Construction Trends to Drive Infrastructure Development

Construction Trends

Annually, the U.S. spends around $450 billion on infrastructure, only 2.3% of U.S GDP, far below the 5% of European countries’ GDPs. The U.S. needs over $2 trillion of infrastructure investment by 2030 just to keep pace with the country’s economic activity.
Kate Gasparro

COVID-19 has dominated our attention for an entire year. It gave us previously unheard-of challenges in the construction industry. It forced us to work differently; maybe forever.

The pandemic may have also drawn attention away from some critical problems our country was facing, including this one: The U.S. is falling behind developed countries in infrastructure spending.

Technology Key to U.S. Lagging Infrastructure Construction Trends

If infrastructure investment could increase, its positive impact on our economy and the construction industry would make for a much happier new year. Infrastructure industries include:

  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • Real estate

Gasparro says investment in technologies could increase infrastructure project profits by 10%. Here’s what we need more of for 2021:

  • Climate-change and pandemic impacts on construction trends – Be prepared to develop:
    • Car-free zones
    • Dedicated bike paths
    • Larger public spaces
    • Renewable energy sources
    • Wider sidewalks
  • Construction technology – Construction trends are technology-driven with:
    • 3D printing/blueprints
    • 4D/5D simulation project plans
    • Building information modeling (BIM)
    • Drone surveying
    • Materials tracking software
    • …and much, much more
  • Organizational technology – Construction trends toward energy conservation, economic growth, and societal safety are being incorporated into construction industry best practices. Jobsite management will use software to see where workers and materials are, real-time, and avoid potential health exposures or materials logjams.
  • Supply chain solutions – It’s time to rebuild inventory and secure materials. Examine supplier sources to find alternatives to critical material shortages.

Staying in business isn’t easy when it’s a jungle out there. But you can cut through the tangle of obstacles and setbacks with the right strategy. Construction Monitor has been in business since 1989. We haven’t seen it all, but we’ve seen a lot of construction trends come and go.

Ask us how we can give you the data tools you need to get beyond survival and into profits. Contact Construction Monitor today.

Construction Workforce Management: Digitization

Construction Workforce Management

There’s no company in any industry that has succeeded without spreadsheets. Let’s briefly pause to say, “Bless you, Excel. You’ve served us well.” But spreadsheets are not the answer to construction workforce management. As working-at-home and the need for social distancing continues into 4Q 2020, digitizing construction workforce management is even more necessary.

Say goodbye to your monthly/weekly spreadsheets. You need up-to-date information when and where it’s needed.

Stop Supervising and Start Managing

Technology has become a bridge for overcoming the distance
of a team working remotely.
Ben Schultz

Spreadsheets encourage us to work alone. Digitization forces us to collaborate, share, and communicate. And that’s the best way to manage your business. About 90% of all spreadsheets have errors serious enough to trigger:

  • Faulty forecasting
  • Labor shortages
  • Overruns

Because your team is mobile, you need to be able to access information from anywhere, anytime. Your project site personnel should be able to quickly access the same analytics available to your accounts payable/receivable professional working from their home office. And you don’t want statistics that apply to your construction workforce management situation 10 days ago.

You can manage the following using shareable, intuitive, cloud-based construction workforce management software in real-time:

  • Accounting
  • Employees
    • Availability
    • Certification
    • Current wage
    • Location
  • Time-tracking

Ask other successful companies what kind of cloud-based software they recommend. But remember – what works for their organization may not be a good fit for your team.

Getting Started: How To ‘Digitize’

Review and prioritize your organization’s pain points, which may include:

  • Information-sharing delays between the project site and office
  • Inefficient performance measurements/management
  • Insufficient risk management
  • Paper documents – who has what/where
  • Project planning getting more complex

Whatever paper forms you use most often should be the first you digitize.

If employee retention is among your construction workforce management goals, digitization increases mobile workforce efficiency. “Mobile” forms work on mobile devices – like cellphones – which make it convenient for workforce management teams.

We Digitize; You Analyze

Construction Monitor has only one digitization goal: To provide profit-generating information relevant to your organization. We will breakdown the data to the location, sector, and industry-specific area(s) your business wants to develop.

Call 800.925.6085 (International/435.586.1205) or contact us today.

