Technology and Productivity
The Technology and Productivity Committee’s Objectives
- Provide a forum for discussion of the current state of productivity and explore the tools and technology for improvement.
Whether they are introducing some new innovation or attempting to solve a specific problem, each of CURT’s many committees currently examine the impact of cutting-edge technology on the modern construction industry for its members. That being said, however, each of these committees are somewhat siloed in the work that they do, focusing on their own specific area of discussion, such as Safety or Workforce Development, rather than at how technology is able to intersect throughout multiple committees and disciplines.
“CURT looked at this and decided that we needed to have a platform to discuss strategies for researching, evaluating, and implementing new technologies while informing our members the types of innovations that are out there without necessarily endorsing a specific vendor and then discuss what kinds of technologies are working for them and the challenges with others,” says Technology and Productivity Committee Chair. James Boileau.
CURT will be rolling out its newest committee, the Technology and Productivity Committee, at its Member Meeting later this September and will mark a change in the way CURT as an association looks at technology and its impact on the construction industry. Instead of looking at innovation on a committee-by-committee basis, the association will now have a proper venue in which to focus on a solutions and strategies that could be applicable to multiple committee issues at the same time.
“We have an opportunity with this committee to now broadly look at productivity and at how technology can help improve it,” says Ryan Fertig, Technology and Productivity Committee Chair. “The Technology and Productivity Committee will be a place where people can understand what other owners are using successfully and ultimately deal with issues concerning the best use of the capital dollar; which is why most will become CURT members in the first place.”
It will be a busy summer for the Technology and Productivity Committee as it is currently in the process of defining itself, as well as its mission going forward.
Every week, there is an emerging technology entering the market, yet showcasing an innovation will just be a small piece of what this committee will provide CURT members. The Technology and Productivity Committee wants to avoid simply becoming a regular advertisement for the next big thing and instead focus on becoming a stage where CURT members can feel free to discuss strategies on how to best implement, source, and evaluate emerging technologies. What is being discussed now is just how it will best accomplish this.
“Starting in September, we want to be able show how you can take all the information that’s currently out there about technologies and be successful with it,” says Boileau. “We want you to be able to know what’s available, where to go to find out more, what’s working and what’s not – the Technology and Productivity Committee will give owners a better way to evaluate, research, and find new technologies and then provide some practical insight on how to best deal with it.”
The following are some technologies and innovations that are expected to have an impact on the construction industry – and CURT members – going forward.
Labor projection analysis – Construction Labor Market Analyzer (CLMA)
The Construction Labor Market Analyzer (CLMA) was designed as a tool to help industry better manage risk, reduce contingency, and ultimately save money on the labor component of projects through the use of reliable and actionable labor market data and intelligence. The CLMA accomplishes this by first developing a detailed supply and demand database of market-based project planning data, which then helps its clients control and avoid undue labor costs and challenges.
With the CLMA, industry is able to easily identify labor risks for any non-residential construction project, anywhere in the U.S., and up to five years out. Users are then able to effectively analyze risk mitigation options for a more effective and reliable planning process.
“The CLMA takes data from both public sources and CURT membership about upcoming projects, and overlays that information with both the current and projected workforce by trade,” says Boileau. “This valuable tool allows projects to analyze potential challenges it may encounter in locating a specific trade, when those challenges are projected to happen, which results in finding solutions to mitigate the trade deficit exposure”
Robotics – MULE and SAM
As the upcoming workforce shortfall becomes more pronounced in the years ahead, robotics will play an increasingly important role in bridging the gap. Even today, technologies such as the Material Unit Life Enhancer (MULE) and Semi-Automated Mason (SAM) – developed by New York-based Construction Robotics – have emerged within the construction industry and are making their presence felt.
MULE is a lift-assist device specifically built for the handling and placement of construction materials weighing up to 135 pounds at the job site. MULE attachments can be designed for virtually any construction application, which makes it extremely versatile for a wide variety of jobs and tasks. MULE allows the material to feel weightless to the point of zero gravity, and greatly reduces fatigue and injuries, while also increasing productivity.
SAM combines a metal robotic arm, a conveyor belt, a mortar mixer and pump, and laser-guidance backed with intelligent programming to lay down bricks far quicker and efficiently than a human being. Where a mason is now able to lay approximately 250 bricks per day, SAM can tirelessly drop up to 250 bricks per hour.
