Category: Construction Technology Inititiative

Jackson & Blanc Saves Thousands by Deploying Rhumbix Core Digital Solution

California-based Jackson & Blanc digitized its timekeeping process with Rhumbix Core, saving an estimated $52,000 per year in labor costs alone. The company’s commitment to adopting innovative technologies is well-known, but adopting a new technology can sometimes be costly and require overcoming hurdles to implementation and adoption. Jackson & Blanc realized that technological advancements and social changes force companies to evolve—or fall behind.

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Looking for More Smart Solutions?

Visit the Smart Solutions Case Studies area of our website! You’ll see how other mechanical contractors found their win-win with productivity-enhancing and cost-saving applications from members of MCAA’s Manufacturer/Supplier Council.

Plus, you’ll find tips and ideas on other ways you and your company can save money and enhance your productivity.

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Learn How to Use BIM More Effectively at the MCAA Technology Conference

Many contractors use Revit for BIM coordination but few know how to fully amplify its productivity. At this year’s MCAA Technology Conference, two of the industry’s most innovative Revit hackers, Jeff Elwell from E.M Duggan and James Simpson from Art Plumbing, will share how they leverage software solutions and coding to implement shortcuts that create innovative solutions. In addition to drastically increasing productivity, these shortcuts have created a more standardized process for their BIM teams as they approach design. Learn more about their solutions and the many others sessions featuring contractors sharing their real-world technology solutions on the conference website.

Share Your Insights on Fabrication and Modular Construction

MCAA has partnered with Dodge Data & Analytics on an important study on the use of fabrication and modular construction, and we hope you will participate. Your response is essential to helping us understand the types of fabrication and modular construction currently being done in the U.S., the benefits and challenges of these approaches, and the drivers and obstacles for greater use. This, in turn, enables us to provide the right education to keep you ahead of your competition.

As a thank you for taking the survey, you can choose to receive the Prefabrication and Modular Construction SmartMarket Report based on the study’s findings. There’s no cost to you, and the survey should only take about 10 minutes to complete.

We will be sharing an in-depth presentation on the study results at next year’s Fabrication Conference, hosted by the Baker Group, May 11-13, 2020.

Thank you for participating in this effort.

Hear from an Inventor and Technology Entrepreneur at MCAA2020

A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for more than thirty years, Steve Wozniak helped shape the computer industry with his design of Apple’s first line of products, the Apple I and II. Through the years, Wozniak has been involved in various business and philanthropic ventures, focusing on computers in schools, hands-on learning and encouraging students’ creativity. iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon became a New York Times best-selling autobiography when published in 2006. In recent years, Wozniak co-founded Woz U, a platform for personalized, tech-based career training. Learn more about Wozniak, and what else is planned for MCAA2020, on our convention website.

Tech Conference Offers Innovations and Practical Solutions

The MCAA Technology Conference has always been geared to show you the next generation tools that will be used in the industry, but real-world innovations are the backbone of the conference. This year, the conference has more case studies and instruction led by contractors than ever before. If you want to learn how your peers are actually using new software, tools and processes, you need to attend this event.

Learn How to Foster Creativity and Innovation at the MCAA Technology Conference

Can encouraging your staff to have a wide range of interests help grow your business? Yes, according to New York Times best-selling author David Epstein. Epstein will share findings from his latest book, Range: How Generalists Succeed in a Specialized World during the MCAA Technology Conference. Learn how innovation is encouraged by having a broad range of experiences. You won’t want to miss his insightful presentation!

Find Innovative Ideas for ALL Members at the MCAA Technology Conference

Whether you’re in construction, plumbing or service, you’ll find innovative ideas to move your company forward at the MCAA Technology Conference. General sessions feature content of interest to all contractors, while breakouts and workshops let you choose the education that suits your interests. Don’t miss out…join this community of innovators!

Learn How to Work More Efficiently at MCAA’s Technology Conference

Innovation drives every industry forward. Construction is no different – just a little more challenging. Many MCAA/MSCA members are already adapting and thriving in the digital transition. If you want to keep pace with industry leaders, it’s time to learn how to work more efficiently and smarter. It’s time to innovate, and MCAA’s Technology Conference is a great place to do so. Registration is open for the January 29-31 conference in San Diego, California. It’s sure to sell out, so register today!

