Technology has placed unprecedented power in the hands of construction customers. Customers know more about the companies they are working with than ever before and the general contractor they used last time can easily be replaced. So are construction firms powerless now? No. The same new technologies that have helped drive efficiencies throughout the building process also can be used to create closer connections with your customers. In the new digital world, construction companies are discovering new methods of operation that improve efficiency, increase profitability and create strong, sustainable customer connections. 

Five major technologies have matured and collided to create what is being called the digital economy. Hyper-connectivity, super computing, cloud computing, cyber security and smart products have shaped a new world where the traditional boundaries of construction no longer exist. 

These high-tech methods are not only for high-tech companies. Construction companies also can leverage them to unlock new opportunities for improving operations, business planning and customer communications. 

Tower cranes dominate the skyline of major metropolitan areas – a sign of optimism in the construction industry, which only years ago appeared to be on the cusp of financial disaster. As the construction industry turns toward prosperity, owners, contractors and others must exercise diligence over quality control in the construction process to avoid post-construction claims for faulty construction. 

If history is any indication of things to come, then disputes over faulty construction will soon become a reality. The primary driver for such claims continues to be overly fast-paced construction to meet current market demands, resulting in the hiring of inexperienced trades. As with any boom in construction, the most reliable general contractors and subcontractors are working to capacity and cannot accept new work. This leaves the market with inexperienced and untested trades. But money matters, and construction financing depends on quickly bringing these buildings out of the ground for sale, lease or rent.

Construction projects, whether driven by need or desire, begin with one thing: a vision. Technology operates in much the same way – with the future in mind.

Architects, developers and contractors are building or starting construction on  more than 110 sports stadiums around the world over the next few years. It is especially important for them, like technologists, to consider how sports fans and concert-goers of the future will use these venues and the offerings they’ll provide.

Construction companies are most concerned with building strength, design, longevity and functionality. But technologists focus on how technology will deliver the “fan experience” for years to come in baseball stadiums, basketball and hockey arenas, race tracks, soccer and cricket fields, and other facilities. Venues will want – make that need – to provide high-speed, wireless connectivity to accommodate the thousands of fans, who will be using their smart phones, tablets, wearable technology, and who-knows-what else in our wireless futures. 

Adequate warranties covering building and facility components or capital equipment – such as power distribution and control equipment, heat exchangers, solar panels, etc. – are important for managing project risk, obtaining project financing and ensuring marketability of projects. Like most contracts, typical form warranties in a purchase agreement are  negotiable and purchasers should always attempt to negotiate the most favorable warranty possible. Here are some important questions to consider when entering into a purchase agreement.  

Who Is the Warrantor?

A warranty is only as good as the credit behind it. If the warrantor does not have the financial capability to fully honor the warranty, then it has little value regardless of how well it is negotiated. Consider demanding credit support for a product warranty where the financial strength of the supplier is in doubt or unknown. 

Citing sustainable, economic and energy efficiency advantages, a movement to build taller with wood is gaining traction around the world. Development of new technology and building systems are supporting the use of wood in more applications, and its benefits are being recognized through updates to building codes. 

Today, builders have the opportunity to operate within the parameters of the recently approved 2015 International Building Code (IBC), which is beginning to be adopted in various jurisdictions all over the United States. Others are closely following research and testing that in the future will enable us to join other countries where buildings over 10 stories are being built with mass timber.  

Once only used by architects and design engineers, recent advances in 3-D modeling technology now allow construction trades to build constructable models that can streamline internal processes and collaboration to improve efficiency and productivity throughout the project lifecycle. 

What is a constructable model? Is it BIM?

While constructable models are BIM, not all building information models are constructable. The difference between design models and constructable models is the level of accuracy, development and detail in the model. To be useful to the construction team, a 3-D project model must be constructable. It includes accurate, actionable geometry and data that self-performing contractors and specialist subcontractors can use.

Modern business practice, especially in the service industry, is in the midst of a revolution toward the use of “on-demand” workers. There are a number of business benefits to be realized from this shift in focus, chief among them the delivery of a larger mix of services to a wider cross-section of the population. One needs to look no further than providers like Uber, Handy, Axiom and dozens of others to see the trend in action. In fact, it probably is not too far-fetched to foresee a day in which freelance laborers outnumber full-time employees who were placed via traditional hiring practices.

For businesses like those mentioned above, the move toward on-demand service is almost second nature. But what happens when household brands serving the construction industry try to move from the brick-and-mortar heritage to capitalize on this new business model? We are seeing big-box retailers turn to third-party contractors to fulfill store-purchased products such as flooring or appliances, and manufacturers are doing the same for after-sale support or warranty fulfillment. The question for them is, are they in a position to realize the true benefit and maintain the same visibility and high customer experience ratings?

A forward-thinking, disciplined chief executive officer (CEO) succession plan can maintain and drive a company’s momentum and provide significant protection against the many risks associated with a change of company leadership. The best-in-class boards of directors have a robust and ongoing succession plan and process in place which involves long time horizons, rigorous assessment and thoughtful individual development plans.

Such comprehensive measures help but do not entirely safeguard from the many pitfalls in getting CEO succession right. One core concern, for example, is that many boards do not fully think through candidates’ experiences and specific competencies in light of the company’s strategy, which needs regular updating as the business evolves. The criteria for a new CEO should focus on both the necessary experiences (skills and past accomplishments) and leadership qualities (inherent traits of leaders) required to implement a company’s long-term strategy.

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