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If you follow the construction industry, you’ll have noticed the current buzz around alternative project delivery. This term refers to integrated project delivery (IPD), design-build (DB) and construction-manager-at-risk (CMAR) approaches, which all differ from the traditional design-bid-build process. These three distinct approaches, which we’ll explore in more detail below, have arisen in response to project Read More

If you follow the construction industry, you’ll have noticed the current buzz around alternative project delivery. This term refers to integrated project delivery (IPD), design-build (DB) and construction-manager-at-risk (CMAR) approaches, which all differ from the traditional design-bid-build process. These three distinct approaches, which we’ll explore in more detail below, have arisen in response to project owners’ desire for a less confrontational and more accountable customer experience.

Types of Alternative Project Delivery

First, it’s important to understand how each of these alternative project delivery methods differ from the design-bid-build approach. Integrated project delivery, sometimes referred to as Lean/IPD, originated out of Lean methodology as a way to involve architects, engineers, contractors and trade partners together in a project as early as possible to build trust and identify issues sooner.

The American Institute of Architects defines IPD as “a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.” As with all Lean construction practices, the objective is to tap into a team’s best thinking, build better relationships, maximize efficiency and minimize waste.

However, it’s important to note that the success of an IPD project hinges on solid relationships and communication between everyone involved. It can also be challenging to work with lenders, contractors or designers who are unfamiliar with this approach.

Design-build (DB) is a system of project delivery in which a project owner, instead of entering contracts with a designer and a contractor, contracts with a single entity providing both design and construction services. According to the Design-Build Institute of America, “the designer and contractor work together from the beginning, as a team, providing unified project recommendations to fit the owner’s schedule and budget. Any changes are addressed by the entire team, leading to collaborative problem-solving and innovation, not excuses or blame-shifting.” Proponents of DB project delivery argue that by uniting the designer and contractor, an owner can avoid the often contentious dynamic that emerges as each party blames the other for delays or other problems.

While DB is advantageous for many projects, it isn’t always the answer. This approach can result in less owner control over the design, and the time and money required for contractors to bid on projects can reduce competition and lead to fewer bids overall.

Construction-manager-at-risk (CMAR) is yet another approach to project delivery in which a construction manager (CM) agrees to deliver a project within a guaranteed maximum price (GMP). A CMAR arrangement may entail project management as well as construction services, depending on the situation. This approach limits an owner’s risk of cost overruns through its commitment to a GMP.

On the flip side, this approach can also reduce an owner’s control over construction due to the shifting of responsibility from the owner to the CM. There is also the potential for a conflict of interest in cases where the CM is also a contractor on the project.

Three Answers, One Problem

These alternative project delivery approaches are being driven by a common industry need—to reduce the confrontation and risk that’s become an industry norm, and to increase accountability and efficiency. In a traditional design-bid-build project, a project owner contracts separately with a designer and a contractor. This can create an antagonistic dynamic between the designer and contractor, as each may try to blame the other when delays or cost overruns occur. The owner often ends up caught in the middle of a dispute that they may not have the ability to adjudicate.

So, it comes as no surprise that many customers are looking for more collaborative project delivery approaches. According to a recent article in Engineering News-Record, revenue for domestic CMAR projects has grown by over eighty-nine percent from 2011 to 2017. Domestic DB revenue grew by over fifty-four percent in the same time frame. While international revenue in both these areas declined, this decline was offset by gains in the domestic market.

Facilitating Collaboration

This push for collaboration reflects the depth of the impact that Lean methodology has had on the construction industry. Industry demand for greater accountability and transparency benefits contractors that have implemented Lean practices such as the Last Planner® System (LPS), particularly those that are using a digital LPS tool.

Because IPD, DB and CMAR project delivery approaches all prioritize collaboration and accountability, it’s crucial to have a reliable and easily deployable tool in which teams can schedule tasks and plan work in tandem. Owners are increasingly unwilling to be dragged into the construction blame game, and expect their project teams to be able to demonstrate their progress and justify their expenses on an ongoing basis.

While this is good news for owners, it spells trouble for contractors that have not yet adopted Lean methodology. Until they do, these firms will be at a competitive disadvantage in bidding processes against firms that can demonstrate a history of collaborative engagements that were completed on or near schedule and within budget. CMAR firms that haven’t implemented LPS are at a particular disadvantage, since they assume a significant portion of a project’s financial risk.

