Nichole Josey - Sachse Construction

Why BIM, PIM and AI are driving transformation in the Construction Industry

Challenges for the future of Construction

The Construction Industry is in a phase of transformation. Deloitte, in a recent trends report, defined rising material costs, decreased productivity due to labour shortages and further regulatory and safety burdens will continue to be key challenges. The dependence on fixed-bid projects that demand a level of precision that are difficult to obtain with traditional systems, means projects frequently run over budget and get delayed. While the industry still trails broader digital maturity, the continued adoption of digital technologies could alleviate some of these issues.

Technologies that build efficiencies, reduce costs, create access to accurate product data and collaboration with suppliers and customers will be at the forefront in solving these challenges. Companies within the Construction sector ecosystem are now finding that technologies that gather, enrich and access product information and imagery in smart ways are having a big influence on how a project can gain a  competitive advantage in a cluttered marketplace.

BIM is changing the way projects are planned and completed

One of the biggest trends predicted by Building Radar is the growth in the use of Business Information Modelling (BIM) which can significantly reduce cost and risk in planning and construction processes. It allows efficient digital planning, design, construction and management of buildings and is used by Architects, Developers, Integrators and Construction engineers. It can pinpoint potential problems and conflicts which become apparent during the planning stage and during what is known as digital pre-construction, these can be solved virtually before they actually occur on site.

With BIM, all trades are involved from the first phase, exchange information via the system and track all project progress in real time. The basis is a digital 3D model on which all parties involved in the construction project – from the architect and the construction company to the owner – work simultaneously and always have access to identical, up-to-date data and drawings.

It can also give an accurate estimation of the number of materials needed to complete a project, eliminating delays from shortages and overspending, giving it an environmentally friendly edge to reducing any possible waste at the end of the project. This is sure to become even more popular on construction sites beyond 2020.

Whereas previous workflows relied on multiple file formats and disconnected processes that quickly became out of sync when changes were made, BIM offers a more dynamic and synchronised approach to project management.

The need for accurate product information

Even though BIM is recognised as fundamental to the advance of the construction sector, key to its success will be the cooperation through the construction ecosystem with suppliers, industry databases and integrators. It suffers from traditional methods and processes which hinders productivity and increases costs where construction companies require much time and effort to re-configure costs and specifications when there is a change made by a supplier for a particular product.

Managing accurate product information from materials suppliers and manufacturers will be essential for the seamless coordination of successful project management through a BIM. A growing solution to this problem has been the integration of a Product Information Management System (PIM) with a BIM to allow a seamless flow of product information and easy configuration changes.

PIM integrated with BIM important for the industry

As an example, Engie Ineo , an integrator, has implemented a Stibo Product Master Data Management System (MDM), which integrates with its BIM to allow them to manage customers and suppliers through collaboration of product information throughout the construction supply chain. The resulting solution serves as an information channel to the construction data model, enabling the use of BIM cross-channelled with information from building management systems via a centralised supplier E-Catalog. It also helps generate rapid ROI through the automation and governance of product data and purchasing agreements in disseminating product data. Other PIM providers such as Sales Layer also enable manufacturers to automate processes in their product information in the supply chain. In centralising all product data, the system allows for major efficiencies when changes are made to product and price specifications with purchasers receiving alerts when any changes happen.

The success of this combination is proving to be very attractive in the construction industry by creating competitive advantage for manufacturers in the supply chain. They are assured that with a single click, he/she can update all of its specifiers of any change in properties, performances, and classifications etc of any of its commercialised products. The data flow from manufacturer to end user is uninterrupted. Errors, omissions and outdated data on BIM models and inefficient processes updating it are eliminated. At the same time it can give a manufacturer more visibility of its products.

This way the BIM is also kept up–to–date with the latest material information which can influence project budgets and specifications.

More detailed product information and AI assistance

One clear criteria for the future of the construction industry will be the need to incorporate more detailed product information as more guidelines appear for ‘green’, safety and legal regulations.

As a result building material manufacturers will need to provide much more product information to their customers and into their marketplaces to get recognised as a key supplier. To handle this data, product information management systems will need to integrate much more with BIM with Artificial intelligence in mind.

BIM collects a large amount of product data supplied by PIM, AI can be used to explore the possibilities of each aspect of a construction project and find the best solution far quicker than a human mind can. Not only does this make processes quicker, but it reduces the risk of human error which can improve safety on sites.

BIM software companies have already begun to use artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency and potential of their programmes. BIM software can now use machine learning to learn from data and detect patterns and from this, make independent decisions on how to automate and improve the model building process.

AI assisted BIM can predict on-site incidents before they’ve even happened and analyse an image alone to identify risks.

Systems that utilise AI are always learning from past and ongoing projects. This will help to find new design solutions and materials quicker and make product improvements which then can go back to product development and allow these changes to be shared across the board.

