Construction Services

Product Roundup: Deere’s 470G LC Excavator Gets SmartGrade

The John Deere 470G LC excavator will now offer a full range of grade management solutions including SmartGrade, SmartGrade-Ready with 2D, 3D Grade Guidance and 2D Grade Guidance.

Factory-installed and calibrated from the dealer, the 3D grade control system automates the position of the bucket as you dig, resulting in accurate dimensioned trenches and contour work. That means you only move the dirt once. You don’t have to compact dirt that has been over-excavated, and in many cases, you can eliminate or greatly reduce the time and work done by finishing machines such as dozers and motor graders.

In addition to SmartGrade technology, the 470G LC model features various precision technologies including Virtual Front, Over-dig Protect, Virtual Ceiling, Virtual Floor, Virtual Swing and Virtual Wall. Upgrade kits for Deere’s SmartGrade technology can be installed onto equipment at later dates to match contractors’ changing needs.

Everything’s going autonomous – even Komatsu’s water truck

Komatsu’s HD785-7 autonomous water truck drives itself and remembers how much water to put down.Komatsu

Komatsu has been field testing an autonomous water truck, based on its proven Autonomous Haulage System (AHS). The technology on the concept HD785-7 truck autonomously controls the truck’s movement and water distribution through the same platform.The company hopes to introduce the HD785-based autonomous water truck in 2022.

Komatsu’s AHS enables the water truck to travel autonomously on a pre-defined haul road and work cooperatively with other autonomous trucks and staffed equipment. The system controls the amount of water dispersed, according to the vehicle speed and haul road incline, and also “remembers” the watering history to avoid overwatering.

Trackunit, ZTR join forces to make telematics data easier to use

Machine data is of little value unless you know what to do with it. In other words, it has to be “actionable.” That’s the idea driving the merger of Trackunit and the Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) division of ZTR. The two companies are uniting to accelerate innovation and drive digital transformation — with collaboration and service at the center of their strategy.

After the transaction closes, the combined entity will help customers collect data and translate it into actionable results that enhance utilization, increase fleet availability, improve safety and reduce equipment loss.

Trackunit is an SaaS-based IoT solution that collects and analyzes machine data in real-time to deliver proactive and predictive information to customers. ZTR develops IoT solutions using telematics that allow companies to remotely monitor and manage mobile as well as fixed assets. 

In making the announcement, company executives noted that the realm of IoT and telematics has evolved from simple track and trace technology into actionable insights that create value. 

“We see the industry at a pivotal turning point when it comes to digitalization of their business and equipment, and customers are looking for a trusted partner,” says Soeren Brogaard, CEO of Trackunit. “By combining our businesses, we’re elevating our technology and increasing the value customers will be able to extract from their data.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Construction Services

How Artificial Intelligence Can Keep Your Workers Safe, Reduce Insurance Costs

Increasing amounts of digital data are being collected on construction sites. Analyzing that information can help contractors understand and predict risk in project delivery – one of the largest risk factors being safety.

Fatality and total incident rates in the construction industry have plateaued for the last 10 years, but a partnership between Newmetrix and StructionSite aims to improve those rates using artificial intelligence (AI).

Newmetrix is a construction technology company that uses AI and advanced analytics to reduce safety risk. StructionSite is a photo and video site documentation app that enables contractors to track project progress. The integration allows StructionSite users to get enhanced data from the 360 jobsite videos and images they are already collecting on the app.

Newmetrix’s platform automatically pulls image and video data from StructionSite. The platform’s AI, “Vinnie,” then analyzes the images to identify more than 100 safety risks, such as work at height, housekeeping, improper ergonomics. 

Using predictive analytics, Vinnie combines the image data with other project data to determine the level of safety risk for each project and predicts which 20% of the projects will be responsible for 80% of the risk. Construction companies can use this data to focus their safety efforts on the projects where they will have the most impact. 

“Newmetrix has been analyzing StructionSite images from our projects for 18 months,” said Takashi Tsuchiya, deputy section manager at Obayashi Construction. “So far the Safety AI has generated over 1.2 million tags that our safety and project teams can use as opportunities for conversation. As a specific example, over 9,500 examples of housekeeping and 4,500 examples of standing water were identified by the Safety AI. This increases the number of relevant conversations we can have about safety and helps prioritize the teams’ actions. The integration boosts the number of images to generate more tags.” 

By integrating Newmetrix and StructionSite, construction companies can: 

Use the visual documentation that’s already being collected to create opportunities for safety engagement and to predict safety risksPrevent safety issues before they ariseProtect profitability with lower recordable incident rates and fewer claimsUse a predictive-based safety program to negotiate a better insurance rate

Figuring out what to do with the vast amounts of incoming data from construction sites can be overwhelming, but technology can help contractors make better decisions faster and prevent incidents before they occur. 

