Material and labor shortages, emerging technology, transportation delays and other factors have significantly impacted how the construction industry has operated in the last few years. Still, despite the turbulence the industry has experienced, the sector is expected to reach $14.4 trillion in 2030.
Companies can harness emerging construction trends to leverage the shifting market and overcome competition.
10 Construction Industry Trends in 2023
The construction industry is continuously evolving. Emerging technology trends are changing how companies perform different tasks. Explore the trends in the construction industry to expect in 2023 and the coming years.
1. Smart and High-Tech Protective Equipment
Site guidelines were changed to emphasize safety and cleanliness, largely due to COVID-19.
The industry also saw new machines that could identify and eliminate safety issues, such as wearable work boots that can connect to Wi-Fi and alert someone if a person has fallen. Environmental sensors are also gaining traction on construction sites. They help detect heat, winds and noise so workers know when to evacuate themselves and costly construction equipment during a weather event.
Steps are also being taken to incorporate robots on the job site to help improve safety. For example, many construction sites implement material-moving “mules” to transport heavy or hazardous materials to keep workers out of harm’s way. The construction industry also focuses on 3D printing to help reduce transportation risks. High-tech protective equipment will likely show up on more construction sites as more companies prioritize worker safety.
2. More Efficient Technology
New construction technology also aims to increase efficiency and productivity. In turn, it can streamline different processes to save valuable time and money. Examples of this technology you’ll likely see more of include:
Construction drones: Drones in the construction industry are one of the most popular technological trends continuing in 2023. Drones are useful for construction projects, mapping large areas and providing real-time information that can help streamline processes and improve decision-making.
Smart contracts: This technology helps organizations have a shared system to conduct business, enabling them to buy, track and pay for their services. Smart contracts are an all-in-one system that can help increase security, speed up closeouts, automate the supply chain and improve project tracking.
Augmented reality (AR): AR is quickly becoming more popular within the construction industry, making it easier for project staging and allowing buyers and tenants to view tangible images before construction begins or in the middle of projects. AR technology can also enable construction companies to obtain automated measurements, train workers, and simulate structural or architectural changes quickly and affordably. AR in the construction industry is projected to reach $150 billion by 2030.
Building information modeling (BIM): This technology helps construction companies improve their efficiency and stand out. BMI enables construction companies to create models of buildings and streamline the part prefabrication, improving the accuracy of builds. You can easily build and manage facilities and infrastructure through this technology, and there’s plenty of BIM software to consider. Over 98% of U.S. large architecture firms have employed BIM.
3. Green Construction
Green construction or building has become the new standard for renters, commercial tenants and homebuyers. As sustainability and ecotech become more mainstream in the next decade, costs for eco-friendly materials should start to decrease and become more commonplace.
Green construction refers to technology that can help reduce a building’s carbon footprint and the allocation of resources and building models to help reduce overall use. Renewable energy, such as solar, is becoming more popular among homebuyers and renters. This can increase costs for construction companies, as growing commodity prices have increased costs to produce solar panels, biofuels and wind turbines worldwide. Many eco-friendly features in a construction project are still considered investments, despite their long-term savings.
Another popular choice for urban areas is green scaping, which involves equipping rooftops with small parks and plants. These buildings are often built horizontally rather than vertically, which helps increase the available space for these green scapes.
Green scapes offer resistance against storms and provide natural insulation. A green roof stores water by the substrate. Water is then evaporated and returned to the atmosphere. As a result, the green scape reduces the amount of stormwater runoff, delaying the time the runoff occurs. In turn, it reduces stress on sewer systems at peak flow periods.
By increasing insulation, a green roof can decrease the amount of energy required to regulate building temperature — considering roofs are largely responsible for heat loss in winter and hot temperatures during summer.
4. More Diverse Workforce
One of the most notable trends continuing into 2023 is the increased demand for labor and a shortage of workers.
As a result, the construction industry is encouraging more women and Generation Zers to enter the workforce. There’s been a newfound shift in attitudes regarding trade schools, which enables construction companies to recruit more workers, boost their career growth and take advantage of new technology.
5. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing technology allows construction companies to store and access data on demand, making information retrieval simpler and more efficient. In 2023, you can expect the industry’s reliance on cloud computing to increase. This solution enables remote access to construction project data, streamlines collaboration and allows for easy data sharing.
6. Remote Work and Mobile Access
It doesn’t sound possible in the construction industry, but remote work is a growing trend. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many industries to switch to remote work, including construction. As a result, mobile access and remote work became more common within the industry. Research shows that 15%-20% of construction employees now spend their time on tasks that can be completed remotely.
Mobile applications now allow construction companies to offer worksite access like never before. Some apps can take accurate measurements using a smartphone camera, improve on-site accountability or offer real-time inspections. This technology was helpful during the pandemic, but as we’re starting to emerge from lockdowns and other restrictions, construction companies still use it.
7. Increasing Material Costs
When COVID-19 shutdowns first occurred, material costs rose due to limited availability, transportation delays and lockdowns in various countries. Building material costs have increased by 33% since the beginning of COVID-19.
Many countries still experience the effects of these situations. Labor shortages also make it more challenging to keep up with demand and are driving up wages. As a result, material prices are expected to continue increasing in 2023.
Technological innovations and materials can also contribute to increased costs, even though these are designed to save on costs in the future. Some of these materials include:
Invisible solar cells
While it can be hard to predict precisely how material prices will fluctuate throughout the year, construction companies should anticipate some increases in material costs, especially as the United States continues to experience inflation throughout all sectors.
Many construction companies are shifting towards using new materials to reduce costs and improve sustainability. Some of the options available on the market currently include:
3D printed materials: 3D printing technology is revolutionizing the construction industry, helping companies create walls, floors, concrete and other building materials needed for construction.
Recycled materials: Recyclable construction materials aren’t new to the industry, but they’re now being used to construct entire structures.
Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC): ECC is a bendable concrete with polymer fibers, making it more resilient than traditional concrete. ECC is more cost-effective for many construction companies and helps them decrease their carbon footprint, which is essential as more consumers become eco-conscious.
Engineered timber: You can find different types of engineered timber on the market, created by arranging several types of softwood together. The result is a material product that has the strength to replace concrete and steel. Engineered timber can also help with lumber shortages. Limiting steel and concrete usage can help reduce emissions and lessen waste during material manufacturing.
8. Modular and Offsite Construction
Modular or offsite construction is constructing most of a building or structure before taking it to the construction site. These structures are assembled at another location for the construction company or the manufacturers before being taken to the site. The finishing touches are completed at the construction site.
New technology is helping the modular construction sector experience rapid growth, allowing construction companies to reduce their on-site construction. Offsite construction can also streamline construction projects, helping workers complete a quality build more quickly. You can save on material and shipping costs with modular construction, which can improve your bottom line.
This sector also experienced labor and material shortages like other construction companies. Despite these challenges, the popularity of modular construction continues to hold strong. Construction companies should expect to see more contractors utilizing modular construction services in 2023 and the coming years. The global offsite construction market was $72.11 billion in 2020. It’s expected to reach $114.78 billion by 2028.