Construction Contractors and Business Relationship-Building

Construction Contractors

There are exceptions to every rule but many believe there are innate differences between most men and most women. One pandemic-quarantined man bemoaned, “If I have to talk about my feelings with my wife one more time, I may kill myself.”

Construction contractors are diverse men and women of every cultural and educational background but there’s one thing they all need to do: Construction contractors should build relationships in the construction industry.

When construction contractors focus on relationship-building, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re sharing their feelings. It means they’re creating a positive customer experience. Engaged, satisfied customers can lead to more work, more business connections, and more money.

Successful Construction Contractors Build Positive Customer Experiences With Every Touch

Relationship-building is just as important as building houses and infrastructure. Your website, project sites, cellphone conversations, even your leave-a-message message “touch” potential clients.

Here are some relationship-building tips for construction contractors that strategize for industry success:

Open, Responsive Lines of Communication

How many lines of communication do you have? Does someone have to blow dust off a laptop to discover you have online requests for information? Is your cellphone mailbox full?

There shouldn’t be any dead-ends in your lines of communication. Lines of communication include:

  1. Cellphone calling
  2. Cellphone texting/messaging
  3. Email
  4. Snail mail
  5. Your business website

And every line of communication should be open and responsive.

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say

Probably the best advertisement for your business is a reputation for honesty. It’s sometimes called “transparency.” If you can’t answer a client’s questions now, let them know when you will respond. And do it.

Construction contractors that lowball bids and then try to make it up mid-project get the kind of reputation you don’t want. The same goes for promising quality and delivering shoddy work.

Being honest – transparent – should be the easiest thing to be for most companies. If not, they won’t survive beyond this generation of buyers and builders.

Customer Satisfaction Is Key

If you’re about to enter a relationship with a customer you are 99% sure isn’t going to be happy no matter what you do, walk away. Just one disappointed client can put some big chips in the goodwill you’ve worked so hard to build.

Put Technology to Work for You

You can work faster and smarter when you use technology. Construction Monitor has business development technology for relationship building and lead generation. Don’t delay. Communicate with us today.

Exoskeletons Address 4 Construction Industry Pain Points

Construction Industry Pain Points

One in every 10 construction workers is injured annually…construction sees non-fatal injury rates that are 71% higher than any other industry. How Powered Exoskeletons Can Alleviate…

Labor shortages and injuries have hit our industry hard in 2020. While many companies are just getting powered-up using software solutions that save time and money, others are looking at hardware possibilities.

In the animal kingdom, an exoskeleton is a type of shell that protects an animal’s body. Snails and shrimp are good examples of species with exoskeletons. In the construction industry, exoskeletons are wearable technology. They may become – in reality – lifesavers for construction companies.

4 Construction Industry Challenges

Ten years ago, the concept was material for science fiction. But the exoskeleton market for the construction industry is expected to exceed $11.5 billion 10 years from now.

Mechanical and electrical exoskeletons support:

  • Arm/shoulder
  • Back
  • Hands/gloves
  • Standing/crouching
  • Whole-body

Here are four main areas exoskeletons can bolster the construction industry:

1. Enhance Productivity

Worker fatigue equals lost production and the more exhausted we are, the more injury-prone we become. Manufacturing and agriculture have increased productivity 10-15 times since the 1950s. The construction industry productivity numbers are the same as 80 years ago. Exoskeletons streamline the process and lessen transport delays. They also reduce downtime spent waiting for last-minute deliveries.

2. Provide Labor Shortage Solutions

Labor-saving exoskeletons can help one worker do the heavy lifting of a team. This optimizes social distancing but increases employment opportunities. Physical strength will play a less important role. Older, experienced employees can work longer. Smaller/underweight workers are no longer at a physical disadvantage.

3. Reduce Injury Risks

When cranes/hoists are too big, lifting heavy objects and materials in tight spaces requires people-power. Exoskeletons won’t give construction industry workers “superpowers,” but they can reduce fatigue, increase productivity, and lower injury risks.

4. Save Money

The numbers are impressive: An exoskeleton can increase per-worker productivity 4-8 times. And with injuries averaging $32,000 per incident, construction industry profit margins are often – to put it bluntly – a crapshoot.