Fortunately, a digital implementation of LPS can be rolled out across an organization quickly, enabling faster and greater return on a company’s investment in Lean practices. As industry demand for alternative project delivery grows, contractors that are prepared to deliver the customer experience that owners are looking for will win more business and build better relationships and reputations.

Katherine Van Adzin is the content marketing manager at Touchplan in Boston, MA. Touchplan is a web-based, accessible-anywhere tool with a way to quantify and qualify areas for continuous improvement. Designed for field planning and management, Touchplan serves everyone on the project team—from subcontractors, superintendents and project managers in the field, to project executives, architects and owners planning the build.

 

No, not that über, Über as “ubah” as in being a superlative example of its kind. On my drive every year to the Milwaukee Tool New Product Symposium I often think about the surprises that await in terms of new tools, technology and trends. This past summer was a bit different in that I believe Read More

No, not that über, Über as “ubah” as in being a superlative example of its kind.

On my drive every year to the Milwaukee Tool New Product Symposium I often think about the surprises that await in terms of new tools, technology and trends. This past summer was a bit different in that I believe Milwaukee built upon its core strengths to make its product offering stronger. Yes, there were some new introductions this year, but the focus remains on the end user, advancing core technologies and game-changing innovation. “We provide solutions which deliver productivity to our users,” says Milwaukee Tool president, Steve Richman.

Steve Richman addresses the crowd.

Being known as a solutions provider, Milwaukee remains steadfastly committed to the trades, “When we say we are focused on the core trades, we mean it,” says Alex Boll, senior product manager, Milwaukee Tool.

For example, expanding upon existing, increasingly popular lines such as the PACKOUT storage system, creating a monster with an even stronger Sawzall and packing more punch with the introduction of M18 Red Lithium High Output HD 12.0 battery have only strengthened the brand.

Battery Tech

It all starts with the battery, and as the competition increases the voltage number in its batteries, Milwaukee is focused on keeping the 18V battery platform, which provides consistency throughout its use—the M18 Red Lithium batteries are compatible with M18 system, which includes 150+ tools.

Paul Fry introduces the M18 Red Lithium High Output HD 12.0 battery.

“Can Milwaukee do more with M18?” asks Paul Fry, vice president of cordless product management. ”The answer is ‘Hell Yes!’” Fry says emphatically. “It’s really about what the technology can do for our customers,” says Fry.

The new M18 High Output 12.0 (nearest) pack a punch.

The next breakthrough in M18 FUEL continues the story of delivering best-in-class power, run-time, and performance. These tools are faster, more powerful, and lighter due to dramatic re-engineering of their most crucial components—motors, electronics and batteries, and they’re still on the same battery system.

Milwaukee introduced its M18 Red Lithium High Output HD 12.0 battery, which, according to Milwaukee, provides 50% more power and runs 50% cooler vs. M18 REDLITHIUM HD battery packs. The increase in power elevates the performance of the entire M18™ system, delivering the power of 15A corded product. It delivers fade free power and runs substantially cooler through heavy applications, is touted as the best performing cold weather pack ever made, providing increased power in extreme cold weather conditions (below 0F / -18C). At the Tool Symposium, we heard that the pack runs at temps as low as -20 F, just sayin’.

PACKOUT with a Punch

The super popular PACKOUT Modular Storage system just keeps getting better. Designed to provide users with the ability to interchange and interlock a wide assortment of heavy duty tool boxes, organizers, and storage totes in multiple different configurations, Milwaukee boasts that the PACKOUT is the most versatile and durable modular storage system in the industry. The new PACKOUT Low-Profile Organizer and Compact Low-Profile Organizer are half the height of the current PACKOUT Organizers with the same impact resistant body. Each Organizer has removable bin dividers and no-travel bin seals to keep products from shifting around. In addition, the organizers are IP65 rated to keep water and jobsite debris out. Oh, and it’s available with optional foam inserts.

The PACKOUT storage system can now be truck-mounted.

And, the new 15” and 20” PACKOUT Tool Bags unzip to reveal large open space for tools, and have cushioned shoulder straps, top handles, and side handles for flexible carry. Each is constructed of tear resistant 1680D ballistic material and have an impact resistant polymer base are up to 5X more durable than other bases, protecting contents from water, abrasion and impact.

