At JBKnowledge's first of four 2017 ConTech Roadshows, the presiding theme in Philadelphia on July 13 was advanced technology with practical applications for contractors looking to gain an edge in their competitive markets.
During the one-day traveling conference series, which will hit three more cities, attendees hear from tech experts about job-site productivity, software solutions, and high-tech innovations that can help construction companies be more profitable.
The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) are sponsoring the events.
The day opened with a welcome by James Benham, JBKnowledge CEO and ConTechTrio podcast co-host. Jeffrey Scarpello, manager for NECA's Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter, addressed the crowd of over 100 attendees and vendors and welcomed everyone on behalf of NECA.
Every aspect of the technology talks related to productivity and efficiency. The first session was titled "Revamping Jobsite Productivity Through Tracking and Analysis Tools." It was presented by Benham, who made the case for productivity management through technological solutions.
"We're a low-margin business of our own creation," Benham said, a mantra he repeated throughout the day.
The second session, titled "Apps for Construction—Exploring Affordable Solutions, The Five Job Site Workflows and Where Mobile Fits In," was led by Rob McKinney, consultant and professional speaker also known as the ConAppGuru as well as ConTechTrio podcast co-host. McKinney aimed to convince attendees of the value of mobile apps in assisting and enhancing the work force.
Ken MacDougall, PDJ Business Development for NECA's Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter, spoke during the second presentation about changes he's seen in the industry over time and how mobile apps and technology are helping contractors be more productive and competitive. MacDougall said Philadelphia's apprenticeship program is now teaching construction app PlanGrid. He said developing project managers and estimators with a tech focus early is important and spoke about the chapter's relationship with Penn State in which contractors are taking advantage of access to the university's engineers.
The ConTech Roadshow rounded out the morning with "An Inside Look at How BIM Is Transforming Construction," presented by Benham and Josh Bone, BIM/VDC specialist and ConTechTrio co-host. Bone and Benham spoke to a mindset obstacle that contractors must overcome to adopt building information modeling (BIM). Bone emphasized that the current tendency is a desire to figure out problems in the field. However, BIM helps contractors discover problems during the planning stages, saving time and money.
"BIM is all about making more informed decisions," Bone said.
After a lunch break for networking and demonstrations in the ConTech Showcase, the Roadshow continued with its fourth session, "How Drone Technology is Redefining Project Success," with James Benham. Benham made the case for drones as assets in construction, showing that they can perform structural inspections, percent complete calculations, material pile and other volume calculations and more.
The fifth and final session was "Virtual Construction—Prefabrication Challenges and Lessons Learned" with Bone and two representatives from mechanical contractor H.T. Lyons. Tim Bodor is manager of virtual construction for H.T. Lyons, and Adam Cartwright is preconstruction manager for H.T. Lyons.
This session was interview format, focusing on why BIM works for H.T. Lyons. According to Bodor and Cartwright, BIM is a communication tool, and it minimizes risk.
Concluding the event, the ConTechTrio recorded a live podcast with special guest Bob Snyder, CEO at Binsky and Snyder mechanical contractors. JBKnowledge then held a reception for networking and hands-on tech demos with industry vendors, including NECA, the MCAA, Milwaukee Tool, DeWalt, eSUB, STACK Estimating and Takeoff, Plans4Less, Touchplan.io, Triax, NoteVault and more.
"As a proud NECA contractor, I'm happy to see NECA's support of the ConTech Roadshow," said James Ferry, president of Ferry Electric Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. "Technology is rapidly changing our construction industry. It's important that our association is in touch with those changes to be able to keep providing value-added benefits to members."
JBKnowledge plans to visit three more U.S. cities with the ConTech Roadshow: Chicago on Aug. 22, Dallas on Oct. 24, and Oakland, Calif., on a date and location to be announced. Learn more at http://jbknowledge.com/2017-construction-technology-networking-event.
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