HeadshotTara Callinan • 

construction's best kept secret

According to Michael Johnson, the construction industry is much more than just ‘a swinging hammer.’ Hand tools and paper files have been replaced with software and mobile devices — so much so that technology has changed the way the built environment is delivered.

Technology is the best kept secret in construction

Architect-turned-contractor, Michael Johnson, believes that general contractors, specifically, need to ditch their ‘old-fashioned’ habits and utilize the transformative technology that’s available to them.

In his TEDx talk The Best Kept Secret In Construction Michael said Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is one of the biggest ‘secrets’ in construction due to its ability to save workers time, avoid rework, and reduce waste on projects. He said: “BIM is the biggest disrupter the industry has ever seen,” and goes on to explain why in his own words.

Building Information Modeling is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives construction professionals the insight and tools they need to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and deliver buildings and infrastructure. BIM also helps contractors solve complex problem — virtually — before any material is cut or any boots are on the ground.

“Today, contractors have the ability to measure twice and cut once.”

“We can build, visualize, and troubleshoot a building long before we can put a shovel on the ground,” said Johnson. “53.4 million tonnes of waste per year are attributed to construction, not including demolition, so shouldn’t we reduce that?” Having the ability to truly understand a building and make any changes — virtually — during the planning phase will help contractors significantly reduce construction waste.

The benefits of BIM

A study by Dodge Data & Analytics reveals that for architectural, engineering, and construction companies already using BIM technology:

  • Almost half see a 5% decrease or more in final construction costs.
  • More than half (51%) see the same level of reduction in their project schedules.
  • Nearly one third (31%) report seeing a 25% improvement in labor productivity.

The golden age of construction

It is clear that we are entering the golden age of construction. The most successful general contractors are embracing technology, and it’s time for traditionalists to follow suit. Mckinsey confirms that an increasing amount of technology firms are building new applications that change how companies design, plan, and execute construction projects today. From modular to prefab and 3D printing tools, to VR headsets, wearables, and drones — the future of construction will revolve around technology.

Technology is here to help you make better informed decisions, build quicker, and waste less, every day. Are you ready to see what the best kept secret in construction is all aboout? Try construction technology built for general contractors today.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

2019 07 10T10 08 14

Contractors report increasing ability to gather and analyze data helps improve project outcomes like budget, productivity, and profitability.

A new report released this week by Dodge Data & Analytics, in collaboration with construction management software provider Viewpoint, a Trimble company, reveals a sea change in the way project data is gathered and analyzed across the construction industry — change that is poised to improve key project outcomes according to construction managers, specialty trade contractors, and design/build firms surveyed. Tied to increased technology use and advancements, 64 percent of those who participated in the report said their ability to gather and analyze data has improved or improved significantly.

“64% of participants said their ability to gather and analyze data has improved.”

The report, titled Improving Performance with Project Data SmartMarket Report: How Improved Collection and Analysis is Leading to the Digital Transformation of the Construction Industry, reveals that contractors believe improvements in field data collection will bring impactful change over the next three years, driving the industry’s digital transformation. If critical business data normalization can be accomplished, the results can increase key project outcomes such as budget, productivity, and profitability.

The findings also reveal some important calls to action for continuous improvement in the industry:

  • Contractors using commercial software to gather jobsite data report significantly higher satisfaction rates than those using paper forms or spreadsheets.
  • Many contractors still have concerns about storing their data in the cloud, and in particular around how secure their cloud-stored data will be. Both general contractors and specialty trades list security concerns as the top reason for not managing data in the cloud, and among those surveyed, 65 percent still use on-premise servers.
  • While 86 percent of respondents are relying on anti-malware software to address data security, only 45 percent of those surveyed have implemented employee compliance training.

“65% of participants said they still use on-premise servers.”

Viewpoints Chief Product & Strategy Officer Matt Harris said: “Gathering siloed data from across their organization to analyze and improve project outcomes is a key challenge we work with clients to overcome daily. Contractors are demanding easier, better, and more consistent collection of data — from the office, across their extended teams, and into the field — in order to enable better measurement of project performance and drive toward greater gains.”