The developments in PIM, BIM and AI will ultimately have a major influence on the construction industry. From improving productivity, reducing costs and improving design and safety issues these technologies are likely to drive a new innovation throughout the project supply chain.

Former Art Van to be converted to fast-growing Agree’s headquarters

Royal Oak is getting a new publicly traded company headquarters in the old Art Van.

Bloomfield Hills-based retail real estate investment trust Agree Realty Corp. (NYSE: ADC) has purchased the former Art Van Furniture Inc. store on Woodward Avenue, north of Normandy Road, for an undisclosed price with plans to move its employees into the second floor.

The company currently employs 65, said President and CEO Joey Agree. Construction is expected to begin this quarter and finish by the second quarter next year. By that time, the firm could expand to more than 80 people, he said.

It’s the latest headquarters expansion for Agree Realty, which less than three years ago started construction on an addition to its existing home base on East Long Lake Road east of Woodward Avenue. In that time, it has more than doubled its portfolio size.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve invested nearly $3 billion across our three investment platforms. Given the strength of our balance sheet, our growth trajectory accelerated tremendously due to the numerous opportunities we saw during the pandemic,” Agree said. “We’ve added approximately 600 properties to the portfolio over the past two years. While investing in systems such as our ARC Database, we have also scaled every department in the organization and need additional capacity to continue to grow.”

Detroit-based Sachse Construction is the contractor on the former Art Van Furniture building project, while Birmingham-based Biddison Architecture + Design is the architect.

Agree declined to disclose how much is being spent on the build-out, but described it as a “significant renovation that will convert a former retail furniture store into a 21st century modern workspace” adding things like training and development areas, a gym and locker rooms and other amenities for employees.

The building gives Agree Realty “significant capacity to grow on a single floorplate in one building,” Agree said, also noting the property’s centralized location in the region.

“We had a preference to stay within a five-mile radius of our existing headquarters,” Agree said. “The opportunity here is extremely unique, to find a 50,000-square-foot floorplate on Woodward Avenue with covered parking in a tremendous location was compelling.”

As of the end of 2021, Agree Realty had a portfolio of just over 1,400 properties with about 29 million square feet of space. It has an enterprise value of approximately $6.7 billion.

Less than two years ago, it had more than 860 properties and some 16.3 million square feet. And when it began construction on its addition to its current headquarters less than three years ago, it had 660 properties with about 11.5 million square feet, Crain’s reported at the time.

In 2021, Agree Realty bought 290 properties for a total volume of approximately $1.39 billion, the company said earlier this month, and sold 18 properties for a total of $58 million. The company currently anticipates $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion in acquisitions this year and between $25 million and $75 million in dispositions, although those figures could be adjusted as the year progresses.

The company will announce its fourth quarter and full-year 2021 financials Feb. 22

Its core funds from operations for the third quarter were $64 million, up 44 percent from $44.5 million in the third quarter 2020, the company said in November. For the first three quarters of 2021, core FFO was $175.9 million, up 43.2 percent from $122.9 million from the same period in 2020.

As of the end of the third quarter, its portfolio was 99.6 percent leased with nearly 67 percent of its annualized base rents coming from investment-grade retail tenants.

2022’s Biggest Construction Conferences

Many in-person industry events are back on this year. Here is the full rundown.

While the COVID-19 omicron variant continues to spread, with vaccinations and booster shots available, many in-person conventions are back on for this year. Read on for a list of major construction conferences, their dates and locations and a short description of what they offer.

Please check conference websites as time goes on, as plans are subject to change.

World of Concrete

Jan. 18-20
Las Vegas

The largest event for masonry and concrete professionals in the world, attended by more than 60,000 people, will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It will showcase more than 1,500 exhibiting companies.

New York Build Expo

March 2-3
New York City/Virtual

The largest conference on construction and design in the New York area will also offer informational online sessions.

Construction Institute & Construction Research Council Joint Conference

March 9-12
Arlington, Virginia

The joint conference from the American Society of Civil Engineers focuses on research in construction. Head here to get a look at the future of the industry with academic construction research.

Associated Builders and Contractors Convention

March 15-17
San Antonio

ABC’s convention in San Antonio will feature an awards gala, contractor panels and a keynote speech from Freshco CEO Mandy Rennehan on navigating the white-collar and blue-collar worlds seamlessly.

The Associated General Contractors of America Convention

March 28-31
Grapevine, Texas

The AGC plans to host its 2022 event in person, and panel topics range from understanding government policy to navigating a changing workforce. The 2022 AGC Expo is also being held in conjunction with the conference.

Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry Annual Convention

April 4-7
Grapevine, Texas

The annual convention will feature talks on materials relevant to the construction of walls and ceilings, and provide the opportunity for businesses to connect through networking receptions and panels. Also happening during the conference is the INTEX Expo, a showcase of new products and services for the wall and ceiling industry.

International Mass Timber Conference

April 12-14 (Virtual on May 12)
Portland, Oregon

Boasting the largest gathering of cross laminated timber professionals in the world, the event focuses on construction and manufacturing, as well as design and development. It will feature over 40 speakers and more than 1,000 experts.

