2020 Constructech 50: Companies that Serve Construction

Your construction company has been disrupted. Projects were halted. Workers were furloughed. New safety procedures and processes were required. Companies that recognize this are taking proactive steps to determine what’s next—and how to move forward. Central to this is technology. Digital transformation, AI (artificial intelligence), 5G, the IoT (Internet of Things), biometrics, AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), blockchain, robotics, and more have never been more important than they are today.

Beyond the need for technology due to a change in business, the numbers are also pointing us toward digital transformation. CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Assn.) Emerging Technology Community lists the top three technologies today as AI, 5G, and the IoT, while Grand View Research projects the AI market will reach almost $391 billion by 2025, and ResearchAndMarkets predicts AI and IoT devices market will surpass $105 billion in North America alone. Reports also show that the global cellular IoT market is expected to climb 18.54% from the end of 2019 to 2025. Add in the fact that the pandemic is accelerating the need for digital transformation, and the outcome is going to be ramping up for the IoT on the construction jobsite.


Old Company, New Company

Rebuilding the decaying infrastructure should be a priority for government as we start to return to “the new normal” after so much of the country has been in lockdown. Companies with strong ties to infrastructure construction are preparing for the hopeful near future.

One of these is 36-year old Bentley Systems, a global provider of software to engineers, architects, geospatial professionals, contractors, and owner-operators for the design, construction, and operations of infrastructure. Bentley’s MicroStation-based engineering and BIM applications, its digital twin cloud services, and many other solutions are used in public works, utilities, industrial and resources plants, and commercial and institutional facilities.


Getting the Word Out

“Getting the word out,” the act of communications, sound like a reasonable approach to many issues. In times of emergency, not knowing what is happening and what must be done can mean illness, injury or even death. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many businesses to recognize employee communications as a weak spot that needs to be addressed.

CrewMinders, an Atlanta-based technology firm, has a new platform to help organizations improve communications, and CDC compliance, while developing an all-important safety culture. CrewMinders allows companies to communicate with hourly employees through simple and rapidly deployable tools that ensure employees are safe, healthy, and informed.


Where Does ‘Smart’ Come From?

We use the term “smart” to describe many facets of modern homes. Often, it is a building that is computer controlled or monitored. Heat, air conditioning, appliances, perhaps security are all interconnected via the IoT (Internet of Things) network. Individual homes and complete neighborhoods can be remodeled or developed as smart.

For example, Alabama Power has developed a program called the Smart Neighborhood focused on homes that feature energy-efficient construction, energy-efficient appliances, connected devices, innovative security solutions, and home automation designed to simplify homeowners' lives and give them more control over their home and energy use.


COVID Conferencing

With the growth of remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, teleconferencing and videoconferencing have blossomed as the default methods of keeping in touch with the office staff. Zoom and Skype have become household—and office—words. But the stay-at-home rules are changing, and people are returning, slowly, to their workplaces. Will that put an end to the growth of online conferencing?

According to Gartner, global end-user spending on cloud-based web conferencing solutions will grow 24.3% in 2020.  Workplace restrictions spurred by the coronavirus pandemic will expand the cloud conferencing user base throughout 2020, but growth will taper off in 2021 as the lasting effects of a remote workforce render conferencing services commonplace.


Viewing Safety in All Directions

Safety on the jobsite requires more than hot vests and steel toed boots. Vehicle traffic, both delivering and working trucks and equipment, needs to be respected. Drivers must have visual contact with any obstacle and every person in range when moving their vehicle. Since every vehicle has blind spots, adopting technology to give the driver a clear view makes sense.

SmartDrive Systems, a company focused on video-based safety and what they call “transportation intelligence,” provided The Silvi Group  with a video-based safety program across its fleet after Silvi evaluated two other programs. The program includes fully managed service and proactive coaching.


Meeting COVID-19 Challenges

Construction that continues during the current COVID-19 pandemic can be made safer by following certain logical protocols such as “social spacing” or “social distancing.” Companies are also finding ways to keep their employees and customers safe from infection spread by using technology.

For example, Black & Veatch, an engineering, procurement, and construction services firm, developed a geospatial tracking tool to safeguard field services and construction crews during the current COVID-19 health crisis. The rollout of its app, BV Safe Contact, comes when essential power, water, and telecommunications services are in high demand, making large infrastructure projects more critical than ever. Because project work must continue, protecting the health and safety of these highly distributed field teams against the threat of COVID-19 is of great importance.


Collaboration 2020 Style

COVID-19 and the resulting orders for stay/work at home for many occupations has led to a reassessment of how business can operate. Jobs that were office-restricted are being seen as office-optional and workers who can function productively at home are being allowed to do so, even as restrictions are being lifted in many states.

What does this reevaluation of work suggest for the near future?  IDC (Intl. Data Corp.) forecasts that, by 2021, the contribution of “digital coworkers” will increase by 35% as more tasks are automated and augmented by technology. IDC also predicts that, by 2024, enterprises with intelligent and collaborative work environments will see 30% lower staff turnover, 30% higher productivity, and 30% higher revenue per employee than their peers.


W. Gardner Connects Its Jobsite

In March 2017, W. Gardner, a company focused on land clearing and earthwork, was born. The company started clearing one lot at a time for small homebuilders, and then that grew into clearing acres for subdivisions and commercial parcels. Today, the company has positioned itself to meet the expectations of today’s owners and developers and does basically everything on the surface or below the surface. It