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Selecting the Right Industrial Coating

Published on June 26, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Tatsuya Nakagawa

If you don’t have a background in coatings and corrosion industry, the coating selection process can be daunting. Product data sheets are filled with testing standards that you have never heard of and lab results that may have no application to your situation. A century ago there were only a handful of choices, but today there are thousands of coatings to consider. Luckily you can navigate through the countless choices by focusing on these four key areas.

Condition and Type of Substrate
Not all coatings will function well on concrete, steel and wood. It’s important to ask, is the substrate in good enough condition to accept a coating as is or does the surface need to be repaired or prepared in a certain way? Always remember, coatings are only as good as the quality of the surface it’s adhering to.

Performance Requirements
Does the coating need to withstand high vehicular or foot traffic? Does it need to have high chemical resistance? Will the coating be exposed to high temperatures or UV? If facility downtime is an issue, then a fast curing coating needs to be used. Does it need to have flexibility so it can expand and contract with the substrate or resist impact? What is the temperature going to be during the coating project? For instance, epoxies generally need 50F (10C) to effectively cure, so if the temperatures are lower than that, external heating needs to be utilized or a cold weather coating would need to be considered. Lab results are good, but it’s always good to ask a supplier if they have an example of a similar application in the field.

Safety & Environmental Considerations
According to research firm MarketsAndMarkets, the current worth of the global green coatings market (2012) is $60.6 billion and is estimated to reach $85.7 billion by 2018. VOC-free, BPA-free options are becoming more available in many coating categories, but be sure that these coatings are cost competitive and meet all your performance requirements. Using a sustainable coating will make your jobsite safer and lessen the impact of your project on the environment.

Costs
Costs can sometimes be tricky to access without knowing some additional details beyond the product datasheet. First of all, you need to discuss with the supplier what the specification of the project would be (ie. thickness requirements, coverage). Another area that cost comes into play is surface prep. The cost of surface prep needs to be examined for the coatings system you select. Whether the coating system requires a higher quality surface finish or an additional layer of primer, the costs can add up in a hurry. Asking about the service life and future repairability of the coating is also a good practice.

It’s an exciting time in the coating industry with many innovative solutions on the market. Stick with these fundamental tips and it will increase your chances in making a good selection.

Tatsuya Nakagawa is the VP of marketing and co-founder of Castagra Products, an industrial coatings manufacturing company. Castagra is used by the world’s top companies to protect their assets. Contact info@castagra.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Building on Strengths to Enter New Sectors

Published on June 22, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By H. Kent Goetjen

What did this year’s CEO Survey reveal about how engineering and construction (E&C) CEOs view the state of their industry in the face of unprecedented digital transformation?

  • They’re concerned about the economy, project funding sources, and other risks, but are still fairly confident of revenue growth.
  • They’re looking to new sectors, actively investing in digital technologies and forming new alliances with companies.
  • Many are collaborating with competitors.

Cautious confidence

E&C CEOs are more pessimistic about the economic outlook than peers in other industries: 28 percent believe global economy will improve this year (versus 50 percent last year). Despite these reservations, 67 percent of them think there are more opportunities for growth than three years ago. They’re just as confident as last year that they can generate higher revenues in the short– (81 percent) and mid-term (92 percent). They’re looking to the US and China – albeit at lower levels than other CEOs – to produce much of this growth. But Saudi Arabia and Africa are on their radar too.

Gearing up for disruptive megatrends

Overregulation and higher taxes top E&C CEO concerns, but 58 percent are also worried about bribery and corruption. They’re also preparing themselves for major disruptions over the next five years, as megatrends converge. The likelihood of more competition makes them nervous. But they’re generally more relaxed about the disruptive potential of new regulations, distribution channels and production technologies, and changes in customers’ behavior, than peers in other industries.