Operating System 2.0 (OS2)
Led by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) and CURT, along with the broad support of industry, Operating System 2.0 (OS2) is transforming the global engineering and construction market in the way facilities are conceived, evaluated, planned, delivered, and operated.
The Capital Projects industry is becoming somewhat unsustainable for many sectors due to a shortage of new technologies or effective management; or both. With its seven elements of change (Corporate Governance, Commercial Model, Design, Production Systems, Technology and Systems, Human Resources, and R&D Joint Venture), OS2 aims to redesign industry procedures and standards with the technological advances of today in mind. Doing so will help to establish a standardized, technology-enabled platform that can better meet the demands of the future and, ultimately, help make capital projects more sustainable and financially viable.
Cloud-based EHS Management – HammerTech Inc.
Australian-based HammerTech Inc. provides a cloud-based Environmental Health and Safety management platform that gathers EHS processes into a single, easy-to-use platform designed around a company’s specific needs. Its solutions are suitable for organizations of all sizes that work within the sectors of general contracting, construction, utilities management, manufacturing, waste management, retail, as well as any other business that seek to manage on-site safety.
HammerTech’s intuitive platform allows the user to set up a public project site and efficiently share information with stakeholders, including safety bulletins and announcements, weather updates, and links to other relevant information, while also offering version control and updates to users when any of this documentation is changed. Other features include incident management, safety walks and observations, plant and equipment management, a site diary, ID card creation, work permit management and meeting management.
Labor Risk Management (LRM) Program
Owners tend to have the most to lose financially when worker challenges occur. And while contractors have the final responsibility to recruit, hire, train and retain workers, it is the owner that ultimately bears the cost. This is why taking action early in the project planning process is critical, as it enables the owner to control costs and influence what contractors do.
The Labor Risk Management (LRM) Program allows the owner to do just that.
LRM is a full-service contractor pre-qualification and risk analytics system that is designed for owners to effectively evaluate contractors for workforce training and development (WFD) capability. With LRM, owners are able to pre-qualify and select contractors based on their commitment to workforce development, performance, activity, and growth. It also helps to facilitate more effective project execution by selecting those contractors with highly-qualified craft workers, as well as provide more effective project labor planning, and improve upon owner and contractor collaboration through the establishment of essential labor risk metrics.
Simply put, a blockchain is a database that securely store records of value and transactions. It is a decentralized ledger of transitions – or virtual blocks – across a network of many computers, where companies can perform and confirm a number of different transactions, all without the need for a central clearing authority. The benefit of blockchain is that the record of those transactions cannot be altered retroactively without the knowledge of the entire network, allowing all those within the blockchain to benefit from high level of security and trust. “Many of the fundamental issues in the construction industry come down to a lack of trust,” says Fertig. “For that reason, industry is becoming increasingly interested in technologies such as block chain and distributed ledgers that will allow parties to have complete transparency in the midst of privacy.”
Blockchain has only been around for about a decade and, in many ways, the technology is still in its infancy. Looking ahead, however, blockchain will only grow in prominence as the construction industry becomes increasingly digitized and its valuable information requires additional layers of security.
Digitization of Information and Artificial Intelligence – OnSiteIQ
While the construction industry is no stranger to innovation in regard to tools and equipment, it remains one of the least digitized sectors within the U.S. economy. That being said, there have been major inroads to bring the industry into the digital age.
OnSiteIQ is a company that seeks to bridge the gap construction and technology, using its expertise in both worlds to bring a greater degree of control to large-scale development and construction projects. OnSiteIQ is useable on any device and allows users to virtually walk throughout their projects and remotely inspect a construction site, helping to ensure that the project is considerably less dangerous in the process.
Using a technology-based documentation system, OnSiteIQ’s network of 360-degree cameras record the entirety of a construction site and then uploads the captured content directly to the company’s comprehensive platform. Once there, the data is mapped onto the project’s floor plans to create a 3D “panograph” that is a full virtual representation of the job site. An artificial intelligence then aids the user in highlighting any potential safety hazards to be aware of.
“Everything in construction is becoming more digitized, whether it’s the daily reports, schedules, or BIM models,” says Boileau. “Artificial intelligence is able to boil all of that digital information down to a much more manageable level and then make recommendations, which will allow people to take an appropriate action faster with greater efficiency.”