9. Rise of Smart Cities
Many large corporations, such as Microsoft, are looking into investments in smart cities. These cities are more interconnected and intricate than traditional ones, requiring intensive planning and development before construction can begin. The smart city market is expected to grow to $6,965.02 billion by 2030, and more construction companies will start to work on these projects.
Some notable smart city projects include Hudson Yards in New York City, Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates and India’s Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. These projects are expected to improve modern infrastructure, environmental health and the economy.
Smart cities utilize information and communication technology to share information with the public, improve operational efficiency, and enhance government services and citizen livelihoods. Experts predict that 80% of people will live in cities by 2050, so there’s an increasing need for smart and sustainable cities.
Some roles the construction industry will take to improve the sustainability of these cities include:
Installing “smart roads” to help reduce emissions and fuel costs.
Making waste management changes, including smart bins and data collection to improve garbage collection.
Adjusting public transportation using sensors and real-time data to detect high passenger volumes and traffic accidents.
Measuring noise levels, air quality and energy with sensors.
Construction companies can prepare for these innovations by understanding the necessary skills and equipment to construct smart cities and planning for the government’s response to this shift.
10. Increasing Pressure on the Bottom Line
While construction revenue has been increasing in recent months, many companies still see slim net profits, leaving little room for unplanned expenses. On top of challenges with profits, construction materials and inflation are also affecting construction companies’ bottom lines. As a result, construction companies are looking for ways to be more profitable.
Construction companies can work toward this in different ways, including negotiating with suppliers or automating parts of the workforce. Construction companies must prioritize cost-savings and efficiency to help them increase their profits. You’ll also want to consider how the fluctuating cost of materials will affect:
Quotes and estimates.
Available funds and budgets.
Request a Quote From Our Experts
Take Off Professionals (TOPS) can help you utilize technology to keep up with emerging trends and revolutionize your construction projects. We offer various machine control data and preparation services, including:
Our data modeling services focus on your projects, allowing you to improve their performance from start to finish.
We can work with you on various levels, making it easy for you to reduce or increase our participation in your projects to fit your needs. If you want to be more accurate with your data, contact us today for a quote from one of our experts.
3D technology is a relatively new emerging tool with the potential to impact the roadwork construction industry significantly. Integrating 3D-engineered modeling into highway building and repair projects can help make them more efficient, benefiting construction workers and the general public alike.
Here we discuss what 3D technology is, how you can use it in roadwork projects and how it can ultimately benefit the industry as a whole.
How Is 3D Technology Used in Road Construction?
3D technology is a digital modeling tool construction teams can use to plan and execute roadway construction projects. Replacing traditional two-dimensional paper plans, 3D technology is a quicker, more cost-effective way to construct, maintain, survey and repair highways.
3D technology-rendered models are the result of comprehensive appraisal, design and coordination efforts. They produce a computerized depiction that accurately shows the existing site conditions and the designer’s intent. Contractors can use these 3D-engineered models to deliver a road construction project faster and with better accuracy than traditional 2D tools allow.
The process of creating a 3D model begins with an aerial scan of the project site. Engineers use pilotless aircraft, such as drones, to survey the site. The aircraft transmits the data it collects to a scanning station, where designers use it to render a 3D representation of the construction site.
A complete 3D-engineered model includes the initial survey data along with suggested vertical and horizontal alignments, features and structures for the future site.
How 3D Technology Applies to Highway Construction
Whether contractors are building new roads or updating existing ones, 3D technology can help make the process safer, more precise and more efficient. Contractors can use 3D technology for automated machine control, project management and quality assurance.
For instance, 3D laser scanning allows construction workers to scan and record critical information about the road, using this data to develop an accurate plan. They can also prioritize problem areas to avoid potential issues during construction, thus speeding up overall project completion times and reducing traffic.
Additionally, 3D technology makes it easier to move and measure asphalt. Construction workers traditionally used milling machines for concrete removal. A 3D scanner helps them digitally detect the amount of asphalt they need to remove. Then, they can measure the precise amount of concrete they must pour to repair the road. Again, this can speed up the project completion time.
Read on to learn more about each of these innovative applications.
Automated Machine Control
GPS machine control negates the need for extensive staking and produces more accurate results. You can use it with the following roadwork construction equipment:
Grading equipment: Machine-controlled grading equipment, such as dozers, motor graders and scrapers, provide data on the cutting edge’s position relative to the design surface, with no grade stakes needed.
Excavators: Excavators outfitted with GPS or laser-controlled sensors can accurately measure slope, reach and elevation. The operator can visualize the elevation of the design and the tip of the excavator bucket.
Compaction equipment: 3D technology-equipped compaction machinery like rollers lets the operator see live data on surface compaction directly beneath the roller as it moves. This intelligent compaction allows the roller to meet density requirements with fewer passes, cutting fuel and labor expenses.
Milling and paving equipment: 3D technology controls the vertical alignment of a milling machine’s rotors. 3D milling equipment can use information from a data station to modify slope and elevation, eliminating extraneous work from placing and readjusting stakes.
Scheduling, Cost Estimating and Project Management
3D-engineered models can help civil contractors with cost estimating, scheduling and project management. In addition to streamlining the project for the contractor, these applications provide more value to the project owner. 3D technology enables the following:
Earthwork quantity estimation: While earthwork quantity estimations are a crucial part of any project, they require significant amounts of time. It’s also often challenging to produce them with the high level of accuracy they require. 3D technology can render highly accurate quantity estimations in short periods. The computer effectively determines the cut-and-fill amount at small intervals throughout the model limits. The digital terrain model can also efficiently balance earthwork and propose haul routes.
Facilities management: Civil integrated management involves the procurement, organization and accessibility of a highway facility’s precise information and data. This data includes planning, surveying, design, construction, maintenance, asset management and risk assessment. Civil integrated management syncs the designer’s 3D-engineered model with cost and schedule information to create a model that all project stakeholders can view.
Quality Assurance and Post-Construction
In addition to efficient scheduling and cost savings, 3D technology can also improve the quality assurance process during roadwork construction. With traditional 2D construction methods, inspectors must rely on grade stakes and 2D paper plans to ensure that grading operations follow the design. With 3D technology, inspectors can use handheld GPS devices to spot-check horizontal offsets and elevations.
The 3D-engineered model’s proposed grading surface lets inspectors perform random spot checks with GPS rovers to ensure the ground is graded correctly. The handheld GPS equipment compares the currently graded elevations to the proposed design surface at all locations within the 3D-engineered model’s limits.
Inspectors can also spot-check elevations behind the paver to confirm the paving machinery is set up and operating correctly. Contractors can rectify any discrepancies quickly, reducing the amount of rework needed.
How Can 3D Technology Help Roadway Construction?
The applications above do more than simply modernize roadwork construction — they benefit it in multiple ways. When civil contractors use 3D technology, they’ll experience the following:
Faster Project Completion
With guidance from 3D-engineered model data, GPS-enabled machinery can operate all day and night and produce accurate grades on the first pass. In addition to decreasing waste and economizing resources, machine-controlled equipment’s first-pass accuracy helps contractors complete their jobs faster.
