Category: Plumbing

IAPMO & SPL Offer ASSE 12080 Legionella Water Safety and Management Specialist Certification Training

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), in conjunction with Special Pathogens Laboratory (SPL), will offer an interactive ASSE 12080 Legionella Water Safety and Management Specialist Certification Training. Three dates are available: June 7-9, August 23-25, and October 18-20.

SPL President Janet Stout, Ph.D., an infectious disease mircrobiologist with more than 30 years of pioneering research in Legionella, will teach the three-day course. The speakers will include David Pierre, vice president of SPL Consulting Services, and Michael Castro, MPH, SPL’s director of Healthcare Services.

Attendees will gain the requisite knowledge, understanding, and competency to serve as a member of a facilities water safety team to help protect against Legionella outbreaks and react to one appropriately should it occur. The program will focus on the development of a risk assessment analysis, and water management and sampling plan, for protection from Legionella and other waterborne pathogens. The training will also cover the codes, and the resources, understanding, and skills needed to conduct a facility risk assessment and implement a water safety and management program to reduce the risk of infections due to Legionella.

The ASSE 12080 certification exam will be administered at the end. Attendees who pass the exam will become certified as Legionella Water Safety and Management Specialists.

The registration fee includes the ASSE exam and the SPL workbook Puzzled by Legionella? A Guide to Understanding Detection, Prevention, and Water Management.

For information about the ASSE 12080 standard, visit https://bit.ly/31dzNoQ.

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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.

VIEW BROCHURE

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

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.

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.

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.

Construction Technology Report Reveals Interesting Insights

JBKnowledge released the year-end Construction Technology Report.  Sponsored by MCAA, the survey interviewed nearly 2,700 construction professionals across the industry to research technology, processes, spending and R&D. Not all of the reports’ findings were intuitive. While trends on BIM adaption and mobile devices continued to rise, the number of different applications contractors are using declined. The most surprising finding came from type of software contractors have recently replaced and implemented.

This year, the report specifically asked which workflow software contractors most recently implemented.  Nearly 26% of respondents indicated that they had most recently updated their accounting software.  Considering the impact on business and the intensity of the training, this is a very surprising result.  The report also indicates that part of the reason for the trend was the correlation to new ERP software, indicating that smaller companies maturing into ERP systems could have accounted for a portion of the results.

Two other trends that are important for our industry involved prefabrication and BIM.  The two concepts are intertwined as many MCAA members begin using BIM to improve their fabrication productivity and capabilities.  Prefabrication use has risen over 12% from 2016 (19.9% total in 2017) making it the second highest trend that all contractors are experimenting with.  For MCAA members interested in learning more about maximizing their fabrication operations, register for the 2017 Fabrication Conference on January 15.

In 2017, contractors are becoming more confident in maximizing their BIM capabilities.  More companies are reporting that they now have BIM/VDC departments of more than two people.  Kelly Doyle, JBK’s SVP of Consulting summarized it, “Based on the responses, the breakpoint for a full VDC team is about $20 million in total revenue.  This is similar to the breakpoint for IT departments as well.  Once contractors hit that revenue volume, their overhead has the capacity to add more full time staff to productivity improvements.”

A startling trend however is that even with the increased adaption to BIM, 28% of the respondents still said that they do not bid on BIM projects.  52% of respondents have some in-house BIM capability and roughly 20% simply outsource the process.

On January 30, James Benham, the CEO of JBKnowledge joined Sean McGuire to present a webinar to MCAA members of findings from the study.  Watch the webinar below:

MSCA’s Popular Plumbing Service 101, Fifth Webinar is February 8th and Registration is Now Open!

This fifth webinar in the MSCA original series, Plumbing Service 101, Operations Part 1, will explore the key personnel and organizational structure required to establish, sell, and grow a viable plumbing services division.

There are many similarities between HVACR and plumbing operations. While some of a company’s existing resources can be shared, others are unique to plumbing. Failing to take these exclusive requirements into consideration can spell disaster. This webinar will explore the key personnel and organizational structure required to establish, sell, and grow a viable plumbing services division.

The webinar is scheduled for February 8th at 1:00 pm EST, sign up today!

Soldering Lead-Free Valves Takes Added Practice

Plumbing manufacturers have made great efforts to remove as much lead as possible to comply with regulations established under the Safe Drinking Water Act. In order to meet these requirements, most manufacturers have used brass alloys containing small amounts of silicon or bismuth to improve machability. In the following years, most plumbers learned how to effectively make joints with the new alloys, but sometimes it is not apparent how complete the fill is in joints unless they are tested.

A recently released NCPWB technical bulletin demonstrated how joints that appear to be correctly soldered could often be frayed. The bulletin’s author, Walt Sperko, provided examples of incorrect joints and guidance. Pre-heating the tube more than the casting is critical for no lead copper alloys. This is because casting’s thermal conductivity is much lower than copper.

Incomplete fill from under-heating

When the plumber does not spend enough time on heating the tube, the solder has a tendency to only partially fill the joint. While silicon-based alloys were found to be more difficult to wet properly, both proved insufficient with poor technique.

NCPWB members can also download the Soldering Procedure Specification resource SPS-107-1 to better understand the welding procedures for brass and lead-free alloys.