Category: Technology

MCAA’s Innovative Technologies Initiative Upgrades the Tech Conference to the 2021 MEP Innovation Conference

One of the hardest challenges with technology is looking to improve on something that is already working and effective. Since 2016, MCAA has been producing a successful Technology Conference that focuses on sharing new ideas, processes and solutions with its members. But just because it was the leading technology conference in the industry doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

The MCAA 2021 MEP Innovation Conference looks to build on its previous success by inviting more union affiliated sub-contractors to participate. The conference has been rebuilt to include content for mechanical, plumbing, service, electrical and sheet metal contractors. MCAA has partnered with NECA and SMACNA to provide trade-specific content for electrical and sheet metal trades, as well as extended MCAA member pricing to their membership.

“We perform work for multiple trades like many other MCAA members, so hearing about the latest tools and processes on sheet metal is just as valuable to us as are topics on mechanical.” Stacy Zerr, Director of Pre-Construction at Waldinger noted. “In addition, most of the content in our technology education is going to be directly relevant to any MEP contractor participating.  Having electricians and sheet metal participants in roundtables and breakouts just makes the discussions more valuable because we are getting better perspective and making connections.”

The three-day conference has been moved from its typical January dates to April 26-28 in order to accommodate its transition to virtual. While there are challenges in moving this conference to a virtual structure, the format has some distinct advantages for the Innovation Conference when paired with corporate pricing. Individuals can attend for $200 a person, or up to 10 people from the same company can attend for a $400 corporate registration.  This creates an opportunity for a wider range of attendees based on job type than might normally attend an in-person conference.

“It’s hard to replace an in-person meeting but being able to deliver technology training beyond BIM and VDC allows for us to reach more job types like project managers, estimators and even safety personnel, who might not normally attend this conference,” Sean McGuire, MCAA’s Director of Innovative Technologies noted. “For companies looking to utilize a corporate registration, now you might assign a safety director to a few classes or an estimator and we have the space to provide a breakout session on it.”

This thinking extends to sessions that are specific to sheet metal, electrical, service and plumbing. A wider range of courses are available this year on topics that might be relatively narrow. The common thread to all of these is that every breakout and roundtable is being driven by contractor case studies. This peer-to-peer instruction provides directly relevant experience and guidance in each session. 

To learn more and register, visit the MCAA 2021 MEP Innovation Conference Website. The conference is only open to MCAA, NECA, SMACNA members and their union partners.

MCAA MEMBER REGISTRATION

NECA and SMACNA REGISTRATION

For more information or questions, please contact Sean McGuire.

Technology Is Changing the Way You Do Business. Software Developer and Construction Technology Expert Brett Young Will Teach You How to Adapt. Register for MCAA’s Virtual Education Conference Today

As part of our Virtual Education Conference (VEC) Essential Learning for Unconventional Times, you will hear from Brett Young, a software developer and construction technology expert. 

Technology is a double-edged sword. It can enable a business to grow or create severe detrimental external competitive pressures. In this seminar, “Next-Gen Business Practices – Future Proofing the Mechanical Contractor” you will explore global architecture, engineering and construction industry technology trends against a backdrop that assumes the role of the mechanical contractor will be changing in the years to come. You will learn how to adapt to new business realities that defragment our industry, how to increase productivity and change business models, and how to future-proof the role of the mechanical contractor in the AEC business. 

Brett Young is CTO and co-founder at M2x.ai and a recognized thought leader in the architecture, engineering and construction industry. His work focuses on the use of video game technology to democratize, expand and deepen software development for building information modeling (BIM).  

Register today and join your MCAA friends and colleagues online at MCAA’s first Virtual Education Conference (VEC) Essential Learning for Unconventional Times, March 22 – 25, 2021. 

Registration is available for individuals and for companies (up to 10 registrants per company registration). Questions can be directed to eventregistration@mcaa.org. We look forward to seeing you in March! 

Thank you  Sloan for sponsoring this session and your continued support of MCAA. 

REGISTER NOW

Connectivity on the Jobsite is Absolutely Critical. Register for MCAA’s Virtual Education Conference to Discuss the Various Options with James Benham.

As part of our Virtual Education Conference (VEC) Essential Learning for Unconventional Times, you will stay connected with James Benham, the CEO of JBKnowledge.