Better Cost Predictability
A 3D-engineered model lets clients and contractors see all project elements and how they interact, giving them access to the information they need to make decisions. Roadwork construction 3D technology allows engineers to quickly input the items they want to quantify and receive their numbers.
Integrating costs can help build an accurate budget and reduce cost overruns. Options like 5D models incorporate costs into the project. Contactors and clients can see when they’ll receive invoices for materials and when they’ll need to pay.
Less Asphalt Wastage Due to Precise Milling Depth
Using traditional milling equipment to remove asphalt is a wasteful approach. With machine control, operators can adjust the depth of asphalt they remove in real-time, producing less waste. 3D machine control helps the operator optimize the work and make it more precise. It speeds up the overall process and reduces the risk of making a mistake. As a result, the operator is less likely to have to start over, saving both time and money.
GPS machine control technology reduces milling depth in low points of a road, such as potholes, ruts or sunken culverts. At the same time, it increases milling depth at higher points of the road. It also avoids milling too deep, eliminating the risk of penetrating the asphalt to the granular.
Precise milling depth measurements enable pavers to enhance a road’s water drainage profile and produce a smoother surface. They also allow road crews to more accurately determine the exact material quantities they’ll need.
Less Room for Human Error
Few things are more frustrating in road construction than pouring concrete only to tear it back up later due to an error. While 2D construction plans work well enough to design highway systems, there can be disconnects between what’s on paper and what’s in the field. 2D plans usually include cross sections at every 50 or 100 feet, leaving the contractor to interpret the plans in between. This approach presents an opportunity for error. Misunderstandings can lead to inaccuracies, which ultimately result in a loss for everyone involved.
3D-engineered modeling lets contractors know exactly what to expect. With their unrivaled precision and accuracy, digital models significantly reduce errors. When you catch mistakes during the design phase, you can address them for a fraction of the cost of fixing them on-site.
With a 3D rendering, designers can immediately detect if something looks off. The software naturally provides clash detection by showing the entire project — if pipes intersect or contact a bridge footing, it’s immediately visible. 2D plans aren’t capable of displaying these conflicts, but a 3D model is essentially one large cross section, providing a whole new level of detail.
All the items in a 3D-engineered model are spatially related. The designer can view the model from various perspectives, such as elevation and isometric views, which helps them visualize the data. An engineer’s ability to identify design and constructability concerns before the proposal reaches the field decreases the chance of costly errors.
Higher Transparency for Stakeholders
3D-engineered models allow road construction contractors to walk through their projects before they pour an ounce of concrete.
Stakeholders can use virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) to view the project before getting underway. VR and AR improve communication and help with the integration of ideas. It also simplifies the process, giving stakeholders a clear idea of what they can expect from the project.
In addition to informing stakeholders, 3D technology can help give the public an idea of future developments. Giving the public more insight into these development plans opens the floor to their own input. You can use public feedback to find ways to better serve the community, integrating their ideas into the project.
Those outside of engineering and construction may find it challenging to visualize project elements by looking at drawings. Using 3D models in public meetings can help show laypeople precisely what the project will look like when it’s complete.
Lower Overall Cost
Though it has higher upfront costs, 3D technology can be worth the investment, as it helps civil contractors save money through the course of the project. This more than compensates for the initial design fee.
3D models can cost up to 10% more than the average design fee. While that’s a significant expense, you can save about 4% on the construction project overall. That means a 3D-engineered model for a $500-million project could save you $20 million.
3D modeling provides more precise results, warranting fewer changes and saving time and money. Automating tasks like subgrade, base course and pavement placement eliminates human oversight, reducing room for costly errors.
Enhanced Project Safety
3D technology automates tasks such as staking, stringing lines, drawing fill lines and setting grade stakes. Traffic is one of the main safety hazards for surveyors because it hinders their physical ability to measure the construction site while also putting them in danger of an automobile accident. Surveyors are often in the crosshairs of distracted drivers and other roadside hazards. Lane closures are an effective way of obtaining the data necessary to base map a project, but they require careful planning and significant expenses.
3D technology is a risk-free way to survey a project site. Mobile, aerial or terrestrial light detection and ranging are all surveying solutions that remove personnel from the hazardous roadside. Drones give construction project managers a detailed view of the site. Managers can survey difficult-to-reach areas without extra time delays or safety equipment. Drones are equipped with infrared cameras, radar and rangefinders to perform various inspection tasks.
Real-Time Control and Monitoring of Movement and Location
Intelligent technology like 3D models, on-site laser-based positioning systems and GPS machine control can help engineers control location changes and movement. Machine operators can also perform cuts, fills and grades with high precision automatically or with direction from an onboard system.
Experience the Future of Roadwork Construction With Take-Off Professionals
Our full-time designers work in three different time zones to meet our clients’ needs. We work on jobs of all sizes, from custom home lots to full-scale highway projects, so you can count on us no matter what project you’re taking on.
Predictive data analysis helps companies use data and information to make good decisions, increase productivity and improve safety measures in the workplace. With predictable outcomes for your future projects, you can estimate how much you might need to spend on tasks or identify areas with a higher likelihood of causing injury.
Predictive data brings structure to structureless data. Data common to the construction industry may be hard to analyze or structure into understandable maps and tables. Predictive data analysis helps construction companies monitor important data to make their workplace safer and more efficient.
Benefits of Predictive Data
Using predictive data in the construction workplace has many benefits. Besides the typical benefits of risk reduction and increased safety measures, predictive data analytics reduce the chance of human error and lead to impressive results that will help a company thrive.
1. Risk Reduction
Predictive analytics gives you a lens to better understand data in real-world applications. You can get a good sense of your business structure and understand how to take steps toward a workplace free of incidents or injuries. If you can predict what specific tasks may cause injuries or increase risks based on previous data, you’ll be prepared to reduce risk in the workplace and work toward a successful and healthy team.
2. Less Human Error
The ability to learn from our mistakes is one of the most valuable life skills to have, and predictive analysis follows a similar mantra. With predictive analysis, construction workers can analyze previous data to help them reduce future errors.
Take this small-scale example: If a construction team notices they tend to experience more slip-ups onsite when it’s chilly outside, they can look at previous data to try and decipher the cause of the error. They may realize that the jackets they wear when it’s cold inhibit movement, increasing the likelihood of injury or mistakes.
Predictive analytics makes it easier to make the right decision that will most likely result in a positive outcome for your company.
If you need more computing power and want assistance with accurate decision-making, using predictive analytics can help you. Predictive analysis can reduce human error, which leads to the following benefits for your company:
Ability to analyze large data sets: Predictive analysis uses a large set of data to inform results and records, making the decision process easier.
Faster production: Predictive analysis can produce results quickly, helping your company keep up with decision-making on time.
Improved precision: Predictive analysis data sets are precise and accurate. Accurate data allows your company to make informed and correct decisions about safety, products or materials.
Improved safety: With a better, more precise and faster process, the overall safety of your company and employees can improve. You can make better product decisions and pinpoint areas where safety in the workplace could improve.
3. Impressive Results
Predictive analysis can also help your company and workplace thrive. For example, you can analyze workplace safety over a certain amount of time to see how many workplace injuries occur. Once you have that information, you can use predictive analysis to spot trends, see which activities most frequently lead to injury and make safety improvements to reduce the number of injuries.