Innovation on Display at Murray Company for the 2019 Fabrication Conference

At MCAA’s 2019 Fab Conference, Murray Company in Los Angeles, California opened its doors to over 225 contractors to learn fabrication, process and digital integration. Over three days, they helped move the industry forward by demonstrating their processes, technology and innovations. In addition to learning about the Murray approach to the fabrication process, attendees learned how pull planning and enhanced coordination can help drive schedule and increase productivity.

Report Shows MCAA Members Don’t Invest Enough in Tech Budget and Manpower

In 2018, MCAA sponsored a JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report that surveyed over 2,800 professionals in the construction industry. In the newly released MCAA-Focused Report, the responses given by MCAA members were separated and compared to those of the rest of the construction industry.

While MCAA members are getting heavily involved in VDC and mobile technology, they are behind the rest of the industry when it comes to some aspects of R&D. As the report’s primary researcher, Liz Beechinor from JBKnowledge points out, “Our research is showing that the construction industry as a whole is behind on R&D spending compared to other industries, but when we take a look at MCAA members’ responses and compare that to the construction industry, they are even further behind. Fewer MCAA contractors have dedicated R&D budget and employees dedicated to R&D.”

According to a 2017 McKinsey Report, the construction industry as a whole spends less than 1% of their revenue on R&D. Compared to the auto industry, which spends 3.5%, and the aerospace industry, which spends 4.5%, this can seem relatively underfunded.

What is even more concerning is construction companies’ lack of any R&D budget. The 2018 MCAA-Focused Construction Technology Report showed that 56.8% of those surveyed had no budget for R&D, while 63.5% of MCAA members reported that they didn’t budget for R&D.

The same could be said for having employees dedicated to R&D. In the last few years, we have seen more MCAA and MSCA contractors dedicate manpower to technology research and implementation, but on average, they are still behind the rest of the industry.

Most respondents that identified as MCAA members reported that they had one or two people dedicated to R&D, while 37% do not have employees dedicated to R&D. During a presentation on the topic at MCAA19, MCAA’s Director, Construction Technology Sean McGuire explained, “While we are seeing more members take technology seriously, smaller companies are going to always be more limited on budget and manpower that they can dedicate towards research and implementation. Larger GCs and CMs can absorb these costs a little easier simply as a function of their size.”

Being bigger does not necessarily mean better though.  As Sean notes, “While research and staff budgets can be absorbed by larger companies easier, the bigger you are, the harder implementation becomes. Small companies can adopt changes a lot faster because you can get less people pulling in the same direction faster.  Large companies have to dedicate more resources to implementation and follow up.”

This lines up with another report question that asked what the most limiting factor was for adopting new technology. Not surprisingly, lack of staff and budget received the highest response rates and were concerns for nearly half of the MCAA respondents. The report provides further insight into these questions as well as BIM productivity and estimation and mobile device and hardware use.

BIM Workstations Are Expensive, But Report Shows Investing in the Right System Can Be Valuable

MCAA has released its latest report in its Technology Research Series, focusing on BIM Workstation Configurations. With the integration of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) into our business, the computer workstations required to run BIM software need to be faster, stronger and more durable, but most executives do not have the computer science degree necessary to fully understand our needs. The MCAA Technology Committee teamed up with JBKnowledge to help MCAA members better understand the needs and value of BIM Workstations.

Put simply, underperforming computers cost MCAA members money.  Excessive processing times not only lead to long periods of idleness, but also slow down the design, coordination and communication of projects. This reduces the productivity of some of the most highly paid workers in the company.

This report guides member companies’ IT staff or fractional IT support through the process of performing benchmark tests. It also provides guidance in making hardware purchases.

