Soil Stabilization: Cementitious Materials Shortage

Soil Stabilization

Soil stabilization changes soil’s physical properties by adding long-term strength and weight-bearing capacity. Soil bases for roads, parking lots, etc. use chemicals, lime-based products, cement, and other bonding agents to create permanent soil stabilization. For example, because of its locale’s soil composition, one company uses an ionic clay coil stabilizer.

The concrete process begins with the manufacturing plants that reduce limestone to a rock-like substance called clinker. The clinker is mixed with gypsum and then ground to become the fine powder we know as cement.

Scarcities of cement, fly ash, and lime are jeopardizing soil stabilization processes. Most cement goes into concrete production, and some construction materials managers are saying they are limited to specific, smaller allotments of cement.

You don’t want to be pouring concrete in Michigan in January. January is when you order cement for spring and summer projects. The high demand for cement last winter is one of the reasons we’re seeing shortages this summer.

Cement is not the same as concrete, but concrete must have cement, and that’s the problem. Richard Thorn, president and CEO of Associated General Contractors of Utah, said, “Cement is the flour needed to bake the cake.”

Other explanations for the shortages are:

  • Interruptions and slowdowns in manufacturing, transportation, distribution, or all three
  • Midwestern rail capacities impacted by oil shortages
  • Trucking supply regulations changed in some states; fewer trucks available

“You can’t just order concrete today and think you’ll get it next week,” said John Sorrell, president of Alabama Concrete Industries Association.

What you can order today and get this week is presorted construction information for business development. Every week, we provide updated data for the U.S. region in which you’re interested. You can download it as a CSV (comma-separated values) file that will plug into a spreadsheet or your own CRM (customer relationship management) software. You can print a hardcopy.

When you request your free weekly edition, we’ll also send you our toolbox:

…and more.

Our marketing pros are eager to share what they know, so why wait? Contact Construction Monitor.

Heavy Construction Equipment Goes Electric

Heavy Construction Equipment

You unhook your hybrid from its charger and drive to the project site where you operate heavy construction equipment. If that’s you in 2023, you may be operating electric-powered heavy construction equipment.

For better ground contact, on mushy or soft soil, track loaders are often a better choice than skid-steers. Track loaders and skid-steers are similar, but track loaders run on parallel “tracks” rather than wheels and tend to be more compact. To add to the confusion, many people call a skid-steer a “Bobcat,” even though that machine is manufactured by several other companies.

In January, Bobcat unveiled its Bobcat T7X compact track loader at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2022). Bobcat says it is the first company to commercialize a dedicated all-electric compact construction machine. This fully electric piece of heavy construction equipment with electric cylinders and drive motors will eliminate emissions, reduce vibrations, and replace hydraulic systems and components.

Electrified Heavy Construction Equipment

Bobcat revealed its battery-powered E32e electric compact excavator in May 2022 saying the 3.9-ton excavator should be available in August. “Diesel-powered equipment is a big polluter,” says construction journalist Jen Miller. She says battery-powered heavy construction equipment could reduce emissions by 59%, based on a report from the Mineta Transportation Institute of California.

At this time, the only solution to high diesel prices is to settle for less profit. And the up-front investment in electric-powered construction equipment is (and likely will be for some time) expensive. But high diesel prices are increasingly prohibitive, so operating electrical heavy-duty construction equipment is beginning to feel more affordable. The push to operate environmentally cleaner, more energy-efficient equipment will drive the off-highway equipment market to $4.5 billion by 2028.

Balance Profit/Loss Using Better Business Development

Rather than settling for less profit, maybe it’s time to explore other avenues. Stroking current customer relationships is one business development tactic. Developing additional marketing strategies by putting available data to work for you is another way.

This is something we know about. Your competitors use our analytics to study their specific construction industry markets. There’s a good chance they know something you don’t. To find out, call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Industry DMI, Hiring Up

Construction Industry

“This peak is largely due to U.S. onshoring efforts,” says Construction Dive, “as more American companies move their manufacturing facilities back to the U.S.” Manufacturing returns to the U.S. are including food-related production and electric vehicle factories.

The Dodge Momentum Index is a monthly measurement of nonresidential construction industry building projects in planning. In June 2022, commercial percentages led by warehouse construction rose 4.1%. That increase in the DMI was a 14-year high for nonresidential building planning.

The numbers also indicate despite the anticipated recession, construction industry developers continue to be optimistic. The real test will be later, as higher interest rates impact businesses and consumer confidence.

When Amazon announced a warehouse construction slowdown, it added impetus to other warehouse construction planning because it shortened lead times for materials. It was anticipated to loosen constraints on obtaining materials as well.

