The ConTechCrew Podcast Keeps You Up to Speed on Construction Technology News

via the ConTechCrew

via the ConTechCrew

Construction Junkie’s annual Best Construction Podcast Competition is underway for 2019 and the voting booth is officially open.  As part of the contest this year, we will be highlighting one of the contest’s nominees each week. This week we highlight The ConTechCrew Podcast.

The ConTechCrew is always a serious contender in the Best Construction Podcast competition, as they won in 2016, placed 2nd in 2017, and 3rd in 2018.  Hosted by JBKnowledge CEO James Benham (@JamesMBenham) and a now rotating cast of Rob McKinney (@ConAppGuru), Jeff Sample (@IronmanOfIT), and others, the ConTech Crew Podcast takes a weekly deep dive on construction technology topics and guest interviews with the construction tech industries biggest names.

The best thing about the Crew is that they don’t just talk about technology, they live it.  That fact is made very clear by the incredible investment they’ve made into not only their permanent studio, but the mobile studio that they bring to industry conferences for shows on-the-road. The podcast is live-edited for video and streamed in real-time across their social media outlets, as well as published to YouTube. Of course, it’s also released in an audio-only form each week through Spreaker and iTunes.

On the content side, the rotating stable of well-qualified co-hosts welcome a construction technology insider to the show each week to “geek” out. The first half of the show is spent on interviewing the guest, followed by a look at recent construction tech news, with continued interaction with the guest. Each episode usually lasts around an hour in length. 

Now 172 episodes deep, the ConTechCrew has most recently hosted guests like Mikki Paradis from PDI Drywall, Baseem Hamdy of Briq, and Stephan Schnell from UA Local 467.  Just based upon those past guests, you can see that the team gets a wide perspective of technology from many different aspects of the industry.

If you’d like to vote for The ConTechCrew Podcast or check out the rest of the nominees in this year’s contest, click here to be linked to the voting booth.

The Constructrr Podcast is Your Source for BIM and Blockchain in Construction

Construction Junkie’s annual Best Construction Podcast Competition is underway for 2019 and the voting booth is officially open.  As part of the contest this year, we will be highlighting one of the contest’s nominees each week. This week we highlight Constructrr.

Hosted by construction project manager Brittanie Campbell-Turner, Constructrr is a semi-monthly podcast focusing on technology and collaboration in the construction industry.  BIM, Blockchain, and Lean Construction seem to be Campbell-Turner’s main passions and she’s more than qualified to talk on the subjects.

Most episodes feature an interview with someone in the construction industry that “crushing it,” “innovatively efficient,” or positively impactful.  These people could either be from her professional life or from the greater industry.

Some of the most recent guests on Constructrr were Marzia Bolpagni, a BIM Consultant and co-editor of the BIM Dictionary and Bill DeBevec, host of the BIM Thoughts.

Campbell-Turner also frequently posts industry event presentation that she gives at tradeshows.  I recently listened to the episode titled, “Presentation: Using Blockchain to Unlock the Value of Platforms,” because I wanted to learn more about how blockchain can be applied to the construction industry.  I found it to be a great starting point for those interested in the subject and want to know more.

This is the 2nd straight year that Constructrr has been nominated for the Best Construction Podcast Competition, after finishing 8th out 10 in 2018. 

If you’d like to vote for The Constructrr Podcast or check out the rest of the nominees in this year’s contest, click here to be linked to the voting booth.

How McHugh Construction Shaved 4 Months Off of New McDonald’s HQ Schedule

McDonald’s Global Headquarters, photo courtesy of McDonald’s

McDonald’s Global Headquarters, photo courtesy of McDonald’s

I’m always fascinated by the innovative ways that construction companies can shave months off of a complicated schedule.  McHugh Construction was able to shave 4 months off of the 22 month schedule of by employing a construction method that’s pretty tricky to employ, but incredibly efficient.