Digital Integration Leads to a Sellout MCAA Technology Conference

While much of the country faced record cold weather last week, approximately 250 MCAA members made their way to Tampa, Florida for the MCAA’s annual Technology Conference.  The three day conference has evolved into an event where contractors are able to learn about the latest techniques, products, and software and connect with peers in similar roles across the country. One of these roles is an emerging position that many contractors have started developing in their companies over the last few years. As MCAA President-Elect Brian Helm from Mechanical, Inc. put it, “Every year, this conference grows bigger and gets better, but the comforting thing to me is seeing an emergence of a new group of construction technologists and how they are developing their own network in our association.”


Construction Technologists (or ConTech for short) are individuals responsible for researching, testing and implementation of new software, tools and hardware for their companies. While the construction industry has been lagging behind in R&D spending, some MCAA members are beginning to invest in both budget allocation on R&D and the personnel to roll it out. While this role varies widely across the membership, the emergence of  ConTechs has helped contractors research and implement processes that bring productivity gains to the their companies.

Over three days and 20 sessions, construction technologists, operations managers, BIM specialists and service contractors were able to catch up on the tools and techniques driving the industry forward. Next year’s conference is expected to be even bigger. Plan to join us in San Diego, California, January 29-31, 2020.

 

PHC News Names J.C. Cannistraro Contractor of the Year

Congratulations to everyone at J.C. Cannistraro, LLC for being named PHC News magazine’s Contractor of the Year! The company, which is a member of MCAA and the New England MCA, was selected for its reputation as a leader in modular prefabrication and a very early adopter of construction technology.

Construction Technology Report Shows Emerging Trends on R&D and Product Usage

The latest Construction Technology Report, released this week by JBKnowledge and sponsored by MCAA, revealed new trends for the industry. The survey goes in depth on spending, software use and processes that contractors are taking advantage of.

One notable trend identified involves R&D and having dedicated staff and direction to research new technology. The survey quotes one participant, “We’ve established a Chief Innovation Officer role who oversees R&D and quality.  We R&D new products, materials and technology using existing staff (vs. full-time), but we do have a process for identifying and assessing materials & tech.”

MCAA has also seen a rise in the R&D focused staff among its members with a new role emerging called a Construction Technologist, or ConTech for short. Sessions are planned to discuss this at both the upcoming Construction Technology Conference in January and the MCAA Annual Convention in March.

New Products Will Be Unveiled at MCAA Tech Conference

New products can bring change to the industry.  This happens in one of two ways – evolutionary or revolutionary. Sometimes it is easy to spot the difference.  A new feature in software that can make the user interface easier is an evolutionary design. It makes the next incremental step in the process and while adding value and productivity, does so in a small way.

Revolutionary products can bring exponential change to the industry.  These are products that create new processes that eliminate old ones. An example of a revolutionary change would be the robotic total station.  Instead of tape measures and T-squares, total stations use BIM, control points and positioning lasers to accurately determine locations in a construction project today.  New processes are used entirely, but huge productivity gains are made.

While most evolutionary products that move the process forward are beneficial, revolutionary products that can bring exponential productivity increases are celebrated.  During the opening session of the MCAA Tech Conference, James Benham will present multiple products that can be classified as revolutionary. If there is one session that cannot be missed at the conference, it will be this one.

In order to showcase how these new products will impact MCAA members, James Benham will bring in the experts.  This will include contractors that have beta tested them, research teams that have evaluated them and the developers themselves who will provide demonstrations of their purpose.  Some of these new products will be available immediately, some later in the year, but all will have an impact on our industry.

To learn more or register for the conference, visit the MCAA Technology Conference Website.

Mechanical Inc. Featured at Autodesk’s Connect & Construct Summit

Each year, as part of Autodesk’s annual education conference, Autodesk University, there is an optional session the first day that is geared towards the AEC industry called Connect & Construct. It features Autodesk’s corporate leaders like the new Autodesk President and CEO Andrew Anagnost talking about products designed for the construction industry as well as some of the industry’s leading innovators.

One such innovator featured this year was Travis Voss, Mechanical Inc’s Director of Technology.  Mr. Voss was part of the keynote address that included Dr. Peter Diamandis, a recent speaker at the MSCA Conference and MCAA Convention, and Lorien Barlow, the Documentary filmmaker behind a movie titled, Hard Hatted Woman.