You could also use predictive analytics for more than researching and analyzing data. Many companies have recently begun using predictive data and smart devices to increase safety and efficiency in the workplace. Smart devices can predict hazard areas or tell a worker if their actions may result in a possible injury.
For example, Caterpillar, a leading construction machinery and equipment company, began using Cat Smartbands. The device used a wristband with a mounted mobile device to detect fatigue levels in employees. It could also detect severe braking, swerving and inattentive driving when the wearer operated equipment. The Smartbands offered a great way to combine predictive analytics with modern technology to actively increase workplace safety for Caterpillar.
How Does Predictive Data Lead to a Safer Jobsite?
Knowledge of the benefits of predictive data can make construction sites safer. Completing integral jobs can be risky at any job site. While on the job, construction workers may get exposed to chemicals, experience burnout or anxiety or have to operate machinery that leads to injuries or damaged equipment.
The right software can help provide your company monitor valuable safety data. Safety managers can use data to improve workplace conditions through accurate datasets and predictions collected specifically for safety purposes. Remember that collecting unnecessary information about other kinds of predictive data may alter your safety analysis. If you intend to reduce safety concerns, keep your data analysis concise.
Some examples of data categories your company may want to explore include the following areas:
Reported incidents: A description of the safety incidents reported and details about each type of injury or accident.
Incident rates: The rate of recordable safety incidents in the workplace or warehouse.
Injury costs: The cost of each reported injury, including medical bills, worker compensation and other money spent on repairing the damage.
Training and certification: The kind of certifications or training each employee has received concerning the workplace and each reported incident.
Safety incidents: Incidents related directly to safety violations when using heavy machinery and equipment or operating in the workplace.
Fleet accidents: Accidents related to fleet operations and the details surrounding the accident and injuries.
Tools: The tools used during the incident or any devices used during the day.
Design elements: Specific design elements of equipment, machinery or tools that led to the injury.
Compensation: Details on worker compensation related to injuries or incidents, including amounts and frequency.
Severity: The severity of the injuries or incidents.
Experience levels: The experience levels of employees in the workplace and those involved in the incident or injury.
The information provided through these data points can help your safety workers, managers or inspectors create a better work environment. Predictive models help your company pinpoint the exact areas that need immediate improvement.
Find out what led to injuries and where they occurred. You can also discover what equipment and tools are most likely to cause potential injuries and work to reduce safety hazards. Knowing the possible cost of injuries can also encourage a decrease in workplace injuries.
Consider the legal aspect as well — predictive data analytics can help create an accurate timeline of claims and injury costs. Information on your claims may become part of the litigation process, and a detailed account of each incident can assist stakeholders, CEOs and workers in reducing injury-related losses.
Getting Started With Predictive Data Analytics
Now that you understand the benefits of predictive data analytics, it’s time to get started collecting data. Before diving in, you may want to become familiar with the different areas of predictive data so that you’re fully prepared for every step. Here are eight essential factors to consider.
1. Focus Areas
One of the best ways to get started with predictive data analytics is to identify focus areas to create an efficient process. Remember not to choose areas that are too broad to ensure you get accurate results. You want to use your time — and data — efficiently.
Choose one or two focused areas to create a predictable analysis of data. Your data can help you anticipate and mitigate safety hazards, improve quality and reduce safety issues. With more visibility into risky projects and equipment, your company can prepare for every safety hazard and reduce the number of injuries each year.
2. The Right Tools
You can also use past data to grasp how tools have contributed to injuries to choose the right tools for the job. Using the right tools in the workplace is an essential part of risk management. It can also help you reduce costs and increase safety. After analyzing the differences between tool types, you can evaluate each one’s performance and work to mitigate risks in the workplace.
Safety managers may especially benefit from predictive analytics relating to tools, as they can predict potential behavioral hazards related to tool usage and work to implement better safety practices. Taking proactive measures using accurate data can help top managers and executives in the company identify and reduce risks before they become an issue.
3. Standardize and Centralize
Predictive data analytics also offer a helpful way to centralize and standardize your company’s data. You can provide structure to your company through proper research and reporting. Employees and managers can better utilize the information for hazard mitigation when they know where to find it.
Many companies enjoy that standardized data allows them to explore future technology in the workplace, such as machine learning or AI. Analyzing such options can help increase areas like project delivery and create an efficient company in and out of the workplace.
4. Budget Management
Your company must pay attention to each project’s financial and budget management forecasts during construction projects. For example, you may be required to monitor budgets in real-time, identify cost overruns or anticipate cash flow problems. These tasks are made easy with predictive data analytics that can quickly research and run data about anticipated financial risks and issues before they occur.
Your company can also use predictive data for the following purposes:
Finding equipment to purchase: Use predictive data to buy the right equipment or machinery in the future.
Deciding whether to purchase or lease: Decide when it may be best to purchase equipment or lease machinery for a project.
Predicting revenue and profits: Monitor and predict your overall profit and revenue for every project.
Discovering staffing needs: Decide what staffing requirements may be necessary for each project.
Choosing future projects: Predict what tasks you may complete or acquire.
5. Easy Access to Information
Predictive analytics may also help you make informed decisions and encourages companies to provide easy access to data and information across teams. Many companies remain dependent on paper information in the construction industry, but adopting paperless data helps keep necessary materials stored in the cloud rather than binders. From stakeholders to contractors or third-party employees, people will benefit from easily accessible information. It also increases team members’ communication and collaboration while improving employees’ planning and decision-making.
6. Efficient Reporting
Many companies in the construction industry have relied on paper-based reporting in the past, which may lead to problems in the future, as papers may go missing or essential reports get lost in messy offices. Even subcontractors could get behind on filing paperwork, making the construction process challenging and inefficient or leading to delays.
Paperwork can also make it difficult to visualize data accurately or compile large amounts of information. With digital predictive data analytics, you can easily access reports online. Digitization saves time and helps companies avoid accessibility problems or human error during data entry.
7. Increase Worker Safety and Productivity
Remember that one of the main benefits of predictive data analytics is improved safety and productivity in the workplace. Data can help you maximize your productivity by keeping workers engaged and saving time and money that you might otherwise lose. Overworked or burned-out employees may result in overtime costs and high employee turnover.
Predictive data can help you pinpoint areas of improvement and trends in injuries and accidents during the day. With the right data, you can fix the problem and find areas where you could continue improving your workers’ conditions. You’ll see that efficiency and workflow increase significantly once employees work in a safe and healthy environment.
8. Dispute Resolution
Resolving disputes is a common problem in the construction industry and can result in costly resolutions. Predictive data can help your company find areas where conflicts may occur, such as progress or project status, time spent on projects and cost related to projects. Material usage or quality of material may also be a common reason for disputes. Understanding these key areas can help you create and analyze data sources to find the truth for both parties during a dispute. Using predictive data, you can reduce the chances of needing dispute resolution altogether.
Predictive Analytics: A Summary
With all this information in mind, you can leverage predictive analytics by using historical data to predict safety hazards or future events. Creating a safer workplace starts with informed decision-making, which is only made easier with predictive data. You can prevent problems before they exist with accurate data, reducing injury costs and safety hazards. With informed data in mind, your company can identify opportunities to improve workplace processes, operations and safety procedures.
