The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous changes in safety regulations on jobsites throughout the country. While many projects have workers naturally spaced apart, comparable to the six-foot social distance in government proposals, other aspects of the jobsite have been of concern to workers and contractors alike. In response to the general lack of government guidance on the subject of jobsite safety, many member companies of the AGC (Associate General Contractors of America) is holding a stand down for safety action on Thursday, April 9, 20. On that day, hundreds of construction firms across the country will stop work and hold coronavirus-focused safety meetings as part of a nationwide safety campaign.
With the growing traffic on streets and even rural backroads, truckers are finding they need ways to drive safely, while assuring should an accident occur, they are covered if claims arise due to accidents that are not their fault. A Houston company, Pe Ben USA—a supplier to the pipeline construction segment—has taken to technology to minimize its truckers concern. Pe Ben specializes in stockpiling and stringing large-diameter line pipe and operates a fleet of 192 cargo trucks and their trailers. Hauling oversized truckloads, their drivers must be extra vigilant on the road. On top of their bulky cargo, drivers are also covering more extreme terrain than traditional long-haul trucking fleets. They are operating on a project basis, so they may spend months at a time transporting pipe down roads that are often in remote locations and require highly technical driving skills.
The market is speaking loud and clear: homebuyers want built-in technology when considering a new home. New homebuyers are familiar with the tech advances that are available, from whole-house Wi-Fi to sensor-based automation and they are willing to pay for what they want. And if they can’t get it, or they are buying an existing home without it, they are ready to install it themselves. For example, according to research from Parks Associates, while 29% of builders install an interactive security system, which remains popular among builders, DIY (do-it-yourself) security systems are taking a larger share of the residential security market due to their growing popularity among security-conscious households.
While reports of construction sites being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic downturn, some companies in the industries that support construction are stepping up to help. Software companies that specialize in construction are among those that are helping their clients to smooth out the path to maintaining employee proficiency while working at home or providing companies with software to make the slowdown less tragic to the company success. One company in the latter category is BuildBook. The owner’s family is in the custom home construction field, so it has a front row seat to what this situation is doing to the industry. Given that many states have mandated that small businesses (including construction) stop working and their employees stay indoors, this is an unprecedented disruption.
Today, construction companies can tap into an arsenal of tools and technologies to help perform work in a way that is productive and safe. Technology companies continue to come to market with new products aimed at improving business processes. Here’s a closer look at some of the new products and platforms on the market today. Modeling Moves Forward BIM (building information modeling) continues to advances, offering construction professionals the ability to use technology to improve business processes. One area in particular that is seeing an infusion of new capabilities is 4D modeling.
The cloud has become the resource many companies turn to when they need large amounts of digital storage, constantly updated SaaS (software-as-a-service), or high-performance computing capabilities. With the aggressive expansion of AI (artificial intelligence) in applications, even smaller companies can benefit from the computing power available in the cloud. And while the cloud has been highly publicized as an option for everything digital, an even more powerful environment exists that hasn’t gotten nearly as much coverage: quantum computing. A recent IDC (Intl Data Corp.) survey of IT and business personnel responsible for quantum computing adoption found that improved AI capabilities, accelerated business intelligence, and increased productivity and efficiency were the top expectations of organizations currently investing in cloud-based quantum computing.
The term “cloud” has become commonplace in today’s highly technology-oriented economy. What is it? According to Microsoft, “The cloud is not a physical entity, but instead is a vast network of remote servers around the globe which are hooked together and meant to operate as a single ecosystem. These servers are designed to either store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or a service such as streaming videos, web mail, office productivity software, or social media.” A subset of the cloud concept is the use of those remote servers and computing power to do analytics, including forensics and fraud detection.
If you need to inspect railroad track for dimensional accuracy, an obvious safety issue, you want the best inspection tools available. If you are a lender and need data on a property to do an estimate of value, you want the best tools available. In the first case, a physical inspection is necessary while the lender might be satisfied with an accurate virtual inspection. Both are possible with today’s technology. Norfolk Southern is the first North American freight railroad to develop and deploy an autonomous track geometry measurement system that is mounted on a locomotive.
Where is it? Where is it going? Who is operating it? Data to answer these common questions can be found on the jobsite if you know where to look. And new technology knows. Heavy equipment might be easy to find—backhoes and graders are usually easy to see—but smaller gear, down to hand tools, are often lost, strayed or stolen. At the recent ConExpo trade show, ZTR Control Systems, a Minneapolis company invested in telematics and the Industrial IoT (Internet of Things), introduced its ZTR Data Brokerage service that enables benefit sharing from machine IoT data across multiple customer accounts. With ZTR as the trusted broker between parties, client relationships, contracts and technology elements are managed to create the right sharing arrangement and increase IoT data value for everyone.
Once the building is built, once the apartments are ready, once the owner is satisfied with the management team, then comes the hard part: property management in the digital age. Naturally, there is an app for that. According to Transparency Market Research analysts, the level of competition in the property-management software market continues to be intense. The key players in the market continue to move towards AI (artificial intelligence)-based techniques. Thanks to rising value generation of automated software-based property showcases, the property-management software market will witness a notable growth at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 7% from 2019 to 2029.