Active in new and adjacent industries

More than half of E&C CEOs think more companies from adjacent industries will enter the sector in the next five years, although 31 percent don’t expect significant rivals to emerge. In fact, 41 percent say they’ve already entered another sector, more than the average of 33 percent. These pioneers are targeting the energy, utilities and mining, professional and business services, and industrial manufacturing sectors.

Digital delivers efficiency and innovation

Most E&C CEOs are also investing in digital technologies to create value in new ways. Their top priorities are cybersecurity, mobile technologies for engaging with customers, and data mining and analysis. They’re also more interested in the potential of 3-D printing than other CEOs, which suggests increasing off-site manufacturing could become the norm.

How have these investments paid off? E&C CEOs say digital technologies have been valuable in improving operational efficiency and enhancing data analysis, external and internal collaboration. They’re also positively impacting innovation capacity, sourcing and supply chain management. But maximizing returns is difficult. It requires clear vision of how digital technologies can deliver competitive advantage, a robust plan that includes concrete measures of success, and a CEO who’s willing to champion digital.

Dynamic alliances, different talent

The percentage of E&C CEOs who plan to form a new alliance leapt to 61 percent from 49 percent in 2014. They’re far more likely to be joining forces with competitors than CEOs in other sectors are (45 percent versus 27 percent).

Half of E&C CEOs also intend to hire more. Finding candidates with the right skills is a key concern, but they’ve taken steps to address talent shortfalls: 72 percent have widened searches to different countries, industries or demographic segments; 61 percent have implemented a strategy for promoting talent diversity.

Kent Goetjen is PwC’s U.S. Engineering & Construction industry sector leader. He has more than 30 years of experience providing service to clients in the engineering and construction industry.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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Four Ways Connected Building Technology Will Transform Commercial Real Estate

Published on June 18, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Mani Gopalaratnam

The Internet of Things is quickly making the future a reality by revolutionizing the way people and things – including buildings – operate. Spending on connected buildings is expected to more than triple from 2013 to 2018 according to IDC Energy Insights, representing a 28 percent compound annual growth rate.

Connected building technology allows the thousands of devices in buildings, like heating and security systems, to be monitored and controlled remotely. Further, property managers can analyze data produced by these devices to optimize operations. For example, instead of maintaining a conference room’s temperature at 68 degrees, a connected building would be able to detect an increased occupancy in the room during a meeting and adjust the temperature accordingly.

For commercial real estate developers and investors under increased pressure to more tightly manage costs, this is exciting news as the benefits of connected buildings can be seen across four core areas of operations: IT, safety and security, energy management and property management.

IT Operations

Connected building technology converges IT and OT infrastructure, which allows for greater visibility into a building’s infrastructure and avoids siloing data across different systems. Connected building technology also uses preventative and predictive analysis to forecast actionable events that will impact a building’s efficiency.

Safety and Security

With connected building technology, data from video surveillance can be analyzed in real-time to determine potential threats, such as intrusion or vandalism. Immediate action can then be taken to prevent a potential security breach.

Energy Management

Programmable algorithms ensure building utility systems run as efficiently as possible. Real-time monitoring of a building’s energy consumption and performance creates a complete picture of power usage, providing a proactive solution for managing energy use.

Property Management

Connected building technology automates maintenance services, meaning building faults can be diagnosed remotely and resolutions tracked in real-time. Additionally, property managers gain insight into which sites are performing more efficiently.

Over the next few years, connected building technology will become increasingly common in newly constructed offices and commercial spaces. It is projected that spending on this technology will rise to more than $21 billion in 2018. Advancements in software applications, network management and fulfills analytics will continue to improve connected building energy efficiency.

Tools like the Honeywell Command Wall, an 80-inch screen that displays the physical systems within a building along with the data produced in real-time, allow users to quickly view, analyze and make insight-driven decisions. More examples of this technology will likely follow as demand for seamless user-interfaces and flow of information increases.

