Throughout Texas, many companies related to construction are experiencing a severe labor shortage. They just can’t find skilled people to fill needed positions. In fact, one of my Central Texas clients told me that he needs to hire at least fifteen new people just to meet current demands. Unfortunately, this issue will not be resolved quickly. While there is no substitute for warm bodies, there are some things that companies can do to use technology to ease the strains of the Texas construction labor shortage.
Despite incredible advances in technology, the construction industry remains one of the most inefficient enterprises in the nation concerning labor productivity. (Source: Census Bureau, BLS). The primary reason for this is because many mistakes are made as a result of information not being communicated clearly. So, how can one improve both communication and efficiency? One simple change is to shift the company’s workflow from black/white plans to color construction documents.
According to the Wall Street Journal construction costs are on the rise due to an improving economy. Labor and material costs have been increasing close to 3.5 % a year. This means that companies need to find ways to make up for those rising costs, whether it’s looking for cheaper material vendors or letting some employees go. Therefore, it’s important to look at the areas where you can save without losing the integrity of the project. Believe it or not, one way that construction companies can cut costs is to simply print color plans with a color-capable CAD plotter.
The Océ ColorWave 500 Printing System is here and it is destined to redefine some wide-format industry standards. Built on innovative and proven CrystalPoint Technology, the ColorWave 500 leads blends the best of LED toner and ink jet technologies into a single powerful system.
Though there are some common traits shared with the previous model, the Océ ColorWave 650, the ColorWave 500 adds some great improvements. See for yourself.
Over millennia, architects have been motivated to produce physical models of their creations. This is obvious as various artistic renderings has been excavated at archeological sites, some of which are estimated to be thousands of years old. However, it was during the Renaissance Period when Leon Battista Alberti first documented the use of models for study and analysis. Since then, the model making methods have no doubt changed, but the premise remains the same. Luckily today, the technology exists to simply print 3D models of architecture from a digital file.
Make no mistake, while 3D printing is incredible, some effort is still required. We have not quite reached the "microwave stage" where a user can send a print and simply collect their final product --like a microwaved hot beverage. But, we are pretty close. There are a few manipulations that need to happen first.
Architectural design is something that is ever evolving. One changing aspect, that has completely redefined the design-build process, is BIM software (Building Information Modeling). AutoDesk defines BIM as “an intelligent model-based process that provides insight to help you plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.” This collaborative software is now allowing architects, engineers, and contractors to work together in new exciting ways. But, a paradigm shift always forces other changes. One significant change as a result of BIM is the necessity to print construction plans in full color rather than monochrome.
To explore this further, Lyra Research, Inc. (Now Photizo Group) conducted a study that focused on inadequate collaboration in the design-build process. They strived to find ways to reduce construction costs and in doing so, they made a remarkable discovery. AEC companies can actually save money if they print BIM files in color.
The comparison between which wide-format plotter technology is better, toner or ink jet, has been questioned among companies looking for new equipment for years. Historically, this has been relatively easy to examine. The cost of ink jet printing is higher, but the price of the toner-based equipment was more expensive than their ink jet counterparts. After some calculations, the break-even point was determined at about 2,000 square feet per month of print volume. However, the playing field has changed. Ink prices have dropped and some ink jet systems have gotten faster. So, how do the two plotter technologies compare now?
When it comes to construction projects, Subcontractors (Subs) are the heart and soul of any job. General Contractors and Architects rely on their Subs (HVAC, plumbing, lighting, electrical, concrete, etc.) to complete the project on time and under budget. So, efficiency and productivity are the keys to subcontractor success. But, it is a changing world and some subcontractors have issues adapting to some of the shifting business dynamics within the construction industry.
According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2012 SmartMarket Report, more than 36 percent of contractors, architects and engineers are using Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Western Europe. In comparison, North America shows a higher rate of BIM adoption, with around 49 percent of construction professionals already having adopted this technology as of 2009. On the whole, the use of BIM technology in the AEC industry is on the upsurge.
Bim Technology - Guest Blog Article
Eureka Tower in Melbourne Australia, the ninth tallest residential tower in the world standing 297 metre tall, is the live and breathtakingly remarkable example of BIM technology. Eureka Tower was one of the very few residential construction projects, which fully embraced the BIM approach. BIM technology acts as a design and visualization tool to aid architects, designers, contractors, engineers, and owners achieve better co-ordination and decision making. These benefits are not restricted to just commercial construction projects with complex geometry. Even residential projects can benefit from improved design, construction, documentation, marketing and maintenance processes of BIM technology. Also, a huge chunk of the residential sector is served by regional or local builders and contractors functioning as integrated design and build companies. Since these builders are the ones who absorb all the costs associated with a construction project, they are in a better position to lead the adoption of innovative technologies, such as BIM, which greatly enhances productivity and efficiency while fostering collaboration. However, builders cannot be expected to single-handedly tread on this path unless they are conscious of the latent value of BIM and what it can do for their business.