Jim Kollaer's blog

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?

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]

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

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 ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com, 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]

We have written several times about the value of tuned mass dampers in the construction of tall buildings as counterweights to the tendency of tall things to sway in the wind making the occupants most uncomfortable.

Nowhere is that more important than in a hurricane, typhoon or harmattan when winds reach 130-175 mph and pummel everything in its path. Recently, Typhoon Soudelor hit Taipei 101, the fourth tallest building in the world, and the value of the tuned mass damper was proven to the structural engineers, designers, owners and occupants of the building.

Not only did the damper do its work, but also Popular Mechanics and Arch Daily captured the actual movements of the building during the onslaught by the typhoon.   Read more » about Taipei 101 Mass Damper in Typhoon Soudelor [Video]

Inside Unmanned Systems’ Vicki Speed recently posted an in-depth article titled “Building Enthusiasm for Construction Robotics” on the use of robots and unmanned (guess we will have “unwomanned” bots and drones soon as well in the new PC world we live in) robots in the construction Industry.

Speed talks about the use of robots in three areas today. First, robots have been used to “tear ‘em down” in the demolition of existing structures, in military threats, and in areas of the world where natural disasters have created dangerous conditions for humans, for over a decade much to our advantage.    Read more » about Are Those Robots or Zombies Headed into Construction Tomorrow?

The construction industry is rapidly changing and the introduction of new project management software makes it imperative that you stay informed, up-to-date, and ahead of your competition if you want to stay in business for the long haul.

Our friends at Software Advice, the Gartner Company that provides information on a broad range of software, including project management, have just published an eBook titled How Much Does Construction Software Cost? that compares the three major licensing strategies: perpetual license, subscription, and open source. Janna Finch, Senior Research Associate with the company discusses those common strategies, the short and long term costs, often over looked costs, as well as the pricing of the top systems available today.   Read more » about EBook on Project Management Software

For those of you who follow the state of the oil and gas business at all, you will probably know two things by now. First, Houston based Cheniere Energy has been aggressive in the development of six LNG trains on the Gulf Coast at Sabine Pass in anticipation of being able to export LNG to overseas markets as soon as Congress and the Administration finally decide on a strategy that opens those markets to US companies. Cheniere was the first company to obtain approvals from the government to construct the facilities and to export the LNG. Even though the company has been aggressive in the construction of those multi-billion dollar facilities, it has lost money. To correct those issues, the board has made several key changes to its executive team in the most recent expansion phase and that has caught the attention of a number of major investors.    Read more » about Will Carl Icahn Shake up Cheniere Energy and LNG Plant Construction?

We have written about the work of Software Advice, a Gartner company that helps buyers build short lists of various types of construction software, including HVAC, several times in the past. They have just released a survey that addresses a long-standing problem in every office, including in the construction industry.

Whether in the job shack or in the high-rise office building we have all said or heard – “Why is it so ****(Hot) (Cold) in here?” “Where is the thermostat?” “Who turned the thermostat up so high?”  We have all heard the complaints.  Now with the new smart systems and the software that runs them, we have an opportunity to make a positive change, especially with the “internet of things.”

As part of the process of reviewing new climate control software, Forrest Burnson at Software Advice conducted a seven-day online survey that solicited 252 responses (129 women and 123 men) to assess the issue of “occupancy comfort” among office workers, both young and old.  Their findings were interesting to say the least.   Read more » about The Heat on Occupancy Comfort is Being Turned Up

KPMG International, the accounting and consultancy firm, has published its Global Construction Owner’s Survey for 2015 entitled “Climbing the Curve”. This is the ninth edition of the survey in which the KPMG construction specialists survey 100 project owners worldwide to determine their current and emerging issues in their interactions with construction firms and their contractors on their projects.

According to Construction Dive, one of the most interesting findings in the study is that “only a third of owners responded that they have a high degree of trust with the contractors on their projects.” That reinforces the concept that trust is primary in the owner contractor relationship, especially on larger more complex projects. The survey reports that, “…there is, however, another way of looking at the results. Owners may want to stay closer to contractors because they do not fully trust them. Only a third believe they have a ‘high’ level of trust in their contractors, with 60 percent describing the degree of trust as merely moderate."    Read more » about Climbing the Curve

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