In November of 2016, construction of McDonald’s new Global Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois officially began.  Challenged to complete the project in the shortest time possible, McHugh Construction turned to a process called top down construction.

You may remember reading about the top down construction method last year when I wrote an article about Sydney, Australia’s future tallest building which used the process. In short, top down allows for the excavation of the site and vertical construction of the building at the same time.

Using the top down method on the McDonald’s HQ, McHugh shortened their 22-month schedule to 18-months. In total, the building housed 567,000 square feet (sf) of space across nine stories.  McDonald’s occupies 492,000sf of the building.

According to Build Design + Construction (BD+C), time and cost savings on the interior finish work was achieved through a heavy collaboration in BIM between the core and shell team, the project’s developer, and interior GC Executive Construction. Over 4,500 man hours were spent over the 14 week BIM process.

In a press release, McDonald’s stated that the building is LEED certified, but did not mention which level it achieved.  A green roof was incorporated into the design and all waste produced in the test kitchens is composted.   

Below is a partial timelapse video of the McDonald’s HQ construction posted to YouTube by the developer of the project, Sterling Bay.  It includes footage of the demolition of Oprah Winfrey’s former Harpo Studios, which stood on the same lot.


The sun was out in full force last night as a team of eight PC Construction employee-owners and over 3,800 other Vermonters participated in the 36th annual Vermont Corporate Cup 5k in Montpelier. The event promotes physical fitness in the workplace and at home by bringing employees together to enjoy the benefits of fitness.  Proceeds from this event benefit the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

We had a great time and are already looking forward to next year!


Employees and family members of PC Construction’s Portland, Maine, office laced up to participate in the Southern Maine Heart Walk benefiting the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association of Maine. The 2019 Heart Walk was marked by a day of spring weather and enjoyment as over 3,000 participants walked or ran the 5k around the city’s Back Cove. This marks the fifth consecutive year PC has taken part in the event which raises funds to support cardiovascular research and education programs for heart health and stroke awareness.

A huge heartfelt thanks to all who participated and the supporters who gave so generously to help the team raise over $3,000!


After nearly a decade in planning, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) celebrated the groundbreaking of the $262 million Piscataway WRRF Bio-Energy project yesterday. PC Construction is the design-builder for this innovative project that will serve as a regional facility to treat the biosolids from all five WSSC Water Resource Recovery Facilities using Cambi’s thermal hydrolysis process, anaerobic digestion and sidestream effluent treatment.

The facility will also capture the digester gas, clean it, and then use it to generate steam and electricity to power the bio-energy project. As the design-builder, PC has teamed with Stantec and Hazen and Sawyer to complete the project design.

The Phase 1 enabling work is set to begin in the next few weeks with construction of the major project components slated to being in Spring 2020. When the facility is complete in late 2023, this green project will produce Class A biosolids that can be used as soil amendment on farms, in forests and in backyard gardens.

This cutting-edge project will serve the residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s County and save rate payers over $3 million per year while helping protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries for future generations. With this project, WSSC continues their 100-year commitment to clean water and PC is proud to help bring their bold vision to life.

Photos, top to bottom: Invited dignitaries including Federal, State and Local leaders join WSSC and PC Construction for the ceremonial groundbreaking; WSSC’s inspirational CEO Carla Reid speaks to the gathered ground of project stakeholders; PC Construction CEO Jay Fayette celebrates the groundbreaking with WSSC project manager Stan Dabek; Rendering of the Piscataway WRRF Bio-Energy Project.

Why Megaprojects Need A Tech Revolution: Lessons from Carillion

The collapse of Britain’s second-largest construction firm, Carillion, is symptomatic of a larger problem. Globally, construction performs poorly compared to other sectors. The underlying cause of the sector’s underperformance: construction lives in the 19th Century. Across any measure of process or technological advancement—be it software tools, big data, modularization, digitalisation, or the use of lean concepts—construction ranks among the worst performing sectors and remains deeply fragmented. To meet the demands of the 21st Century, construction requires a technology revolution.