Seen at the Symposium, creative uses for the PACKOUT included truck-mounted kits and a movable skid to allow easy mobility. But all of this PACKOUT talk has contractors wanting more. A PACKOUT storage system with drawers for easier access when units are stacked, perhaps? We’ll see.

SUPER SAWZALL

How can you improve upon one the most game-changing tools in the industry? Well, Milwaukee did just that with its new SUPER SAWZALL Reciprocating Saw, which generates 15A corded power, faster Cuts than 15A reciprocating saws, and delivers up to 150 Cuts in 2×12 SPF per charge. Designed to perform in the toughest applications, the M18 FUEL SUPER SAWZALL combines Milwaukee’s legendary performance and durability with the portability of the M18 platform. The POWERSTATE Brushless Motor Provides 3,000 SPM and higher speeds under load for corded cutting performance. REDLINK PLUS intelligence ensures maximum performance and protection from overload, overheating and over discharge.

M18 FUEL 16″ Chainsaw Kit

And from the “Because they can” category, Milwaukee introduced its M18 FUEL 16″ Chainsaw that delivers the power to cut hardwoods, cuts faster than gas, and delivers up to 150 cuts per charge. The unit is designed to meet the performance, durability and ergonomic needs of professional landscape maintenance, power utility, and the installed M18 user.

M18 FUEL 16″ Chainsaw

Drill/Impact Drivers

The M18 FUEL™ ½” Drill/Driver delivers up to 60% more power, up To 1.5” shorter length and up to 2X faster speed under heavy load. The POWERSTATE brushless motor delivers 1,200 in.-lbs. of torque and 2,000 RPMs, providing fast drilling through demanding applications.

The M18 FUEL ¼” Hex Impact Driver features the POWERSTATE brushless motor, which delivers up to 2,000 in.-lbs. of torque and up to 30% faster driving speed, increasing user’s productivity for the most demanding fasteners on the job.

M18 FUEL 8-1/4″ Table Saw w/ One-Key Kit

According to Milwaukee, its new M18 FUEL 8-1/4” Table Saw with One-Key generates the power of a 15A corded saw, 24-1/2” of rip capacity and up to 600 linear Feet of cutting per charge. The table saw is optimized for power, portability and productivity. The POWERSTATE brushless motor provides 6,300 RPM and higher speeds under load for corded cutting performance. REDLINK PLUS intelligence ensures maximum performance and protection from overload, overheating and over discharge.

USB Rechargeable Heated Gloves

From the “pretty frick’n cool” department, Milwaukee expands on its outer wear line with its Heated Gloves. This fall Milwaukee Tool will launch the first heated gloves designed to survive the jobsite and outlast the elements. Powered by rechargeable REDLITHIUM battery technology, the new gloves heat on-demand, providing up to six hours of run-time. To be worn both on and off the jobsite, the gloves are also designed with features to improve overall dexterity and mobility.

“At Milwaukee we understand that trade professionals are expected to work in some very tough conditions, cold weather being one of the most inclement. This is why we’ve been leading the industry in heated jobsite work gear ever since the introduction of our M12 Heated Gear in 2010, and we’re now introducing our first ever heated accessory,” said Kaue Cavalcante, product manager for Milwaukee Tool.

Powered by REDLITHIUM USB, these gloves feature three heat settings—low, medium, high) and fully heat up in just 2.5 minutes. Users will experience up to six hours of continuous run-time, with heat extending to the fingers and back of the hands.

It’s amazing to me to watch the transformation of Milwaukee from what is was, say, more than 10 years ago. As president Steve Richman says, “We are not a lick and stick company,” which basically means that the company does not shop product, not developing solutions. It starts with battery technology, the innovation that goes into producing game-changing tools and the employee dedication to make it the best solutions provider it can be. “We are not overconfident; the day we are satisfied with success is the day we die,” says Richman.