World of Modular

April 25-28

San Antonio/Virtual

The Modular Builder Institute’s annual conference and tradeshow will also be accessible virtually. Attendees will have the opportunity to connect directly with MBI staff and network with modular builders and professionals from around the world.

Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

May 12-13
San Francisco

The GWIC conference is designed to help women network, gain industry knowledge and advance their careers in construction.

Advancing Preconstruction Conference

June 13-15
Las Vegas

This conference is for professionals who want to improve the design phase of their projects, particularly regarding cost and scheduling. The event will include topics such as the post-pandemic outlook, with a focus on BIM and MEP trades.

American Institute of Architects National Conference

June 23-25
Chicago

The 2022 conference is scheduled to be held in Chicago, but few details besides the date and location have been shared at time of writing.

SMACNA Annual Convention 2022

Sept. 11-14
Colorado Springs, Colorado

The annual SMACNA convention will be in person in Colorado Springs, with few details currently available. Last year’s conference was held in Hawaii and featured speakers such as journalist Joan Ryan and Paralympian Josh Sundquist.

Autodesk University Conference

Late September
Virtual/TBD

Autodesk University boasts more than 10,000 attendees from architecture, engineering and construction fields. Sessions last year explored how to better use BIM and other new technologies to improve building construction, design and engineering.

Construction Management Association of America Annual Conference

Oct. 9-11

San Diego, California

This conference caters to construction managers and the owners who work with them, but breakout and networking sessions and seminars also benefit other types of AEC leaders.

Lean Construction Institute 2022

Oct. 17-21
New Orleans

LCI 2022 is a place for contractors and construction professionals to learn from each other about best practices and successes in lean construction.

Design-Build Conference & Expo

Oct. 26-28
Las Vegas

Focusing on the recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the conference will provide networking and breakout sessions for attendees, along with exhibitors and sponsors.

Greenbuild International Conference & Expo

Nov. 1-3
San Francisco

Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, this show highlights leaders in sustainable construction and green building with exhibits and sessions centered on design, new technology, building systems and materials.

Trimble Dimensions+

November 7-9
Las Vegas/Virtual

The conference will feature expert-led sessions to showcase new developments, and offers networking opportunities on the expo floor. The conference will also provide an opportunity to see new tools at work at their offsite showcase.

Groundbreak

Nov. 8-10
New Orleans

Groundbreak is Procore’s annual event. Last year, attendees heard from over 60 speakers on a variety of topics, including safety, leadership and diversity and inclusion. The event had three separate agendas for Europe and the Middle East, the Americas and Asia Pacific.

The 5 Contech Trends That Will Power Jobsites in 2022

From data usage to 3D printing, construction technology is poised to blast off this year.

The construction industry had a challenging but positive year in 2021, and the growth of construction technology has been one of the bright spots. With the pandemic forcing faster adoption of technological tools, experts and investors are recognizing the sector’s increasing importance. The federal government is also providing an assist, with $100 million designated for contech in the recently signed infrastructure act.

“[Construction technology] is not a ‘want’ anymore. It’s a ‘need,'” said Matt Abeles, vice president of construction technology and innovation at Associated Builders and Contractors.

So what can contractors expect in the construction technology space in the coming year? Here are five trends that construction pros should be keeping an eye on in 2022.

A focus on good data

The experts who spoke to Construction Dive all agreed — gathering data is one thing, but the way contractors actually utilize and share it across their companies is what will affect their success.

“I’ve always said data is only as good as the action you can take with it,” Meirav Oren, the co-founder and CEO of construction technology firm Versatile, told Construction Dive. “Anything that has to do with machine learning or AI starts with the ability to have data that allows you to teach the machine.”

A big part of the problem is “bad” data, or information that is in some way inaccurate or misleading. According to an Autodesk report from the fall, bad data cost contractors globally $1.8 trillion in losses in 2020. The study also revealed that bad data was responsible for 14% of avoidable rework, which amounts to $88 billion in costs.

“I’ll say, at this point, insurers should start paying attention to and rethink the risk models, as well as how they assess and reward GCs that employ technologies the right way,” Oren said.

Dan McCarthy, the CEO of Dodge Construction Network, is also a big advocate for employing data on the jobsite. McCarthy said that construction projects are like mini supply chains that need to get materials from one place to another — and heavily rely on accurate data to do so.

“Increasingly, what you need is data, the valuable data to be able to move around the supply chain in such a way that helps benefit all the participants, helps them make more money and helps reduce the risk in any project,” McCarthy said.

Digital visualization

At the top of Oren’s list of future trends is the ability for contractors to visualize their projects and data, and use that information to get ahead and improve their work.

“The ability to see in a very visual industry probably comes first,” Oren said.

