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by Steve Alles, ASAM President
CFO, Windemuller Electric, Inc. salles@windemuller.us

I hope you were able to attend our two-part general membership meeting series focusing on construction technology. The series was an eye-opening revelation of just how rapidly the advancements in technology are changing the construction industry. Organized and led by Chris Weaver, Director of Technology at Andy J. Egan Co., Inc., the presentations gave us a glimpse of what the built environment will look like in the future.

Attendees heard from Matt Abeles, co-founder and Managing Director of BuiltWorlds Media. BuiltWorlds Media is an online media and events company that was founded in 2014 and is committed to connecting industry firms with technology firms. Ken Wilson, Strategic Account Advisor of Applied Softwear + Enceptia, joined Matt at our February meeting to showcase how collaboration between technology companies and construction firms will move our industry through the accelerating technological revolution.

The two were quick to point out that the use of technology in construction is no longer a trend; it’s the new normal and will continue to evolve. The technologies our firms will be using in the future continue to advance and are being woven through the fabric of mainstream society. Examples of these disruptive technologies are virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D laser scanning.

Michael James, Project Director of 3D Imaging Services (a company that was recently acquired by Andy J. Egan Co., Inc.), also presented at our February meeting on the use of 3D imaging services, which are currently being used by various subcontractors in the area. Michael provided a high-level overview of the productivity gains, accuracy and efficiency of laser scanning on the construction site. As opposed to virtual reality, 3D laser scanning is used to provide tremendous detail and incredible accuracy of conditions on an existing project site. The service provides a digitized scan rendered into a 3-dimensional model for use in the measurement, planning and, ultimately, the modification of any scanned job site.

At the March general membership meeting we saw the implementation of prefabrication, an industry best practice, which can be viewed as a direct result from technology through the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Josh Cogswell, Preconstruction Operations Manager at Feyen Zylstra, detailed the history of this process, its implementation, and its eventual rapid growth at Feyen Zylstra. Josh conveyed that several benefits of prefabrication are: a safe and controlled work environment, increased labor efficiency, reduced waste, and the ability to compress job schedules through pre- planning and off-site construction.

Chris Weaver, along with Curt Reese, Master Plumber and BIM Specialist at Andy J. Egan Co., Inc., also provided a history of their firm’s implementation and use of BIM and Prefabrication. A well-seasoned construction professional with many years of field experience, Curt shared his story of skepticism, acceptance and, eventually, mastery of BIM software, becoming a leader in the technology. Curt pointed out that he was proof that technology can be learned by all generations.

Many thanks to Chris Weaver for putting this series together for ASAM. It’s clear that the future of the construction industry includes a greater convergence between technology and the job site. Although the process of adopting the use of these new tools may seem daunting, or even overwhelming, the potential benefits of using these new tools are great. Stay tuned to future ASAM programming for continued exploration of this topic and its evolution.

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