Category: Construction Technology Inititiative

North Mechanical Proves that Fabrication Can be Profitable on a Smaller Scale

Small and medium contractors have some advantages when it comes to both innovation and fabrication. Innovation is far easier to implement when there are fewer people to train on a new process. Fabrication can be highly productive in smaller spaces that require less overhead.

On Thursday, February 11, 2021, North Mechanical Contractors, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana shared some insights on how they drive an amazing amount of productivity through innovation. The presentation, led by North’s VDC and Technology Manager Trent Leinenbach and Tole Burnett, the company’s Manufacturing Manager, demonstrated the process, software and hardware that allow them to approach fabrication from a manufacturing mindset.

Their presentation largely featured a software integration with GTP Stratus that allowed them to connect their VDC and BIM department with the fabrication shop and the field. The software not only assists in their organization, process, purchasing and scheduling, it can be used to drive manufacturing equipment more efficiently. One of the many processes North shared in the video demonstration was how the software provides automated cut lists that can minimize waste by driving a Tigerstop to automate pipe lengths before cutting them automatically.

It also allows computer workstations at fabrication stations access to more information. This includes 3D models that can be rotated and zoomed with dimensions and hidden systems available to be seen.

An archived video of the webinar is available free to MCAA members.

North Mechanical Demonstrates that When it Comes to Fabrication, Efficiency Matters More than Size

In terms of productivity, the construction industry’s manufacturing has been lagging for years. Fabrication has increased output through robotics, lean principles, digitization and automation.

This has been hard to translate directly to the construction industry because every building, project and system is unique. Although similar techniques are used in every building, no two are the same and applying manufacturing concepts to the process has been a challenge.

In the second session of MCAA’s Fabrication Virtual Mini series, we are focusing on North Mechanical, an Indiana-based contractor that performs plumbing, mechanical and service. They operate a 20,000 square foot fabrication facility that drives tremendous productivity from a moderate space.

During a one-hour online session, North Mechanical will share video from their operations to demonstrate the tools, processes and techniques. Following the video, North’s VDC and Technology Manager, Trent Leinenbach and North’s Fab Shop Foreman, Tole Burnett will be joined by Sean McGuire, MCAA’s Director of Innovative Technologies and Adam Rich from GTP software to discuss and share technical details of the software integration.

The interactive discussion will share manufacturing concepts utilized at North, as well as how they are using new design software to get field drawings fabricated.

When: February 11, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Registration for the Fabrication Virtual Mini II – North Mechanical session is complimentary and limited to MCAA-members only.

SAVE YOUR SEAT

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

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

Major Growth Expected for Prefabrication and Modular Construction, New Study Finds

Findings of a landmark Dodge Data & Analytics study on the use of fabrication and modular construction show that most design and construction professionals using these methods experience improved productivity and project quality, plus increases in schedule certainty. MCAA partnered with Dodge to produce the report, which includes input from many MCAA members.

The Prefabrication and Modular Construction SmartMarket Report based on the study’s findings provides a comprehensive examination of the current state and future expectations for prefabrication and modular construction. It takes a close look at critical drivers, obstacles and benefits of using these methods, based on insight from architects, engineers and contractors already leveraging them.

The report shows that architects, engineers and contractors that have used these methods plan to significantly increase their engagement with them, especially for healthcare facilities, hotels and motels, multifamily projects, and college buildings and dormitories, which are at the vanguard of the new wave of interest in these methods. Critical trends in the construction industry, such as shorter project schedules and workforce shortages, are driving wider use of these methods, and technology like building information modeling (BIM) is enabling increased use.

In order to better understand the critical drivers and obstacles for using these methods and the benefits achieved, the study focuses on the architects, engineers and contractors that are already using them.

When it comes to methods already in use, the study shows that:

  • Prefabricating single-trade assemblies (such as plumbing assemblies behind the wall in hospital rooms) is widely practiced, with 62% of respondents using prefabricated single-trade assemblies in the last three years.
  • 48% of those doing modular are using panelized modular components (such as wall or floor panels).
  • Use of each of these methods is expected to increase in the next three years, with the percentage of those leveraging them on 10% or more of their projects nearly 15 points higher than present use.

However, most interesting growth is expected in practices less widely used now:

  • Prefabricated multi-trade assemblies, which involve the work of several trades combined together (such as a corridor rack in a hospital) will be used by 58% of those doing prefabrication in general—up dramatically from the 33% using this approach now.
  • Equally dramatic growth is seen among those doing modular construction in the use of full volumetric approach, in which entire parts of buildings (such as bathrooms or hotel and hospital rooms) are delivered preconstructed onsite and assembled together. A striking 61% expect to employ that method at least 10% of their projects in the next three years, up from just 44% of those doing modular construction who report using this method currently.

“It comes as no surprise to us that more developers and GCs plan to use modular construction over the next few years,” said Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the Modular Building Institute. “The lack of adequate housing and the shortage of skilled labor, coupled with chronic cost and schedule overruns are leading more people towards this process.”

And when it comes to benefits of use:

  • About 90% report that they achieve improved productivity, improved quality and increased schedule certainty when using these methods compared to traditional stick-built construction.
  • 80% or more also report that they see improved cost predictability, reduced waste and increased client satisfaction.
  • Improved schedule performance, decreased construction costs and improved quality are also the top drivers for increasing their use of prefabrication and modular construction in the next three years.

The use of building information modeling (BIM) is also tied to the experience of those benefits. Among those using BIM on the majority of their projects, 60% credit it with improving the schedule performance of their prefabricated or modular projects, and 50% with improving budget performance. “BIM improves the prefabrication and modular process by providing the means to accelerate the design early enough to take advantage of these approaches and then offering certainty during the entire process,” says Steve Jones, senior director of industry insights at Dodge Data and Analytics. “Having these tools helps enable the industry to invest more in the use of multi-trade assemblies and volumetric construction in particular and may be contributing to the strong growth expected in these areas.”

The greatest growth in the use of these methods will be in building types in which they are already well established, such as healthcare facilities, hotels and motels, multifamily and college buildings and dormitories. However, a sizable percentage also expect low-rise offices, K-12 schools, public buildings and commercial warehouse to experience a high frequency of use of prefabrication or modular construction.

The report findings will be discussed during a general session at the MCAA Technology Conference.

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!

10 1/2 Tips to Properly Specify Your Trench Drainage System

With years of manufacturing all types of trench drain under their belts, engineers at Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co.® have come up with a list of 10 tips—and a bit extra—to assist you in specifying a trench drain system. By applying the following tips during design, you will avoid situations that might cause headaches both during and after installation.

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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

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.

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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

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.