Category: Construction Technology Inititiative

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

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.

Letsos Company, CFI Mechanical Swap Uponor PEX for Copper, PVC

Letsos Company and CFI Mechanical, both of Houston, TX, used Uponor PEX for two high school plumbing projects to save money for the school district while also realizing faster installation and cost savings over traditional approaches. CFI Mechanical estimated a 30-percent savings in cost and labor resulting from using smaller PEX piping (1″ and below).

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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

MCAA Sponsoring Dodge Survey on BIM Usage

MCAA is partnering with Dodge Data & Analytics to study the value of BIM for mechanical construction, HVAC, and plumbing contractors. This is the first of a larger, ongoing series of BIM studies to focus specifically on our industry. It will shed light on the opportunities and challenges of using BIM and VDC for your work. Your participation is vital to the study’s success, even if you have no experience with BIM.

Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights for Dodge Data & Analytics, will present the study findings at the MCAA Technology Conference on January 31. Those who attend will receive a hard copy of the resulting Business Value of BIM for HVAC and Mechanical Construction SmartMarket Report.

All participating companies will receive a copy of the report via email as a thank you for participating in the survey.

The survey takes 10 to 12 minutes to complete, and your answers are strictly confidential. They will not be associated with your name or the name of your company in any way.

Find the Latest from Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co.® and ManufactOn in MCAA’s Virtual Trade Show

MCAA’s Virtual Trade Show connects our contractor members with the members of MCAA’s Manufacturer/Supplier Council.

Participating companies highlight and link to new products, product lines, services, solutions or web pages of particular interest. Here are just a few of the recent additions:

Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co.® a Member of Morris Group International - MCAA Virtual Trade Show
Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co.® a Member of Morris Group International

This unitized structure makes installation simpler and faster compared two individual uprights. Adjustment brackets make last minute changes easy. Discover more products that save you time on the job.

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ManufactOn - MCAA Virtual Trade Show
ManufactOn

ManufactOn is a SaaS (mobile/web) platform that helps construction firms plan, track and manage both prefabrication and regular material handling. The ManufactOn platform helps optimize the end-to-end prefabrication process.

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Need Something Else?

Find many more smart solutions in MCAA’s Virtual Trade Show!

Visit the Virtual Trade Show

Speaking of Smart Solutions

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

This section of our website also includes tips and ideas to help your company save money and enhance your productivity. Don’t miss it!

VISIT SMART SOLUTIONS

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.

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.

LEARN MORE

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

How Are Field Leaders Reacting to Technology?

Whenever a new process, tool or technology is introduced to a company, there is always concern about how it will be used by the people in the field every day. At the Indianapolis Field Leaders Conference, UA Director of Training Chris Haslinger made a presentation about construction technology. His presentation included a survey which yielded some very interesting results from 175 end users.

A balance must always be made in technology training. You don’t want to spend so much time on the training process that it keeps people from doing their jobs. You also want to make sure that people understand how to use it and follow up with added training if required. The good news from these results is that it seems like most field users are getting the right amount of time, regardless of the duration, and very few respondents appear to be getting new technology handed to them with little time to practice with it.

The next question focused more on the tools needed to use new technology on the job site. As mobile devices are frequently seen as required tools by foreman and field supervisors, the need for internet connectivity has risen significantly.

Two thirds of field leaders answered that it is not only very important, but almost all of the time. This speaks to how essential communication and data flow is becoming between the field and the office. Today, field employees are using their mobile devices for more processes and a good internet connection is becoming a necessity. A poor internet connection slows down the processes and can waste field time. This makes usage of mobile devices counter-productive when the time it takes for files to load or transfer make it slower than other methods.

The usage of mobile devices is increasing. Much of this has to do with better software applications on the market and more companies making it part of the process. When asked which software applications they used most frequently, they responded:

  • 85% – Jobsite Documentation
  • 75% – Blueprint Rendering
  • 67% – Time Cards
  • 19% – Tool Management
  • 46% – Safety Related Purposes

This demonstrates heavy usage of applications across a diverse set of processes. With a higher rate of application usage, the industry is likely to modify its processes to compensate. The last survey focused on this issue.

The top two responses both involved improved communication. Coordination with other trades is a process that has a high need for improvement, but involves a process improvement for communication. The same could be said of delivery of blueprints, change orders and design documents – a process that can grind a project to a halt and add significant cost if not organized correctly.

Mobile devices and job site software have become normal for modern contractors. To keep up on technology impacting MCAA members, MCAA’s Technology Initiative will continue to provide research, articles and guidance.

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.

