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.

Construction Projects: Reducing Rework

construction rework

Nobody likes do-overs, but we all make mistakes. What sets the best companies apart from the wannabes is how we respond to our mistakes.

If you’re going into overtime and running over-budget too often or your margin for errors is too high, do something about it. Reducing construction rework increases profits.

8 Causes of Construction Rework

Design changes are the leading cause of construction rework, so technology is impacting construction rework in a big way. We can design and then construct virtually. We can return to the drawing board before the foundation is laid, saving time, materials, labor…and of course, money.

Eight additional causes of construction rework include:

  1. Deadlines – Unrealistic timeframes leading to rushed, lesser-quality work
  2. Materials – Quality of materials not what was expected; don’t meet specifications
  3. Misunderstanding – Unclear client expectations
  4. Paper-chasing – Missing documents, incorrect processes, and general inability to find the information needed in a timely manner
  5. Procurement – Supply chain problems, ordering the wrong materials
  6. Quality control – No standards/processes to follow
  7. Supervision – Inexperienced or ineffective management; lack of leadership, no teamwork guidance
  8. Untrained workers – Underqualified jobsite/administrative personnel or workers that don’t take pride in workmanship

Communication is Critical

Today, most construction project failures “are the result of insufficient communication,” says a project management software developer. Now more than ever, construction management teams must develop a clear plan that includes how and when communications will occur.

Make No Mistake: Using Technology for Business Development is Essential

Lost time and money are minimal problems when you consider the amount of frustration construction project participants experience. Everyone – management, contractors, employees, investors – everyone suffers the dissatisfaction that comes from construction rework. Especially mistakes that could have been avoided.

Discounting technology and data utilization is the biggest mistake you can make. Construction Monitor can give you information for job leads and more. You’ll learn about profitable alliance opportunities and historical trends that reoccur. Our building permit datasorts will give you actionable insight.

You can’t go wrong when developing and managing available technology resources. Contact Construction Monitor for proven-to-work information, available when you need it: today.

Showcase Your Completed Construction Projects

construction projects

A project that was built 40 years ago is a part of the history
of your company, but it is not necessarily interesting to
present-day clients.
Is Your Online Project Showcase Up to Par?

You likely have a large, 3-ring binder with construction projects statistics and photos. You used to carry it with you – stored in your truck – and it showcased construction projects from start to finish. Now you carry your laptop or another electronic device.

Construction Projects: Website Presentations

Today’s consumers want more information faster than ever before. Your website needs to display your completed construction projects with details in words and pictures. You need a dedicated tab for testimonials and project examples. Construction-industry professionals and property owners will often check your website (especially testimonials) before they contact you directly.

A Picture is Worth…

Photos are critical to your story of successful construction projects. If you can schedule overhead photo shoots at the end of each phase, they will present a different perspective.

Here are 5 tips for marketing your completed construction projects using photography:

  1. Candid camera – Photography of construction projects tends to be…boring. Candid shots of workers are great.
  2. Crop – Even if the photo is from a distance, if it’s clean and clear, you can crop out all the distractions to tighten the shot.
  3. Lighting – Excavations are tricky, so try flash photography, no-flash, and supplemental lighting to get the shot you want. When using sunlight, timing is everything. You want the sun at your back.
  4. Motion – You may see a photo of an idle bulldozer as a work of art, but it plays better if the bulldozer is doing something. Try to capture the activity; the flow of a construction project. 

Tell Your Story

The portfolio should not have PDF and MS Office document attachments. Opening separate files make the use of the site cumbersome.aec-business.com

In addition to a construction projects tab on your website, your blog is another way to cite previous work. Use SEO (search engine optimization) in your content to garner as many internet search hits as possible.

Construction industry companies are putting technology to work for more leads…more profit. Construction Monitor takes big data and makes it relevant and manageable for your business. Contact Construction Monitor to learn how to use building permit data for marketing development.

9 Tips for Getting Your Contracting Business Through COVID-19

Contracting Business

The National Law Review offers this piece of advice for your contracting business: Get it in writing!¹ That’s especially true during the coronavirus pandemic that is threatening our nation’s population and economic health.

Coronavirus vs. Your Contracting Business

This situation is here and now. It changes every day, so if you had an optimistic 5-year plan for your organization, toss it away and get ready to move quickly. 

Here are 9 tips to get your contracting business through COVID-19:

  1. Be proactive – If you’re silent, clients and employees become extra-nervous. Communicate with emails and online how you’re managing this event. Share due diligence efforts and business recovery plans.
  2. Communicate early – By now you should have reached out to all project stakeholders to review terms of performance, timelines and costs. Strive to keep projects alive and get everything in writing.
  3. Consider mobility implementations – If administrative and back-office personnel can work from home, consider making the move to a mobile workforce.
  4. Contract modifications – Every project contract you have in the works needs to return to the table. Try to recover or offset rising costs.
  5. Coronavirus impact – The time to “wait and see” is past. Your contracts should have included “excusable delays” or “force majeure” clauses. Provide notice to all contract-holders how coronavirus has impacted contract deliverables, including supply chain issues. Cite all time/performance delays, real and predicted.
  6. Cybersecurity – If administrative people will be working from home, you may need to upgrade cybersecurity and educate them about not compromising confidential information.
  7. Prepare for new workplace safety requirements – Your employees will need masks and/or gloves to reduce virus cross-contamination.
  8. Put it in writing – Document every communication, every delay, every challenge… If you weren’t the kind of person to keep a “diary,” you need to start. Others are depending on you to show diligence in trying to salvage work.
  9. Update policies for paid days off/sick days – This is going to be a tricky area. Employees must not be “punished” for staying home when sick, but your guidelines must also be reasonable. Consult with HR and/or legal professionals to revise employment terms.