When compared to others sectors—auto-manufacturing, computing, mobile telephony, or global shipping—construction’s performance lags alarmingly. Shipping a ton of cargo is 99% faster and over 90% cheaper today than it was in the 1950s. Similar order-of-magnitude leaps have been observed for both automobile manufacturing and computing. Yet construction remains slow, costly, and local: it is the only sector of the economy where labour productivity has in fact declined in the last thirty years. These problems compound as the scale of a project grows. Research at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford has shown that the problems of cost and time overruns, benefit shortfalls, environmental damage, and negative social impacts plague the delivery of construction megaprojects in a systematic fashion. Such evidence is an indictment of the megaproject construction industry.

Despite its prominent position in the British construction industry, Carillion operated with antiquated technological systems. The low level of digitisation caused costly design information discrepancies and management control bottlenecks. Hidden surprises emerged because there was little or no measurement of real time problems deep in the frontline. Consider evidence from the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick, one of Carillion’s largest live projects, whose losses contributed to the company’s demise. On 24th May 2017, the opening of the hospital was delayed. The proximate cause was reported to be issues with the mechanical and electrical design. The root cause, however, was a poorly integrated Building Information Model (BIM). There were large discrepancies between what was designed and what was being built; the construction job was compounding a manual patchwork of incremental fixes which added cost and time. Low levels of training in using tech tools like BIM exacerbated the poor fidelity between what should have been built and what was being built across the project.

Business wisdom suggests that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. The construction industry needs globally compatible tools that can accurately measure progress in a user-friendly management system to show all stakeholders, on one platform, the difference between the planned and the actual—as a percentage, unit cost, or unit time. Big data and advanced analytics—now integral to business success—are hard to find in the construction industry. Construction companies store fewer petabytes of data than their counterparts in industries as diverse as consumer services, communication, or discrete manufacturing. The lack of big data is a particular problem in improving cost and time outcomes.

Carillion, in line with its industry, used little empirical data. For example, Carillion managers used standard rules-of-thumb to determine the time, cost, or number of workers across projects. The actual outturn reality diverged markedly from these rules-of-thumb. However, since there were no systematic data collected on actual outcomes, the estimates were not corrected perpetuating errors across projects.

The poor use of data also pervades day-to-day delivery of construction projects. Carillion’s management control systems, particularly on the front line, suffered owing to poor or little application of ubiquitously available technologies, such as sensors. McKinsey estimates that there are over nine billion connected devices in the world—the Internet of Things (IoT)—powering better supply chains, asset utilization, or monitoring security. For the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, Carillion hardly used any IoT devices to track day-to-day progress. Live issues encountered on site were managed poorly via a manual database that was separate to the Primavera P6 programme the project managers were using to manage the time, cost, and scope. The complexity, incompleteness, low level of detail and incoherence of interfaces among the technology systems diminished the effectiveness of project managers. Carillion is a powerful reminder that project failures precipitate corporate failures, and with Interserve and Mitie wobbling, we should brace for more.

Unlike the highly automated manufacturing of automobiles or computer microprocessors, construction remains a handcrafted, artisanal industry. The manual and bespoke nature of construction exposes it to variance in process and outcomes. Learning from one task or project to another is hampered because of over-tinkering and improvisation. Off-site manufacturing of building components to obtain the benefits of standardization is gaining acceptance but its use remains undisciplined. For the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, the unitized curtain walling for the project was assembled offsite in Portugal. But it was hand built. It combined the disadvantages of offsite assembly, namely transport costs, with the variance and rework costs of manual building.

The inefficiencies of manual building and low labour productivity further illustrate that under the current model, there is simply too much labour being applied to construction. In government debates, construction projects are often seen positively in terms of job-creation and yet labour shortages in construction are now the norm. The notion that construction requires low-skill workers has to be banished. The Famer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model arrives at the same conclusions. Demanding high-tech jobs and new investment in training, the transition of construction from manual to automated will alleviate the labour crisis of the industry from which Carillion also suffered.