Contractors are speeding along work with technology like Building Information Modeling (BIM) and robots that allow them to get visual data without spending extensive amounts of time collecting it. For example, general contractor Hensel Phelps used time-saving and precise drones to help construct the Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas.

“As you’re covering a really massive area, like 350 acres, that would take an enormous amount of time, if you were trying to cover the whole thing in that type of grid,” said John Frost, the vice president of business development at Propeller, a construction technology firm that worked on the Kalahari Resort project. “But with a drone, you can, in an hour, achieve a much greater level of coverage, because you don’t get a point every 25 feet, you get points every centimeter or two or every couple inches.”

Oren believes that better visualizations and robotics won’t take jobs from workers, but will instead enable them to do their work better.

“I’m a huge fan of industrial robotics on the layout side, when it comes to getting those smart people off their hands and knees and utilizing those incredible skills in other domains, while the robot does what they should no longer be doing, and these people scale up,” Oren said.

Big bucks in contech

Notably, this past year has seen rapid technological advancements on jobsites, in part due to necessity. Contractors were faced with various COVID-19 challenges that accelerated their adoption of new tech.

“I think one of the silver linings of the pandemic is, it did push people to use technology out of necessity a little bit quicker,” Abeles said.

This focus is reflected in the growing wave of contech firms that have recently had successful investor rounds.

“Our take on what happened was that basically two or three years’ worth of construction tech adoption got squeezed into the nine months post-pandemic because everyone was shifting to being offsite, socially distancing and virtual tools,” Henry D’Esposito, construction research lead at JLL, a global commercial real estate services company, told Construction Dive. “So, there was a huge demand for adoption. If you see rising adoption numbers, new customers, more profitability, then that gives investors a good reason to want to invest in a sector.”

report by Cemex Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Mexico-based construction materials company Cemex, revealed that a significant subset of winners in the space and on its top 50 list of contech startups were focused on streamlining work and enhancing productivity.

“Four or five years ago, contractors were not investing, they were testing concepts. Today, you can see contractors are really investing in venture capital as well. And that, as a result, has been a huge increase in the amount of money flowing into this,” Gonzalo Galindo, the president of Cemex Ventures, told Construction Dive.

3D printing

A handful of commercial construction companies are exploring 3D printing as an alternative to traditional building components, particularly in areas where using traditional materials can lead to logistical problems.

A Skanska JV, for example, is planning to use 3D-printed concrete blocks, fabricated on site, to help with the construction of the HS1 rail project in the U.K. The machine that prints the blocks is also capable of going into tight spaces that would otherwise be hard to access. The technology, called “Printfrastructure,” has proof-of-concept trials coming up this spring.

In addition, construction technology firm Icon is partnering with the U.S. government to see if 3D printing has applications for lunar construction, and the company’s proprietary Vulcan technology created a 3,800-square-foot military barrack, fresh on the heels of a strong $200 million Series B funding round this past August.

With this focus has come additional funding. This past September, the University of Idaho announced that it received a $4 million award from the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program to study recycled materials that can be used in 3D printing. It seeks to reuse refuse from construction — in particular wood — to create a material to 3D print modular floor, wall and roof panels.

It will be important for contractors to keep an eye on this technology, as the potential applications for 3D printed construction are vast.

Green techniques

Environmental issues are a concern for all businesses, and as contractors try to figure out how to generate less waste on site and in the supply chain, there’s incentive to do so from not only a virtuous perspective, but also a financial one.

“In environmental issues, valuations are different and companies in carbon capture, for example, get valued very high, very quickly,” Galindo said of startups which focused on environmental methods.

On Cemex’s list of the top 50 construction technology startups, 14 of the featured companies focused on environmental areas.

“Environmental pressure will continue and will start increasing, especially on the building materials production side,” said Galindo. “We will see much more efforts trying to reduce the carbon footprint and testing new technologies from carbon capture and research.”

More established construction companies are also focusing on waste reduction goals. Earlier this past fall, contractor Webcor diverted 90% of a California office project’s waste from landfills and incinerators for a year in order to meet TRUE certification requirements.

Alternative construction methods and materials, such as 3D printing and cross-laminated timber (CLT), can also enable cleaner building. Recently, Shawmut built a 75-foot-tall tower using CLT wood technology, which generates almost zero waste on site.

“You’re not talking about shipping something from around the world. It’s done through sustainable forests,” Greg Skalaski, the executive vice president of the West for Shawmut, told Construction Dive about the material’s lighter carbon footprint.

As the effects of climate change grow in intensity and priority, contractors have a growing range of technological tools to help them not only adapt, but also address the root causes of the issue and build greener from the get-go. For contractors, the message is catch up, or get left behind.

“The future has already begun. We don’t have 18 months to pilot,” Oren said.

Regulations to Know Before Starting a Construction Drone Program

Switching from traditional base-and-rover surveying to drone surveying is one of the most effective ways to upgrade your construction workflow, setting you and your team up to make better, data-driven decisions.