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Construction Services

Dozers Decked Out with Tech: Pushing Dirt is Getting Easier

The market is full of new dozers and those new dozers are full of new technology.

The new tech includes increased automation features to make the machines easier to operate.

“One of the biggest struggles facing contractors today is finding and retaining skilled operators,” says Matt Goedert, solutions marketing manager, John Deere. “John Deere is developing several features to help overcome this challenge.”

Manufacturers have also focused on improved design to make their dozers quieter, more comfortable and with increased operator visibility.

Cat improved forward visibility up to 30% on its newest model, the D4. Visibility is especially improved to the top of the blade and the area in front of it. The company lowered the hood line and relocated components that could impede sight.

“The D4 is the smallest of Cat’s mid-size dozers,” says Sam Meeker, market professional, Cat. “Visibility is especially important in applications where this size class is typically found, where obstacles and workers are common on site.”

Here’s a look at the latest dozers and their new technology and design features:

New and improved

The D4 started last year as a rebadged D6K. This was done to align the machine with Cat’s revised machine model naming protocol and to fill a numeric gap in D Series dozers.

The current D4, however, is truly a new machine and has been available since the second quarter of this year.


The Cat D4 is powered by a Cat C4.4 engine rated at 130 net horsepower. Operating weight is 29,259 pounds in non-LGP with 22-inch shoes, and 30,882 pounds in LGP with 30-inch shoes. Blade capacities are 4.26 cubic yards non-LGP and 4.98 cubic yards LGP. Foldable blades are available for both and have the same capacities as the standard VPAT blades.CaterpillarThe rearview camera is integrated into the new 10-inch color touchscreen. The view can be on only during reverse travel or can be left on all the time. In the latter case, the camera view occupies about one-fourth of the screen and is surrounded by operating data. All Next Gen Cat dozers share the same screen layout to help with familiarity.

The D4 has all the machine control options Cat offers on its dozers, including Cat Grade with 3D and the ability to install systems from Topcon, Trimble and Leica. A Waste package includes guarded rear lights, double-skinned fuel and hydraulic tanks, final drive guard and air pre-cleaner.

The HD package is ideal for forestry, demolition and other high-demand applications. It has additional underbelly guards; additional sweeps, sealing and screening to keep out dust and debris; a reversing fan and heavy-duty fenders. Standard and low ground pressure (LGP) versions are available.

A variable pitch angle tilt (VPAT) blade is standard. Blade options include power pitch for more aggressive cutting, and folding blades that bring the blade within the width of the tracks (under 93.3 inches for standard pitch and under 110.8 inches for LGP).

Liebherr PR766 Generation 8 dozer
Liebherr offers six models of Generation 8 dozers, from the PR 716 G8 (132 horsepower, 29,231 pounds, 3.82-cubic-yard blade) to the PR 766 G8 (422 horsepower, 119,784 pounds, 22.23-cubic-yard blade). Available operator assist features include Free Grade blade stabilization, Definition Grade for 2D grading, and 3D Grade from Topcon for modeling complex terrain.Liebherr

Liebherr offers Generation 8 models of six dozers, from the 132-horsepower PR 716 G8 to the 422-horsepower PR 766 G8.

The five small and mid-size models come standard with 1D and 2D Liebherr Operator Assist Systems. 1D provides active blade stabilization for free grading; 2D provides active blade positioning for grading to longitudinal and cross slope specs.

3D Grade is an available option and has roof-mounted Topcon 3D Machine Control for complex 3D models. Ready kits, consisting of mounting and cabling, are available for customers using Trimble or Leica systems.

The large PR 766 G8 features Liebherr’s Delta High Drive as well as an oscillating idler and double bogie suspension for improved traction and comfort in mining and other production applications.

Liebherr Silent Design resulted in the company’s quietest dozers, thanks to noise-attenuating changes in cab mounting, hydraulics and drive systems on Generation 8 models.

Electronic pilot controls on the small- and mid-size models allow the operator to tailor response and speed of front and rear equipment and includes blade shake, rear ripper parking positioning and automatic blade lifting when reversing.

The LiDAT on Liebherr Generation 8 dozers has more sensors and greater data management capacity, helping ensure compatibility with current and future site management systems. All G8 models use common-rail diesel engines designed and built by Liebherr.

John Deere 750L Dozer
The John Deere 750L has a Deere PowerTech PVS 6068 engine rated at 131 net horsepower. Operating weight is 38,330 pounds. Blade capacity is 5.6 cubic yards. The dozer has hydrostatic drive with triple reduction final drive. The standard track has 40 shoes with a 7.5-inch pitch and single grousers designed for moderate service. Standard blade width is 129 inches; a 161-inch wide blade is optional.John Deere

Released in mid-2020, the 700L and 750L expand the L Series catalog for John Deere. The first was the 850L, released in 2019.

Features of the L Series include larger, more comfortable operator stations. Noise has been reduced more than half in the 700L compared to the 700K. Heated and ventilated premium seating and automatic temperature control are optional.

