Category: Plumbing

Northern Ohio Plumbing’s Creativity Cuts Costs With Space-Saving Installation of A. O. Smith Tankless Units

Northern Ohio Plumbing Co., Inc.’s (NOP’s) creative approach to mounting A. O. Smith tankless water heaters saved the contractor installation costs and saved floor space in the mechanical room. The water heaters themselves and the layout of the mechanical room promise to make maintenance a snap.The owners of the Holiday Inn-Cleveland Clinic, which opened in May, were inspired to use tankless water heaters because of the nearby Cleveland Clinic’s interest in energy efficiency and sustainability. The 199,000-BTU A. O. Smith units deliver a uniform energy factor of 0.93 and, working together, provide more than enough hot water for the guests and staff of the hotel. Ultimately, NOP put in 29 wall-mounted A. O. Smith ATI 540H-N fully modulating condensing tankless water heaters.

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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.

VISIT SMART SOLUTIONS

PCA Wraps Up Their Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service with a Discussion on Heavy Equipment

The final episode of the series, hosted by JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Services, focused on the heavy equipment required for vac services.

Plumbing service has emerged as a profitable business line for many MCAA and PCA members seeking to balance their operations with services that provide higher profit margins. From the outside, it might appear to be a difficult set of operations to get into but seeing how a leading contractor runs it can make it much more achievable.  

In September of 2020, JPG Plumbing and Mechanical Services opened their doors (virtually) as part of the seven-week PCA Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service. With the help of the PCA, JPG showcased seven parts of their operation from standard drain cleaning and truck tools all the way to complicated aspects like robotic pipe inspection and vac services. Each module in the series included a 15-minute video, taken onsite from their operations, a workbook with parts and prices and a 45-minute discussion on the individual section.

In the final episode of series, JPG President John Geiling, showcased how far their company has taken plumbing service – into heavy equipment purchases. JPG’s Vac Services Division Manager, John Davis, detailed the company’s progression from low-profile pump trucks that they had custom made to the investment-heavy Vac-Con Titan vactor truck. The Titan can be used to hydro-excavate, vacuum larger volumes and objects as well as hydro-jet. These vehicles frequently work in conjunction with their robotic pipe inspection truck that can certify and repair pipes with a robotic crawler, avoiding expensive excavation.

Attendees that were not able to participate in the live events have the ability to go back to watch the recorded presentation and handouts for weeks after the original presentation. Although the innovative conference was performed in a virtual setting in 2020, plans are underway to host the conference in person in the fall of 2021. 

JPG Plumbing and Mechanical Uses Vac Services to Open Up Larger Service Opportunities

What might have been seen as a niche market opportunity for JPG was actually a continuation of their service business operations.

Outlaying the money for an expenditure like a Vac-Con Titan vactor truck might have been seen as a risky purchase for a service contractor like JPG Plumbing and Mechanical.  They had no existing business in that line of operations, but hated giving up work when the job called for bigger equipment.  Many contractors use a variety of equipment to clean and pump areas. 

In the upcoming  seventh module of the PCA’s Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service, attendees will get a first-hand look at how the host company, JPG Plumbing and Mechanical Services, use a variety of heavy trucks together to coordinate the inspection, cleaning, pumping and removal of waste in large projects. A video, taken from their headquarters will showcase their low profile pumper trucks, their liquid vacuum pump trucks, their motorized inspection crawler camera trucks and their Vac Con Titan vactor trucks. 

Following the video, the PCA’s Sean McGuire will lead a virtual discussion with JPG’s John Geiling, Marc Gluck and John Davis on how JPG approaches pumping, cleaning, hydro excavation and inspection around commercial vac service.  

With the webinar, attendees will receive a handout that contains information and links to all of the products that JPG uses in their operations for vac services.  This will include pricing so that contractors can help determine through their own business analysis the potential for their company.