Switching from traditional base-and-rover surveying to drone surveying is one of the most effective ways to upgrade your construction workflow, setting you and your team up to make better, data-driven decisions.

Drones are more efficient, shaving days or weeks off typical surveying time. Since today’s drones are cheaper and simpler to use than traditional surveying equipment, you’ll be able to capture onsite data more effectively without exorbitantly expensive surveying equipment. Drone imaging allows you to collect and analyze data whenever you need, and with the right processing software and ground control, you can achieve survey-grade accuracy throughout your site.

One of the biggest perceived obstacles to starting a drone program is airspace and flight regulations. These regulations are actually easy to follow, and by understanding a few key laws and processes, you’ll be collecting survey-grade data with drones in no time! To that end, this article will cover the following:

  • ​​What makes something a drone?
  • Registering your drone
  • Getting licensed to fly
  • Licensing resources (study guides, where to take the test)
  • Understanding where you can fly
  • Airspace restrictions
  • Special waivers

Commercial drone regulations

A drone is a type of aircraft, albeit a tiny one. All unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) are regulated by a country’s aviation authority, and rules around how, when, and if you can fly differ by country.

Each country and region has different UAV rules and regulations, with Australia and the EU introducing new regulations in 2021. For locations in the Asia Pacific region, refer to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s guidelines.

In the United States, each drone must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the FAADroneZone website, and every commercial drone operator must hold a current FAA Remote Pilot Certificate. This certificate is for anyone who makes money by flying a drone, including survey teams and photographers, and is meant to ensure that drone pilots have a basic understanding of what other commercial pilots are doing in the surrounding airspace.

The ‘Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)’ test to obtain the certificate is straightforward and involves a multiple-choice test with 60 questions centered around keywords and understanding a sectional chart, a specialized airspace map that doesn’t require GPS to be read. There are free practice tests online as well as multiple study guides you can use along the way. To take the actual test, simply establish an FAA tracking number and schedule a test time on the FAA website. Once you pass, fill out the FAA Form 8710-13, obtain your certificate, and renew every two years. You can access the full breakdown on how to become a drone pilot here.

Licensees operate under the FAA’s Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule, which has two major tenets: a drone must be kept within the operator’s visual line-of-sight and below 400 feet in altitude. These requirements can become difficult to follow when surveying large sites that may have dangerous topography or small spaces that are challenging for surveying teams to navigate. Luckily, the FAA can grant Part 107 waivers to individual surveyors or surveying teams, allowing them to bypass these requirements. To apply for a Part 107 waiver, applicants simply include a full description of how they use their drone and how the pilot will comply with specific performance-based standards. This waiver unlocks much more freedom in equipment use and is instrumental for larger construction sites.

A key best practice is to always check the rules surrounding the airspace in which you intend to fly, so you can conduct your first flight without issue. Finally, keep in mind that these regulations will differ between countries, so make sure to stay informed on the latest restrictions in your area.

Navigating restricted airspace

Once you obtain the necessary license and comprehend national regulations, understanding whether the airspace in which you intend to fly is restricted is another important step before beginning a drone program.

Airspace is the portion of the sky that’s controlled by a country above its territory. In the U.S., airspace is divided into six classes, which indicate its use and restrictions. For example, airspace at or below 2,500 feet near airports with control towers is Class D and it’s controlled, so you would need authorization before attempting to fly in this area. Without getting into the many airspace nuances and allowances, make sure you stay vigilant for the following when assessing your construction site:

  • If your site is near an airport or helipad
  • If your site is near a military base
  • If your site is in an urban environment

If you discover the airspace you need to fly in is controlled, you’ll need to gain additional authorization, usually from the airport or military.

If you’re looking to fly near one of 500 participating airports, you can get authorization via the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program, which will drastically cut down on the time spent waiting for authorization to fly drones in controlled airspace. All you need is to prove you’re operating within Part 107 regulations and flying under a certain height within a square mile of the airport, and you can get authorization immediately. You can obtain LAANC authorization through several FAA-partnered companies and apps, like AirMap.

Finally, if you’re using a DJI drone and have obtained a hardware unlock (which will tell the hardware of the drone it’s ok to fly) and airspace authorization waiver such as the LAANC, you can use the DJI Fly Safe portal to streamline the process of requesting to unlock restricted airspace, especially if you often fly in these zones.

Taking flight

Navigating drone licenses and regulations might seem daunting at first, but the steps to reach your first flight are clearly laid out, and the restrictions are straightforward. With your remote pilot license and a knowledge of the space in which you’ll be flying, you and your team can confidently take to the skies to obtain survey-grade site data in a fraction of the time.

Inside Telematics Systems & Advancements in Construction Equipment

In recent years, telematics systems have advanced and now offer even more benefits than earlier versions. If you aren’t already taking advantage of these systems, you may be surprised to learn how much information is available to help you better manage your fleet.

You may have wondered how to best track how many hours have been put on a machine or how much fuel it consumes. You can get answers to those questions and more with data provided by a telematics system. Telematics systems provide actionable information that you, your dealer and manufacturers can use to enhance your equipment.