Horsepower and operating weight have been increased. An optional 161-inch blade is now available for the 750L. Hydraulic hose and electrical harness routing has been improved to reduce potential rub points, and hydraulic hose length on the 700L and 750L has been reduced 20%.

Komatsu D71PXi-24 dozer dirt pile
Komatsu’s D71PXiKomatsu

The D71-24 is Komatsu’s newest dozer. It is available with or without the company’s new iMC 2.0 intelligent Machine Control. All are powered by Komatsu SAA6D114E-6 engines rated at 237 net horsepower.

The D71 is Komatsu’s largest hydrostatic-drive dozer. Track options include 24-, 30- and 36-inch widths with blade capacities of 5.8 to 6.1 cubic yards.

“The D71 was a clean-sheet design,” says Andrew Earing, senior product manager, Komatsu. “The hydrostatic drive and standard PAT blade of the D71 make it a very nimble and versatile dozer.”

Other standard features include heated and ventilated seating, LED work lights and three-speed blade drop to shed sticky materials. Fast steering mode slows the inside track but also accelerates the outside track for tighter, faster turns while still allowing counter-rotation.

In a previous interview with Equipment World, LiuGong indicated its revamped Dressta dozers were scheduled for a fall launch. We have no additional information at this time.

Grade control technology

Deere has launched Slope Control on several dozer models in recent years, filling a need for less complex technology that doesn’t use a 3D model or external reference, such as a base station or laser.

“While adoption of 3D grade control systems has been significant over the past five or more years,” says Goedert. “There is still a place for entry-level grade control technology to grow adoption and simplify tasks.”

Slope Control automatically controls the blade, is designed to be simple to use and offers two operating modes, joystick and target. This entry-level system can be upgraded to Deere SmartGrade advanced 3D grade control at any time. SmartGrade performance responds to multiple inputs, including load levels, material types and dozing activities.

Case 1150M dozer machine control
Case factory-fit machine control from Leica is available on 750M through 2050M dozers. Multiple levels of control are also available. For customers with six-way (PAT) blades working in extreme conditions, the iCON grade MCP80SP adds SP sensor technology and dual blade-mounted GNSS antennas for speed and accuracy.Case CE

Case announced in March the availability of its factory-fit machine control option on 750M through 2050M dozers. Packages include Leica Co-Pilot, 2D and dual-mast 3D systems. The factory installation includes calibration using Case World Class Manufacturing processes so the dozer arrives at the dealership ready for immediate use.

Jeremy Dulak, product manager for dozers, cites several advantages to the factory-fit approach. “The first is simplified ordering. Working with your Case dealer, you can group the Leica system that best fits your operation in with the purchase of the machine.” This allows a single payment, a single financing package, a single approval and a single interest rate.

Factory fit also ensures that when the machine arrives at the dealer, “it’s ready to go after just a very quick calibration.” And factory fit preserves residual value, he adds, because “the second owner will have confidence knowing the system was purpose-built to that specific machine and meets all quality and performance standards intended by the manufacturer.”

Komatsu’s iMC 2.0 offers “grass-to-grade automation,” says Earing. Most systems focus on grading; iMC 2.0 adds automated lift control for the fill process. This dramatically aids  compaction and reduces the likelihood of costly rework by allowing each layer to be compacted before the next layer is lain.

Komatsu says iMC 2.0 brings performance to a level that is 96% equivalent to that of an experienced operator, which elevates the performance of lesser-skilled operators. Seasoned operators also benefit from iMC 2.0 because it will maintain settings they create, a feature Komatsu calls “operator-guided automation.”

Each Komatsu dealership has a technical service expert to help train customers on iMC 2.0. TSEs also help with the installation of systems from Topcon, Trimble and Leica.

 

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Construction Blogs

How to Solve Your Construction Labor Shortage

Still looking for the proverbial easy button to fill your talent pipeline? We hate to break it to you: there isn’t one.

“If you’re in this industry and not being the biggest promoter of it, you’re part of the problem,” says Benjamin Holmgren, president of Buildwitt Jobs. “You’re not going to solve it for the industry. Solve it for you.”

Holmgren was joined by Natasha Sherwood, executive director of the Independent Electrical Contractors Florida West Coast Chapter, and Steve Cona III, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, in a recent panel discussion led by Autumn Sullivan, director of marketing and experience for Mobilization Funding.

The panel explored the issue of why skilled trade workers are leaving the industry, the impact of culture on recruitment and retention, and what companies can do to increase their talent pipeline.

Recruiting and retaining the next generation

So, can everyone stop blaming millennials already? Continuing to drone on about how millennials lack worth ethic is so 2010. Older millennials, those born in the 1980s, are established and in positions of power in their careers. Where the industry needs to focus its attention is Gen Z and Gen Alpha. 