The PCA Virtual Education Series is a seven-module case study with weekly sessions focusing on JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Services. Each module includes a video, an online discussion and handouts.  The series is limited to MCAA, PCA and MSCA members and costs $400. Prior sessions can still be accessed after their live broadcast.

For more information, contact Sean McGuire.

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Buying a Company Jet Unlocked the Next Level of Service for JPG Plumbing

While sewer and drain cleaning are the main stays of plumbing service, making investments in hydro jetters opens up larger business opportunities.

Sewer and Drain cleaning are the fundamental operations for any plumbing service contractor. They are also seen as the dirtiest and least enjoyed processes to perform for service technicians. Although the work might be undesirable, its distasteful nature is the biggest factor in making it profitable. To perform it properly, it takes not only the right tools and training, it takes proper motivation and balance to your operations.

In the sixth module of the PCA’s Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service, attendees will get a first-hand look at how the host company, JPG Plumbing and Mechanical Services, expanded their sewer and drain cleaning operations to include hydro jetting and hydro excavation. A video, taken from their headquarters will demonstrate all of the tools that they are using as well as some as they are beta testing. 

Following the video, the PCA’s Sean McGuire will lead a virtual discussion with JPG’s John Geiling, and Marc Gluck on how JPG approaches drain cleaning, jetting, training and operations around commercial plumbing service.  

With the webinar, attendees will receive a handout that contains information and links to all of the products that JPG uses in their operations for drain cleaning and jetting. This will include pricing so that contractors can help determine through their own business analysis the potential for their company.

The PCA Virtual Education Series is a seven-module case study with weekly sessions focusing on JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Services. Each module includes a video, an online discussion and handouts.  The series is limited to MCAA, PCA and MSCA members and costs $400. Prior sessions can still be accessed after their live broadcast.

For more information, contact Sean McGuire.

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For JPG Plumbing, Big Investment in Service Operations was a Matter of Timing and Market Analysis

PCA’s fifth module in their Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service focuses on how JPG Plumbing committed to a big investment on video inspection services, but only after thorough analysis and proper timing.

Growing a business takes an incredible amount of patience and grit. Trying to grow too fast is one of the most common ways that construction businesses fail. Taking on a project that is too big or investing in resources before there is the workload to justify it can cripple a company quickly. Conversely, in order to grow, thoughtful steps have to be made and calculated risks have to be taken. 

In the fifth module of the PCA’s Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service, attendees will get a first-hand look at how the host company, JPG Plumbing and Mechanical Services, expanded their operations with large investments in video inspection services. The module will feature a video taken with JPG President John Geiling discussing their business evolution into video inspection and vac services, which led them to the decision to invest heavily into a Rausch robotic crawler unit.  The video continues with a demonstration of the vehicle’s capabilities and the operations by the certified staff that operate it. JPG Vice President Marc Gluck also provides an overview of their standard push cameras that are used by service technicians for small and medium sized pipe inspections. 

Following the video, the PCA’s Sean McGuire will lead a virtual discussion with JPG’s John Geiling, John Davis and Kevin Droter on plumbing video inspection. They will walk attendees through how to make their own business analysis, the investments that are required and the potential markets that are open to them through this service.   

With the webinar, attendees will receive a handout that contains information and links to all of the video inspection products that JPG uses in their operations. This will include pricing so that contractors can help determine through their own business analysis the potential for their company. 

The PCA Virtual Education Series is a seven-module case study with weekly sessions focusing on JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Services. Each module includes a video, an online discussion and handouts.  The series is limited to MCAA, PCA and MSCA members and costs $400. Prior sessions can still be accessed after their live broadcast.

For more information, contact Sean McGuire.

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How Most Contractors Build Plumbing Service Business

PCA’s fourth module in their Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service focuses on water heater service and installation, the entry point for most contractors trying to build a commercial plumbing business.

Although most contractors get started in commercial plumbing through warranty, repair and servicing new construction work, the most common way that most contractors build their commercial plumbing service division is through water heater repair and installation. Most manufacturers are in constant search of reliable contractors to help repair and install their products after the point of sale. By becoming a certified repair and installation contractor for water heaters, it not only drives reliable work, but gets you in the door with potential new customers.

