Category: Plumbing

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!

REGISTER NOW

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.

Want to Educate Your Workers About Workplace Distractions? This Video Can Help!

MCAA’s Workplace Distractions Safety Training Video will help your workers recognize and avoid the most common industry-related workplace distractions.

Your workers will learn about the four most common types of distractions:

  • Driving distractions
  • Electronic distractions
  • Environmental distractions
  • Personal distractions

Download or play the video

There’s More…

Accompanying materials are also available to assist you in highlighting key training points, documenting worker training and confirming that workers understand the training concepts:

Highlight key training points

Download the Pocket Guide

Document worker training

Download the Documentation Sheet

Confirm that workers understand the training concepts

Download the Test

Download the Test Answer Key

Want Even More Safety Resources?

MCAA has you covered, with a full range of resources to help you protect your workers from injury and comply with applicable safety regulations. Here’s where to find them:

On our Direct Links to MCAA & MSCA Safety Resources page, where they’re listed by category with links.

Go there now

In the Resource Center, where you can use the blue Refine Your Search bar to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for.

Visit the Resource Center

Have questions or need personal assistance?

Contact MCAA’s Pete Chaney.

MSCA’s Plumbing Service 101 – Cash is King Webinar is Now Available!

If you missed Plumbing Service 101, Module 4 – Cash is King, don’t worry, you can now access the webinar in both MSCA’s Resource Center and in Archived Webinars.

This fourth webinar in the MSCA original series, Plumbing Service 101, Cash is King, focuses on the financial aspects of operating a successful plumbing service business. Some of the topics discussed include the cost of an hour of service; flat rate pricing versus hourly billing; the components of labor burden; pre-qualifying customers; billing and collections; handling paperwork; and initial expenses required for start-up.

Each module consists of a 60-minute webinar and corresponding workbook. Webinars and workbooks are free to MSCA/MCAA members.

Access the webinar in Archived Webinars

 

MSCA’s Plumbing Service 101 – Finding and Developing Great Plumbing Techs Webinar Now Available!

If you missed Plumbing Service 101, Module 3 – Finding and Developing Great Plumbing Techs, don’t worry, you can now access the webinar in both MSCA’s Resource Center and in Archived Webinars.

This third webinar in the MSCA original series, Plumbing Service 101, Finding and Developing Great Plumbing Service Technicians, provides an overview of where and how to find talented individuals and how best to train them. You will learn about the important traits to look for in your recruiting efforts and the skills needed for success.

In this webinar, Tom Bigley, UA Director of Plumbing Services, shares relevant information on UA Plumbing Service Training Programs.

Each module consists of a 60-minute webinar and corresponding workbook. Webinars and workbooks are free to MSCA/MCAA members.

Access the webinar in Archived Webinars

 

Enhance Your Service Dispatcher’s Performance!

ALMOST SOLD OUT!

As the first point of contact for your customers, service dispatchers are vital to your business. To ensure these crucial team members are well-prepared to effectively perform their role, register them for the MSCA Dispatchers Professional Development Training Program, September 18-19, 2017, in Dallas, TX.

New and experienced dispatchers will gain valuable insights and understanding about their importance to your business and its current and future success. This class is ALMOST SOLD OUT so sign your dispatchers up today!

Download brochure and register now

U.S. Engineering Saves Time, Labor with Zurn Lean Construction Plumbing Solutions

Zurn Industries, LLC enabled U.S. Engineering Company to “move the chains” faster than usual during the rough-in phase of building a new stadium for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Patrick Barnett, project manager for U.S. Engineering, said Zurn’s lean construction practices provided “at least a 10-percent” labor savings for the company.

LEARN MORE

Looking for Other Ways to Save?

Visit the Smart Solutions Case Studies area to see 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 features tips and ideas on other ways you and your company can save money and enhance your productivity.

VISIT SMART SOLUTIONS

MSCA’s Popular Plumbing Service 101, Third Webinar is June 13th and Registration is Now Open!

This third webinar in the MSCA original series, Plumbing Service 101, Finding and Developing Great Plumbing Service Technicians, will provide an overview of where and how to find talented individuals and how best to train them. During this webinar you will learn about the important traits to look for in your recruiting efforts and the skills needed for success.

It’s our pleasure to announce that for this webinar, Tom Bigley, UA Director of Plumbing Services, will be sharing relevant information on UA Plumbing Service Training Programs.

The webinar is scheduled for June 13 at 1:00 pm EDT, sign up today!

REGISTER HERE

MSCA Introduces Plumbing Service 101 Webinar Series and Workbooks

Mechanical Service Contractors of America is pleased to announce its much anticipated Plumbing Service 101 webinar series and workbooks!

Each webinar and workbook module will focus on a key facet of operating a successful plumbing service business. Each module consists of a 60-minute webinar and corresponding workbook. Webinars and workbooks are free to MSCA/MCAA members.

The first program module, Plumbing Service Business Basics, is scheduled for February 28th at 1:00 pm EST and will provide you with essential information on the value of adding plumbing services to your product offerings. Three successful plumbing service contractors will discuss the opportunities and decision factors to consider when thinking about plumbing service for your company. They will also review the initial resource and investment requirements needed before delving into this venture.

Registration is now open for this exciting, new webinar series so register below today. Prior to the webinar, make sure to download the Plumbing Service Business Basics Workbook available as a free download to MCAA/MSCA members.

Register for Feb. 28th webinar here

Download workbook here