Although the construction sector’s problems are towering, they are not insurmountable. Global shipping was a similarly manual and bespoke industry in the 1950s when cargo was shipped loose—freight arrived in receptacles of all shapes and sizes: paperboard cartons, sacks, bags, bales, barrels, boxes, open crates, or casks. The advent of the container in the 1960s changes all that. The S.S. Warrior, a typical break-bulk cargo ship in the 1950s, sailed from Brooklyn to Bremerhaven in March 1954 and carried roughly 5,000 tonnes of goods, loaded and unloaded over a ten-day-long manual, slow, and costly process. Emma Maersk, typical of ultra-large container ships today, carries over 50,000 tonnes of goods and takes a mere two hours to load and unload in a highly automated process.

Containerised shipping became faster, better, and cheaper by achieving three transformations: bespoke became standardized and modularized; analog became digital; and manual became automatic. As a consequence of these three transformations, a fragmented shipping industry became a global platform. The tech revolution of the construction sector similarly rests on these three pillars: modularization; digitization; and automation.

Modularization is the process of decomposing interdependent, bespoke, and interlinked components into independent, standardized, and interoperable components. Before modularization, a system is fragile. Remove a keystone from a bridge and the bridge falls down. After modularization, a system is resilient: individual components can be added, subtracted, and swapped without disrupting the whole. The process of going from bespoke to modularized requires discipline and adherence to strict design rules. The computing hardware industry went through a two-decade process of modularization from the late 1950s-70s. The pain was worth it. Computing devices—computers, phones, or IoT devices—are the only man-made devices to have scaled to more than 100% of the human population. People in some developing countries without regular access to clean drinking water often have easier access to a telephone. If the benefits of construction are to flow to 7.6 billion people, the industry must modularize.

Digitization is the process of converting continuous waves of information into discrete packets. In the early history of computing this entailed converting natural language (analog waves) into binary code (digital packets of 0s and 1s). Digitization today has come to encompass a large number of tools enabled by computing. The most salient element of construction digitization is to convert 2D analog design information (e.g., architects drawings) into 3D digital models. A fourth dimension (time) and a fifth dimension (cost) can be layered on a 3D digital depiction of the construction object. The rise of 4D and 5D Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a step in the right direction but requires disciplined adoption and compatibiity across software tools, players, and markets. Automobile or aircraft manufacturing heavily rely on such tools to minimise variance between the designed and the produced object. Similarly, by using high-fidelity BIM tools, starchitect Frank Gehry is able to deliver complex and beautiful wonders like the Guggenheim Bilbao on time and on budget.

Automation turns repetitive human tasks into tasks performed by a machine. Between 1990 and 2000, the automobile industry more than doubled the use of robotics on the assembly line: the robotic index—robots per vehicle per hour—grew from 2.2 to 5.4. Commensurate labour productivity gains resulted. Labour hours per vehicle nearly halved from 35.5 to 20.01.  Automation is not only limited to robots in the physical world—it can be applied equally to processes. Closing books is a substantial bottleneck in many large companies, with the process to close month-end books often taking a week or more. The process is mostly manual and bespoke, with audit trails stretching across emails, spreadsheets, meeting minutes and so on. In partnership with Oracle, Amazon has leveraged the cloud automation to dramatically speed up this process and can close their books in one hour. This is an orders of magnitude improvement over industry standard. Amazon’s system is nearly 90% automated—a rules-based system that works by exception and only flags unusual cases for human attention. This simple technology—this does not even use Artificial Intelligence (AI) yet—has been critical to Amazon’s ability to scale a business with a sevenfold revenue increasefrom 2008-2016. For the construction sector to enjoy similar benefits, its internal processes must become similarly effortless.

