Robotics in Construction

With a continued labor shortage across the country and no signs of change in the near future, some firms are looking to/have implemented robots into their workforce to help combat this issue. Robots in their present capacity are being used to perform repetitive tasks like laying brick, tying rebar, hanging drywall, etc. They are also performing demolition, 3-D printing, and assisting with lifting activities. In 2018 the construction robotics industry was roughly a $23 million market, however, this market is being forecasted to grow to nearly $226 million by 2025 according to the article by Tractica. Some of the benefits being reported by those utilizing robots are increased speed and efficiency, higher levels of safety, and the ability to integrate with design software such as BIM. As one who has never had robotics performing labor on a construction project, I am looking forward to experiencing it and to what impact...

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Construction Industry Labor Shortage

The construction industry in 2017 is being faced with an ever-growing skilled worker shortage which is driving up construction costs and adding time to construction schedules across the country. The current slowdown in immigration after the Trump election is contributing to the already existing labor shortage. The five toughest craft positions to fill are carpenters, electricians, roofers, drywallers, and concrete workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Association of Home Builders, there are currently 143,000 vacant construction positions nationwide and a recent survey by the NAHB revealed 69% of its members were experiencing delays with completing the project on time due to the shortage of adequate qualified workers. The Douglas Company tries to help prevent project delays due to manpower by communicating early with every subcontractor the schedule requirements for every project before the contract is even awarded and getting their buy-in prior to schedule commitments. The manpower on...

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The Trump Effect on Costs in Senior Living Construction

The Douglas Company has a number of processes that control costs for our clients, and they have worked well in this inflationary construction environment.  But even for us, there are limits that everyone should be aware of.  Some were predictable, some not. Though I’m not an economist, it doesn’t take one to be able to predict that when unemployment nationally is below 5%, it’s difficult to get significant economic growth without growth in the workforce, either through domestic workforce growth or immigration.  Though The Douglas Company doesn’t endorse the hiring of illegal immigrants, and we do check green cards, we’ve noticed that the “Trump Effect” has made the situation more difficult, not only with anticipated faster growth of the economy, but a reduction in the Hispanic workforce, leading to capacity issues, and price escalation. What I didn’t predict was the tariff on imported lumber.  Over 84% of our country’s softwoods are imported...

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The Contractor-Subcontractor Relationship

In the past decade, the construction industry has experienced an exodus of sorts in the construction workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2005 and 2015 the construction industry as a whole lost nearly 16% of its workforce. This decrease in manpower accompanied by a large increase in construction (especially in multifamily and senior housing construction), we have experienced an increase in subcontractor workload and inevitably a decrease in subcontractor availability. Subcontractors are forced to either decline work or raise costs to help manage their workload, leaving general contractors and construction managers scratching their heads. Is there a reliable solution to this ever-volatile supply and demand issue? Yes- one word- relationships. We have found repeated success in forming long-standing business relationships with subcontractors.  As we have experienced, designers often time design in a vacuum, without understanding the cost impact of their designs; however, our subcontractors do. The Douglas Company...

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Speed and Senior Living Construction

Unfortunately, it seems we can’t build as quickly as we used to.  There are a number of factors impacting this.  The number one culprit is lack of qualified work force.  Secondary factors are the increased complexity of senior living construction, with over the top finishes, building inspection departments that throw roadblocks in front of us, and architects who are busy, eroding the quality of drawings. Though it’s frustrating, what we see from our competitors indicates that we are substantially better than them.  We should be.  We have all the systems in place to help us track projects and keep them moving on schedule as quickly as possible.  Some of these are as follows: ·   Project pre-planning to identify risks and opportunities to assure a smooth running project. ·   A design check process to minimize surprises and issues that slow down construction. ·   Daily manpower comparison to what’s needed for schedule goals. ·...

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