Mani Gopalaratnam is Head of Innovation at Xchanging, a multi-national, publicly-listed business and technology services provider.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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In Construction Leadership, Blind Spots Spell Trouble

Published on June 8, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By David Nour

When a company’s top leadership has blinders on, trouble will follow. The first clue that this condition exists is doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.

To assume “We’re leaders in our field for a reason. If we keep doing what we’ve always done, our market will continue to reward us” is fundamentally flawed. Construction company leaders need to understand that you are not just competing against each other, but competing for a share of the spending power of your clients. Customers always have a choice, and that includes substitutes you may never have imagined could impact your bottom line. Remaining relevant to choice-conscious buyers is your fundamental purpose, not protecting the status quo.

Your next generation of buyers looks nothing like the last.

If you haven’t noticed the changing market preferences and tastes of Millennials, you are wearing blinders. These are tomorrow’s customers. With the construction industry picking up steam, it is easy to become complacent. Total  construction starts are predicted to rise to nine percent in 2015. (Source: Electrical Contractor magazine.)  After years of two percent growth, that sounds great. But if leaders began innovating around the pains and gains of their next generation of customers, they could see double-digit growth. Unfortunately, I see little sign the construction industry recognizes the demographic shift underway.

If you want to avoid blind spots, don’t put the blind in charge.

A large problem facing the construction industry is a stale mindset. Too often, leadership succession means one old-guard face is replaced with another just as “male, pale and stale.” Few recall what a fresh perspective is. Shuffling the organization chart keeps the blind in control. Not good.

Imagine what fresh perspective could bring.

Innovation isn’t necessarily about your products and services. It can also be about how your business model challenges the status quo. For example, take a look at your strategic relationship priorities. Are you centered on the interests of your supply chain partners, with little thought to your customer experience? If you flipped that priority, it would fundamentally differentiate you from competitors.

You cannot continue to hold your company to the standard of your peers. Until you raise your eyes from the rut you are in, and look outside your industry for inspiration, you have no chance of discovering an innovation that can fuel new growth. Your blind spots will persist. And blind spots spell trouble.

Takeaways

  1. If you find your company repeating the same behaviors, but expecting different results, you have blind spots.
  2. Millennials’ market preferences and tastes will radically challenge your old assumptions. Start sensing market trends.
  3. Don’t measure yourself against peers. Look outside your industry for fresh perspective.

David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® —the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is the author of several books including the best selling “Relationship Economics— Revised” (Wiley), “ConnectAbility” (McGraw-Hill), “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital” (Praeger) and “Return on Impact—Leadership Strategies for the age of Connected Relationships” (ASAE). Learn more at www.NourGroup.com. David may be reached at dnour@nourgroup.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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Four Easy Steps to Acquire Your Contractor License Bond

Published on June 4, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Eric Halsey

Answering questions like “What is a contractor license bond?” and “How can I acquire one?” are easier than you think. With this quick guide, we’ll walk you through the basic steps of getting your bond and provide links to resources detailing your state’s individual requirements so you can get started today.

First Things, First: Who Needs to Get Licensed and Bonded?
The construction contracting industry includes basically any business or individual who constructs or alters, or offers to construct or alter, any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation or other structure in a particular state. Any work being done directly for the federal government is generally excluded from state requirements and subject to unique federal regulations.

Anyone wishing to act as a construction contractor will need to get all their relevant licenses. These licenses require that you obtain surety bonds to ensure you follow all the relevant rules and regulations which come along with your license.

Importantly, there are some exceptions to licensing requirements. The specific California exceptions are listed here, but you should check your state’s laws on the subject. Once you’ve determined your need for a particular license, what’s the first step?

Step 1: Understand All the Licenses You’ll Need

This is important — in order to operate, you may need to obtain a license and/or a surety bond in the relevant state, municipality, and locality in which you’re operating. There’s obviously a tremendous amount of variation here, so some research is definitely required.

The following contractor’s license bond guide has lots of helpful information on the state requirements to get you started. You can also talk directly with your bond provider to see if they have further resources on municipal and local requirements.