The report also points to current and emerging means of gathering data via apps, cameras, sensors, and wearables. “We think this is a critical area to watch in the future,” said Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights Research at Dodge Data & Analytics. “The smarter jobsite will transform the industry, but companies need their data gathering and analytics fundamentals in place before they can fully profit from all of the exciting technology that is now emerging, funded by an influx of venture capital, and directly addressing industry needs to reduce risk, improve productivity, and improve safety.”

A complimentary version of the full SmartMarket Report is available here.

Methodology

An online survey of contractors was conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics. A total of 187 responses are included in the analysis, including 140 prime contractors (general contractors, construction managers, construction design/contracting firms, design-builders and others) and 47 specialty trade contractors.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

Women in Construction Week

The construction labor shortage has become a more significant issue for the construction industry with each passing year. By the end of December 2018, the construction industry’s unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent compared to 3.9 percent in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While this problem has required the field to search for solutions — such as better construction management software — it has also left the industry reeling for answers. Why aren’t more millennials or Generation Z pursuing careers in construction such as becoming a specialty contractor or general contractor?

One reason is most certainly due to the stigma attached to construction trade schools. The increased pressure to pursue a bachelor’s or even master’s degree has made institutional paths the norm for young professionals, and the myths associated with construction trade schools have decreased attendance.

Here are three myths often linked to trade schools — especially trade schools for construction management — and a few reasons why they are not correct.

debunking trade school myths

1. “Trade schools won’t get you hired”

The goal of any certificate, license, or degree is to secure a job at the end of the process, preferably one that will launch you into your desired career field. One myth attached to construction trade school certificates is that they do not lead to many job offers. However, this is especially untrue for those attending trade school to learn a skill associated with the construction industry.

According to BLS data, the unemployment rate for the construction industry (private wage and salary workers) in November 2018 was 3.9 percent, close to the national average of 3.7 percent (the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years). The financial crisis of 2007 increased unemployment in construction and many workers did not return as the economy slowly made its way back.

However, many of those who continued working in construction now anticipate leaving the industry. In fact, more than 40 percent of construction workers are fast approaching their retirement. This is emphasized in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, which shows there were 278,000 construction job openings in September 2018 compared to 179,000 in September 2017 — more than 55 percent increase year over year.

Therefore, while the construction industry’s unemployment is slightly higher than the national average, this likely will not be the case for much longer. The labor shortage in construction is already widely reported, and the need to fill those spots will only become direr. Increased attendance to trade school for construction management will train a new group of workers to fill these much-needed spots, and it will do so with a generation known for being technologically savvy.

2. “Financial security can only be achieved with a college degree”

Perhaps the most popular myth is that trade schools do not pay off. Yes, the end goal of any education is to secure a good job and a comfortable wage. But this can certainly be achieved for a more reasonable price at a trade school for construction management.

According to the BLS Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers report, for the third quarter of 2018, the median weekly earnings for United States workers were $887 — or $46,100 annually. Comparatively, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) released its 2018 Construction Craft Salary Survey Results showing that general contractors can earn as much as $92,523 yearly - almost double the nation’s median. The survey also showed that specialty contractors can make as much as $71,067 yearly.

In contrast, new college graduates will make an average of $50,400 annually, according to a study by consulting firm Korn Ferry which analyzed 310,000 entry-level positions from nearly 1,000 organizations across the U.S. In addition to that starting salary, there’s something else college students often receive when they graduate — significant student loan debt.

According to Student Loan Hero, the average student loan debt for a college graduate in 2017 was $39,400 — almost 80 percent of their starting salary. The organization also estimates that the average debt for obtaining a Master of Education is $50,900 and $58,500 for a Master of Arts!

3. “Trade jobs will soon be replaced with robots”

Who wants to spend time and money training for a career that might not exist in a few years? It is not a secret that Silicon Valley’s attempt to “disrupt” industries with automation has reduced employment in some fields. However, the construction industry is a complex and dynamic environment that’s much harder to automate than, for example, manufacturing and is avoiding this trend using construction management software such as Fieldwire, which aims to empower blue collar workers instead of replacing them. As Brad Bartholomew, co-owner of Bartholomew Heating and Cooling, said: “Skilled trades are very important, well paying, very well-respected jobs that can’t be moved out of the country or replaced by technology. These are jobs that are going to exist; that need to exist. We need this kind of work.”