Experiments in modular, digital, and automated construction are taking hold: Google’s modular server farms or its new headquarters in California being built using robot-crane hybrids (crabots), Bechtel’s innovations in offshore oil platforms, Arcadis’ 100% BIM pledge, Laing O’Rourke’s investment in design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA), Skanska’s wireless monitoring of buildings with sensors, Con-X-Tech’s steel manufacturing, the City of Rotterdam’s recycled plastic road construction, Natel Energy’s modular minihydro units, Arup’s big data initiative, Wowjoint Machinery Company’s Segmental Bridge Launching Machine, Outotec’s modular solutions for small mines, or WinSin Construction’s 3D-printed apartment building. The construction sector must now turn to establishing conditions that enable these radical experiments into a technological revolution at scale.

Human and robot collaboration is evolving timber construction

Digitalisation has found its way into timber construction, with entire elements already being fabricated by computer-aided systems. The raw material is cut to size by the machines, but in most cases it still has to be manually assembled to create a plane frame. In the past, this fabrication process came with many geometric restrictions.

Under the auspices of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication, researchers from ETH Zurich’s Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication have developed a new, digital timber construction method that expands the range of possibilities for traditional timber frame construction by enabling the efficient construction and assembly of geometrically complex timber modules. Spatial Timber Assemblies evolved from a close collaboration with Erne AG Holzbau and will be used for the first time in the DFAB HOUSE project at the Empa and Eawag NEST research and innovation construction site in Dübendorf. It is also the first large-scale architectural project to use the construction robots developed by ETH Zurich’s new Robotic Fabrication Laboratory.

With robotic precision

The robot first takes a timber beam and guides it while it is sawed to size. After an automatic tool change, a second robot drills the required holes for connecting the beams. In the final step, the two robots work together and position the beams in the precise spatial arrangement based on the computer layout. To prevent collisions when positioning the individual timber beams, the researchers have developed an algorithm that constantly recalculates the path of motion for the robots according to the current state of construction. Workers then manually bolt the beams together.

 At Spatial Timber Assemblies, man and machine work together in both the planning and the manufacturing process.

Longer lasting, more individual construction

Unlike traditional timber frame construction, Spatial Timber Assemblies can manage without reinforcement plates because the required rigidity and load-bearing result from the geometric structure. Not only does this save material; it also opens up new creative possibilities. A total of six spatial, geometrically unique timber modules will be prefabricated in this way for the first time. Lorries will then transport them to the DFAB HOUSE construction site at the NEST in Dübendorf, where they will be joined to build a two-storey residential unit with more than 100 m2 of floor space. The complex geometry of the timber construction will remain visible behind a transparent membrane façade.

Integrated digital architecture

The robots use information from a computer-aided design model to cut and arrange the timber beams. This method was specially developed during the project and uses various input parameters to create a geometry consisting of 487 timber beams in total.

The fact that Spatial Timber Assemblies is being used for digital fabrication and also in design and planning offers a major advantage according to Matthias Kohler, Professor of Architecture and Digital Fabrication at ETH Zurich and the man spearheading the DFAB HOUSE project: “If any change is made to the project overall, the computer model can be constantly adjusted to meet the new requirements. This kind of integrated digital architecture is closing the gap between design, planning and execution.”

Have you read?

A successful concept for sharing knowledge

ETH Zurich has already completed a successful collaboration with Erne AG Holzbau on the robot-built timber roof of the Arch_Tech_Lab at the Hönggerberg campus. Thanks to Spatial Timber Assemblies, the company’s expertise in timber construction will make yet another contribution to ETH research.

Kohler believes in the synergy effect brought about by the partnership: “Digital fabrication depends on the tremendous expertise required for craftsmanship. Conversely, digitalisation can improve craftsmanship and open up new opportunities.” Kohler also says the fact that scientific disciplines go hand in hand with industry is essential if technologies are to be used in real architectural projects after such a brief time.