In a hyper-connected world, the ability to get connectivity to the jobsite is absolutely critical. “5G Platforms: Connectivity of the Future” will discuss the different options that contractors have for connectivity. All the best apps in the world won’t help your company if they can’t connect, so register and join the discussion! You will learn the options for jobsite connectivity, including 5G and 4G networks, satellite solutions, traditional wire-line solutions, as well as challenges and solutions for bandwidth between devices inside the site.

James is CEO of JB Knowledge, a premier provider of technology solutions for the construction and insurance industries. The company is a seven-time recipient of the Aggie 100 award, a six-time Newman 10 recipient and was recently named to the LSU One Hundred for the second time.

Register today and join your MCAA friends and colleagues online at MCAA’s first Virtual Education Conference (VEC) Essential Learning for Unconventional Times, March 22 – 25, 2021.

Registration is available for individuals and for companies (up to 10 registrants per company registration). Questions can be directed to eventregistration@mcaa.org. We look forward to seeing you in March!

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What Does the Construction Landscape Look Like in Five Years? Join MCAA’s Virtual Education Conference to Discover the Innovative Opportunities from Lee Smither.

As part of our Virtual Education Conference (VEC) Essential Learning for Unconventional Times, you will hear from Lee Smither, a principal for FMI’s consulting practice.

Prefabrication, modularization, robotics, autonomous equipment, 4D and 5D design… innovation is around every corner and technology companies have discovered opportunities within the construction industry. This seminar previews what Construction 2.0 looks like and what it means for you and your company. You will learn what our landscape will look like in five years, what innovations are already being used today and what is yet to come.

As a principal for FMI’s consulting practice, Lee helps engineering and construction companies with strategic planning to improve their corporate performance. He specializes in market strategy and consulting, developing and implementing organization-wide change initiatives and other leadership focused engagements. Additionally, he led FMI’s CEO Forum, which hosted the Top 100 leaders from the industry each year in Washington, D.C.

Register today and join your MCAA friends and colleagues online at MCAA’s first Virtual Education Conference (VEC) Essential Learning for Unconventional Times, March 22 – 25, 2021.

Registration is available for individuals and for companies (up to 10 registrants per company registration). Questions can be directed to eventregistration@mcaa.org. We look forward to seeing you in March!

Thank you Trimble for sponsoring this session and your continued support of MCAA.

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MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program Finishes Week 2

MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program has kicked off! Each of the 17 presentations is meant to help students navigate the proposal and bid process for the annual MCAA Student Chapter Competition project.  

Did we mention registration is free and you only have to register once for ALL of the presentations!

Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email with the MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program website login instructions. This website includes:

  • All virtual program details;
  • Presentation descriptions;
  • Speaker overviews; and 
  • A full agenda with links to join the live sessions!

We encourage you to attend as many presentations live to interact with fellow students and engage with the presenters in the presentation Q&A. If you are unable to attend any of the sessions live, don’t you worry, the recorded presentations will be posted on MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program website AFTER the live session.

MCAA is sending a weekly Monday reminder email to registered attendees, highlighting the presentations for that week. Don’t forget to add them to your calendar!

MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program is sponsored by

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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

Training Video: WebLEM+Plus Estimating Software

This educational video provides users with an overview of the next generation of WebLEM — WebLEM+Plus. In this video, you will learn how labor units are created for both the Component and the Work Activity Method (WAM) and what factors are considered in creating labor units. The video highlights the new and enhanced features of WebLEM+Plus. You will learn how to navigate the updated software, how to access Component and Work Activity labor units and how to locate information associated with each product. The video will also walk you through a detailed example of how to use the Work Activity Method (WAM). Included in the recording is an overview of the work our industry’s manufacturers and content providers are doing to connect their product data and drawing content to the WebLEM+Plus. Welcome to WebLEM+Plus, the next generation of the industry standard for estimating labor hours.

Webinar #3: Shifting Work from the Jobsite – Jonathan Marsh, James Benham, Sean McGuire and Josh Bone

The COVID-19 crisis is forcing contractors to perform work in challenging new ways. This webinar focuses on two scenarios that will become more likely in the weeks ahead – forced remote work with no job site activity and one in which job sites might be shut down and fabrication facilities remain open. We discuss how to prepare staff to work remotely, what work can be prioritized to be done remotely and how to utilize fabrication space safely to keep projects progressing. This panel includes Jonathan Marsh, MEP Innovation Lab; James Benham, CEO of JBKnowledge; Sean McGuire, MCAA Director of Innovative Technologies; and Josh Bone, Director of Industry Innovation at NECA.