Step 2: Find the Right Bonding Agency

Once you’re certain you meet all the requirements, you need to find the best bonding agency for your needs. First, you’re going to want to find a provider with ample experience in providing bonds to your specific type of work. That will ensure they’ll have the expertise to help you understand all those licensing requirements we just mentioned.

Beyond that, it’s important to find an agency which underwrites a large number of bonds and is a Managing General Underwriter (MGU). Underwriting many bonds means they can negotiate better prices for you. Being an MGU means they not only underwrite your bond, but also get involved in the claims process, so it’s in their interest to ensure you’re informed on how to avoid them.

Think of your bonding agency like a partner —  you’re not going to buy a bond one single time, since they need to be renewed every one or two years — so it’s best to choose wisely.

Step 3: Get Approval for Your Bond(s)

The approval process should be simple as long as you meet all the licensing requirements and have a personal credit score above 650. Most bonding agencies will allow you to do this online.

Step 4: Sign Your Bond(s) and Submit Them to the Relevant Authorities

The final step here is to sign any bonds you may be submitting before you make a copy for your own records and mail the originals off. The copy is important in case anything happens and you need to prove you’re bonded without having to go to the relevant government authority.

Keep in mind that you may have to submit other documents alongside your bond, so double check the requirements before you mail everything off. After all this is complete, the state should send you your contractor license. Depending on your state, municipality, and locality, this may take between one and three weeks.

Other Things to Consider

Bear in mind, the entire licensing process often takes several months to complete. This guide only describes the part relevant to getting bonded. Be sure to plan everything in advance, so you’re not caught unprepared for any delays.

Eric Halsey is a historian by training and disposition who’s been interested in U.S. small businesses since working at the House Committee on Small Business in 2006. Coming from a family with a history of working on industry policy, he has a particular interest in the Surety Bonding industry with a focus on Construction and loves sharing his knowledge for JW Surety Bonds.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Innovation Rising: 3-D Printing in the Construction Industry

Published on May 26, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By James White

When you hear the term 3-D printing, it’s difficult to imagine how it can apply to the construction industry. How could using a digital blueprint to create objects out of plastic or another material translate to the world of construction?

Believe it or not, 3-D printing is versatile and can be used in many ways. It has actually been used in the construction industry already, thanks to a Chinese company called WinSun. WinSun claims to have built 10 3-D printed houses in a single day, with a total cost for each house coming to $5,000. That’s pretty impressive, to say the least.

Building for the Future

How is this possible, you ask? 3-D construction is done using grand-scale printers, which employ the use of a special concrete and composite mixture. This mixture is actually much thicker than traditional concrete, which allows it to support itself as it sets, in addition to drying much faster. No, this is not a hoax. 3-D printed buildings can actually be fabricated using digital blueprints.

In addition, 3-D-based construction can be more efficient at times. For instance, curved concrete structures can be designed with a hollow composition. This uses less building materials and space to work inside the structure – without sacrificing strength and support. Tactics like this can be used to maintain quality of a building, while saving the builders valuable money and resources in the process. It’s a win-win situation.

WinSun took the process a step further and created an entire five-story apartment building and 11,840-square-foot villa using its touted 3-D printing construction methods. The 3-D prints were actually created at a remote facility and transferred in pieces to the project site. Then, the prefabricated pieces were assembled with steel reinforcements and the necessary insulation.

Speed and Savings

According to CNET, WinSun saves between 30 and 60 percent of construction waste thanks to 3-D printing. It can further reduce production times by 50 to 70 percent and reduce labor costs by 50 to 80 percent.

Not only will 3-D printing reduce manpower requirements, but it will also speed up the construction and assembly process. However, it does bring to mind the matter of codes and standards. It will be interesting to see how modern building codes are enforced with these 3-D printed structures.