“I don’t believe it’s so much a labor shortage, as a shortage of leaders who know how to lead the next generation,” said Holmgren. “Kids my age want to have a mission to get behind. They want to have a vision. They want to be led, trained and developed.”

The companies that have solved this understand this workforce development crisis is not about millennials. “Taking ownership of solving this for your company is the elixir,” said Holmgren.

Shop class makes its comeback

Getting in front of Gen Z and Gen Alpha starts in school. Trade education in middle school and high school was nearly extinct but is slowly making a comeback. Until there is wider support for the curriculum at a state and district level, getting involved at an individual level is critical.

Construction companies can help through apprenticeships and mentor programs. Contractors involved in mentorship see better hiring success because they already have name recognition with students, panelists said.

“The greatest benefit to our industry would be a solid pipeline out of high school and into the trades,” said Cona. “It has to be a statewide effort in our educational system to promote opportunities in all occupations that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree. The average age of our apprentice is 26-27 years old, and we have to get that lower to 21-22 years old. It can’t be an afterthought.”

Outside of local efforts, Holmgren suggests meeting the younger generation where they are online.

“It’s one thing to put on a trade show or job fair, but what about Instagram? TikTok? One thing you can start doing today is using social media to tell the story of your business and show people what it’s really like to work in your industry. It’s not that you have to make it look cool; the trades are already cool. Come join us – that’s what we need to be telling people.”

Work culture in construction 

Taking ownership of the construction recruitment and retention problem also means taking a hard look at company culture. For better or worse, every company has a culture. How that culture has evolved depends on how it is emulated and nurtured daily.

Work culture has been cited as a major factor in many skilled-trade veterans leaving their employer or the industry entirely. While culture is a hot topic in the construction industry, and often framed as something only young people are pushing for, it has a significant impact on retention across the board.

“You can tell that no matter the age of the employee, they are all looking for a culture that has a family atmosphere, opportunities for advancement, flexible hours and good benefits,” said Sherwood. “I just helped a fourth-year apprentice graduate who had an opportunity to go anywhere. He took a job at a company that paid $2 less an hour because it was a good fit. There’s that level of appreciation that is sometimes more important than the dollar bottom line.”

lternative talent pipelines

Beyond young people, there are many other viable talent pools and untapped markets to help fill the skilled-worker pipeline. Correctional institutions, foster care systems and the military are just a few options.

“We’re looking for all sorts of avenues to fill that pipeline, and one of those is folks coming out of corrections,” said Cona. “We’re getting asked by state leaders and politicians to work with them to help develop skills while people are still incarcerated. So whenever they get out, they can get plugged back into society. If you can give people opportunities and jobs when they get out of being incarcerated, their chances of going back are very slim.”

“The military does a great job recruiting kids, with ROTC officers and billboard campaigns,” said Sullivan. “The trades need to be seen as a viable option. You can feed your family, you can travel around the country – there’s a lot of opportunity depending on where you want to go with it.”

Continuing education for retention

While there are required continuing education credits in the construction industry, employers should also consider training that provides employees with a path toward a goal they value, such as moving from apprentice to superintendent.

“In this day and age in this economy, you have to invest in training your workforce. There are no unemployed electricians and plumbers sitting on the sideline,” said Cona. “You have to build your pipeline by investing in people who might not necessarily have the skills that you need at that time. Invest in your employees, train them, put them in apprenticeship programs and maintain it through their lifecycle as an employee.”

An engaged employee is someone who stays with you.

Changing the narrative

While the narrative that construction is a dead-end job is a systemic problem, individual companies can start making strides today to reframe the conversation and illuminate the opportunities.

“This country was built because people learned skills, created things and built things. No one can say this country was built because people went to college. That’s what we need to continue to push,” said Cona. “As parents, as an industry, we need to be better at pushing the narrative that this is a viable option.”

“Don’t people get tired of talking about finding good help?” adds Holmgren. “We know you can’t find good help. Do something.”

“I’m not interested in solving the industry’s labor-shortage challenge, but if there is one person who can take something from this and it lights a spark and they can solve it for them, that’s a win.”

Watch the full webinar here.

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Construction Services

12 Road Projects Named Finalists for America’s Transportation Awards

After months of regional competitions, 12 road construction projects have been chosen as finalists for America’s Transportation Awards.

The awards, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, include projects in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah. Along with AASHTO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AAA sponsor the awards program.

“This competition recognizes just a few examples that highlight the ways in which state DOTs are improving quality of life and economic vitality of our communities, saving time and money through new innovations and technologies, and making better use of assets already in place,” says Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director.

The grand prize and People’s Choice winners will be announced October 26. Each winner receives $10,000 cash to donate to the charity of its choice. The competition evaluates projects in three categories: Quality of Life/Community Development; Best Use of Technology & Innovation; and Operations Excellence.

Finalists are also categorized by project size: small (projects costing up to $25 million); medium (projects costing between $26 million to $200 million); and large (projects costing more than $200 million).