What You Need To Know

All you need to know is everything. And it can be overwhelming. Construction Monitor’s support team ensures your data analytics are current and pertinent. Let us provide the lead-generation data that gives you an information edge in the construction industry. Contact Construction Monitor today.

Modern Construction Projects and Futuristic Materials

Modern Construction Projects

We have more materials choices for modern construction projects. And we’re developing better options for strength and longevity. It’s an exciting time!

Durability is the ability to last a long time without significant deterioration. A durable material helps the environment by conserving resources and reducing wastes and the environmental impacts of repair and replacement. –Portland Cement Association

Modern construction projects are already using technology to make better business choices. As the focus on more durable buildings and roadways increases, here are some of the materials we’ll see trending:

1. Cigarette-Butt Bricks

If you’re like many, seeing cigarette butts on the ground is disgusting. It pollutes the view and the ingredients (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and nickel) contaminate the soil. Researchers are developing energy-efficient bricks using cigarette butts. The bricks are lighter and use less energy in the manufacturing process.

2. Concrete Admixtures

“A holistic view needs to be taken about concrete durability,” says NBM&CW magazine. Mineral admixtures are providing strength-driven solutions for HPC (high-performance concretes) and SCC (self-compacting concretes). Today’s typical concrete can have six or more ingredients.

3. Light-Generating Cement

This newly developed cement can absorb and generate light. The potential for this invention is huge.

4. Martian Concrete

Northwestern University is researching construction projects on Mars using available materials. And they’ve come up with a Martian concrete mixture using sulfur.

5. Pollution-Absorbing Bricks

It’s called the Breathe Brick and it sucks-in pollutants and releases filtered air. You’ll see these bricks incorporated into buildings’ ventilation systems.

6. Translucent Wood

This low-cost resource can be used for windows and solar panels. There will be many application ideas for translucent wood in modern construction projects.

Construction Monitor for Modern Construction Projects Leads

Technological solutions are driving business development for modern construction projects. Construction Monitor’s analytics are the most efficient, easy-to-use technological resource for thousands of companies nationwide. Contact Construction Monitor to learn why.

The Future of Commercial Construction Materials

Commercial Construction Materials

Commercial construction roadwork on I-35 in Texas began in 1960.

In 2020, when a newspaper printed an article: “Construction nears completion on I-35,” it became the latest of a long history of jokes among Texans about the I-35 commercial construction project.

Considering most concrete and asphalt roads begin needing repair after 20 years of use, I-35 construction crews may have jobs for life. But what if those materials – concrete, asphalt, and others – could self-repair?

It’s not a sci-fi movie plot; it’s happening now. Scientists are “cooking up” asphalt, concrete, and metals that “heal themselves,” reports CityLab. Its potential is mind-boggling.

5 Commercial Construction Materials That May Change Our World

You hear a lot about “sustainability,” but it’s much more than a buzzword. The future of the commercial construction industry may be re-shaped with some of these materials:

  1. Air-cleaning bricks – Most air-cleaning methods emit pollutants, which is defeating the purpose. CalPoly invented a passive system: concrete bricks filter air particles.
  2. Laminated mass timber – Wood is a weaker material. But cross- and glue-laminated timber is able to support a lot more weight and is “surprisingly fire-resistant,” says one study. Another study says as much as 31% of global emissions could be reduced by using wood in buildings and bridges.
  3. Passive-cooling ceramics – California students have designed a building material of clay composite and hydrogel. As the building heats up, the heat is transferred to hydrogel droplets. The effect cools buildings.
  4. Recycled trash – Recycled water bottles, cardboard, and possibly aluminum cans may be used for insulation and commercial construction materials.
  5. Strand rods – Japan released a CABKOMA Strand Rod that can save lives during an earthquake. The seismic reinforcement system uses fibers and thermoplastic resin and the rods are five times lighter than metal wire.

Construction Monitor for the Future of Your Business

The costs for most of those materials are prohibitive for now. But you can expect to see more sustainable materials used in commercial construction when they become financially viable.

The future of your business depends on your ability to make informed decisions that drive profit. Construction Monitor has the data analytics you can use. If you need to know more about how to use building permit statistics for leads, please contact us today.