Use Predictive Analytics at TOPs
At Take-off Professionals (TOPS), we offer 3D data for machine control and layout. From grading surfaces to layouts and utility trenches, our products assist rovers, machines, pavers and more. With predictive data analytics, your company can use our quality takeoffs to estimate the cost of a project, including the attributes and quantities of materials you’ll need to complete it.
From schools and commercial sites to streets, highways and home lots, our predictive data allows your company to use the right tools, materials and quantities at all times. Your company can become the most efficient and safe it has ever been. Contact us today to speak to a representative, or call us at 623-323-8441.
Innovation strategies can mean progress in any industry but especially in the construction industry. Innovation can mean you deliver greater value to customers and work more efficiently. However, because of tight profit margins and risk, innovation or change isn’t always welcome. The right innovation strategies can help you reduce risk and increase your and your customers’ return on investment (ROI).
For any innovation strategy, you must make some changes. These changes could include everything from new methods of handling project planning, labor productivity, safety issues, document management and information sharing to budgeting and addressing overruns in scheduling or costs. At TOPS, we want to help you reduce risk and increase your ROI.
Innovation in Construction
Innovation is change and an openness to improving services, processes and products. Innovation is key to solving challenges you face at your work sites. In the construction industry, heavy equipment, complex materials and big machinery provide more ways to get the job done than ever. However, innovation has been a bit slow in construction compared to other sectors because innovation is expensive, lacks standardization and requires significant research. Shortages in labor and material availability can also hinder innovation. In this industry, you can foster innovation by:
Improving efficiency: Improve the efficiency, productivity and quality of your work in the construction industry with a monitored and connected job site.
Building with the future in mind: To build with the future in mind, use smart technology, new energy sources, better resource and asset management and innovative construction materials and methods.
Promoting sustainable solutions: Many in the construction industry are innovating to promote sustainable solutions that can reduce their environmental impact.
Optimizing supply chain management: Optimizing your supply chain management can make it easier to track fleets, improve inventory management and obtain services and materials.
Measuring Return on Investment
You can measure your ROI both internally and externally. Internal ROI includes process, profit and people.
Process: This factor focuses on efficiency.
Profit: This factor concentrates on the impact on your bottom line.
People: This factor refers to employee engagement and skill level.
External ROI, on the other hand, includes competitiveness, community and customers.
Competitiveness: This factor refers to how you show your competitive edge to win better projects.
Community: This factor looks at how you manage and organize the subcontractors and supply chain within your professional community.
Customers: This factor assesses how you acquire, keep and encourage repeat customers.
In measuring ROI, many hard metrics depend on cost and time savings. Some softer metrics are helpful to evaluate in times of high demand, fewer materials, sustainability and fewer people. For example, if you want to replace a manual task with software, you must first analyze whether doing so would save money and time and ensure accuracy. Workers should also feel positive about working with the software, and the software should improve performance and make the job easier to perform.
Increasing Return for Earthworks
To increase your ROI for earthworks, you should understand how to ensure a successful earthwork takeoff. Earthwork is the engineering process in which soil, rock and similar materials are removed, moved or added to change a location’s topography. To increase your return for earthworks, you may want to invest in earthwork estimating software. Some of the features of this software include trench profiling, grid views and strata layer breakdowns.
Introducing New Technology
Technology is the cornerstone of the construction sector’s innovation. From the latest technologies that facilitate sustainability to digitalized solutions that promote productivity, technology is essential to the industry. The goal is to identify new technology and tackle the challenges you have been facing.
To introduce new technology into your work, you need to take a strategic approach. To determine the right technology for a project, identify who will be impacted, lay out the process and choose the technology that improves the process.
Identify employees: Determine who will be using this new technology or who will be impacted by it. Consider the current level of understanding and the level of understanding and awareness you need employees to have. With your team, communicate both the how and the why of this new technology.
Lay out the process: Next, lay out the process for which you want to use this new technology. The technology should improve this process or help you determine whether you should implement a new approach.
Choose the technology: Finally, select the right technology to improve your work. If you are unsure how to make this selection yourself, turn to the Take-off Professionals for help.
New technologies can make job site workers safer and overcome mobility restrictions with technology that aids in the delivery of materials. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) and robots allow construction professionals to work remotely without pausing their projects or exposing themselves to illness during a pandemic, for example. New technology can open the door to other innovative solutions in the construction industry.
Civil contractors use many machines, such as dozers, soil compactors, pavers, asphalt compactors, skid steers and machine control motograders. If you’re a civil contractor, you may also utilize full-scale aircraft or drones to capture data with photogrammetry. If you don’t already use this technology, these may be new tools you want to implement.
If you’re a surveyor, point cloud modeling is one example of new technology you may want to use to conduct land surveys more efficiently and easily. Point cloud modeling uses fewer resources while still accomplishing the same work. Point clouds are collections of several small data points that each represent part of a surface in a specific area like an engineering work site. Together, these points form a 3D structure. At TOPS, we use point cloud data as part of our 3D earthwork modeling.
Learn From Our Trainers at Take-off Professionals
As the experts in all things data, TOPS creates 3D data models for machine layout and control, including 3D utility layout, grading surfaces and utility trenches for machines, rovers, pavers and curb machines. We provide earthwork takeoffs with mass haul analysis for roads and sites, material and dirt quantities. Additionally, for the project’s life cycle, we create haul roads. To help boost your productivity on a construction site, we offer the following services:
Point cloud modeling
Aerial lidar services
3D and GPS control modeling
To build the best 3D models, our team is composed of only full-time employees. Our focus is entirely on data preparation and modeling, so you can rely on our expertise. If you are a busy contractor in need of support with takeoffs and the right technology, we can help. Contact us at TOPS to learn more about reducing risk with construction innovation strategies.
You might not initially think that construction and technology go hand in hand. But looking at the industry’s history and how modern construction processes and techniques differ from those of a century ago makes it easy to see the importance of technology in construction. One way to get a sense of how the construction industry has developed or evolved over time is to look at the tools people use. As the construction industry has developed, the available positions have also changed. Many construction companies now look to hire people with technology and construction skills. In some cases, the blend of modern technology with construction has created jobs that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
Technology Is Changing the Construction Industry
Technology has shaped the construction industry since the beginning. The invention of power tools in the late 19th century meant that people could work more quickly. The development of heavy equipment also streamlined the work process and allowed projects to grow bigger while reducing the cost of the projects. Other advancements also allowed for new types of projects. Elevators, for instance, allowed buildings to reach sky-high, rather than limiting them to being just a few stories tall. The impact of technology on the construction industry continues today. While power equipment and automated equipment accelerate projects and eliminate the need for human workers to perform repetitive tasks, the development of software tools, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are continuing to alter the construction landscape. Changes in the way the world approaches work have accompanied technological advances in construction. Like many industries, the construction industry had to pivot and adjust once the COVID-19 pandemic began. One notable shift was that to remote work. While many project elements still need to be completed in person, many day-to-day, back-and-forth communications between project managers and laborers don’t need to be face-to-face. Using platforms that allow for video conference calls has allowed managers to check in with their teams, assigning tasks and responsibilities for the day. The same is true for the ordering process. In many cases, there’s no reason for a project manager to visit a brick-and-mortar store to order supplies. Digital ordering is much more streamlined and efficient. Similarly, digitized payment options allow construction companies to get paid for projects more efficiently and eliminate the need to track down checks or visit a bank. Digitization and video conferencing are just two examples of newer technologies that are pushing the construction industry forward. Other examples include:
1. 3D Modeling
In the past, machine operators had to rely on the location of surveyor’s posts and their own skills to operate heavy equipment successfully. The precision of the stakes and operators’ skill had a significant impact on a construction’s site overall productivity. A poorly placed stake or a stake that moved due to weather could set a project back. The use of 3D model machine control is helping bring construction sites into a new era of efficiency. Machine control relies on positioning sensors, such as sonic tracers, GPS systems and rotating lasers. The sensors give machine operators real-time feedback on the position of their buckets or blades. The sensors also provide data on target grades. The result is heavy equipment that’s safer to use and more accurate.