This webinar was recorded Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

High Degree of BIM Use by Mechanical Contractors Leads to Multiple Benefits, New Study Shows

A new Dodge Data & Analytics study of mechanical and HVAC contractors using BIM shows that most mechanical contractors that use BIM experience benefits such as improved cost and schedule performance, lower labor costs and greater productivity. MCAA partnered with Dodge to produce the report, which includes input from many MCAA members.

The Business Value of BIM for Mechanical and HVAC Construction SmartMarket Report based on the study’s findings provides a comprehensive examination of the benefits that mechanical contractors experience when using BIM as well as the challenges they face in expanding BIM use.

The study demonstrates that mechanical contractors are sophisticated users of BIM software who have seen the benefits from that use. However, the study also shows that the ability of these contractors to fully leverage the value of modeling technologies is hampered by training and manpower issues, along with the challenge of getting other project stakeholders equally engaged in BIM.

One of the biggest benefits reported by contractors is the ability of BIM to improve the fabrication process. Many mechanical contractors are frequent users of offsite fabrication for their systems, and the study shows that nearly half use BIM on 50% or more of the assemblies they prefabricate, demonstrating that BIM is an essential tool for this process. Benefits from using BIM to aid prefabrication are widely reported, with over 80% of mechanical contractors who use it to prefabricate reporting that they see improvements in the material waste generated, labor costs, quality of installed work, avoiding the purchase of extra pipes and fittings and schedule performance.

Other top benefits reported by contractors using BIM in general are increased labor productivity, increased profitability, better utilization of resources and improved cost performance.

“BIM is an increasingly important and incredibly complex part of the building process. It requires additional coordination, planning, and design expertise, and MCAA members are embracing the tools and technology to rise to the challenge. This new process is still in its infancy, and mechanical contractors—especially those that are already using BIM—have a lot to learn from this report.”

–Sean McGuire, Director, Innovative Technologies, at MCAA

By using BIM, mechanical contractors have also been able to leverage the technology to conduct more analysis on their projects.
• Over 70% report that they use BIM for shop drawings and spatial coordination on half or more of their projects.
• Nearly two thirds (61%) report using BIM for constructability evaluation on more than half of their projects.

“Use of BIM for spatial coordination and constructability evaluation provides these contractors with a clear advantage,” says Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “They can address issues before construction begins, which saves both time and money, and can even help improve safety by avoiding rework.”

However, there are still challenges that prevent these contractors from fully leveraging the use of BIM. The biggest challenges include training needs for employees and lack of available manpower to create BIM models. In addition, these contractors struggle with full engagement with BIM across the project team, with lack of support for BIM from other important trades, the issue of other stakeholders on their projects not using BIM and poor-quality BIM use by other stakeholders also presenting significant challenges. Addressing these issues will allow even more contractors to more fully experience the benefits of using BIM collaboratively on their projects.

A Technology Conference Like No Other

Are you tired of conferences that end up being a series of advertisements for products, software or services? The MCAA Technology Conference is different. It focuses on sessions that are by contractors, for contractors. It also showcases innovation and shares ideas from industry experts to help you make your company more agile, productive and future-ready. So, join hundreds of contractors in San Diego this January 29-31 for a conference that’s a cut above the rest. Space is running out, so register now!

Get the Tech Training You Need at the MCAA Technology Conference

Whether you need to get started with tech, get better at it, or want a look ahead toward what the future holds, the MCAA Technology Conference has education for you.

For those who are new to technology and want to understand the first steps, Travis Voss from Mechanical, Inc. and Doug Smith from Dynamic Systems Inc. are your guides to Getting Started with Technology in an extended pre-conference session.

Curious about what other mechanical contractors are doing with tech? Want to know their results? Then you won’t want to miss member-led sessions showcasing their productivity improvements. Learn how to better use Revit, share data or build in-house software that helps give your company a competitive edge.

If you want to see where the industry is going in a few years, take part in breakout sessions on machine learning, servicing equipment with Autonomous Building Systems or catch James Benham’s opening session on futuristic innovations.

The conference is filling up, so learn more about what’s planned and register today on the conference website.

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.

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.