7 Construction Success Drivers

Construction Success

The construction industry (for purposes of definition) includes:

  • Architecture
  • Construction equipment rental
  • Contractor profit
  • Engineering
  • Fixed-site fabrication
  • Infrastructure projects
  • Labor
  • Materials cost
  • Mechanical/electrical installations
  • New homes/buildings
  • Office/overhead
  • Renovations/replacements
  • Site preparation
  • Structures used to support production equipment (pipes, girders, platforms, etc.)
  • Taxes/interest (except for state/federal projects)

Those are construction industry services and supplies directly related to our business. But many different businesses offering retail products and services follow the construction industry.

Smart business developers use building permit data to learn where and what is being built in their markets.

Construction Industry 4.0: Success Drivers

The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (Industry 4.0) is a term coined in 2016. It references traditional industrial and manufacturing practices that are now smart-technology-driven. The construction industry is seeing a similar revolution. We’re using technology like never before. Builder Hank Withaar says our “success drivers” include:

  1. BIM – Building information modeling improves accuracy and productivity because it coordinates design and deliverables.
  2. GPS – Global positioning systems on construction sites help surveyors, earthmovers, and general supervisors improve productivity by reducing guesswork.
  3. New techniques – Technology has proven valuable to the construction industry, but it also adds time to projects. Data management and intricate communication systems are integrated into new builds, so the project becomes more complex. We’re developing new techniques to offset the additional hours needed for technologically challenging builds and renovations.
  4. Parts carts – Organizing necessary parts – and only what’s needed – before they are needed for field installation saves time spent “looking for” materials.
  5. Prefabrication – This process has improved quality control and speed. Prefab components are produced offsite and delivered when they’re needed. Prefabricated buildings are also trending when standardized sizes and finishes are feasible.
  6. Waste reduction – We can’t afford to waste materials or time. The Lean Construction Institute has developed and promotes new techniques for shorter timelines and fewer errors, including:
    • Daily Huddle Meetings
    • Last Planner
    • Project Incentives
    • Project Visualization
    • Pull Planning
    • Weekly Work Plan
  7. Post-project reviews – The entire team participates in a lessons-learned project review. Ideas for improvement are shared. Techniques that didn’t work and “what went right” are reviewed.

The Industry Resource for Construction Data

Join the growing number of companies that use our construction analytics as one of their success drivers. Contact Construction Monitor today.

Are You Offering the Right Services?

construction services

If 2020 were an appliance, it would be a Cuisinart®. Businesses have been processed and pulverized beyond recognition, and construction services are no exception.

“Survival of the fittest” was coined by British philosopher Herbert Spencer. We often believe the strongest survive, but that’s not always the case. Those most adaptable to change not only survive; they thrive.

Building permit data reflects construction trends here (your “neck of the woods”) and now (weekly updates). The information tells you which direction our industry is heading and is the first clue you need to adapt.

Using Building Permit Data to Expand Your Services

If you sell floor coverings and notice a lot of retail spaces
in the works, but your current product line has nothing
durable enough for commercial use… Chances
are you’re missing out on sales.
David Mineer, CEO

Maybe your marketing focus is on new-home builds. You cultivate that business because that’s what has worked for you for the last 10 years.

Building permit data shows you new home construction is down, but swimming pools and home renovations that cultivate lifestyle are up – way up in some areas. Families are staying home; workers are working from home. People want their homes to be more fun, more comforting.

Your first clue was in your Construction Monitor building permit data report. How fast you respond – adapt – is what sets your company apart from others. Building permit data has driven many companies to revamp their entire approach to business development.

Contact Construction Monitor: Then Be Prepared to Adapt

Home improvements have seen a whopping 140% growth this year. But that’s just one segment of the construction industry changes we’re seeing.

“Green” construction is critical. Improved working conditions to attract better talent is necessary. We’re using modular construction to speed-up project turnaround times. We’re adapting materials to overcome shortages.

Our construction industry is meeting challenges head-on.

If you’re not using analytics from building permit data, ask questions. Learn more. And be prepared to adapt your construction services to take you beyond business survival to profit. Call 800.925.6085 (International 435.586.1205) or contact us today.