Here are the 12 finalists:

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet – Brent Spence Bridge Emergency Repair Project (Operations Excellence, Small project group) (Photo above.)


Safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians was improved with the $13.9 million widening of the Fourth Street Bridge over Interstate 40 in Flagstaff, Arizona.Arizona Department of TransportationArizona DOT – Fourth Street Bridge over Interstate 40 (Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium project group)

Margaret Rose Henry Bridge Delaware
The Delaware Department of Transportation alleviated traffic congestion and created more transportation options for a Wilmington community by constructing the $82 million Senator Margaret Rose Henry Bridge.Delaware DOTDelaware DOT – Margaret Rose Henry Bridge and Approach Roads (Operations Excellence, Medium project group)

Florida Gateway to Keys project wins award
The Florida DOT deployed a SMART Work Zone System that included a temporary traffic signal, three closed circuit cameras and nine Bluetooth devices on its project to improve the Cow Key Bridge.Florida Department of TransportationFlorida DOT – Leveraging Innovation: How FDOT Transformed the Gateway to Florida Keys (Best Use of Technology & Innovation, Small project group)

Grand Valley Boulevard Bridge Indiana DOT
The Indiana Department of Transportation opened the Grand Valley Boulevard Bridge on June 15, 2020, in Martinsville. Replacing a section of four-lane State Road 37, the bridge gives drivers and pedestrians a safe connection to neighborhoods, schools and businesses.Indiana Department of TransportationIndiana DOT – Grand Valley Boulevard Bridge (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small project group)

Turner Diagonal interchange Kansas City
Originally designed as a toll road in the 1960s but toll booths were never installed, the Turner Diagonal Interchange in Kansas City had three miles of obsolete and hazardous ramps. The Kansas Department of Transportation’s $30.3 million project increased safety and economic development.Kansas DOTKansas DOT – Turner Diagonal: Partnering for Growth (Operations Excellence, Medium project group)

New Jersey road shoulder installation Route 1
The $25 million Route 1 Permanent Hard Shoulder Running Project overseen by the New Jersey Department of Transportation improved safety, increased emergency access, increased capacity and travel reliability, and cut commute times by up to 50 percent.New Jersey DOTNew Jersey DOT – Route 1 Permanent Hard Shoulder Running Project (Operations Excellence, Small project group)

NCDOT Salem Parkway project wins award
The $101.6 million Salem Parkway improvement project in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The project included 10 bridge replacements, two new pedestrian bridges, a walking and biking path and extended sidewalks.NCDOTNorth Carolina DOT – Reconstruction of Salem Parkway (U.S. 421/I-40 Business) (Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium project group)

Oregon snow safety project I-84 award
Oregon Department of Transportation developed a $15.6 million automated system that posts real-time weather, traffic flow and surface condition readings on digital billboards on Interstate 84 in northeastern Oregon.Oregon DOTOregon DOT – I-84 Snow Zone Safety Improvement Project (Operations Excellence, Small project group)

Ohiopyle park road project Pennsylvania award
To improve accessibility and safety for motorists, bicyclists, boaters and pedestrians along SR 381, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation launched a $12.8 million multimodal gateway project at Ohiopyle State Park.PennDOTPennsylvania DOT – Ohiopyle Multimodal Gateway (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small project group)

SCDOT rural road project wins award
This stretch of scenic S.C. 61 in the Charleston area underwent a $4.4 million improvement project to add new lanes and widen shoulders while reducing the number of trees cut.SCDOTSouth Carolina DOT – C. 61 Phase 1 (Rural Road Safety Program) (Operations Excellence, Small project group)

I-15 reconstruction Lehi Utah
The Utah Department of Transportation completed a $415 million project that widened I-15 to six lanes in each direction, reconfigured two interchanges, replaced 15 bridges, built a new bridge, and created a new flyover ramp to address traffic congestion in rapidly growing Lehi.Utah Department of TransportationUtah DOT – I-15; Lehi Main to S.R. 92, Technology Corridor (Quality of Life/Community Development, Large project group)

An independent panel of transportation experts will choose the Grand Prize winner, while the public will select the People’s Choice Award winner through online voting weighted to each state’s population, AASHTO says.

The online voting ends at 11:59 p.m. October 25. Votes can be cast at AmericasTransportationAwards.org.

AASHTO will announce the winners during its Annual Meeting October 26-29 in San Diego.

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Construction Blogs

What Does Climate Change Mean for Roof Maintenance?

Many American homeowners hold deep concerns about climate change. The environment has undergone extensive changes in the last few decades, many of which result from industrial expansion and other human activities. Various government agencies collect important climate change data to provide the American people with the information they need to make environmentally conscious decisions about their homes. If you wonder how climate change will impact your homeownership responsibilities, it’s vital to assess available research and work with a trusted provider when you need roof replacement or home renovations.  

