In recent years, electrical contractors have begun receiving the bulk of their drawings from architects in PDF or digital form. It is now up to the contractor to figure out what to do with these digital plans. The old “go to” process was to print the whole set and get to work estimating; measuring and counting manually with a set of highlighters and other manual tools. This took up valuable time, and the possibility for mistakes was high. Contractors needed a better, faster, more consistent way of doing their takeoff; thus, the demand and need for an easy on screen takeoff program was born. Estimating software companies were great at calculating the bid, but they did not have a way of counting and measuring from a digital plan.
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The combination of a robust construction market and the ongoing shortage of skilled labor has created numerous challenges for contractors across the country. On one hand, contractors are seeing more opportunities to expand their business into new markets. On the other hand, they’re strapped for talent to meet demand. With fewer resources available, it’s become more important than ever to streamline processes and find ways to do more with less. That’s where digital tools come into play.
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Innovation; it can’t be avoided. It hits almost every industry at the most opportune time; and when it does, it can disrupt the way we do work in such a way that it can bring even large corporations to their knees. Innovators will always seek out weaknesses and leverage new ideas in their efforts to meet customers high demands or expand the market by finding ways to serve previously underserved segments. Like automobiles were to the horse and buggy and like MP3’s are to the music industry, history shows us that advanced technology has been the inevitable disruptor in every industry. Just as we saw the advent of industrial robots revolutionize automobile and other manufacturing plants, we are beginning to see the early stages of this same innovation in construction.
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Looking back at the mid-2000’s, workforce development was the main focus at that time, then the Great Recession happened and survival became a way of life for the next 6-7 years. Let's fast forward to 2017. Now that the economy has rebounded – although different from prior years’ – workforce development is back as a top concern of most electrical contractors.
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The “Winds of Change” is a discussion surrounding Agile Construction®, and specifically leadership of an Agile business. Agile is a business model that is capable of adaptation to meet changing needs, both in the short term and in the long term. Short-term Agility surrounds the needs to recognize and meet the needs of customers and vendors at the project, division, and overall business levels, while still maximizing the available profit opportunity. This requires effectiveness and efficiency throughout the business system. Longterm Agility comes from leadership. Leadership must recognize and respond to changes in the business environment. These changes are detected by knowing what to watch for in the “wind.” Rapid detection and early action based on these “Winds of Change” is effective leadership and the only way to ensure Winds the long-term success of any business.
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It is the unpleasant reality that skilled labor is in short supply, with 300,000¹ Boomers retiring², lack of CTE education³, negative perceptions about blue collar work⁴, college track pressure⁵, and historic economic dips⁶ contributing to the shortage. These factors, combined with a projected industry growth of 14% over the next 10 years⁷, indicate that the challenge to find skilled workers is not going away anytime soon⁸.
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Building Information Modeling (BIM) was originally designed to create architectural 3D renderings of a project before construction began. BIM quickly became an excellent tool for contractors to coordinate equipment interferences or clash detection for better collaboration between trades. In either case, BIM's objective is to create a 3D computerized model of a project to work out construction designs and conflicts prior to incurring construction costs to ensure that budgets, schedules, and quality are maintained once construction is underway.
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Early November 2016 saw the end of one of the most contentious political presidential elections in quite some time. Each candidate had distinctly different plans for the direction they wanted to take this country.
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Every year for the last four years, forecasting experts have mistakenly predicted that the demand for new construction would accelerate. And every year for the last four years, the increase has been more gradual than expected. Now that the election is over, a more drastic industry turnaround is long overdue, and I predict we will experience it in 2017.
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