Jim Kollaer's blog

Our friends over at Software Advice have produced an ebook titled the Construction Estimating Guide that provides information and a set of evaluation guidelines for the first time buyer of construction estimating software.

Even if you are an estimating wizard or veteran and have been through the process before, this book can re-educate you on some of the key features you need to look for when you are making a buy of new software to improve your business, and hopefully, your bottom line.    Read more » about What’s Goin’ On?

Working on federal and local governmental projects requires that contractors include minorities, woman-owned, or Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms on their teams either as subs, vendors, suppliers or consultants. The guidelines also require that those amounts be stated in the bidding process and in the reporting process during the construction of the project as well as the final accounting to the public.

Some contractors and owners, in an effort to bypass the guidelines, have found creative ways to accomplish the goals that they have to meet in their bids by defrauding the system and the firms that the MBE and DBE programs set out to help.

We have seen these fraudulent moves for decades. First it was out and out bribes such as, “We’ll include you on the team, pay you a fee and you won’t do a thing,” or “You will need to pay my cousin a fee of x to represent you on this project.”    Read more » about It’s Still Fraud Maude!

On March 3, 2016, The Port Authority of New York opened the new transportation hub at the World Trade Center to the public and to the 100,000 riders who use the center daily. The structure, named the "Oculus” is a soaring tribute to the tragedy of 911 and serves as a gateway, transportation, and activity hub at the World Trade Center.

Built by Skanska and the Port Authority of New York, the form of the structure represents movement and stands in stark contrast to the tall buildings that surround it.

You can read more about this landmark building in our previous post and in a post on the Skanska site.    Read more » about The Oculus Soars at the World Trade Center in New York City

When we talk with some of the folks in the construction industry, they laugh when we suggest that the convergence of the major labor shortages and the emergence of on-site robotics will come into play faster than they can imagine.

They tell us that in some of the skilled trades, robots will never be able to replace humans. Well, they might be having second thoughts, especially if they have looked at some of the work being done by Boston Dynamics and their new droid robots – Atlas.

Fast Company has just shown one of the Atlas robots standing after being knocked down. Makes me wonder whether that would be an OSHA reportable accident or whether that might be the end of the reportable accidents?

Boston Dynamics was bought by Google several years ago making Google one of the major competitors in the development of robots that could be used in construction. We know that DARPA has companies working feverishly on bots that the military can use, so the conversion to the construction jobsite is not that large a leap. (Pun intended.)   Read more » about Construction Robots?

Google, the 17 year old giant company best known for its search engines and which most of us use daily on our smart phones, laptops and tablets, has gotten its driver’s license for its driverless cars at a younger age than its human counterparts. According to Reuters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued Google a ruling that computers could be considered legal drivers of vehicles.

The ruling by the NHSA was that the computer could be considered the driver and not one of the people in the car. That ruling, followed by several announcements of production of driverless cars by automakers, means that there is about to be a major shift in getting around town or around the country.

Many high-end cars like Mercedes and Tesla have “auto pilot” driver assist features, and several domestic manufacturers are installing “lane warning” and “collision avoidance” systems as a standard feature on their cars.    Read more » about Google Gets its Driver’s License

"The best or nothing” is the global tagline for Mercedes cars, and it also applies to the new stadium being built for the Atlanta Falcons. Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta is innovative and one of a new era of sports designs around the world.

According to recent reporting in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 71,000 seat stadium for the Falcons and the 32,000 configuration for the Atlanta soccer team is now scheduled to open in June of 2017 after delays for additional structural design for the “oculus” roof and the panoramic video screens.

This drone video shows steel workers erecting the complex framework for the roof of the HOK designed structure. The stadium is being built by 1,400 construction craft professionals directed by Hunt Construction Group.   Read more » about Drone View of Construction on Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta [VIDEO]

We have reported several times on the progress of the new Foster + Partners designed Apple Campus 2 and its planned schedule to open in early 2017. The dream of Steve Jobs that achieved council approval in 2011 is entering the final stages of construction, according to the latest Duncan Sinfield shot drone video featured in the Fast Company blog site.

It is annotated so that you can begin to see the exterior finishes, the solar arrays on the parking garages and the roof of the underground auditorium.

You can see the installation of the 84-foot long sections of glass that will enclose the perimeter of this outstanding structure and provide space for the 13,000 employees that will work there when it is completed.    Read more » about Apple "Spaceship" Campus Update [VIDEO]

Our colleagues at Construction Dive recently reported on the 10 Construction industry trends to watch in 2016. They reference a Dodge Analytics 2016 report that “predicted 6% growth, with the value of construction starts reaching an estimated $712 billion.”  That is great news for the industry for 2016.

The Construction Industry usually gets a late start in the economic recovery and fortunately it has a “long tail” since it is hard to stop construction once the building has begun. We have a hunch that we are entering the long tail in commercial construction as many of the indicators show a slow down in the front or design end of the business.

Construction Dive offers up the major trends to watch for 2016. Top on the list is a continued labor shortage of skilled workers. This has been widely reported and is the result of workers leaving the industry in the 2009 recession, retirements and a high demand in the industrial sector.    Read more » about Construction Trends for 2016

In light of the projected sale of upwards of one million drones over the 2015 Christmas sales season, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its registration and labeling rules. These rules went into effect on December 21, 2015 for all drones that weigh over .55 lbs. and less than 55 lbs. This includes those classified as toys, model drones, etc. The registration can be accomplished online, and the registrant must be 13 years of age.

There are separate rules for drones that exceed the weight restrictions or are to be used for commercial purposes.    Read more » about Drone Registration Rules Set

Unless you were watching the budget process in Congress late in 2015, you probably missed a small piece of the legislation passed by the House, Senate, and signed by the President that lifted a 40-year ban on the export of US crude oil. The lifting of the ban is great news for the industrial construction industry and will make the construction of LNG plants and port expansions a reality over the next five to eight years.

The original export ban was imposed in 1975 as a response to the 1973 Arab Oil embargo against the US that was precipitated when the Nixon administration supplied arms to the Israelis during the 1973-74 Arab Israeli or Yom Kippur War. That Arab embargo scared the Nixon Administration and created long lines at the pump. Congress, in response to the Embargo, passed the ban to begin to move the US towards energy independence.    Read more » about US Lifts 40-Year Ban on Oil and Gas Export


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