2. Building Informational Modeling
Building information modeling (BIM) allows engineers, designers, architects and others involved in the construction process to collaborate on the construction of a building. There are many moving parts in the construction process. An architect lays out the design for the building’s structure, the engineer ensures the building can support itself and the designer chooses the layout and materials used in the building. Before the development of BIM software, each party worked individually. Without the opportunity to collaborate or connect with their colleagues, issues could arise in the process. An architect could design features that meet code, only to have the materials chosen by the designer slightly alter their measurements. In some cases, issues wouldn’t be discovered until construction began, leading to time and money lost. BIM changes that. Using the software, everyone involved can work together from day one. The result is a dramatic reduction in project costs and an increase in time saved.
3. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) goes one step beyond 3D modeling and BIM. It allows engineers, architects, clients and others involved in the process to walk through or tour a building model before construction begins. VR can improve cost efficiency while reducing the chance that a client will be dissatisfied with the final result.
4. Off-Site Construction
Off-site construction isn’t a new concept, but it’s a process greatly aided by technological developments. With off-site construction, building components get assembled in a climate-controlled environment. The components are then sent to the construction site for assembly. Putting components together in a controlled environment protects them from the elements and reduces delays due to inclement weather. There is also less damage or wear and tear on the components when they get assembled in a temperature-controlled environment.
5. Software Platforms and Apps
Software platforms help streamline multiple areas of the construction industry. Project managers can use apps to keep tabs on project schedules and budgets and to communicate with their team when off-site. Software apps also integrate with VR and BIM to enhance the modeling and design process. Many of today’s construction software platforms are cloud-based and can be accessed from anywhere there’s an internet connection.
Importance of Artificial Intelligence in Construction
Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like it comes straight out of science fiction. It’s a technological advancement that exists and is used in many industries, including the construction industry. Through AI, machines can learn and imitate human cognitive functions. The importance of AI technology in construction shouldn’t be underestimated. It can help companies complete projects on time, minimize staffing challenges, save money and address safety concerns. AI learns from the data provided to it. It can adjust project plans based on the information it receives, allowing decision-makers to alter those plans or change them to improve safety or minimize inefficiencies. AI can help construction companies in the following ways:
Reduce project overruns
Improve building design
Address labor shortages
Top Construction Technology Careers
The adoption of technological advances in construction has led to the creation of careers and positions that didn’t exist a decade ago. Developers, architectural firms and general contractors are now seeking individuals who have a knowledge of construction and how to use technology to improve processes. The demand for tech-friendly construction workers has led to several tech-focused careers.
1. Data Analysts
Data analysts, also known as operation research analysts, use math and logic to help the companies they work with solve problems. The exact role of data analysts varies based on the company they are working with. Construction technology enables those in this role to use data analytics to:
Help project managers decide how to use resources
Supervise the supply chain
Evaluate site safety
The job of a data analyst often begins with a problem. The analyst might identify the problem on their own or work with other team members to determine the biggest issue facing a company. The analyst then collects data on the problem. They’ll break the issue down into various components, using database software, data mining and forecasting. Being a data analyst requires a person to be comfortable with some trial and error. When assessing information, the analyst will examine the impact any changes or different circumstances will have on the outcome. They might adjust the number of workers during a shift or run simulations that examine the effect of different types of weather. A data analyst can help a construction company decide the best course of action to take to achieve certain project goals. They’ll present multiple options and paths forward, providing information on the pros and cons of each option. When presenting their findings to their manager, they’ll make recommendations and provide data-based justifications for their recommendations.
2. Directors of Construction Technology
The role of a director of construction technology is relatively new. Companies with the resources to hire a director of construction technology typically do so to help manage the various technologies that have come into existence recently. A director of construction technology is often responsible for sorting through software and hardware options and helping determine what is helpful for the company. They perform research and manage teams that beta test various platforms and devices. If a device or platform proves valuable, the director of construction technology oversees its roll-out to the whole company. The director might sit in on meetings with other departments and pay close attention to concerns or problems that come up during those meetings. They can then recommend products or technological resources to help solve common concerns. Often, the director of construction technology oversees the rest of the tech team at a construction company. The other team members might be responsible for training workers and showing them how to use various technological programs, such as virtual reality or BIM. The role of director of construction technology is more common at larger contracting companies but can also be beneficial for medium-sized and small firms.
3. Project Managers
Project and construction manager roles existed before the rise in technology. But advancements have shaped how the job is performed and the skills a person needs to succeed in it. During a construction job, the project manager needs to coordinate and supervise every aspect of the project. They might be there during the design phase and the construction phase. Project managers often have to ensure projects are up to code and meet any required design specifications. They’re also responsible for keeping projects on schedule and on budget. Often, they need to juggle managing multiple projects simultaneously. Usually, project managers work with engineers and architects on a project. They might also have to interact with the authorities, such as a municipality’s inspection board, elected officials and lawyers. In many cases, they hire other people to manage various project aspects. For instance, the project manager might hire an electrical manager and a structural engineer. They’ll then be responsible for overseeing the work of the other managers. Technology, such as scheduling software, can streamline the role of a project manager. Individuals in these roles can also benefit from a knowledge of BIM and 3D modeling programs. Since project managers are responsible for keeping a project on budget, accounting programs and AI can also help them do their jobs more effectively.
4. Computational Engineers
A computational engineer is someone who can write algorithms and computer scripts that scan BIM renders and 3D models, looking for potential code violations before construction begins. The field of computational engineering is relatively new. It merges advanced computational analysis and methods with engineering. Computational engineers have extensive backgrounds in science and engineering, as well as thorough knowledge of computer languages, math and algorithms. Those who work in the construction industry also have extensive knowledge of construction practices and requirements. Computational engineers are dedicated to data. They know how to interpret and use this information to solve problems or keep problems from developing in the first place. Although computational engineers have an essential role to play in the construction company of the future, it can be challenging to get them to work in the field. Many people who are drawn to careers in computational engineering want to work at established technology companies or start-ups. They might not be considering a career in the construction industry initially. But those who do move into the construction sector are likely to see a significant demand for their skills, which can be a win-win situation for the engineers and the companies that hire them.
