The construction industry still ranks among the least digitized industries — but the opportunities for both small and large companies to invest in new technologies grow every day. Everything from mobile apps to sophisticated integrated software can help improve processes and procedures throughout a project lifecycle, from preconstruction through completion.
In May, The Unified Group held its annual Construction Forum in Bemidji, Minnesota. Leaders from 17 member companies attended the three-day conference to discuss topics and trends related to preconstruction, integrated workflows and achieving maximum project efficiency and success.
The first day began with a presentation from Dave Schoendaller of Glassman Corporation on the benefits of the design development phase, followed by Josh Byler of Blauch Brothers, Inc., who shared the company’s process workflow and how to build better relationships with owners. A guided tour of Peterson Sheet Metal by owner Jaime Quello ended the day. The interactive tour allowed the group to view the facility’s main operations, including sheet metal fabrication, pipe prefab, detailing, warehouse, tools and inventory.
Trimble, The Unified Group’s newest purchasing partner, kicked off the second day with a presentation on the importance of integrated workflows. Their construction solutions offer powerful data collection capabilities, delivering enhanced internal communication and increased productivity to the end user. Tim Smerz, president of Air Comfort Corporation, then facilitated a discussion on achieving project success, which included how to avoid a “bad” job. The group shared personal experiences, challenges and ways to identify when a project gets off track, and brainstormed ways to resolve concerns. The afternoon session focused on lean construction and efficiency, led by Ken Trotter of A&G Piping, Jon Castro of B&I Contractors, Inc. and Josh Byler of Blauch Brothers, Inc.
“My favorite part about these events is the willingness to share and contribute,” Byler said. “I can tell that every member is passionate about continuous improvement.”
Technology implementation was the focus of the third day. Quello shared Peterson Sheet Metal’s use of scan-to-BIM workflows to visualize projects using captured data, resulting in more accurate and efficient jobs. Trotter showed the group how A&G Piping uses PIPES software to support collaboration and manage workflow. The session ended with a discussion on project completion — closing out, quality control and how to pick up service work.
Leaders from within The Unified Group association realize that all clients and all projects are different, but the collective group learned how a smooth preconstruction process can streamline an entire project lifecycle and give all stakeholders a clear vision of the overall project — including scope, budget and timeline — during an informative Construction Forum.