After 38 years in the hydronics business, Stephen Minnich of Minnich Mechanical Design is hanging up the tools. The Hub’s John Mesenbrink caught up to Stephen on his last jobsite, a 24-zone radiant system at an apartment complex in Wheaton, Ill. The change-out consisted of removing two 400,000 BTU cast-iron boilers with no boiler protection Read More

After 38 years in the hydronics business, Stephen Minnich of Minnich Mechanical Design is hanging up the tools. The Hub’s John Mesenbrink caught up to Stephen on his last jobsite, a 24-zone radiant system at an apartment complex in Wheaton, Ill. The change-out consisted of removing two 400,000 BTU cast-iron boilers with no boiler protection and no mixing among other hydronic issues that cut down the life of the boilers by 10+ years.

Minnich is installing for two Lochinvar KBN models, an upgrade from their KHN models to remedy the problem. Check out the video here.

 

As far as what Minnich will do in the next chapter of his career, Minnich has accepted a position with an engineering firm downtown Chicago as an HVAC consultant for multi-residential units on the Chicago area. Congrats on a great career and good luck with the next chapter in your life!

See the video here:

Washington—With more than more than 100 PHCC contractors, state and local chapter executives, and p-h-c industry partners descending on Capitol Hill last month for the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors (PHCC) Legislative Conference, the message is quite clear: the future starts now. PHCC National President Laurie Crigler set the tone for the event prior to meetings Read More

Washington—With more than more than 100 PHCC contractors, state and local chapter executives, and p-h-c industry partners descending on Capitol Hill last month for the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors (PHCC) Legislative Conference, the message is quite clear: the future starts now.

PHCC National President Laurie Crigler set the tone for the event prior to meetings on Capitol Hill, as p-h-c industry partners delivered a unified message to members of Congress about ongoing challenges that will have a long-term impact on the p-h-c industry and the country. “Politics is NOT a spectator sport and your involvement is key to successful advocacy at all levels—local, state and national. None of this works without you,” she said.

PHCC and its advocacy group on the steps of Capitol Hill.

Moreover, PHCC continues to educate members of congress of the tremendous opportunities within the plumbing and HVAC trades, “Part of the answer to job growth in this country has to be the continued development of the skilled trades. It’s not just talk anymore,” says Mark Riso, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, PHCC.

PHCC members expressed key support for workforce development through the Promoting Real Opportunity Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER). Riso added that he is happy with the “positive knowledge on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers continue to look at apprenticeship programs.”

Zach Boren, Director of Policy and Standards for the Office of Apprenticeship for the Department of Labor, shared the latest from the Department’s Task Force on Apprenticeship expansion. While citing statistics, Boren noted that more than six million jobs are unfilled and more than eight million workers lack the necessary credentials.  “Apprenticeships are the key to closing the nation’s skills gap as they are a customizable, flexible and proven business-driven model for developing workers,” Boren said.

PHCC vice president of Legislative Affairs, Mark Riso and PHCC president, Laurie Crigler.

In the coming months, the department will support innovative, work-based learning approaches, technology modernization, and state initiatives to expand apprenticeship programs. By modernizing the government’s role in apprenticeships while developing new programs, they expect to achieve President Trump’s goal of attracting one million new apprentices over the next five years. This fall, the Department of Labor will again host National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) to highlight the benefits of apprenticeship.

In addition to workplace development in the trades, during several events and meetings with Congressional members and their staff, PHCC members advocated for increased water system infrastructure spending, and career and technical education, while thanking congressional members for recently passed tax reform.

Rep. David Schweirkert (R-AZ)

PHCC also expressed support for workforce development though reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Members of Congress are aware of the country’s infrastructure problems, and Riso reiterates that they are not taking for granted the shape of the water systems in this country. “Flint was a wake-up call; we are impressed with members of the Hill’s knowledge of the degradation of the country’s water systems, and the steps needed to resolve the overall problem,” says Riso.

At the Congressional Breakfast, guest speaker Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) gave his insights into the president’s infrastructure initiative, stating, “We’ve been living off the infrastructure investments of our parents and grandparents, and haven’t been making the same investments (as they have).”  Costa added that Congress will need to figure out how federal components can help fund infrastructure improvements, “and this can only happen in a bi-partisan fashion.”

One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the annual Congressional Reception at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.  Several members of Congress including Rep. Steve Chabot, Rep. Tom O’Halleran and Rep. David Schweikert attended the reception and spoke in favor of PHCC’s support of WIFIA and the PROSPER Act.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), who serves on the House Ways and Means Tax Reform Subcommittee, gave a behind-the-scenes look at the complexities involved with passing the massive tax reform bill. “The first step was to pass tax reform,” he said. “The calculator won. Now we can start seeing some great things in our society.”