It’s not difficult to imagine someone coming along and perfecting these ideas, though. Construction technology and innovations are hot trends for all major construction companies. Imagine a much larger 3-D printer, for instance, that is designed to build structures in prefabricated pieces autonomously. You could just upload the blueprints into a computer and wait for a few days for the husk of a building to be printed. Then, simply transfer the pieces – and materials – to the project site and assemble them as necessary (like modular building).

Can you imagine finishing a project this way? You better get used to it, you may be using methods like this real soon.

James White is an experienced home improvement blogger who works in construction. 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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How to Create an OSHA-Approved Safety Incentive Program

Published on May 18, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Steve Damerow

Rule 1: Accept that accidents happen and always report them

Since the Obama administration, OSHA has looked unfavorably on any incentive that promotes not reporting accidents. According to Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “A company whose incentive program has the potential to discourage worker reporting fails to meet the Voluntary Protection Program (VVP) safety and health management system requirements.” In addition, OSHA inspectors frown upon companies that take disciplinary actions against employees for violating safety rules, or who are injured regardless of fault.

A safety incentive program based upon preventing accidents and reporting observations or near misses, according to OSHA thinking, creates better end results than “perfect” records, because it acknowledges flaws in the safety environment before they become chronic.

Rule 2: Promote a safety-conscious work culture

Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of OSHA, also stated, “…We certainly are not opposed to all incentive programs. On the contrary, a positive incentive program that encourages or rewards workers for serving on safety and health committee (think inclusion), training…, reporting injuries, illness, near-misses or hazards can encourage worker involvement…An incentive program that encourages positive employee involvement is a valuable component…”

Rather than merely recording safety violations and incidents, OSHA places emphasis on keeping employees educated on safety. This prevents future incidents and facilitates a culture of workers who can self-monitor. Incentive program technology has the ability to educate workers through OSHA-compliant training features, and reward them for completing courses or correctly answering quizzes.

Rule 3: Contact the right safety consultant

OSHA is always updating and refining their policies. Contracting outside help to stay up-to-date is critical. A consultant can be responsible for assessing status, issues, goals and key performance indicators; creating and communicating learning and worker feedback; maintaining data; and, finally, working with and advising the reward fulfillment company.

Rule 4: Offer attractive and readily achievable rewards

Workers have to see a quid pro quo for their behavior. Just like any other incentive program, the question is: “What’s in it for them?” Consultants are needed to establish your specific organizational goals. You also need a full-time rewards fulfillment company with the critical mass and resources to supply a robust online rewards shopping mall, such as Incentive Solutions’ multi-functional program, which has a customizable platform offering more than 15 million items, event tickets and real time travel. You wouldn’t change your habits or behavior for a coffee, so why would your workers? New, online reward platforms give your workers vast reward options and an accessible, easy-to-use, familiar interface.

Rule 5: Utilize mobile apps

Smartphone and mobile app usage is prolific in today’s society. Offering a safety program through a mobile app is not merely a trendy accessory: mobile apps are designed to boost engagement. The easier it is for participants to access your program, the more likely they are to use it. Especially for on-the-go workers such as warehouse employees who may not sit in an office for much of their day, mobile apps can greatly encourage participation in your program.

In conclusion: always report safety incidents, contact an expert to create a safety-conscious work culture, don’t try to fulfill the rewards yourself or through your promo product distributor, and take advantage of today’s user-friendly technology.

Steve Damerow (pictured to the left) is CEO of Incentive Solutions. He is a recognized expert and published author, and hosts the national radio show “Business Matters.” Incentive Solutions currently manages more than 100 incentive loyalty programs within the HVAC/plumbing/construction industries. He can be reached at sdamerow@isicorporate.com and 678-514-0203.

 

 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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The Evolution of Home Building: 1900 to Today

Published on May 17, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Brian Wilkins

The average length of time to build a single-family home, from obtaining the permit to laying out the welcome mat, is seven months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s longer than the six months it took to build a house in 1973,  but less than the 7.9 months it took in 2009 after the market collapsed. To add some perspective, it took only 410 days to build the Empire State Building from start to finish in 1931.