Construction Monitor is Here for You

What’s happening now is temporary, but it will change the way we do business forever. Your contracting business can prepare for growth, even while time seemingly stands still. Call 800-925-6085 or contact us to learn more about using construction data reports.

We wish continued good health for you and your company.

10 Tips for Bidding on Construction Projects

bidding on construction projects

Subcontractors bidding for work on construction projects face a number of challenges to submit a winning proposal. Effective bidding requires confirming the client’s requirements and budget while also ensuring your costs and profit margin are fully covered. Overbidding risks losing the job to a low-balling competitor. Conversely, a bid that is below your actual expected costs eliminates profit potential.

Here are ten tips to increase your chances of a successful, profitable bid:

  1. Meet with or speak to the prospective client/contractor. Discuss requirements and what will be necessary to fulfill expectations.  
  2. If blueprints are available for the project, inspect them. If the job site is accessible, conduct a walk-through.
  3. Estimate the days involved to complete the work and look for special circumstances or complications that could impact the cost of getting the job done on schedule.
  4. Figure costs of materials and work hours involved as well as any other likely overhead. Allow for unexpected expenses. Estimate daily costs then multiply by the expected number of days to completion.
  5. Determine your preferred profit margin and add that figure into the total.
  6. The formal written bid must include name, business address, and other relevant contact info. Summarize the work to be done and state expected start and completion dates. Include payment terms as well as the terms of any warranty.
  7. Itemize all estimated costs for materials and labor. These figures may be subject to negotiation with the client, so allow for changes, if necessary. 
  8. Arrange for a meeting with the client to present the bid. Be prepared to verbally describe all details of your planned work. 
  9. Expect to negotiate terms, including completion time and costs, if required. Decide in advance what your negotiated limits will be.  
  10. Following the presentation, provide the prospective client with business cards. Arrange a follow-up call or other meeting to provide additional information or answer further questions.

Get an edge when bidding on construction projects by utilizing data from building permits. Contact the professionals at Construction Monitor for more information.

How to Find Construction Projects to Bid

construction projects to bid

If you haven’t read any horror stories lately, check out “The Successful Bid That Put the Contractor Out of Business.” You may need the cash flow and feel an obligation to keep good employees working, but if you don’t find the right construction projects to bid – and bid them the right way – you could be writing your own horror story. Or obituary.

Here are some ways to find construction projects to bid:

Double-Dip

“If you’re a general contractor (GC), you really should be pursuing jobs as a subcontractor,” says estimator pro Daniel Quindemil. He calls that double-dipping. He says you may not always get the job as a GC but you’ve got a good opportunity to get work through the bid-winning general contractor(s).

Get Out There and Look

You must either pound the pavement, hire your nephew, or use a lead-generation service. It is essential you get out there every week to find real-time leads. Which of your subcontractors have jobs in the pipeline? Find out what, where, and when.

Connect regularly with HOAs (homeowner associations) throughout your region. You want to be the first name they think of when renovations are needed. Some GCs calendar reminders to network with potential customers.

Fact: You should spend 80% of your time involved with sales and marketing and only 20% actually running your business.

Google It

You’d be surprised what you can learn from Monday-morning search-engine surfing. Let’s say you’re serving Marion and Hamilton counties in Indiana. You enter this search string:

New+real+estate+development+carmel+indiana+2020

Here are some leads you might generate:

…and more.

Lead-Generation Services

There are plenty of them out there and several are good. If your time and budget for resources are limited, utilize a low-cost comprehensive local information source.

You not only want up-to-date data, but you also want access to construction industry historical trends in your area. Building permit information is key to finding the right construction projects to bid.

Let us know how we can provide topical, relevant information customized for your business. Contact Construction Monitor to learn more.

Getting the Inside Scoop on Which Construction Projects to Bid On

If you want to bid less, but earn more, finding the right construction projects to bid on is half the battle. By searching building permits and other local construction data, you can uncover more ideal projects while avoiding potential problem clients.

Play to Your Strengths

Instead of considering any project that comes your way, take the initiative to seek out projects where your unique skill set will be valued. A would-be client is far more likely to pay attention to a bid from a company offering expertise in the exact services they need. If you’re a general contractor specializing in light commercial construction, searching local commercial building permits can lead you toward potential clients. From here, you can narrow your search to specific building types, such as retail stores or medical offices, to find the right construction projects to bid on. If you’re a high-end building materials supplier, remodeling permits are a good source of potential clients looking for products to upgrade their interiors.