PHCC’s next legislative event in 2018 will be an education session at CONNECT 2018, “Decoded: Legislative and Regulatory Rules and Regulations Solved!” during which Riso and vice president of Regulatory Affairs Chuck White will explain the complex rules and regulations that keep contractors up at night. The next PHCC Legislative Conference is scheduled May 7-8, 2019, on Capitol Hill.

“PHCC is a conduit to help its members partner with lawmakers; to partner with the process to be able to design laws and rules to improve the quality of life for everybody,” says Riso.

 

Bosch Thermotechnology Corporation officially unveiled its new, 17,000-sq.-ft. data-driven labs Bosch Experience Center and Laboratory in Watertown, Mass. to distinguished media and local government dignitaries during its Brunch with Bosch event. The new innovation lab will focus on some of Bosch’s core objectives: better efficiencies, quieter operation, and connectivity and controls. “We are a German Read More

Bosch Thermotechnology Corporation officially unveiled its new, 17,000-sq.-ft. data-driven labs Bosch Experience Center and Laboratory in Watertown, Mass. to distinguished media and local government dignitaries during its Brunch with Bosch event. The new innovation lab will focus on some of Bosch’s core objectives: better efficiencies, quieter operation, and connectivity and controls. “We are a German company but we feel like a local company because we have been in North America nearly 125 years,” said Mike Mensuetti, president of Bosch North America. “The new lab will help us continue to help people with their quality of life.”

Mike Mensuetti, president of Bosch North America, addresses the assembled guests.

Why Watertown? According to Bosch, Boston has the highest millennial population out of 25 cities, 114 higher education institutions with more than 250,000 students, ranks third highest in jobs per square mile, and 13 companies with headquarters in Massachussetts with Boston ranked top startup community in the U.S.

The new space, conveniently located 10 miles from Boston, is now headquarters to Bosch sales, marketing, product engineering, human resource and business development, and is home to Bosch’s first-ever air-conditioning laboratory, which will allow the company to test and refine the performance, sound and connectivity of its air-conditioning units in-house.

A look into the Bosch Lab showroom.

The facility also includes a Bosch Experience Center, where visitors can immerse themselves in the company’s diverse portfolio of energy-efficient products. “Moving to a facility equipped with a full laboratory aligns with our vision to further design and manufacture leading HVAC solutions, especially in the air-conditioning industry,” said Vitor Gregorio, regional president at Bosch Thermotechnology. “It’s not just a new headquarters with a modern office space; it’s also a research and development investment in terms of people, talent and infrastructure.”

Goncalo Costa, director of air conditioning at Bosch Thermotechnology, and tour guide, talks about connectivity as it relates to products, such as the Greentherm boiler shown here.

Equipped with brand-new, advanced equipment that ensures highly accurate data, the full laboratory comprises three focus areas: a psychrometric lab, a noise vibration harshness (NVH) lab and an electronics lab.

  • The psychrometric lab allows Bosch to measure the performance of its air-conditioning units in multiple configurations.
  • The NVH lab measures the sound of the AC unit, which gives Bosch the ability to test the unit’s decibel and determine what adjustments will achieve a quieter product.
  • The electronics lab measures, tests, and simulates the behavior and performance of the electronic devices in the unit (the “brain” of the units). Bosch develops and produces numerous software prototypes for its connected products, which then are uploaded to the product’s “brain” and tested. Bosch can measure the performance of the software to see how fast end users are able to access the app and its information.

The sound lab gives Bosch the ability to test the unit’s decibel and determine what adjustments will achieve a quieter product.

“Being able to test Bosch air-conditioning units within this facility will provide real-time, highly accurate field data, accelerating product development,” said Goncalo Costa, director of air conditioning at Bosch Thermotechnology. “Product development is an intricate process, and combining these three labs will give Bosch greater agility as well as a competitive edge in the market.”

According to Mensuetti, “We want to be ahead of the megatrends.”

The new headquarters is just 50 miles south of its previous office in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which Bosch still uses for operational functions, including finance, customer service, training, warehousing and purchasing. The Bosch Thermotechnology facility in Florida remains unchanged.