Everything from technology to the demographics of buyers has changed the way homes have been built over the past century. Americans have also become obsessed with size. The average three-bedroom home built in the 1960s had about 1,200 square feet of living space. That would be considered a shack compared to the “McMansions” constructed during the pre-2008 housing bubble that were twice that size.

The evolution of home construction is also a product of better materials and schematics. Here we explore some of the most notable.

Post-Antebellum

The turn of the century saw amenities like indoor plumbing and heat become more mainstream. To compensate for the increased costs that accompanied installation, the size of a typical home shrank to about 700 square feet. Lot sizes were also reduced in the early 20th century so rows of houses could be built.

Homes gradually became places strictly for dwelling, sleeping, and recreation. Americans were no longer making their own clothes and food at their homes—they had become consumers instead of producers, so the extra space was unnecessary. It was not until the 1940s that bedrooms were regularly built into homes. Before that, there was little privacy for average people, as most beds stood up against walls of one-room homes when not in use.

In her book ”American Home Life 1880-1930: A Social History of Space and Service,” Candace Volz said electricity and central heat completely altered floor plans and made homes social spaces to invite others. Window air conditioners became available in the 1930s, but cost the equivalent of about $120,000 today; units became much cheaper after World War II, then were overtaken by central air in the 1970s.

Materials Revolution

The first American settlers built log cabins because wood was the most readily-available material for home construction. It was soon discovered that insects, animals, and weather made them impractical for long-term use.

Air conditioning made Southwest cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas bearable,with  both experiencing exponential population growth in the 1950s. Homes were mass produced with stucco exterior walls, the cheap, low-maintenance cement plaster that effectively resists heat and dry conditions.

Roof construction across the country also evolved with better materials. Wood shingles were around for centuries, but were highly combustible and impractical. Today, there are a wide variety of shingles from which to choose. Champion Comfort 365 roofs come with leak barriers and roof deck protection, so not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but great for all climates and conditions. Stone shingles are expensive, but last for centuries. Metal shingles are the most fire-resistant of them all.

Drywall and Copper

Sheetrock, also known as drywall, replaced plaster as the primary material for interior walls in the 1960s. It’s cheap, easy to install, and doesn’t crack as easily as plaster. Builders experimented with polybutylene pipes 50 years ago, but soon discovered copper and PVC were far more durable and reliable.

It’s difficult to predict how home construction will evolve over the next 100 years. As 3D technology becomes more mainstream and affordable, perhaps 3D-printed homes will become the new building trend.

Brian Wilkins is a small business owner and freelance writer.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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What the Internet of Things Means for Field Service

Published on May 14, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Aleksandr Peterson

The so-called “internet of things” (IoT) is one of the biggest IT sensations in recent history — partly because of its futuristic mystique and partly because of its practical implications for business, which are further-reaching than some may have expected.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the global IoT is comprised of 25 billion devices and expected to reach 50 billion by 2020. The biggest question for most industries is about value-add. What does my team, my organization, or my industry stand to gain from a vast network of connected devices that exchange information about performance and use?

Gartner says the overall economic gains could add up to $1.9 trillion, with the highest growth seen in manufacturing, healthcare, and insurance, but a large part of the IoT conversation has settled around the field service industry, likely because it’s closely tied to physical asset maintenance (e.g. appliances, utility meters, vehicles, equipment), and these assets could theoretically be connected to other devices and management systems. But the phrase, “internet of things” is so all-encompassing that it’s hard to fathom how, precisely, field service will be affected, much less how it can use IoT for strategic advantage.

Practical Implications

IoT will probably catch on for consumers, which means service providers can market “smart” systems for home automation—smart lighting, smart security, smart thermostats—and further bridge the gap between their product and service offerings. But even if it doesn’t, there are some concrete ways service companies can use IoT technology to improve their field operations.