Climate change affects every US homeowner 

All across the United States, homeowners in every region of the country are experiencing new weather patterns, more significant temperature fluctuations, and unprecedented levels of severe weather. Unfortunately, the home maintenance routine you followed just a few years ago may now be insufficient for addressing the effects climate change has had on your region of the country.  

Every homeowner needs to carefully consider the effects climate change has had on their region when they consider home improvement projects like roof replacements and exterior renovations. Mr. Roof is happy to provide comprehensive and environmentally conscious guidance for any homeowner who needs a new roof or other exterior work done.  

Typical climate change-related home maintenance problems in the US  

If you are unsure how climate change could affect your roof maintenance routine, consider a few of the following examples of how the changing climate is impacting homeowners across the country:  

More variance in yearly temperatures can cause more frequent freeze/thaw cycles in areas of the country that typically experience harsh winter seasons. More frequent freezing, thawing, and refreezing during winter increase the risk of water intrusion through gaps in older roofs and, more likely, ice dam formation.  High winter temperatures can put significant strain on a roofing system. For example, if your roof is holding a great deal of snow and then it rains, this significantly increases the weight stress placed on your roof and can increase the risk of roof leaks and other winter roof problems.   More severe storms mean that more homes than ever are vulnerable to high winds, substantial rainfall, and heavy gusts of wind that can damage roof shingles and gutter systems. Severe storms also increase the risk of basement flooding in many parts of the US.  Some parts of the US are reporting abnormally high summer temperatures and experiencing heat waves. If a home has insufficient insulation or ventilation, this makes it harder to maintain comfortable temperatures inside the home and can cause energy bills to spike.  Climate change affects plants and wildlife in every area of the country. In addition, you may have experienced a higher density of air particulates and allergens in your area due to temperature changes, both of which place additional strain on home ventilation and air filtration systems.

 
There are many other examples of how climate change has impacted homeownership throughout the US. If you are concerned about the way the weather has changed in your area in the last few years, it’s vital to prepare for the future accordingly if your home requires any type of major exterior maintenance.  

Improving your home’s resistance to climate change  

If you want to be environmentally conscious moving forward when it comes to home maintenance, Mr. Roof can help. We can help you determine which home improvement projects are most important for your home to keep you safer and more comfortable as the climate continues to change in unpredictable ways.  

Ventilation, air quality, insulation, and protection from severe weather are vital considerations for all homeowners. This is especially true for homeowners and families that suffer from seasonal allergies, respiratory conditions, and other medical complications that reduce their resistance to changing weather patterns. In addition to minimizing health risks for you and your family, it’s also vital to consider quality and durability when it comes to any home improvement projects you need to arrange.  

Choose reliable roof improvement experts  

When you want to ensure your home has the highest quality and most durable features and account for a changing climate, Mr. Roof can help. Our team is committed to ensuring every job we perform meets our customer’s standards to the highest possible level. We also provide environmentally conscious guidance to homeowners who are unsure about their options for roof improvements.  

Whether you’re improving your home in preparation for sale or simply need to replace an outdated roof, Mr. Roof can help you make a wise choice that accounts for climate change. Our team will walk you through every phase of every job we perform for you so you can be confident about all the work we do for you. If you are ready to start upgrading your home in ways that account for the changing climate, contact Mr. Roof today and schedule a free estimate with our team.  

The post What Does Climate Change Mean for Roof Maintenance? appeared first on Mr Roof.

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Construction Services

Skycatch Releases Flight1x Cloud-Based Drone Solution

Using photogrammetry, drones can collect enormous amounts of information on earthmoving, industrial and mining sites. But when it comes to downloading all that data … put on a fresh pot of coffee, there’s lots of time involved.

That’s why many in the industry may be interested to hear that Skycatch, a data automation and analytics provider for drone mapping, has announced the release of Flight1x, a cloud-based solution for the DJI M300 drone platform.

Built on technology adopted by large mining companies and suppliers such as Komatsu and AngloAmerican, Flight1x is proprietary software developed specifically for the M300 that, according to the company, offers the most complete end-to-end high precision industrial drone capabilities available today.

Compared to off-the-shelf photogrammetry tools and laser sensors, Skycatch’s drone software reduces the time required to obtain high-accuracy 3D data by 60% and delivers results in 10 to 15 minutes compared to the more typical three hours. Flight1x takes these capabilities to the next level on the M300, delivering sub-3-centimeter accuracy for tailings management and inspection.

This reduces surveying costs, improves production planning and minimizes the risk of human error in hazardous mining sites. Skycatch’s analytics platform, Datahub, delivers added value for specific industrial workflows such as pit survey, highwall mining and repeatable tailings inspections.

Skycatch specializes in bridging data from the physical world to the digital. The new Flight1x solution delivers data and network security via Skycatch servers in the United States coupled with advanced automation features like a 3D first-mission planner, mining-focused workflows and deep integration into Datahub.