7 Tips for Construction Industry Communication

Construction Industry Communication

If 2020 has taught the construction industry anything, it’s to work faster, smarter, and more economically. What’s costing the most time and money is our inability to communicate effectively.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership,” said James Humes. This is a serious business and it’s time we pay attention to what the experts are telling us: The construction industry loses billions of dollars every year to situations that could have been prevented or more quickly resolved with better communication.

The Construction Industry: People and Communications

Poor communication…poor project data account for…$31.3 billion per year in avoidable construction costs. -Dottie McCallen, Communications Manager

Even a small project involves dozens of employees: front office, bookkeeping, onsite management and personnel, property owners, etc. Here are communication tips that can keep the construction industry working when others are failing:

  1. Be specific – “We’ll be cutting the power sometime in October” is a formula for failure. Instead: “We’ll be cutting the power the morning of October 25 to Buildings 1, 2, and 3.” Don’t ask someone to “handle the paperwork.” Tell someone to please submit the paperwork by end of day on September 25.
  2. Cut to the chase – You know what you need, but what do they need? If you can accomplish what everyone needs with a quick phone call, that’s your best communication route.
  3. Don’t assume everyone knows – If you must make assumptions, assume nobody knows anything and communicate simply.
  4. Focus – Before your meeting, phone call, or email, focus. What’s the one thing you need them to know? Use your focal point at the beginning and end of the communication.
  5. More is better – Over-communicate. You may assume someone has no direct input into the project, but anyone, at every level, can have ideas; they can spot mistakes. The more you communicate, the more knowledge you cultivate.
  6. Respond – The quickest way to show disrespect or lack of concern is to ignore communication.
  7. Say what you mean – Honest communication gets you listened to and heard by every audience.

What do you need? Every week we collect construction industry data that drives business development. Communicate with Construction Monitor. We’ve got construction industry analytics that can help you cultivate leads.

7 Causes of Construction Rework

Construction Rework

Construction rework is frustrating, eats time and money, and can cut into future profits. Investors aren’t likely to back a project in which the contractors and subcontractors are known for do-overs.

7 Factors Leading to Construction Rework

A scholarly study of construction rework evaluated the causes and their impact on construction projects. This powerful paper found more than 50 factors that lead to construction rework. The breakdown had seven categories of issues that can cause construction rework:

1. Client-Related

  • Funding inadequate
  • Inadequate briefing
  • Lack of construction knowledge
  • People-changes leading to construction changes

2. Construction Processes

  • Difficult schedules
  • Inadequate pre-project planning
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Lack of audit/control
  • Lack of standardization
  • Late designer input
  • Non-compliance with specs
  • Poor documentation
  • Resistance to improvement/“ego” conflicts
  • Unclear work specs

3. Construction-Related

  • Competitive pressure
  • Financially weak
  • Fraud attempts
  • Low contract value
  • Misread drawing/specs
  • Poor quality control
  • Technically unqualified

4. Design-Related

  • Poor procurement processes
  • Design errors/omissions
  • Incomplete documentation/information
  • Lack of professionalism

5. External

  • Acts of God
  • Economy
  • Environmental
  • Governmental (regulations, taxes, interest rates)
  • Inadequate local education
  • Infrastructure/transportation
  • Political conflicts/issues
  • Social environment
  • Technological
  • Weather

6. Human Resources

  • Excessive overtime
  • Few employee incentives
  • Lack of skills/training
  • Mismanagement
  • Personnel issues
  • Poor communication
  • Unclear line of authority
  • Weak decision-making

7. Materials and Equipment

  • Emergencies
  • Irregular deliveries
  • Materials not in-place when needed
  • Poor quality
  • Pre-fabrication mistakes

IT for Accuracy

Information technology (IT) is driving every facet of our industry. It’s never too late to take advantage of the amazing software programs and other technology available to our industry. You can make better decisions – and more accurate bids – when you analyze cost and labor data.

Construction Monitor is your information technology resource for marketing development. We have the basic building permits data available to everyone.

What we do with building permit data makes the difference. We offer time-saving, customized information that targets your market and your demographics. We do the data sorts you can do yourself. But we do them faster and more thoroughly.

Learn more about ways to gain a competitive edge. Call 800.925.6085* or contact the data pros at Construction Monitor today.

*International contractors interested in U.S. development, please call 1.435.586.1205.