In the fourth module of the PCA’s Virtual Education Series on Plumbing Service, attendees will get a first-hand look at how the host company, JPG Plumbing and Mechanical Services, perform water heater service, repair and training.  The module will feature a video taken with JPG President, John Geiling discussing their progression into commercial water heating and the pros and cons of it. The video continues with an overview from JPG Vice President, Marc Gluck on how they teach technical skills for plumbing service and the tools required. 

In addition to the JPG case study, Dustin Bowerman from Bradford White, discusses how manufacturers work with contractors and JATC’s to provide training on all of their products in order to develop a mastery of the processes, software and equipment.

Following the video, the PCA’s Sean McGuire will lead a virtual discussion with John Geiling, Marc Gluck and Dustin Bowerman on some of the commercial plumbing service. They will discuss the corporate benefits, technical skills and strategies that are needed in order to be successful.

The PCA Virtual Education Series is a seven-module case study with weekly sessions focusing on JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Services. Each module includes a video, an online discussion and handouts.  The series is limited to MCAA, PCA and MSCA members and costs $400. Prior sessions can still be accessed after their live broadcast.

For more information, contact Sean McGuire.

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PCA’s Virtual Education Series Has Officially Started!

We recognize that virtual events simply cannot replace our in-person educational conferences and networking opportunities, so MCAA has combined several approaches and techniques to create the PCA Virtual Education Series hosted by JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Service, Inc. This year, MCAA attendees will be able to virtually walk through JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Service’s operations through seven workstations as representatives speak about the various aspects.

Once a week, for seven weeks, JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Service will highlight one of the seven workstations through a 15-minute video, followed by a 45-minute discussion of operational costs and Q&A between attendees around the country with similar operations in their companies.

The first module highlights the commercial plumbing service vehicle itself. In the video, JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Service covers the type of vehicle, the equipment and tools on each vehicle and why/how they wrap it with advertising. Each attendee will receive a comprehensive list of the tools mentioned, as well as a link to the manufacturer website and an MSRP. The video will be followed with an open discussion between attendees on how they spec a vehicle or vehicle type differently and what tools they use. By the end of the module, attendees will have a much more thorough understanding of the cost to put a plumbing service truck on the road.

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Although it is hard to match the insight and knowledge that attendees receive from connecting with peers and networking, MCAA believes this approach is certain to provide greater detail and information for our members, as if one were in the JPG Plumbing & Mechanical Service facility themselves. You can still register – don’t miss out!

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2020 Construction Technology Report Challenges Contractors Innovation

In 2020, the construction industry has been forced into dramatic changes in operations and workflow. More people are working remotely and thus, more projects are being handled in a distributed manner. To help MCAA members better understand what processes are gaining wide implementation across the industry and how their companies measure against these benchmarks, MCAA has sponsored the JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report.

The 2019 report, released in December, has an accurate look at where companies began the year. MCAA has worked with JBKnowledge to make sure that the 2020 report will take into account new practices and challenges that contractors face with the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply taking the 2020 survey can force you to ask questions about your own operations and if your company is operating at pace with innovation in the industry.

To learn more, download the 2019 report:

DOWNLOAD REPORT

Or participate in the 2020 ConTech Report Survey:

TAKE THE SURVEY

National Service and Maintenance Agreement Negotiations to Begin Spring 2020

The National Service and Maintenance Agreement continues to be an excellent tool used by  HVACR and plumbing service contractors around the country to grow market share and remain competitive in this highly competitive market.  The current National Agreement is effective through July 31, 2020.  The MSCA Labor Committee will be discussing potential changes or modifications with the UA later this year.  Although we anticipate very few changes, we would appreciate your input or recommendations on terms and conditions which you feel may be helpful in expanding your service business.  Please send all comments to bdolim@mcaa.org  by December 6, 2019.