Please find the original article here

How business decision-makers can stimulate visionary thinking: Studying scenarios to navigate a volatile future

Scenarios have the power to anticipate potential systemic transformations, enable the necessary strategic dialogue between key stakeholders, to analyse change and as a consequence unlock novel and visionary approaches. According to the OECD “The goal in using scenarios is to reveal the dynamics of change and use these insights to reach sustainable solutions to the challenges at hand. Scenarios help stakeholders break through communication barriers and see how current and alternative development paths might affect the future. The ability to illuminate issues and break impasses makes them extremely effective in opening new horizons, strengthening leadership, and enabling strategic decisions.

In the context of the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Construction initiative, we were able to develop scenarios of how the global social and economic context could look like in the future and then determine the implications on the infrastructure and construction industry drawing the strategic implications for the sector’s key stakeholders.

Please find the latest World Economic Forum report Shaping the Future of Construction: Future Scenarios and Implications here

Figure 1: Potential scenarios impacting the industry: The World Economic Forum and more than 30 leading companies from the construction sector created three future scenarios to prepare the industry for a broad range of possible futures: (a) Building in a virtual world. Artificial intelligence (AI), software systems and autonomous construction equipment replace most manual work throughout the engineering and construction value chain. (b) Factories run the world. Construction activities move largely to factories and the industry uses lean principles and advanced manufacturing processes to pre-fabricate modules that are later assembled on-site. (c) A green reboot. The construction industry uses sustainable technologies and new materials to meet tough environmental regulations; Image: Future of Construction, World Economic Forum, Boston Consulting Group

The initiative created several scenarios of how the industry could look in the future based on global trends (Figure 1). These scenarios clearly show that existing capabilities, business models and strategies will not be sufficient to succeed. The scenarios also pinpoint several common no-regret moves that companies should take to remain relevant. Our key conclusion of applying scenarios is that businesses must act now to circumvent future disruption. Dramatic changes on the horizon indicate an uncertain future for the industry and its more than 100 million employees worldwide. Many proposed actions relate only to a particular scenario, but the following actions will be relevant in any possible future:

  1. Attract new talent and build up required skills– as any future scenario requires talent with substantially different skills than today’s workforce possesses, and adequate upskilling processes are largely not in place.
  2. Integrate and collaborate across the construction industry’s value chain– as the construction industry is characterized by a disintegrated and highly fragmented value chain, which hampers the seamless data flows and integrated systems that are essential in any future scenario.
  3. Adopt advanced technologies at scale– as the construction industry has been slow to adopt new technologies and still heavily relies on manual labour and mechanical technologies, resulting in poor productivity.
  4. Maximize the use of data and digital models throughout processes – to review existing practices and infrastructure asset portfolios and embrace new business opportunities; and to enable change-management and adaptiveness.

Our derived transformation imperatives could help key players of any system to prepare for a more prosperous future. Our takeaways will encourage decision-makers to think strategically about the future and take preparatory steps sooner rather than later. The myriad potential changes in the industry leads to high ambiguity and makes it impossible to predict the future. However, with scenario planning, involved stakeholders can prepare for a variety of possible futures.

Over the past decade, digital technologies have transformed whole industries, ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Social media platforms and on-demand streaming services from start-ups such as Facebook, Spotify and Netflix have transformed media and entertainment. E-commerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba have disrupted brick-and-mortar retailers. Digital-based mobility companies are challenging old-line automakers. The new technologies did not just satisfy consumer demands for better entertainment, shopping and transport. In those industries and others, innovations improved companies’ productivity and sustainability and reshaped the skills and competencies needed to thrive.

During the same period, however, the construction industry has continued operating as it has for the past 50 years, with a heavy reliance on manual labour, mechanical technology and established operating and business models. Productivity has stagnated as a result.

Figure 2: Top 10 disruptive technologies in infrastructure and construction; Image: Future of Construction, World Economic Forum, Boston Consulting Group

Only recently, digital technologies started gradually entering the construction industry, changing how infrastructure, real estate and other built assets are designed, constructed, operated and maintained. Those technologies (Figure 2) including building information modeling (BIM), prefabrication, wireless sensors, automated and robotic equipment, and 3D-printing, are affecting the entire industry. The economic and social impact could be substantial, as the construction industry accounts for 6% of global GDP. According to our estimates, within a decade, full-scale digitization could help the industry escape its decades-long lack of productivity progress and generate an estimated 12 to 20%, equal to between $1 trillion and $1.7 trillion in annual cost savings.