Many of these are being used by competitive companies in conjunction with the best field service management software. Here are four areas to consider:

Preventative maintenance: The best way to minimize asset failure is to solve problems before they happen. Using embedded sensors and a remote monitoring system, your equipment, machinery, vehicles, etc. can discern and communicate early warning signs based on heat, pressure, flow, voltage, etc. You can then dispatch a technician to address the vulnerability before it causes larger issues. This can also lead to a lower cost of asset ownership, in cases where proprietary equipment is being leased to a client.

Faster response times: Without automated monitoring, issue detection is left to human perception, which is slower to respond. For example, you only realize your A/C unit is out when your house or office turns into a sauna. If that A/C unit were connected to a computerized maintenance management system, it could have sent a low freon alert to the provider and been serviced preemptively.

Better fleet management: If you’re a fleet-focused service company (e.g. utilities, telecommunications, public sector transportation service), you can use telematics embedded in vehicles or mobile devices to track driver location in real time and make better job assignment or rerouting decisions.

Less unnecessary trips: If you can pinpoint problems remotely, you can decide what each job will require and which technician has the right skillset to do the work. This can be especially useful in situations where equipment is remotely stationed or difficult to access, like the lightbulb at the top of a 1,500-foot wireless tower.

Some say the IoT is bound to become an integral part of the way people work and live in not-so-distant future; others shrug it off as a fad. But what primarily concerns the field service industry is not commercial viability of IoT technology, but its usefulness. In that sense, service companies stand to gain quite a lot: faster, smarter service, less mistakes, and less downtime.

Aleksandr Peterson is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers marketing automation, CRMs, project management, and other emerging business technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 

 
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Considerations of Solar Energy for Construction Executives

Published on May 13, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Dane O’Leary

The construction industry is busy, fast-paced, and sometimes even a little hectic. Projects are frequently spread out over an entire region with company resources divided according to project size and priority. As many clients tend to anxious for access to their new or renovated space, there can be pressure among executives to ensure that projects remain on schedule and have everything needed for timely completion.

With larger construction projects requiring crews to work at a single site for months and even years at a time, solar energy provides a renewable, sustainable source of energy for many of the project needs. Rather than paying for electricity via the local power grid or sourcing energy through the consumption of expensive fuels, energy from the sun is free, widely available, and solar power equipment could be relocated when a crew finishes one project and begins a new one at a different location.

 

Cost Versus Savings

One of the primary selling points for residential solar energy is the potential for long-term savings, specifically by either reducing or eliminating consumption of grid-based electricity and fossil fuels. It’s estimated that the average homeowner pays roughly $170 each month in home energy costs, but could save $1,000 annually by installing a solar energy system. However, the savings potential is even higher when solar energy is used commercially.

The drawback is that for solar energy to save a company money, that company must first spend money to be able to harness that solar energy. Construction companies have a particularly high energy consumption for several reasons; they often have a large office space — and it’s not uncommon for a company to have more than one — as well as having to supply a number of construction sites with the manpower, tools and energy required to complete a project.

Additionally, new structures — both commercial and residential — are incorporating solar energy systems at higher rates than ever before, which makes it possible for crews to harness solar energy using the solar energy systems they will be installing.

 

Green Business

While energy savings is always a main consideration, the fact that solar energy has no direct negative effect on the environment is another of the reasons why many companies are choosing to go solar. The only negative impact attributable to solar energy comes from the production, distribution and installation of solar photovoltaic panels rather than the panels themselves; however, construction companies using solar energy are doing their part to negate the incidental effect that solar has on the environment.

Additionally, construction companies that use solar energy have a substantial reduction of greenhouse emissions and a significantly smaller carbon footprint, which allows them to advertise their efforts to reduce dependence on foreign oil and to battle global warming.

Dane O’Leary is a design blogger for Modernize.com. He has degrees in psychology and anthropology with additional study in journalism, graphic design, and public relations. Dane is currently working on his debut novel.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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