As we were wrapping up the content for this current edition of On-Site, our team popped down to Las Vegas for a couple of days to take in the World of Concrete show. The event did a great job of showcasing some of the amazing transformations happening in the world of construction tools and machinery. (Watch for that report next issue.)
There were plenty of new developments in the realm of software and apps to streamline project planning, tracking, and billing at the show (one of the fastest-growing segments in construction, by the way) but a walk-through of the machinery manufacturers’ booths more than illustrated the fact that the integration of technology is no longer just for the project manager’s office.
It is hard to ignore the draw and appeal of a massive trade show booth displaying big trucks and heavy machinery, so it was in several of these exhibits that I found some of the most exciting new developments showing how data is merging with machinery.
From new, onboard GPS-guided controls on excavators that provide operating parameter windows that allow for safe digging to within very tight tolerances, to remote controls for the unmanned use of robotic machinery – a big plus when site conditions could expose an operator to a dangerous condition – there’s no denying that the digital experience is reaching all facets of construction projects.
One company was even showcasing equipment that was “printing” with concrete.
Their 3D printer-like machine is a potential game-changer that will allow for components, and even full buildings, to be printed on site and on demand. Tell me that wouldn’t appeal to a young person who has an interest in 3D printing technology, and who may already be learning about additive manufacturing with a 3D printer using plastic filament rather than concrete.
Also potentially appealing in the ongoing quest to attract young people to the building trades was the video game feel that came from watching an operator control a machine that was thousands of kilometres away. That’s a massive development that is just on the horizon, and one that I’m sure would be viewed as a pretty cool career option for anyone who grew up with an Xbox or PlayStation controller in their hands.
Not that the industry doesn’t already have its fair share of interesting jobs. Our cover shot is something that would not be out of place at an X Games competition, and it’s but one of the hundreds of photos that flooded in for our 2021 Canadian Construction Photo Contest – check out more of them starting on page 24.
Despite having to navigate such challenges as Covid-19 safety plans and supply chain delays, there’s a lot of great work happening.
And speaking of supply chain woes, if you are wondering how to navigate the lack of clarity in pricing this year, you won’t want to miss David Bowcott’s advice on page 44.
Business will always face challenges, but with shovels still going into the ground, new equipment and technology just around the corner, and a bit of advice from our peers, we’ll keep doing our best to arm you up with information you can use to navigate your next projects.
Until next time, stay safe and do good work.
Adam Freill / Editor