Contact Take-off Professionals for All of Your Construction Data and Technology Needs
Your construction company stands to benefit from data and technology. If you can’t afford to hire a director of construction technology or a computational engineer full-time, Take-off Professionals is here to help. We work with construction companies on three different levels. We can act as your engineering staff, taking on all responsibility for data gathering. We can also fill in any gaps in your team or provide supplemental support. Whichever service level you choose, you can rest assured that we’ll build the best data and provide the best take-offs available. For each job, we use four software programs, which allow us to put together the best package for your project. Our team takes on hundreds of projects annually, much more than even the largest contractors can handle. If you’re ready to increase your construction technology stack but can’t hire full-time, contact us. We only need your paper plans, computer-aided design (CAD) files and a work order to start. Get in touch for your free quote today.
Estimating an earthwork takeoff accurately is essential to achieve success and avoid costly consequences. When you become efficient at earthwork takeoffs, you can grow a successful business providing contractors with accurate takeoffs.
As a civil contractor, you likely use many machines, including machine control motograders, dozers, pavers, skid steers, soil compactors and asphalt compactors. You have internal surveyors or grade checkers who stake, monitor progress and validate grade on the job site, along with drones or full-scale aircraft to capture data via photogrammetry to be transformed into point clouds.
At Take-off Professionals, we know how time-consuming and complex construction takeoffs can be, and we use point cloud data for 3D earthwork modeling. This guide to having a successful earthwork takeoff will help you understand every important aspect of this process.
What Is Earthwork?
Earthwork refers to the engineering process of adding, moving or removing materials like rock and soil to change the topography of a location. Compare the current topography and the proposed design to establish a 3D earthwork calculation. Creating an accurate estimate involves calculating how much material a contractor needs to fill or cut.
Filling: One of the key parts of the process is filling, which is when the contractor adds material to the site.
Cutting: Another part of the process is cutting, which is when the contractor removes material.
Filling and cutting are both essential for developing the topography in the contractor’s design. Engineers calculate the fill and cut quantities to reach and use a mass balance for an accurate earthwork estimate. An earthwork takeoff can be manual or digital.
Manual earthwork takeoffs: Manual takeoffs are often laborious and complex, and even a small error can lead to significant calculation issues.
Digital earthwork takeoffs: A digital earthwork takeoff involves software that tends to be more accurate, easier and faster than a manual process.
A successful earthwork takeoff can lead to a more precise estimate and help the job go smoothly.
What Does Takeoff Mean in Construction?
In the construction industry, a takeoff is the process in which a contractor determines the amount of every material needed for a project. You may also hear this referred to as a material or quantity takeoff. Contractors use takeoffs in construction to:
Calculate materials to buy: One of the most important uses of a takeoff is determining how much material is needed. Underbuying can lead to job site delays and more trips to purchase additional materials. Buying too many materials can cut into your profit. This calculation also influences how accurate your estimate and bid are.
Create an estimate: To create an accurate estimate, you need to know how much material is required. This allows you to calculate other costs for your estimate, such as labor hours, waste percentage and tax.
Submit a bid for a job: A takeoff is essential for knowing how much to bid for a job. If you underbid, you could lose money. If you overbid, you could lose out on a job.
A takeoff determines how much material is needed for a job, while an estimate also includes the costs of these materials and other expenses related to the project, such as tax, labor costs and travel costs. Earthwork takeoffs go by a few other names, including construction takeoffs, material takeoffs, estimating takeoffs and material estimating. Developing a precise earthwork estimate is key to a construction project. Ideally, a bid should accurately reflect material and labor costs, so you can minimize financial risks and obtain the project fee you deserve.
An estimator or group of estimators is responsible for a takeoff. A large company tends to have a team of estimators with a chief estimator who is responsible for assigning projects and handling the bid calendar. A smaller company may have a single estimator who handles takeoffs. Examples of professionals who may be in charge of earthwork takeoffs include:
Residential home builders
Road and highway engineers
Outside of construction estimators, some organizations may place the responsibility for performing takeoffs on sales employees and material suppliers.
Earthwork Estimating Methods
Engineers can use a few different estimating methods to create 3D data for earthwork. You can use one of these methods to calculate the material and dirt quantities needed to provide the construction site with mass haul analysis.
Block method: Also known as the division of square method, the block method is used to determine volume for a medium-sized project that requires leveling. However, there is some margin of error with the block method if a project involves both cutting and filling.
Average method: The average method tends to be used for smaller projects. This is the simplest estimating method used only for projects that require cutting or filling. If a project uses both filling and cutting, the average method will give you an inaccurate estimate.
Section method: The most precise and complex estimating method is the section method. This method is best for large projects like roads, dams and railway systems. Though this method involves more complicated calculations and steps, it gives the most precise estimate.
Choose which estimating method you use based on the size of the project and how precise you want your estimate to be.
Estimating Earthwork Takeoff Software
One of the common earthworks costs is earthwork estimating software. As an estimator, you’re in a race against the clock during an earthwork takeoff and estimate. You frequently juggle multiple projects and deal with inaccurate or incomplete design plans. Bidding too low or too high could mean losing a job or taking a loss. This is where estimating earthwork takeoff software comes in.
Winning a job begins with a construction takeoff, which determines what material is required to perform a job. Your software can calculate your material costs by multiplying the price of the material by the number of units and adding in the cost of equipment, labor, fees, insurance, administrative personnel and subcontractors. Cloud-based software can also improve collaboration among your team.
If several people are involved in making an estimate, collaboration is an important element. Cloud-based software means your system is accessible from anywhere and you won’t have to worry about updating or maintaining the system. If you want to track historical trends and reuse information, estimating software can be beneficial. When it comes to collecting data and using it later, this software is essential.
If you have been performing manual takeoffs, deciding to invest in software can be challenging, but it’s generally the best option for your business. In particular, this software can be incredibly helpful if you take on more than a couple of commercial projects per year. Features of earthworks software may include:
Primavera: Project managers use Primavera to ensure compliance and keep projects on track. Primavera can have a bit of a learning curve, so you may want to attend a training course before you start using the software. With this program, you can avoid overrunning deadlines and increase the efficiency of your planning. Features of Primavera include real-time reporting, multiuser system, multi-device capabilities, risk management capabilities and standardization. If you want to improve productivity on a construction site, Primavera can be a worthwhile investment.
AutoCAD: In the construction industry, AutoCAD is among the most commonly used programs. This computer-aided design (CAD) program lets you create and edit drawings. Some features included in AutoCAD are smart dimensioning, cloud integration, photorealistic rendering, 3D modeling and visualization, and import and export of PDF and DGN. These features make the software accessible, versatile and user-friendly.
Civil 3D: Similar to AutoCAD, Civil 3D is more advanced software that lets you dive deeper into a project via multiple profiles, alignments and surfaces.
Bluebeam: This PDF editor can be used for various workflows, including submittal, document planning and quality control. If a CAD program is too complex for a task, Bluebeam may be a good option. Features of this program include standardization, collaboration, multi-device capabilities and CAD plugin.