Telematics allows you to track your equipment and stay on top of preventive maintenance. These systems have evolved from a nice-to-have option to a vital part of a machine. While many contractors are eager to embrace the data, some are more hesitant. Read on to see some examples of why telematics systems are a hit with contractors who use them and how the data is beneficial to their business.

The History of Telematics

Telematics systems have been used in construction equipment since the early 2000s. Telematics components have evolved to provide easy access to a plethora of data from the machines. In the past, fleet managers may have had to wait until the end of a workday or a workweek to review the data, which was less efficient.

Today, these components are more accessible than ever and send valuable information to fleet managers. This easy, remote access is even more important with the transition to more remote work environments.

The Current State of Telematics

Most original equipment manufacturers (OEM) offer telematics systems on new equipment. Some may require a small fee to access the telematics system and its data. Regardless, talk to your dealer and ask how to use telematics on your machines, and have them provide you with a login and a tutorial to get the most out of the system. You can analyze the data that comes from the system to make data-driven decisions instead of guesswork. Whether you’re shopping for a new piece of equipment or comparing multiple worksites, the data from telematics can be extremely useful to improving your efficiency and profit margins.

Privacy Concerns

One reason that some contractors have been hesitant to embrace telematics is a concern about privacy. Telematics offers many individual data points, some available in real time. So, anyone with access to the telematics system interface can access location, engine hours, engine temperature, machine idle time, fuel use and more. But if you only share the telematics login with those who need to see the data, there is little reason to worry about privacy. Access to telematics data is controlled by the fleet manager or business owner, allowing you to ensure that nobody outside of your organization can access without your knowledge.

How Is the Data Used?

Three groups benefit from telematics data: your company, your dealer and the OEM. Your company can compile telematics data into weekly or even daily reports within the system. And over time, you can get a sense of the utilization rate of a machine and can better plan the use of the equipment — allowing you to bid for your next project more accurately. As bids get tighter, it’s more important than ever to be accurate with a bid to provide the best possible service to your customers.

Another advantage of having all this information on hand is that it’s easier to have one-on-one operator training and ensure that operators actually understand how to use their equipment in the most efficient way possible. You can say, “Your machine is idling a lot, which is adding hours and burning through warranty time,” and have the data to back it up.

For your dealer, the telematics data ensures that your machines are running efficiently. If your local dealer notices a pattern, such as a wheel loader model routinely displaying a fault code, the dealer can send a service technician to repair
the problem.

At the highest level, equipment manufacturers can gather telematics data and analyze it to manage sales and trends. This data provides insight on what equipment contractors are using, how often a machine is used and for what purpose. This data helps manufacturers determine when machines may need to be replaced, which parts need to be stocked most often and what time of year brings in the most business — all critical functions in a time where supply problems loom.

A few construction equipment brands that offer telematics management systems also utilize a telematics monitoring center. The center is staffed by the manufacturer’s employees as a hub to remotely monitor its equipment.

This allows manufacturers to learn in greater detail what issues can arise with their machines and why. Some companies proactively work with their dealers to provide strategic fleet management recommendations to improve machine performance.

Today, more than ever, the world is driven by data. If you’ve been holding back on the use of telematics data, consider visiting with your dealer for a demo. Start slow and add more detail as you feel comfortable. Ultimately, the goal is to gain enhanced value from the system to meet your fleet management needs.

These 10 new Detroit projects are coming in 2022

Coronavirus variants are still surging across the state and nation, although in contrast to the early months of the pandemic nearly two years ago, construction activity in Detroit is not at a full stop and multiple projects are moving forward.

Below are 10 new developments and redevelopment projects in Detroit that are underway and on pace to either finish in 2022 or make significant progress.

The projects aren’t exclusive to just one segment of the economy, and range from new housing and office space to a downtown hotel and a new center for LGBTQ young people. Most of them, yet not all, were started before COVID-19 arrived in Michigan in early 2020.

Cambria Hotel

The upscale Cambria Detroit hotel, 600 W. Lafayette Blvd. near the edge of downtown, is expected to open in late 2022. The development is a mix of new construction and redevelopment of the old Walker-Roehrig Building, once home to WWJ-AM (950) radio.

The project was originally conceived in 2016 as luxury condos, but developers pivoted to building a hotel amid rising construction costs and a pre-COVID boom for Detroit hotels. Construction work began in 2019 and has continued — even with a pandemic-induced plunge in business at many downtown hotels because of less business and convention travel.

In addition to 158 hotel rooms, Cambria Detroit is to feature the fine-dining Italian restaurant Cibo Detroit, a fast-casual restaurant called Detroit Taco, a lobby bar, a rooftop bar and 18,000 square feet of event and ballroom space.

Book Building

Since 2017, Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock real estate firm has been renovating the 38-story Book Tower and the adjacent 13-story Book Building in downtown at 1265 Washington Blvd. By late next year, the ambitious restoration is expected to be done.