But in July 2022, Amazon backed off and/or delayed 6 office development projects. Amazon said it needed to stand down and reevaluate designs. Because the pandemic changed the way we do our jobs, like other companies, Amazon’s still learning what the new normal way of working will be.

June 2022 also saw 16,500 new jobs in nonresidential construction but the loss of 4,100 jobs in residential construction.

In June, the unemployment rate for construction workers declined…It marks the lowest rate since May 2019…National Association of Home Builders

As of July 12, 2022, the U.S. Dept. of Labor said the mix of jobs in construction may shift as interest rates rise and then relax. Even though residential construction cooled, “jobs in nonresidential building, heavy and civil engineering, and nonresidential specialty trade” are rising.

It’s important to pay attention to national trends and international developments in our sector. There are many ways to manage today’s construction industry fluctuations, all of which impact construction jobs.

Things change.

What never changes is the need for you to maintain an ongoing business development plan. If not you, then someone in your company needs to utilize available data analytics to develop work, create construction industry alignments, and stay abreast of the competition.

Ask us how we can help. Contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Projects and Workforce Management

construction projects

You say you’re a “people person,” and as a workforce manager, that quality comes in handy. But do you have a concise process for knowing not only who’s who but who’s where and when? With labor shortages and high turnover, organizing personnel on construction projects better makes the difference between profit and loss, on time and late.

Personnel on Construction Projects

Keeping track of who is who on construction projects is a greater challenge than ever before. Good old Fred, who’s worked with you for 40 years, is retiring. You knew his kids’ names. You knew his dog’s name.

Workers you thought were company forever-employees are cutting away for other jobs and boomeranging back and even traveling to work on out-of-state construction projects. Organizational change is daily, and construction software can keep you up-to-date.

Here are two tips for efficient workforce management on construction projects:

1. Scheduling

If you’re in reactive mode when sending workers to projects, the biggest problem is you don’t know how much money this is costing your company.

  • Do you have a labor plan that ramps down the number of workers at the right time?
  • What skills are needed; where and when?
  • Who actually needs to be onsite early on?

Working with a limited number of employees means you need to better define their skills and experience. And you need to know more about who they are.

2. Forecasting

Paper spreadsheets vs. software? No comparison. Spreadsheets provide no real-time context. “By the time you forecast the storm, it’s already raining,” says Brian Witt of LaborChart. Software can’t help you make the best decisions, but it can certainly improve your odds of making the right ones.

Construction project software can cut those tedious labor meetings down to minutes. Everyone knows who’s where and who’s who every minute of every day. The time you save can be repurposed into developing and caring about your workforce instead of managing it. That kind of culture can maximize employee retention today.

We have the software that our marketing pros refine to give you timely and actionable information for business development. Just ask. Contact Construction Monitor.

OSHA Lists Construction Violations

construction violations

Change is a constant in construction. On the other hand, some things never seem to change, and that includes OSHA’s Top 10 more frequently cited violations across all industries. These accidents and injuries occur because the prevention programs are poorly supervised, mismanaged, or handed off to employees and forgotten.

Avoid These 10 Construction Violations

1. Falls – Protections should be in place for work above 6 feet, and this includes residential construction. Roofs are a major source of falls, but so are elevator shafts.

2. HazCom – Hazard communications entail informing employees of caustic materials and chemicals to which they may be exposed. Most of the problems involve a lack of:

  • Labeling
  • Safety data sheets (SDSs)
  • Training
  • Written inventories

3. Respiratory protection – Assessing exposure to lead means making informed decisions about protection. Dust masks are considered respiratory equipment. Respiratory equipment can stress bodies and many violations involve testing to see if employees are medically able to wear it.

4. Scaffolding – In addition to a lack of training, holes in platforms, inadequate fall protection, and inadequate points of access are cited.

5. Ladders – They must extend at least 3´ above the upper landing surface.

6. Lockout/Tagout – OSHA requires the development and implementation of a program to control unexpected energy releases when using equipment or sources of energy:

  • Chemical
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Pneumatic
  • Thermal

7. PIT – Powered industrial truck violations occur for many reasons, including untrained employees operating equipment. PITs include:

  • Forklifts
  • Order pickers
  • Powered pallet jacks
  • Stand-up rider trucks

8. Fall protection training – Certification must be issued to employees trained in fall hazard protections and procedures.

9. Eye/face protection – Employers are required to document risks and provide eye and face shields against:

  • Acids/caustics
  • Chemical gases/vapors
  • Flying particles
  • Light radiation
  • Liquid chemicals
  • Molten metal

10. Machinery guarding – Protections should be in place at the point of operation, as well as having the equipment properly secured/anchored during operation.

You can avoid the hazards of missed opportunities by taking advantage of Construction Monitor data analytics. We aren’t selling the software, just solutions. To learn more, contact Construction Monitor.