With New Tax Legislation, MCAA Contractors are Still Able to Claim R&D Tax Credits for BIM and Design

During the negotiation process of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at the end of 2017, the tax credit for R&D spending was temporarily removed. Fortunately, MCAA and others worked hard to ensure that the final bill re-inserted the language for the Research Tax Credit (“RTC”) and made changes that potentially increase the credit by more than 20%. With the RTC in place, contractors are able to continue to claim tax credits for qualifying BIM and design work. Unfortunately, many mechanical and plumbing contractors are unaware that they can even claim part of their design and bid work for these tax credits.

This article is intended to offer an overview of the Research Tax Credit for mechanical contracting personnel presented in general non-tax terms, wherever possible. The credit is, however, “tax based”, and as such, the inclusion of all of the applicable rules for every situation is not possible in a brief discussion.

In order to qualify for the research tax credit, activities must pass several tests. Although these tests are fairly specific, “qualifying activities” are generally much broader than many people think. When contractors hear the term “research” they often associate the term with scientists wearing white lab coats who are mixing chemicals in beakers. However, the Internal Revenue Code definition of research, as defined under IRC §41, is much broader than this traditional definition. As a result, many contractors may typically associate a large portion of their research activities as “routine” or “ordinary”, when in fact many of these activities might qualify for the Research Tax Credit.

To successfully build a structure, there may be experimentation or an iterative process on technical design issues and the installation process to properly build it. Although it might seem complicated if you are not claiming these credits, many contractors have been doing so for years. Before you begin, it is recommended that MCAA members contact their tax professionals to ensure that they are properly claiming the appropriate costs and activities under the RTC.

To begin, the Internal Revenue Code states that the activities “must be intended to discover information to eliminate technical uncertainty concerning the capability or method for developing or improving a product or process, or the appropriateness of the product design”. The Code also requires a “process of experimentation” involving the evaluation of alternatives, confirmation of hypotheses through trial and error, testing and/or modeling (this can include iterative steps in evaluating design alternatives, alpha/beta tests, pilot trials, scale-up testing, marketing/field tests directly associated with the R&D efforts, qualification Trials, etc.). Finally, wages, supplies, and contracts associated with qualifying activities qualify. The expenditures can also be either capital or expensed items.

Broadly, this includes any activity where there is some technical uncertainty involved in the development or improvement efforts- i.e., is there a technical problem that needs to be solved before you can effectively launch/implement this equipment design, software, product, process, prototype, etc.? Personnel who are directly engaged in resolving the technical issues will qualify and those individuals who have a support role will also qualify (i.e., performing alpha/beta/unit testing, collecting data or writing programs to collect data, supervision, technical project management, etc.)

Uncertainty exists if the information available to the contractor does not establish the capability or method for developing or improving the product/process or the appropriate design of the product/process. The required level of uncertainty may be established in instances where your work requires the resolution of technical issues when either designing the mechanical and plumbing system or working from a set of drawings that are incomplete or need modification to function.

The definition of activities that qualify for the credit is fairly broad and the driver for the effort can be to produce a new, better or more competitive product/process, to increase reliability/quality, to increase general product/process safety, to respond to new federal/state requirements, to reduce costs or increase speed/efficiency, etc. Furthermore, the success or the degree of technological advancement is not a factor.

Below is a representative sample of activities a taxpayer would typically perform, which often times are misclassified as “routine” or “non R&D” related:

  • Evolutionary advancements to the functionality, performance, reliability or quality of an existing product (Change orders for process improvement);
  • Development of prototypes or models to prove out conceptual ideas (Including BIM);
  • Experimentation to verify if an existing construction technique or process can support a new product with differing characteristics (Testing point loads);
  • Experimentation to verify if a new or existing construction technique or process can be implemented in a new or different geographic region, new environment, or different industry/application;
  • The design and development of custom equipment, tooling, molds and/or dies;
  • The development of microcode used within machinery or robotics;
  • The redesign of an existing construction or building process to improve efficiencies, increase safety or reduce operating expense;
  • Testing to prove out the use of new materials in existing products;
  • Plant and/or Process scale-up activities;
  • Qualifying “Bid and Proposal” efforts; and
  • The development of custom software that is either intended to be used internally or sold, leased or licensed to third parties as a commercial product offering.

However, simply because some items may be new, unique, customized or involve special problems does not mean that they will automatically qualify for a credit. For instance, there may be options or choices in regard the application of standard engineering techniques, but no uncertainty in regard to the resolution of a technical issue facing the project team. Qualifying activities that are intended to resolve technical uncertainties should also involve some iterative type of testing, experimentation, the consideration of alternatives, trial and error evaluations, prototyping, validation, etc.