In parallel, global megatrends (Figure 3) should motivate businesses to rethink industry practices that have not advanced over the years. Rapid urbanization, with more than 200,000 people per day relocating from rural areas into cities, climate change, resource depletion, and the widening talent gap are but a few of the most powerful of these trends. Shaping the Future of Construction: Future Scenarios and Implications  report is the first of its kind to integrate consideration of the new technologies and trends into consistent scenarios of the future. Although all three scenarios, outlined in the report, are extreme, they are plausible.

Figure 3: Megatrends create imperative for change in the sector; Image: Future of Construction, World Economic Forum, Boston Consulting Group

While the report indicates that it remains unclear which scenario or scenarios will unfold, there is little doubt that the real future will include elements of all three. According to Michael Burke, Chairman and CEO at AECOM and co-chair of the World Economic Forum Infrastructure and Urban Development community, “current business models, strategies, and capabilities will not be sufficient in any of these future worlds. This underscores that players along the construction value chain need to prepare strategically to thrive in the face of anticipated disruption.

The report states that 74% of the industry’s CEOs who attended this year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos reported that they considered attracting new talent and improving the skills of the existing workforce to be among the top three actions for keeping pace with upcoming disruptions. The other two priorities they named were improving integration and collaboration along the value chain (65%) and adopting advanced technologies at scale (61%).

Luis Castilla, CEO of Acciona Infrastructure and champion of the World Economic Forum Future of Construction initiative highlights that “The construction industry’s decision makers should understand the disruption outlined in the future scenarios as a wake-up call and use the identified key actions as a foundation for companies in the construction industry to prepare and shape a prosperous future that will allow the industry to fulfil its role in promoting economic growth, social progress, and environmental responsibility.”

The new report follows two earlier reports from the World Economic Forum Future of Construction initiative published during the last year.

Find earlier reports at:


Startup business people group meeting, Young creative coworkers team working and discussing new plan project in office, entrepreneurs, brainstorming, Teamwork, professional business team.

Last year, wildfires ravaged the West Coast as hurricanes pounded the East. We saw mudslides decimate numerous properties across the nation and families lose their homes to flooding. The total cost for all this damage and loss? $91 billion – according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Source: National Centers for Environmental Information

The above statistics could send anyone running. However, it’s not to instill fear of a possible disaster – “Oh, no! What am I going to do?” – but to move beyond it, in spite of the difficulty in predicting exactly when a disaster will strike. For most in the construction industry, the severity of damage from a disaster can put a halt to new projects and derail existing projects. On the brighter side, these events can be a catalyst for newly implemented strategies to stay ahead of natural disasters. But why put it off? Instead of waiting for a disaster to be the catalyst, become the catalyst by instituting a plan to recover as fast as possible after a disaster, thereby safeguarding your projects, employees and business.

Understand the Impact of Natural Disasters on Your Business

The severity of a natural disaster and the type – tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, mudslides, wildfires, blizzards – that your construction projects are most exposed to will vary greatly depending on your location. Statistically, close to seven hurricanes strike the U.S. every four years, with a significant rise in this number in recent years. Major earthquakes happen less often, but can also be devastating. Inland flooding is also becoming a more common occurrence, while persistent drought – especially in the West – puts a lot of states at risk for wildfires.

We’re intentionally stressing the point here to emphasize the importance of planning ahead to anticipate the potential damage of such events, protect your projects and ensure you are equipped to bounce back in the aftermath.

Does creating a disaster plan feel like a massive and complex undertaking for something that may not happen? Maybe so. On the other hand, when it comes to natural disasters and keeping your team and projects safe, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That said, take note of the guidelines below to help you plan for when disaster strikes.