The redone Book buildings will reportedly contain 229 apartments, two new restaurants and an 188-unit ROOST Apartment Hotel that will spread across four floors of the tower.

The Book buildings were mostly empty when Bedrock bought them in 2015 and proceeded to power-wash their then-grimy exteriors.

Huntington Tower

Construction crews are making steady upward progress on the new 20-story Huntington Tower office building, 2047 Woodward, and anticipate finishing it next summer.

The tower will house the commercial banking headquarters for Huntington Bank, which merged this year with TCF Bank, and also some ground-floor retail space. It will be the first all-new building in downtown Detroit since the nearby nine-story Little Caesars World Headquarters opened in 2019.

The Exchange

The Exchange, a new upscale 16-story residential tower in downtown’s Greektown district, had an official groundbreaking in September and is forecast to see major construction progress next year en route to its planned spring 2023 opening.

The tower at 338 Gratiot will have 153 apartments and 12 for-sale condos, with 20% of rental units offered at below-market rates for income-qualified tenants.

The project is making use of a unique, top-down LIFTbuild construction method that can potentially save 20% or more off ordinary construction time by assembling the floors on the ground, then hoisting them into place up structural spines known as cores.

INDUSTRY Detroit

The former and historic Jefferson School, 938 Selden St. in Midtown, is getting an overhaul and is to reopen by end of summer 2022 as a $32-million-plus shared office space concept known as INDUSTRY Detroit.

The redeveloped school building would have about 120,000 square feet to house long-term office tenants, artist studios and “makers” spaces, plus a portion of the space will be offered at reduced rents to local and minority-owned businesses and organizations.

The former Detroit Public Schools building dates to 1923. The school was originally named Jefferson Intermediate School after Thomas Jefferson, and later became Jefferson Junior High School. It was vacant and simply known as Jefferson School in 1997, the year it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The school was last occupied by a charter school. In early 2019, it hosted a House of Vans’ pop-up party.

INDUSTRY Detroit is a joint project involving out-of-state development company Q Factor and local organizations Midtown Detroit Inc. and Invest Detroit.

Q Factor cofounder Jason Winkler said his company operates three similar INDUSTRY buildings in Denver and Salt Lake City that held onto their tenants and weathered the pandemic well. Winkler said he was first approached by Midtown Detroit Inc. about the possibility of opening a Detroit location.

The rehab project is to make use of a commercial tax abatement as well as a $4.7 million Brownfield capture of future local and state taxes, according to city documents.

“We plan to have a lot of traditional office users and we anticipate having some artist spaces and some makers spaces, and some really cool social impact spaces,” Winkler said.

Brush Watson

Brush Watson is the latest big all-new housing development taking shape in Detroit’s once-desolate but now trendy Brush Park neighborhood.

The project broke ground this year and its developer, American Community Developers, anticipates completing the new four-story and five-story buildings by the end of 2022, and the 10-story building by summer 2023.

There will be about 300 apartments, with about half of them set aside at below-market rents starting around $400 a month.

While a nearby church isn’t part of Brush Watson, the developer is also busy renovating it for future commercial use.

Sugar Hill

A new 68-unit apartment and retail building in Midtown known as the Sugar Hill Development is expected to open in the first quarter of next year.

The market-rate units in the building, 119 Garfield St., will generally range from $1,100 to $1,600 per month for one-bedrooms and $1,300 to $2,100 for two-bedrooms. There will be lower rents for those with qualified incomes or who are formerly homeless veterans.

The project broke ground in August 2020 and is being developed by national nonprofit group Preservation of Affordable Housing along with Develop Detroit, a Detroit-based real estate firm.

Ruth Ellis Center apartments

The Ruth Ellis Center, a nonprofit aimed at helping LGBTQ youth and young adults, anticipates opening in June its new 43-unit apartment building at 61 Clairmount St., between New Center and Highland Park.

Along with the apartments, the newly constructed building will have a ground-floor Henry Ford Health System clinic that will be open to the broader community as well as the building’s residents, and also potentially a pharmacy that makes neighborhood deliveries.

Of the 43 apartments, 34 will be classified as permanent supportive housing and offered at deeply affordable rates to those with a documented history of homelessness. The building is specifically aimed at housing LGBTQ young people ages 18 to 25, although under fair housing laws, others are welcome to live there, too.

All of the units will rent to those earning no more than 30% of the area median income, or $16,800 a year. Rent costs will be about $420 to $450 per month.

“A group we hope to help are LGBTQ young people who are aging out of foster care and would otherwise be homeless. This would be a great project to help them,” Jerry Peterson, executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center, said.

Woodward West

Woodward West, a new five-story and 204-unit apartment building at 3439 Woodward in Midtown, begins pre-leasing in January and is expected to welcome its first residents next summer.

The asking rents have yet to be set, although 20% of the apartments will be set aside at reduced rates for those with below-median incomes.

