With the economy on the rebound, construction spending is picking up around the country and more construction-related businesses are taking on new projects because of increases in government spending contracts and real estate demand.

All of this signals good news for the construction industry, but immediately after a new project is awarded, a contractor must come out of pocket for materials, equipment, fuel, travel and labor – sometimes long before being paid. With most payment terms averaging between net 30 to net 90 (and government contracts upwards of net 120), managing cash flow can be tricky. 

The topic of protecting temporary workers, while not new, is one OSHA recently brought back to the forefront. The agency is taking the topic to an open forum in an attempt to underscore the importance to both staffing agencies and host employers that every worker has the right to a safe workplace. 

“An employer’s commitment to the safety of temporary workers should not mirror this worker’s temporary status, whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels said during the Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association conference in August. “Staffing agencies and host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions.”

Today’s construction process is a team effort. Gone are the days when architects passed off their project plans to the construction team and hoped for the best. Now, more than ever, collaboration throughout the project is key to its success. Of course, collaboration is not always easy, especially between industries that have been somewhat at odds in the past. As an architect, I know that I sometimes have a very different vision of a project’s end result than the construction team may have. Our project goals may not align, and completing a project may be challenging if we have competing interests along the way. However, as our industries evolve, we can no longer afford to be at odds. To provide our clients with the best results, architects and construction managers must each learn to use our unique skill sets to our advantage, delivering results that meet and exceed high expectations. Establishing trust early on in the project, communicating clearly throughout the process and knowing how to use technology effectively and efficiently can ensure a successful relationship between architects and construction managers.

Generally, when people think of public-private partnerships (P3s), they think of large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project or the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, both in New York. These are high-cost projects led by large well-capitalized firms, so it is no wonder they command our attention. In the past, it could be safely assumed that projects of such magnitude had to be carried out by government entities, but this is no longer the case. In fact, P3s have proven effective for a wide range of project types and sizes.

Large data sets need sophisticated technological solutions that provide transparent access to files and projects on an as-needed basis. It is not uncommon to see architects and those in the field of construction work on large project files that, when sharing across networks, lose consistency and coherency, often leading to data corruption and project delays. 

Today, enterprise file-sharing is a necessity for global organizations. Technology needs to catch up with business demand, and architectural and construction firms are evaluating whether their current infrastructure is up to the job of high-performance enterprise file sharing and collaboration.

In the construction industry, one word heard time and time again is “concrete,” as builders frequently turn to the composite material for their projects. There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of its use in the near future. In fact, recent news seems to indicate that its use will increase, thanks to its key component, cement. A recent report from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) showed that U.S. cement consumption would meet 2014 forecast expectations.

“The United States’ cement market is expected to grow 8.2 percent in 2014, followed by similar rates of growth in 2015 and 2016,” PCA Chief Economist and Group Vice President Edward Sullivan said. 

What do a swimming pool and commercial kitchen have in common? A lot more than you would think. As any restaurant owner will tell you, the one place that is never dry is the floor of a commercial kitchen. Everyday occurrences include slick floors resulting from overflowing pots and pans, power washers and liquid cleaning products. Although these scenarios can spell disaster, the right flooring and waterproofing systems can prevent leak damage as well as damage to a restaurant owner’s bottom line.

First things first: Not all waterproofing and flooring systems are created equal. Unsuitable waterproofing systems can bring about everything from mold growth and property damage to ensuing lawsuits and to health department citations. Also, for establishments located above operational businesses, owners must be prepared to prevent water damage to their own spaces as well as the mechanical and electrical systems below.

In industries around the world, technological advancements continue to bring greater cost and productivity efficiencies to business owners. Yet, in the construction industry, when it comes to non-destructive testing (NDT), many continue to use tools – pencil and paper – that were introduced hundreds of years ago to collect data that is vital to their businesses.  

Doing so costs heavy duty equipment owners countless man hours, ultimately impacting their bottom line. Given that, isn’t it well past the time for owners to begin taking advantage of the hardware and software innovations available to improve efficiencies across their fleet workforce, increase visibility into potential problems, and better manage ROI on what amounts to very large capital investments?

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