Construction management software targeting the construction industry is helping workers — replacing older methods of communication to improve productivity and reduce busywork. Using software to automate redundant tasks enables craftspeople to focus on meaningful work and do that work for longer periods of time. Allowing robots — no fearing them — to perform physically demanding construction tasks could extend a workers career and attract more technically savvy people to the industry, especially those already attending a trade school for construction management.

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

#15722 General contractor blog

Today, general contractors are spending nearly the same amount of revenue on construction technology as they were in 2017, according to a recent survey by JB Knowledge. Meaning, the construction industry is still lagging behind all other industries when it comes to digitization. General contractors, are, however, adopting portable technology at a much faster rate than in previous years, with 93% of survey respondents preferring a mobile device over a laptop in the field.

Embracing a paperless future

General contractors are increasingly turning to construction management apps — to access project information from any device and location. Rather than carrying around bulky binders or laptops, all a general contractor needs today is the phone in their pocket and a construction app.

In 2018, JB Knowledge reported that general contractors were using construction management apps for three main reasons:

  • To capture and store photos and videos
  • For daily reporting
  • For time management

Now that you know this, we thought we’d provide a brief explanation on how you can do all of the above using Fieldwire’s construction management app for the field. Let’s jump straight in!

Capture and store photos and videos

Using a construction app like Fieldwire, you can snap a photo, attach it to a plan or task, record a video, and instantly share it with others, all while you’re working in the field. Once someone replies to that photo or video, Fieldwire will alert you in real-time so that you’re across every update no matter where you are.

Graham Group, one of Canada’s largest construction companies with over $2.2 billion in annual revenue, use Fieldwire in a similar way to communicate more efficiently onsite. Graham’s Quality Control Coordinator, Stefan Gonari, said: “With Fieldwire’s real-time functionality, I can markup a deficiency on the fourth floor, go down to the second floor, get notified that the issue has already been fixed, and then verify it – all from my iPhone in minutes.”

Furthermore, Fieldwire will automatically archive your photos and videos for you to download later or send in a PDF report to project owners. Either set up a report to auto-send on a set day or save each one to print later. It’s never been so easy!

Daily reporting

With the right construction app in hand, daily reports should not be tedious or time-consuming. Because, a field management app like Fieldwire, allows you to build, edit, and submit your daily’s from any mobile device in the field. In just a few minutes, you can download and send daily construction reports to other project members — significantly reducing busy work back in the office.

From within Fieldwire’s construction management app, you can customize construction daily reports to include (or not include) information, such as:

  • Weather conditions, which can be automatically generated based on your location.
  • Information about schedule delays, site conditions, accidents, and equipment or materials used.
  • A log of work that was undertaken, including who did it, the time it took them, and any other notes.
  • Attachments such as photos and files that support the work log.

Daily reports ipad 2

This way, you no longer need to dread daily reports or waste valuable time configuring each one. If daily reporting is a process you’d like to further simplify, check out these helpful best practices on our blog.

Time management

At Fieldwire, we understand that your time is money. Hence why we built our construction app to bring more structure and clarity to your day. Fieldwire puts all the information you need in one place — tasks, plans, files, and more — to save you time and increase transparency.

More importantly, Fieldwire helps general contractors manage their time without feeling overwhelmed. Our scheduling dashboard allows you to arrange your tasks in order of priority or due date so that you can stay on track without losing your cool. However, if a task does run overschedule, Fieldwire will automatically notify you to step in and make adjustments before it’s too late. This prevents you from incurring significant project delays which have real costs!

At Fieldwire, we’re dedicated to helping you manage your time more effectively. In fact, we save our users an average of 5 hours each day, based on customer feedback. We’re always upgrading our software to give you more tools to effectively manage your day. Check out our latest features which you can try for free or request a demo with one of our product experts today.

Patrick hogan photoPatrick Hogan • 

Handle guest post

The construction industry is experiencing a labor shortage and high workforce turnover amidst an increasing demand for construction work. In a survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, 79% of construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2019 but an almost equal percentage are worried about their ability to locate and hire qualified workers.