During his keynote address, Travis spoke about Mechanical Inc.’s path to technology leadership, what his role as a Construction Technologist means and how collaboration and cooperation with other MCAA members through the Technology Committee has helped their company.

The video is available through Autodesk’s Online University through this link. Travis begins his presentation at the 45 minute mark.

Travis Voss will also be speaking at the MCAA Technology Conference in Tampa Bay, Florida on January 30- February 1.  His presentation will be part of a session titled, Next Generation Workflows, in which he will demonstrate how Mechanical Inc. has begun using augmented reality on the job site.

Be an Innovator – Attend MCAA’s 2019 Tech Conference

Every year, new innovations help leading contractors get a little more effective, productive and profitable. Missing out will not put you out of business right away, but it will gradually widen the gap between your company and the leaders in the market. It is never too late to catch up. Be an innovator. The MCAA Technology Conference is the best resource for learning how members are using the latest tools, software, and processes to thrive in these changing times. Join us January 29 – February 1 in Tampa Bay, Florida at the MCAA Technology Conference.

Construction Technologists Don’t Just Hack, They Find Artful Use

Written by: Jonathan Marsh, CTO/Division Manager Virtual Design and Construction, William T. Spaeder Company


In my role as a Construction Technologist, I am often accused of hacking.   As a result I have a great desire to better communicate what it means to “hack”, since there is a negative connotation tied to cybersecurity or even attacking with blunt force. Not that I don’t hack things—I do—but there is something outside of hacking that I consider artful use. If we’re talking about the Construction Technologist (Con Tech) we need to talk about the idea of hacking, but I think we need to separate what we are being forced to hack or modify and what we simply enhance, develop, or see potential in. The things we are enhancing or developing are really more about artful use.

Artful use is seeing the greater range of usefulness in an existing tool. For example, when watching s­omeone use a paintbrush, artful use is understanding that that brush can be used to paint the wall or paint the Sistine Chapel.  To paint the Sistine Chapel, you’ll likely have to hack the brush.  Modifying it to your purpose by breaking it down, build it into other brushes with varying bristle lengths, and identify artists capable of seeing what to paint. I think that a big part of what it is to be a Con Tech is looking at someone painting a wall and seeing that potential artful use.

I see hacking as being a little different, and it may or may not include artful use. Hacking is making what you have work and it is definitely a big part of being an effective Con Tech.  I think we are always looking for the missing tools in construction.  By ‘missing tools’ I mean the specialized tools that are needed by the mechanical trades but do not exist or are not present on the jobsite. An easy way to find a missing tool is to look for something that’s not being used conventionally.

For example, if someone is using the screwdriver to pound a nail, the missing tool might look like a hammer, or nail gun, or adhesives. The point being that the screwdriver is a workaround, but not an artful use. We are not looking for a better potential use of a screwdriver. We are looking for an altogether missing tool.

These missing tools and artful uses are often easy to see on a job site or in the Fab shop. That’s why I think Con Techs should spend a considerable amount of time observing or possibly working with the craftsmen in the field looking for missing tools, materials, methods and potential artful use. Every time I step on a job site I look at what craftsmen do with their tools with an eye to unconventional uses. Some of the best ideas have grown out of watching people use their tools in some absurd way. That can communicate louder than words what is really needed.

Physically being on the jobsite is also important in finding the right people to work with. As we introduce new tools and technologies, we need to identify people that are likely to be able to use the tools and share our vision. Like the artist in the example above, the tool really is nothing without a hand to direct it and a vision to follow. When you’re on the jobsite look for those people that are using their tools in innovative ways, the people that are good at adaptation. They are surprisingly easy to find on most jobsites but are not always the foreman. Finding those people is vital because ultimately, they will become your developers and advocates. They also are the people that are going to tell you when it’s a fail. Pick people that can see what you are shooting for and that you respect enough to believe when they tell you it’s not working.

I really hope as the Con Tech takes on a more conventional role in the industry we can better define and communicate to the teams we work with what we are doing, and how they can take part. In that vein, what are areas where you see the biggest disconnect when communicating what you do to the rest of your teams? And are there simple terms or ideas that would help us clean up some of the muddy thinking about what we do?