Interested in Plumbing Service? The PCA Roundtable Is Open for Registration

Commercial plumbing service offers a lot of benefits to contractors. Although it can be difficult to begin or optimize, it offers a lot of benefits including higher margins and reliable work flow.  This roundtable is a one-day meeting intended for both established plumbing service operations and contractors interested in getting into plumbing service.

Located at the Loews Chicago O’Hare, it offers attendees the ability to fly in and out the same day or minimize the amount of time away from the operations.

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.

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.

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?

 

 

Protect Your Fitters, Plumbers, and Service Techs From the Extreme Heat By Reminding Them About Heat Illnesses and Prevention Methods

Now is a great time to remind your fitters, plumbers, service technicians, and their supervisors about heat illnesses and how to prevent them.  The heat illnesses we’re most concerned about include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat cramps.

HEAT STROKE: The body loses its ability to sweat and can’t control its temperature. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.

HEAT EXHAUSTION: The body sweats away too much water and salt.

HEAT SYNCOPE: The body’s blood pressure becomes too low resulting in dizziness or fainting.

HEAT CRAMPS: The body experiences painful muscle spasms.

To help prevent heat illnesses:

  • Provide training for all affected workers on heat illnesses and prevention methods.
  • On extremely hot days, reduce the physical demands on your workers as much as possible.
  • Work tasks that are particularly physically demanding should be performed early in the morning or later in the afternoon avoiding the hottest part of the day.
  • Provide a constant supply of cold water.
  • Encourage your workers to drink at least a full cup of cold water every 15 to 20 minutes throughout each day.
  • Encourage your workers to avoid drinking alcohol, caffeine, and high sugar content drinks during periods of extremely hot temperatures.
  • Allow frequent rest periods in cool shaded areas.
  • Encourage your workers to wear light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics that are also designed to filter out harmful UV rays.
  • Keep a close watch on workers who are at higher risk for heat illnesses. For example, workers required to wear hot personal protective equipment, such as arc flash gear, welding gear, respirators, etc., and overweight workers may be at higher risk.

PCA Debuts New Seminar for Plumbing Service Contractors

This summer, the PCA is beta testing a new seminar on Plumbing Service to its members.  The Plumbing Service Roundtable is designed to be an efficient, one-day seminar that will allow attendees to be out of the office as little as possible.

The roundtable is scheduled for June 21st at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare, conveniently attached to the airport.  With a program scheduled from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, attendees will have the ability to fly in and out the same day to maximize their time out of the office.

Sessions will primarily be led by contractors with the intention to open up dialog between attendees and share best practices.  The curriculum will include content on recruiting, training, technology, inventory, sales and truck setup.

With this new session being a beta-test, registration will be limited to 35 attendees and a limit of only one attendee per company.  It is also recommended that attendees already be engaged in plumbing service at some level in order to share their experiences.

Registration is open and available on a first-come, first-served basis.  For more information, download the brochure or register online.

 

New Report Looks at How MCAA Members Use Technology

The MCAA-sponsored 2017 Construction Technology Report by JBKnowledge took an in-depth look at how the construction industry utilizes technology, software and IT. This week, MCAA released an “MCAA Focused” Report that analyzed the responses of MCAA and MSCA members. It looked at how MCAA members use and estimate BIM costs, track productivity, and emerging tech tools.

Part of the report focused on how MCAA members compare to the rest of the construction industry.  It showed that MCAA members have a greater adoption of BIM and have higher use rates for BIM with especially with coordination and fabrication.

The MCAA focused report also explored how MCAA members are tracking BIM hours and estimating their costs.  It found that far too many contractors do not track their BIM hours per project and as a result cannot use those hours to estimate the amount of time needed to perform BIM on a project.

The report also looked at emerging trends that contractors are currently testing. While the industry at large favors drones by a wide margin, MCAA members are far ahead of the industry on fabrication and modularization.