Reshaping the Construction Industry

A drone hovers over a major construction site shooting video progress photos, a daily or weekly occurrence. One of the concrete finishing crew becomes aware of the buzzing of the quadcopter hovering over them and asks the foreman, “Is that drone watching me work?” The foreman had been told at the job briefing that morning that the build was three days behind schedule and everyone on the concrete crew was going to have to up their game to get back on schedule. The foreman answers the worker, “Naw, the drone is just monitoring progress and not specific workers on the site.” Although he thought that they might be since he knew that the software makes it possible to monitor crew members even though drones had only been used for the last year on their builds. Science fiction? Not at all.

The FAA has issued over 1,000 special permits for the use of drones in the US. Many of those permits have been issued to construction companies who are working to catch up on ways that they can be used to improve productivity on their builds.    Read more » about Drone Paranoia - Is That Drone Watching Me Work?

In a speech to business leaders in Houston last week, I pointed out that one of the reasons Donald Trump is doing so well in the presidential polls is he at least sounds like he’s certain of himself at such an economically uncertain time. I underscored the point about uncertainty by saying most of the people in the room had probably only checked their stock portfolios about 30 times before lunch.

There were many nods of agreement.

With the markets being so volatile, what's a sure thing? Hard to say. But, Martin Tiller at Nasdaq writes that publicly traded construction firms are doing particularly well:    Read more » about Amid Uncertainty in the Markets, Construction Stocks Are on the Rise

The following article originally appeared in the September newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC for the purpose of providing the latest leading indicators and industry issues to those clients.  Reprinted with permission.

With the latest ride from oil prices, the forecasted recovery in Houston has been pushed back to the second half of 2016 at the earliest.  Houston year to date, seasonally adjusted job growth is at 12,000 (July 2015) – well off the pace of the last few years.  While Goldman Sachs, this past Friday, issued a release which still forecasts average oil prices at $50 to $60 per barrel for the next few years, we are hearing of “early retirement” packages being offered to Houston employees as the oil and gas industry prepares for more job losses this coming January through either another round of layoffs, bankruptcies or mergers.

Other industries are beginning to feel the ripple effect of lower oil, with their indices slowing, although still positive.   Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: September 2015

As part of our continuing stories on the use of robotics in the construction industry, today we spotlight the SAM100, the first commercially available robotic mason in use today.

The Sam100 is in use by the Clark Construction Group, LLC on the construction of the 29,000 square foot Lab School in Washington, DC. The robotic mason works with a human mason and together they can place 4-6 times as many bricks as their human counterparts. That is a real improvement in productivity. The robot was built and tested by Construction Robotics, a New York based firm which has shown its worth on several projects.  The Lab School is the first application in the DC area.

This type of laser-guided robot is interesting since it “butters” and places the bricks.   Read more » about First look at SAM100 Robotic Brick Mason [VIDEO]

Strong construction spending pushes up GDP; multifamily builders remain optimistic

Editor’s note: Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Gross domestic product, net of inflation (real GDP), grew 3.7% in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15) at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, rather than the initially estimated 2.3%, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported on Thursday. Reuters reported, "Investment in nonresidential structures was revised to show it rising at a 3.1% rate, reflecting stronger spending on commercial and healthcare construction. It was previously reported to have contracted at a 1.6% pace. Spending on residential construction was raised to a 7.8% pace from a 6.6% rate."    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 24-28, 2015

We have previously written about the autonomous, remotely driven trucks being used in the mines in Australia and the Google cars that have driven over 700,000 miles without a driver as a true test of the viability and safety of the next generation of cars and trucks.

In the US, truck manufacturers are delivering autonomous trucks to the military, but now the Florida Department of Transportation is about to launch its first venture into the public arena by using autonomous trucks in rolling construction zones on Florida highways. These construction zones for overlaying, repairs and striping are among the most dangerous conditions on our highways. Construction workers and transportation experts will welcome any technology that will avoid major rear end crashes and human injury and deaths.   Read more » about Autonomous Trucks Come First

I recently wrote about a graduation ceremony honoring several who had advanced within Marek’s workforce development programworkforce development program.  Part of the program included some remarks from Marek COO and Division President Mike Holland.  In talking about the importance of developing a quality, skilled workforce, Holland said “Workforce is our product.”  Holland then introduced the keynote speaker of the evening, John Roberts, Executive Vice President for Jones Lang LaSalle with the following:

“John’s roots in construction began like many of us at a jobsite, so he knows what drives our business.  He has been an active participant in the Construction Career Collaborative; he is on our Board.  He has used his influence in the industry to bring on other contractors to talk to many of our workforce professional partners, continuing to further this conversation.  As a contractor, he is a really practical guy, like a lot of builders, but he is a guy with vision.”

Roberts began his remarks by stating that he has long been passionate about labor and workforce development.  He has always believed that companies need to do more to develop the skilled workforce and create career paths which will attract young people into the construction industry.   Read more » about Keynote Speech at Marek WFD Graduation Commends and Inspires [VIDEO]

Despite the fact that women are the absolute best candidates for many careers in construction, the perception remains that it’s a “man’s world” and that’s all there is to it in the industry. Though women lag behind the men in jobs actually held, leaders in the industry are working overtime to try to get more women involved and dispel the myths that prevent many of them from applying for positions in the first place.

Now the Tampa Bay Times, the winner of multiple Pulitzer Prizes, reports that the pay gap for women in the construction industry is much smaller than in other kinds of businesses:

   Read more » about The Pay Gap for Women is Much Smaller in Construction Than Other Industries

We have written about the strength and skills of master craftspeople in the construction industry, but one company is going further to honor construction workers on their own.

According to a recent post on, the "Ozinga Brothers, a fourth-generation family-owned ready mix concrete producer and supplier business founded in 1928 on the south side of Chicago, currently run by five brothers and a cousin,” have teamed up with their ad agency to produce a campaign called “Born to Build” that honors construction workers.

The campaign, underwritten by the Ozingas, includes 16 billboards, a series of 60-second ads, and an on-going social media strategy that has paid dividends for the company in their efforts to honor the industry.    Read more » about Ad Campaign Honors Construction Workers [VIDEO]

States add jobs in July but at slower rate than before; PPIs for construction demand rise

Editor’s note: Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment rose in 37 states and the District of Columbia from July 2014 to July 2015, declined in 12 states and held steady in Vermont, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today showed. The year-over-year gains were widespread but less so than in the previous 12 months, when 47 states and D.C. added construction jobs. California again gained the most construction jobs (48,900 jobs, 7.3%), followed by Florida (26,500, 6.6%), Washington (15,300, 9.6%), Texas (14,500, 2.2%) and Michigan (12,400, 8.7%). Arkansas added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (15%, 6,800), followed by Idaho (14%, 4,900), Nevada (11%, 6,800), Washington and Michigan.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: August 10-21, 2015


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