Check for Signs of Trouble

Using building permits to find potential clients can help you weed out the troublesome ones before you waste any time on them. If the same residential property developer has already let one or more building permits expire for their current project, it could mean they’re having trouble finding the right contractor. A little further investigation can tell you why that is and whether or not the project is worth pursuing. If the project requires specialist skills or materials you’re an expert in, you could be a shoo-in for the job. On the other hand, it could mean the developer is having financing problems or they have a bad reputation and you’re better off avoiding the project.

Building permits also help you find out if the project will require methods or materials you’re unfamiliar with, if regulations might make it difficult to actually complete the project or if the work will require more effort than it’s worth.

For help finding valuable construction projects to bid on, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Hiring Subcontractors

The skill and reliability of your subcontractors can make the difference between a profitable, trouble-free job and a major headache. By knowing how to hire good subcontractors, you can ensure you get more of the former.

How to Hire Good SubcontractorsSpotting Quality Subcontractors

Don’t rely on internet searches to find subcontractors. While that may be the fastest way to find specific types of tradespeople in your area, websites tell you little about what it’s like to work with those individuals.

Instead, tap into the construction community for references. If you need a drywall installer or a plumber, ask drywall suppliers and plumbing wholesalers if they can recommend someone. If you see construction work or renovations underway, introduce yourself to the person in charge to find out who’s doing the work and how it’s going. It’s also worth contacting your former clients to find out if they can recommend subcontractors.

Aim to collect at least three names for each trade to encourage competitive bids, and avoid depending on one subcontractor who may not always be available. Establish a pre-qualification process to speed up hiring for future projects.

Controlling Your Costs

Before you invite bids, develop a clear scope of work. This helps you avoid receiving widely divergent bids. Even so, never assume the bids you receive cover the same scope. Read each bid carefully so you know exactly what the subcontractor is offering. For instance, one bid might be cheaper than others because it doesn’t include the cost of clean up.

Low bids can be tempting, but realizing when something sounds too good to be true is an important part of knowing how to hire good subcontractors. Some subcontractors keep their bids low by cutting corners and using low-quality material, while others bid low, but find ways to raise the price later.

Be wary of subcontractors who expect a large deposit. Anything more than 10 percent upfront is worth questioning. Also, avoid those who won’t provide everything, including guarantees and payment schedules, in writing.

For more tips on how to hire good subcontractors, contact Construction Monitor.

The Evolution of Cement Use in Construction

cement use in constructionCement is such a ubiquitous building material that we tend to take its current form for granted. Yet cement use in construction has a history dating back thousands of years, and in that time the material has undergone numerous changes and improvements. Today, cement continues to evolve for the better.

The Origins of Modern Cement

Cement was produced in many ancient societies using locally available natural materials. Egyptians used gypsum, while the Greeks and Romans blended limestone with sand to make their cement. The Romans eventually discovered they could change the properties of their cement by adding other materials. One of these materials was volcanic ash known as pozzolana. The addition of this ash created a cement that could set under water, making it useful for building harbors. In fact, concrete made from this cement resists salt water better than today’s concrete.

The most common cement used today, Portland cement, came from a different source. Portland cement evolved from the cements used in Britain in the mid-19th century.

The Future of Cement Use in Construction

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a way to make Portland-cement concrete both more durable and more eco-friendly.

The conventional cement formula uses between 1.2 to 2.2 parts of calcium for every 1 part of silica, but 1.7 parts of calcium is the standard. MIT researchers found that decreasing the calcium content to 1.5 doubles the resulting concrete’s resistance to cracks.

Better yet, switching to a cement formula that uses 1.5 parts calcium could reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that come from cement production by up to 60 percent. That’s no small improvement, considering the cement industry alone is responsible for some 5 to 10 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide production.

A more durable cement also means less concrete will be needed to repair and replace damaged structures, further reducing cement production’s environmental impact. Although this new formula performs well in the laboratory, it remains to be tested in real-world applications.

To stay on top of recent developments in cement use in construction, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Construction to Begin on Block 75, Part of the Burnside Bridgehead Project

Construction is underway on a new mixed-use building in Portland, Oregon’s Burnside Bridgehead area.

residential constructionThe building, known as Block 75, is going up at the corner of Northeast Davis Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Block 75 building will include 75 residential units, expected to rent at market rates. There will also be 32,000 square feet of office space and other work areas. At the street level, the building will have almost 10,000 square feet available for restaurants and retail stores. An underground parking facility will be able to accommodate 42 vehicles.

The Block 75 project is expected to qualify for financial incentives under Portland’s Transit Oriented Development program. This program, part of the Portland Metro system, provides financial incentives designed to encourage mixed-use projects served by mass transit.

Developers include Beam Development, Urban Development + Partners, and Works Partnership Architecture.

Block 75 is one of several new construction projects that are revitalizing the Burnside Bridgehead site, which has seen several delays and a significant drop-off in construction activity. This latest addition to Portland construction was inaugurated with a formal groundbreaking ceremony in late January.

East or west, north or south, construction companies in the United States know they can trust Construction Monitor for the latest news and data on construction industry trends and developments. Contact us today for more information on Portland construction and how Oregon-based businesses may benefit.

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