Thus, although no qualifying activity might occur for most HVAC systems (even where custom designs are involved), technical uncertainty might arise on mechanical engineering and/or design efforts in instances where there are unusual requirements involving, for example: complex temperature, humidity, pressure, ambient air ratio range controls with differing protocols for numerous chambers/rooms; the need to design for particulate and/or chemical fume control/mitigation where the chemistry might require special construction materials; unusual space limitations, local regulations, cost mandates, etc.; instances where numerous alternative methodologies for technical solutions are necessary; development of technical alternatives to address repeated system failures; etc.

The PATH Act of 2015 made the Research Tax Credit permanent but also broadened the impact of the credit for many small to mid-sized businesses. Starting January 1, 2016, small businesses that meet certain criteria can also use the Research Tax Credit to offset the FICA employer portion of payroll tax, with a credit cap of $250,000 for each eligible year.

 

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Mike Foley is the Managing Partner at Foley & Smith, LLC, a firm specializes in Research Tax Credits.

Mike D’Allesandro is the Managing Director at Research Tax Credits, LLC

 

 

Webinar Offers the Latest in Tech Trends

For the third consecutive year, MCAA has sponsored the JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report, offering MCAA members salient insight on the technology habits of today’s contractors.  On Tuesday, January 30, James Benham, CEO of JBKnowledge will present a live webinar showcasing the reports findings and providing further insight to its data.

This webinar will be provided as a free benefit to MCAA member.  The report is already available for download in advance of the webinar.

Last Chance to Register for MCAA’s Technology Conference

This week is your last chance to register for the MCAA Technology Conference. The conference provides insight on new tools, processes and software that even the most established contractors are having a hard time keeping up with.

This year’s event addresses challenges for your entire team. It was designed for all areas of your company that work with technology. General sessions are combined with in-depth breakout and roundtables to allow for a dive deep for specific users:

  • For BIM experts, we have sessions on keeping BIM costs in check, optimizing productivity and learning about the next generation of tools.
  • For service contractors, we have a full slate of breakout sessions on the hardware and software being used today by service contractors.
  • IT managers will find incredible insight from Nick Espinosa on cyber security threats from a hacker’s point of view. (Check out his video interview with BuiltWorlds)
  • Operations and management will learn how to sell technology to customers, hear about software designed for their use and understand what their IT team is asking them.

There are a lot of events each year, but this conference is the only one that is MEP focused with peers sharing ideas on the latest technology. Don’t miss this opportunity. Register now and I hope to see you in Austin this November 8-10.

MCAA Tech Conference Brings Big Ideas Down to Earth

Small ideas can make a big difference to your company. The MCAA Technology Conference is an event that doesn’t just provide a few small takeaways, but a wealth of ideas that can be applied across your business. Technology is providing so many new tools, processes and software that even the most established contractors are having a hard time keeping up. The MCAA Tech Conference is your crash course on the latest tech trends in the industry and how other contractors are taking advantage of them.

This year’s conference addresses challenges for your entire team. MCAA fields a lot of questions on who should attend. This conference is designed for all areas of your company that work with technology. General sessions are combined with in-depth breakouts and roundtables to dive deep for specific users:

  • For BIM experts, we have sessions on keeping BIM costs in check, optimizing productivity and learning about the next generation of tools.
  • For service contractors, we have a full slate of breakout sessions on the hardware and software being used today by service contractors.
  • IT managers will find incredible insight from Nick Espinosa on cyber security threats from a hacker’s point of view. (Check out his video interview with BuiltWorlds)
  • Operations and management will learn how to sell technology to customers, hear about software designed for their use and understand what their IT team is asking them.

MCAA and MSCA host many educational events each year, but this conference is the only one that is MEP-focused with peers sharing ideas on the latest technologies. Don’t miss this terrific learning opportunity. Register now!

MSCA Releases Field Service Software Report

MSCA announces the release of the Field Service Software Report, fourth in the MCAA Technology Research Series, as developed by JBKnowledge. This report analyzes the current state of service software deployment and helps demystify the process for evaluating and implementing service software in an organization.

The report is based on data collected through a technology survey of MSCA members undertaken earlier this year. James Benham, president of JBKnowledge discussed the report results at a special session during the MSCA annual educational conference held in Scottsdale, AZ. The report explains features and functions members should expect to find in service software and evaluates currently available service software.

Members can download their free copy of the MSCA Field Service Software Report here.