The project broke ground in November 2020 and is being codeveloped by local companies Queen Lillian Development and The Platform. There will be 114 studio units, 78 one-bedrooms and 12 two-bedrooms as well as 25,000 square feet of street-level retail.

Hilberry Gateway

Wayne State University anticipates opening by late next year its new Hilberry Gateway, 4743 Cass, which is a 71,300-square-foot addition to  the neighboring Hilberry Theatre that will provide more space for music, dance, theater and other arts-related activities and performances.

The $69.5 million project got underway in spring 2019, when work crews began to slowly and carefully moving on rollers the 1890s house that belonged to the late David Mackenzie, the university’s first president, to the corner of Second and Forest.

“Not having moved many houses, I think it went fine. It was a little slower than what we expected,” said Fran Ahearn, WSU’s senior director of design and construction services.

Construction of the new addition began in March 2020 — days before all construction projects in Michigan were brought to a halt by the pandemic.

The project includes renovation of the existing Hilberry Theatre, which is to become the university’s new jazz center in 2023.

2021 Year in Review

The Sachse Construction team sees a Detroit where opportunity and potential are accessible to all. With this vision in mind, we can better focus on our mission: Contribute to a thriving Detroit by empowering and investing in organizations that support youth, workforce development, and community.

In 2021, the Sachse Social Mission Committee led a team member community that volunteered over 1,000+ hours, collected over 1,000 items for our hygiene drive, and donated over $15,000 to support the following eight local Detroit, not-for-profit organizations through in-kind, financial, and volunteer initiatives:

  1. Life Remodeled
  2. L!FE Leaders
  3. The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development
  4. The Children’s Center
  5. Legacy Development Foundation
  6. Capuchin Soup Kitchen
  7. Academy of Warren
  8. Habitat for Humanity Detroit: Critical Home Repair Program

Dive deeper into how the Sachse Social Mission Committee supported these organizations in the select recaps below.

Building More Than a Playground

After spending most of 2020 in quarantine, the committee was eager to jump back into in-person volunteer efforts in 2021. The year got off to a great start when we were presented with an opportunity to build a community playground for the Academy of Warren (AOW).

AOW had contracted Sachse Construction for a $9.7M expansion of their existing school facility, but unfortunately, this project did not include a budget for a playground. Sachse Construction teamed up with AOW to spearhead the community build of a custom-designed, state-of-the-art playground.

The playground’s design, brainstormed by Academy of Warren students, was brought to life by a labor of love from Sachse Construction and is now an important piece of the school’s five-acre outdoor transformation.

With the help of 275 community volunteers over three weeks, including over 150 team members from Sachse Construction, the committee:

  1. Fundraised over $18,000
  2. Solicited over $75,000 of in-kind labor and materials from local trade partners
  3. Donated a full-time Superintendent to manage the job.

Providing Food for People in Need

During July, the Sachse Social Mission worked together to donate a brand-new commercial-grade refrigerator and freezer to Capuchin Soup Kitchen, one of Detroit’s largest community support and outreach organizations. The organization plans to use the donation to support their food services, through which they serve thousands of meals each day.

Tearing Down Walls

In August, the committee invited team members to help build affordable housing for local families with Habitat for Humanity Detroit. Five of our team members participated in the not-for-profit’s Critical Home Repair Program. Our team members worked on the indoor demolition of a Detroit home. After a day well spent, all rooms, open living spaces, including the kitchen and bathroom, were demoed properly and ready for the next group of volunteers to continue to process.

Supporting Detroit’s Neighborhoods

In October, the committee participated in Life Remodeled’s Six Day Project. The project’s goal is to mobilize a large group of volunteers every year to beautify four square miles of a Detroit neighborhood in need.

This year, the committee, alongside several team members, joined almost 4,000 other volunteers to clear blight from vacant properties in the neighborhood surrounding the Durfee Innovation Society. With a few lawnmowers, some hedge clippers, and a great deal of determination, they were able to bring a new life to the neighborhood.

Helping Local Students

The committee hosted a drive for school supplies and hygiene items following the summer floods in October. At the end of the drive, the committee donated each of these collected items to The Children’s Center, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to working with children who struggle with behavioral, emotional, educational, intellectual, and developmental challenges. In total, our team made an in-kind donation of over 1,000 items.

If you know a Detroit-based 501(c)(3) organization doing important work supporting youth, workforce development, and community, please contact the Sachse Social Mission Committee Co-Chairs: Samantha Russo (srusso@sachse.net), Nichole Josey (njosey@sachse.net), and Amanda Bastien (abastien@sachse.net) to get involved.

 


 

The Sachse Social Mission Committee spearheads Sachse Construction’s contribution to Detroit through wide-ranging philanthropic initiatives. The committee of 18 passionate team members donates their time and efforts to foster our mission of contributing to a thriving Detroit by empowering and investing in organizations that support youth, workforce development, and community.

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