a new report. Due to a lack of bipartisan agreement over funding mechanisms, as well as regulatory hurdles and practical constraints, Moody’s expects additional spending to be modest in 2017 and 2018. 

Disagreements over private sector involvement may prevent progress toward a consensus.

“Either proposal would amount to a $100 billion annual increase in spending on infrastructure,” says AJ Sabatelle, a Moody’s managing director and the lead author of the report. “But finding a reasonable balance between direct government spending and private investment will take time.”

Meaningful acceleration of lead times for new projects would likely require regulatory reform involving federal, state and local agencies or passage of new legislation. Practical considerations regarding the pace at which new projects can proceed are also likely to hamper near-term investment. If private capital is to play a significant role in facilitating the increase in infrastructure spending, the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) will likely be necessary. While the pipeline has grown, P3s currently fund less than 5% of annual infrastructure investment. Moody’s anticipates continued evolution of public policy and additional legislative action that promotes P3s and simplifies their legal framework.

Death & Injury Infographic

Courtesy ANBU Safety

ANBU Safety infographic