The labor shortage has a huge impact on construction costs, meeting deadlines, and even safety on worksites. And a smaller workforce means projects take longer than anticipated to complete. The increase in construction expenses to cope with a limited crew is burdensome for contractors, especially with rising material costs. Furthermore, if contractors are forced to hire less than qualified workers to fill positions, the potential for worksite accidents increases.

For these reasons, it is apparent that construction companies need to address the industry’s labor shortage issue before it gets worse. Not only do contractors need to attract skilled workers to gain a competitive advantage, but they should also create an environment and culture that encourages employee retention.

Fortunately, there are several solutions that can help contractors improve their workforce and address labor issues. Here are four ways construction companies can attract and retain skilled workers.

Create a positive workplace culture

The mission, vision, and values of a company are not just something listed in the employee handbook to be memorized by new hires. Rather, they are the guiding principles that should be the starting point from which company culture is created. With high worker turnover, however, it may be hard for companies to shape their own culture and subsequently hire workers that fit it.

Having an attractive workplace culture benefits the hiring process. New employees are more likely to stay if the environment is welcoming rather than being “just a place for a job.” So focusing on creating a positive culture cannot be overemphasized.

To create a positive workplace, it is important to take a step back and determine if the values that were specified when the business was founded are still reflected in the organization’s current culture. If there is a disconnect between company values and the actions of company leaders, employees will perceive the company in a bad light and inevitably walk away.

Company leaders should check the pulse of current employees regarding the current working environment. They must ask what they think needs to change and work on their suggestions immediately. Company culture may take time, but as long as company leaders consciously shape it with consistent and team-oriented leadership, employees will more likely stay.

If there is a disconnect between company values and the actions of company leaders, employees will perceive the company in a bad light and inevitably walk away.

Foster teamwork and camaraderie

Teamwork and camaraderie have always been some of the core values that all organizations want to foster. In the construction industry, these are doubly important. Workers face real dangers on the construction site, and, for this reason, it is vital that workers look after one another and work together to create a safe workplace.

Teamwork includes open communication and everyone contributing towards improving the safety of the workplace. One of the first steps is defining the goals of the project and ensuring everyone understands them. People need to know what they are working toward and how they contribute to the common goal.

The next step involves forming trust between team members and their superiors. This can be achieved by increasing open communication, encouraging feedback, and being transparent about the decision-making process. Building trust takes time and a lot of patience, but it will be worth it.

It is vital that workers look after one another and work together to create a safe workplace.

Create a formal mentorship program

The construction labor shortage has created an industry that is quite competitive when it comes to acquiring skilled workers. If the company does not provide opportunities for career growth, employees will look for greener pastures elsewhere. This is why it is important that companies invest in their own employees and create a path for advancement within the organization. High turnover directly affects the bottom line, and in an industry where cash flow challenges and payment issues abound, retaining skilled and experienced workers is paramount.

One of the best ways to achieve this is through a mentorship program. A good mentoring program serves as a platform for knowledge transfer from veteran workers to new employees. Mentorship programs benefit both the teacher and the student. While mentees gain new knowledge and build their network, mentors gain insights on fresh perspectives new employees may have. In addition, the personal relationship between mentors and mentees can last until retirement and contributes to creating a workforce that trusts one another.

If the company does not provide opportunities for career growth, employees will look for greener pastures elsewhere.

Include employees in the decision-making process

Field employees have valuable insights that top management who are offsite may not have. Getting their input provides a lot of benefits and makes the decision-making process more effective. More importantly, including employee input when making decisions that affect the whole company actually promotes retention and improves the bottom line.

Everyone wants to feel that their opinions and perspectives are valued. Asking about the thoughts of individual employees about specific issues will instill a sense of responsibility and let them see that their input has helped implement a beneficial change.

Including employee input when making decisions that affect the whole company actually promotes retention and improves the bottom line.

Retaining construction talent goes beyond attractive compensation packages. It requires a lot of time and patience from everyone involved. By understanding the benefits that matter to the members of the workforce — trust, teamwork, and career advancement — combating labor shortage and creating a capable team of talented workers is a reality.

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