Additional functions and features when using the Flight1x software and M300 include:

Automated capture, extraction and processing of high-precision 3D point clouds.>Specialized mission planning automation to extract data from complex terrains such as high walls.>Complete industrial data capture and processing for repeatable and automated spot inspection.>Consistent data retrieval analysis of thousands of terrain spots in a single location by an automated industrial drone. >Automated aerial robot technology built on Skycatch’s platform that eliminates need for manual pilots and reduces risk of human error.

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Construction Management

Task Force Racing to Develop Tech Guidance for Electric Trucks

Editor’s note: Trucking industry efforts to develop recommended practices for training techs on electric trucks may offer a glimpse of what the construction industry will go through as more electric machines reach the marketplace. Here’s what’s happening on the trucking side.

Electric vehicle (EV) research and development has become a major business unit for North American truck OEMs (and new industry players), but those efforts still represent a focus on the future rather than a necessity for today. 

An American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) study group intends to develop a recommended practice (RP) for Electric Vehicle Technician Training. Most of the discussion has focused on how fundamentally different EV operation is from conventional diesel engines, and how all service shops (fleets, dealers, independent service providers, etc.) will need to invest heavily in training to ensure their employees can correctly and safely perform EV service.

Kevin Otto, formerly with Cummins, led the discussion during a recent TMC meeting.

In opening the task force meeting, Otto said he estimates nearly every diesel technician working in trucking today will require substantial education on electrical systems to even approach working on EVs, let alone become an expert. Because today’s Class 8 trucks run almost entirely on 12-volt DC power — alternators use AC power within a closed system — most technicians have no experience working on or around higher voltage equipment.

Otto said obviously that will need to change. The electrical power running through a conventional Class 8 truck is dangerous enough. But in a vehicle fully run by batteries? Otto said untrained technicians attempting to service an EV tractor could put themselves in serious danger.

“These battery packs will pack a big wallop,” he said. ‘[Electric trucks] will be foreign for folks who haven’t worked on these systems before.”

That’s where TMC wants to help. Otto said TMC hopes to encourage participation from heavy-duty OEMs to leverage the EV training programs they are already developing for their dealer partners to put together top-level guidance that can be applied across the industry. Once developed, Otto said TMC’s RP won’t attempt to provide granular details on how to complete every EV repair, but it will hopefully offer clear and detailed descriptions of what training a technician needs before being allowed to start an EV service event.

The study group also intends for the RP to address battery testing, charging, shipping and handling, tool requirements and more. Meeting attendees spoke to the importance of each step, noting how dangerous battery packs for heavy trucks could be for an untrained professional.

With electric trucks now available to order but still mostly in development, it’s likely the study group has some time before its RP must be completed. Nevertheless, Otto said the group intends to work quickly once task force leadership is established so the RP beats the Class 8 EVs to the mainstream.

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Construction Services

Ritchie Acquires SmartEquip, Makes Parts Play

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers is acquiring SmartEquip for $175 million, a deal that will give Ritchie “asset-specific full-lifecycle parts and service support” to dealers, OEM partners and buyers, says Ritchie CEO Ann Fandozzi. 

The acquisition, says Fandozzi, “furthers our goal of providing the best experience for our customers as we continue our transition from a traditional auctioneer to a marketplace for insights, services and transaction solutions for commercial assets.”

A multi-manufacturer platform, SmartEquip provides real-time service and diagnostic support that is customized via serial number to each asset on a customer’s fleet. It also enables online parts buying from OEMs and dealers. In the announcement Ritchie says SmartEquip supports about $1 billion in annual transaction volume with more than 600 OEM brands, on behalf of fleet locations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. 

For the foreseeable future, SmartEquip will continue to operate as a standalone business headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut. 

The move will “accelerate SmartEquip’s ability to support its rapidly growing footprint across our joint global marketplaces,” says Bryan Rich, SmartEquip executive chairman. The firm has 60 employees, who will transition to Ritchie.

Ritchie says this acquisition will accelerate parts and service sales on behalf of its dealers and OEM partners by “providing a seamless experience for users.” It also will deepen its inventory management system connectivity, enabling solutions around inspections and ancillary services and enable optimization of search and advertising revenue streams, Ritchie says.

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Construction Services

SafeAI: Autonomous Equipment is About to Get Much More Robust

Remember self-driving cars?

Except for a few dramatic failures (Tesla anybody), you don’t hear a lot about them these days. But in fact, there has been huge progress in developing the underlying artificial intelligence (AI) technology for them.

One person who has been involved in AI research and development from almost the beginning, is Bibhrajit Halder. Starting in the early 2000s, Halder worked with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), then Caterpillar on its first autonomous mining trucks and eventually moved to Silicon Valley to work with Apple and others on self-driving vehicle projects. 