Constructing an Emergency Action Plan

To make the process less daunting, we’ve mapped out an action plan divided into small, actionable steps you can easily follow:

1. Create a team.

Source: Bigstock Photo
Source: Bigstock Photo

Start by creating a team comprised of representatives from each department in your construction company. This usually entails members from the administrative side of the business, the on-site construction team and management. Select individuals who will be able to contribute different perspectives as your plan comes together; doing so will identify all of the business’s possible vulnerabilities during a disaster.

2. Plan ahead. 

Source: Bigstock Photo
Source: Bigstock Photo

Not every natural disaster can be predicted. Even those that have some form of technology available to anticipate the event can be unreliable. Fortunately, there are early-warning systems that at least provide a heads up for when a major disaster is approaching. Hurricane and winter storm warnings are a good example. They may not be a hundred percent accurate, but the information can be used to create a workable plan that ensures the safety of your projects, while minimizing potential damage.


3. Cascade your emergency procedures. 

Source: Bigstock Photo

The key to the successful implementation of your business’s disaster plan is hinged on effective communication with your team.

Construction deadlines are tight. Given the risks you’re facing, it’s critical that everyone is on the same page – especially in the event that disaster strikes. Take the time to keep your team in the know by discussing and cascading the emergency plan you’ve created. Construction sites heighten the risks that people face during natural disasters, and materials on site can become dangerous debris. Minimize those risks in the midst of already unsafe circumstances by making sure your materials and equipment are properly stored. Securing them prior to a natural disaster can save your business thousands in potential damages and losses.

Review your procedures with the subcontractors you’re working with, as well as your suppliers. Additionally, be cognizant of any regulatory rules that must be followed while your plan is being implemented.

4. Reevaluate your recovery plan in the disaster aftermath. 

Source: Bigstock Photo
Source: Bigstock Photo

A disaster recovery plan is essentially an open-ended “It’s not over yet.” Once the natural disaster has passed, your next step is to assess where you stand in the aftermath. Start by making sure your team is safe. Ensure that the site is safe to return to, before your team evaluates the area. Then, take stock of the damage the event has caused in order to schedule repairs. As soon as possible, take immediate steps to stabilize and secure your projects and address urgent safety issues.

Once all of these issues have been addressed, it’s time to reevaluate your recovery plan by asking yourself and your team the following questions:

  • Was the recovery plan effective?
  • What parts of the plan were ineffective?
  • What could have been done better?
  • What was missing?
  • Were there loopholes due to communication gaps?

Be as thorough as possible. Safety should never be underrated.

Technology Can Help Make the Planning Process Easier

Just like any project or plan, disaster planning can get complicated. Ensuring teams are able to communicate during an emergency, or keeping track of all your project documentation, may seem easy. However, it can be like searching for a needle in a haystack in the middle of an emergency. Just tracking all your equipment and materials alone can become very tedious and time consuming.

Beat the odds and gain more planning control utilizing the convenience of a construction management software.

With a centralized, cloud-based system, all your important documents are filed safely, instantly accessible and safe from natural disasters. It’s easy to pick up where you left off in the aftermath of a disaster when you have been regularly tracking and monitoring your paperwork and timelines prior to an emergency. And, in the context of mapping out your emergency disaster plan, you have a big picture overview of what equipment needs to be moved, which materials need to be protected, and other action steps critical to minimizing potential damage to your site.

So, why do all the disaster planning legwork manually when you have the option to implement an automated and reliable construction management platform to make the whole process easier? A construction project management software can streamline this typically tedious process. Empower your construction teams to communicate, minimize damage, cost and risk, while effectively planning just in case disaster does strike.

Buildertrend provides residential and remodeling construction companies a user-friendly, web-based software to help them build more projects, complete projects faster, reduce costly communication errors, and maximize customer satisfaction. Discover how our software can work for you by scheduling a live demo.