HalderSafeAIToday, Halder is the founder and CEO of SafeAI, a company that retrofits heavy equipment such as dump trucks, pickup trucks and skid steers with autonomous technology. Additionally, the company has partnered with Obayashi (one of Japan’s top five construction companies) on an autonomous construction site and is working with Goodyear to integrate tire intelligence into autonomous vehicles. 

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Halder and ask him just what happened to self-driving cars and what might that mean for the mining and construction industries.

As for self-driving cars, “That’s just hard,” says Halder. “The problem is massively challenging. Work is ongoing and there has been a huge amount of progress over the last ten years. But more has to be done. Companies like Waymo are getting close. And when they do get it, the floodgates will open. We just don’t know when that will be.”

On the other hand, heavy equipment, in particular mining, is way ahead in terms of adoption. “The mining industry has already moved more than five billion tons of material with autonomous trucks,” Halder says.  Even more significant, he says, is the fact that most of those mining trucks are running on technology that is already outdated. And the new technology, developed to solve problems in automotive applications is just now beginning to make a difference in mining and heavy equipment autonomy.

For simplicity’s sake, Halder refers to the old and new technology as AI 1.0 and AI 2.0.

The new AI

The AI 1.0 that entered the mining truck market early in the last decade relied on GPS, LiDAR and CPUs on the machines. These did the job very well but were limited in how much they could do and how much information they could capture and process.

The big difference now with AI 2.0 is that engineers have Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) in addition to CPUs, says Halder.  “GPUs offer a hundred times more computing power than before. That means we can do a lot more with our algorithms. GPU technology is more mature and able to handle many more use cases.” 

GPUs were initially developed for the video game industry because in video games a lot of the pixels change very quickly, and CPUs are not adept at this kind of information processing. “GPUs are better at parallel processing and can do it at a significantly better scale, and that helps AI, because AI requires parallel processing,” Halder says.

Neural networks

Halder gives an example of a truck coming up on a berm as an example of how this works. With the older 1.0 systems if you wanted your machine’s perception system to identify a berm using LiDAR it would be difficult. To a LiDAR system a berm might as well be a building. All it sees is an object of a certain size and shape. 

“Now we can take hundreds and hundreds of pictures of berms and feed it into this deep neural network, and it will recognize a berm and learn what it is,” says Halder. “And the more data you feed it, the better it works. This quality gets better and better over time, that’s a massive improvement.”

As the machine learns to distinguish between a berm, a building or a stockpile it can make better decisions on its own, Halder says.  “Your engineers don’t have to change the algorithm every time the truck encounters a new situation. That’s the power of AI. The AI network will recognize anything that you feed it.”

The automotive industry is also using GPU’s but the sheer complexity of highways, vehicle sizes, road signs and pedestrian issues are still more than AI 2.0 systems can handle and guarantee 100 percent reliability and safety. But construction and mining sites, with their limited traffic and controlled environments are easily managed by GPUs and AI neural networks.

AI 2.0 is just beginning to make an impact in mining and a few big construction sites, but that’s going to change says Halder. “With every project we are gaining massive amounts of knowledge. And as we gain that knowledge, we will better know how to scale that down. It is a continuous learning process.”

Training and support

Another plus for the mining and construction industry is the fact that the companies involved in implementing AI 1.0 developed good processes for training workers and deploying the technology.

Construction supervisors already know how to plan jobs and orchestrate the work, says Halder.  Only now, with autonomous machines and AI, instead of verbally telling operators what to do, they send the same instructions to the autonomous machines as a digital file.

“The transition from driving machines to managing machines remotely happens a lot quicker than you think,” says Halder. “Based on my experience, the operators and people on the sites  picked up on it so quickly you would be amazed,” says Halder. “They actually love it. Their job has become much safer with them sitting in the office looking at a screen or out a window. And that’s the vision: nobody in the unsafe areas.” 

Training on the mine sites is done with a staged approach, says Halder. “The tech provider will continuously train and support the mine operator on a daily, hands-on basis and then slowly pull back. The tech support, which is somebody we partner with, will stay on the site, sometimes for years,” he says.

The next big thing

“Autonomy is something every OEM is pursuing,” says Halder. “Everybody is trying to get there. Everybody knows the autonomous, connected site is the future. Everybody is either doing something internally with autonomy, or they are partnering with technology providers.”

But the winners in this race will not be the AI providers who just have the best technology.

“This isn’t a pure technology play,” says Halder.  “If your technology isn’t good, you don’t even get a seat at the table. You will win on the people side of it. You have to understand the customer’s workflows. You have to make their life easier. Service, support, training and education, that’s what going to win. It requires patience and that’s hard work too. Anybody who isn’t in it for the long haul won’t win.”

We’re also on the cusp of a new generation of vehicle technology that will open even more possibilities, says Halder. “Autonomy will eventually come into a lot more than just self-driving cars,” he says. “Anything that moves or has a safety implication is a candidate for AI.”