Microsoft Excel: Likely the most commonly used civil engineering program, Microsoft Excel allows engineers to perform various functions, from simple calculations to project tracking. Excel includes several helpful features, such as templates, visualization, storage, flexibility and calculation. If you need to improve your knowledge of Excel to leverage the program successfully, you can quickly find an online training workshop or affordable course.
Microsoft Access: Alternatively, you may want to work in Microsoft Access if you create extensive spreadsheets. Access is found in the Microsoft 365 Suite and used to build databases, store data, add forms to databases, facilitate collaboration and export data.
If you want to implement estimating software, select an option that integrates with your construction management program. When you choose to work with us at Take-off Professionals, all we need is your paper plans, CAD files and a completed work order.
Become Familiar With Estimating Tools
To successfully use estimating tools for an earthwork or material takeoff, you must become familiar with them. As an estimator, you should also understand the construction process and the use of the estimate. Becoming familiar with these aspects can help you leverage your tools more effectively for an excavation takeoff.
Owners either request a preliminary bid or full life cycle analysis. You may be working with only a description of the project at the beginning rather than drawings. This means you’ll need to price the whole scope of the project, not just what is shown. Default unit pricing doesn’t always account for every factor that may impact the price of labor and materials, such as supply chain issues, availability of certain trades and construction volume. Be sure to include these factors in an estimate.
Start with a properly set scale for a successful takeoff. In some cases, a provided scale is inaccurate or not included in the blueprints. Beginning with setting or checking the scale will ensure your measurements are accurate. Being accurate, thorough and quick are all key to a successful takeoff. At Take-off Professionals, we use your designs to create precise earthwork estimates.
Common Takeoff Pitfalls
For a construction project, a takeoff is necessary. While residential contractors may be able to estimate the materials needed for a project simply by eyeballing the house, this skill doesn’t translate to most commercial projects. Generating an accurate estimate is essential for a successful project. However, some pitfalls could impact an estimate and takeoff. Inaccurate measurements and missed deadlines are two of the most common takeoff pitfalls.
Inaccurate measurements: Whether due to a complex digital process or a manual takeoff, inaccurate measurements can occur and impact a takeoff. When you move data between tools, you risk making mistakes. You may be transferring data from paper to Excel or from your takeoff program to an estimating software. During manual data entry, a single typo or distraction can throw your entire estimate off.
Missed deadlines: Missing bid deadlines is a common takeoff pitfall that can occur when the takeoff doesn’t leave extra room for creating a detailed estimate. This happens most often with manual takeoffs. Even if you work around the clock, attempting to complete an estimate during a time crunch may lead to missed deadlines and wasted hours.
As an estimator, you must know exactly the amount of materials on a structure and bid on several jobs simultaneously. Though you can use a ballpark estimate to get enough materials that you can reuse later, paying for them upfront may negatively impact your cash flow. Too high of an estimate could mean you miss out on a job. Some contractors will want to see a completed takeoff or will do their own takeoff to check your work. Fortunately, you can avoid the common takeoff pitfalls above by implementing earthwork takeoff software.
Contact Us at Take-off Professionals
At Take-off Professionals, we create 3D data for layout and machine control, including machines, grading surfaces, curb machines, pavers and 3D utility layout and utility trenches for rovers. We provide earthwork takeoffs with material and dirt quantities and mass haul analysis for roads and sites, so you can return to managing your business and building projects. Additionally, we can develop haul roads for the project’s life cycle, including:
Custom home lots
Schools commercial sites
Since 1988, we have been helping busy contractors who need support with takeoffs. We design our quantity takeoff services to meet your specific needs. We can ensure you have the necessary information based on the best possible earthwork takeoffs, which can help you improve your productivity. With better work efficiency and bidding accuracy, you can save money and enjoy greater profits. When you’re ready for a successful earthwork takeoff, contact us at Take-off Professionals to learn more.
For those outside the construction industry, it may be difficult to tell the difference between an engineer and a surveyor. Land surveyors and engineers work together on most construction projects and share some of the same responsibilities. That said, surveying and engineering are two separate professions requiring different skills and knowledge. Both disciplines are important in ensuring a project goes well, which is why you’ll commonly find them working on the same projects.
In this post, we’ll go into detail about the relationship between land surveyors and engineers and how that relationship plays out during a construction project. We’ll also discuss the different tools and methods engineers and surveyors use and how that impacts your project.
The Relationship Between Engineers and Surveyors
The duties of a civil engineer and a land surveyor are intertwined. They often work together on construction and civil engineering projects. While sometimes an engineer may take on the responsibilities of a surveyor or vice versa, both roles are critical to a construction project’s success.
Beyond the design phase, surveyors and engineers serve as checks and balances for a work site. Both supervise the construction process to ensure the structure is being built according to the original plans. Surveyors conduct as-built surveys, which they use to confirm the engineer’s plans. Engineers then use this information to create any modifications or corrections.
The point of their work is to ensure the crew builds to specifications and that the structure and worksite will be safe. If you were to lose either from your team, construction would have to stop until you found a replacement.
Surveyors and engineers usually work in teams, especially on large projects. In general, more complex projects require larger teams of surveyors and engineers. You also might use multiple teams as the project progresses — for example, you may have a team of surveyors at the beginning of a project and switch to another team if necessary.
The Role of the Land Surveyor
Land surveyors collect data on important geological features like the angles and distances between points above, below and on the surface of the land. They use this data to determine where a structure should sit and establish property boundaries. The types of surveys a surveyor might perform include:
Property survey: A property survey confirms or establishes the legal boundaries between two pieces of property. This information is especially helpful in case a legal dispute arises between private and public parties.
Geological survey: Geological surveys map out the physical landscape surrounding a site or structure, including features like rivers, mountains, valleys and more. Satellite data and aerial photography play a large role in geological surveying.
Construction survey: A construction survey creates the layout for an engineering or construction project by establishing reference points, dimensions, elevation and positioning for a structure or proposed improvement.
Deformation survey: Conducting a deformation survey helps surveyors determine whether a geographical or human-made feature changes shape over time. This information is useful for evaluating the chance that structures or improvements will be safe from the deformation of their surroundings.
Right-of-way survey: This survey establishes access points and access rights to a particular property.
Topographic survey: A topographic survey is one of the most important surveys a survey team conducts. It provides engineers with the locations of elevation variations, geographical features and artificial structures like underground utilities, telephone lines or nearby buildings. This data also allows engineers to calculate the earthwork a site will need to reach the final grade.
Land surveyors also play a role in minimizing the impact a project will have on the environment. When they take their measurements of the land, the survey team makes sure that the land will not be adversely affected, the structure will be safe and the project will be as efficient as possible overall.
Accurate survey data is also beneficial to the planning phase of construction projects. Here are some of the ways surveyors can aid engineers in the earliest planning stages:
Mitigate the risk of future regulatory enforcement actions
Maximize project startup through comprehensive planning
Minimize delays in project schedules
Help determine project scope and aid in pre-construction planning
Establish standards for later survey teams to follow
Throughout the construction process, surveyors supervise activity to ensure the crew is following the engineer’s plans. Usually, these surveys require whole teams of surveyors to complete — more measurements must be taken on active construction sites than on empty land. If the project appears to be even a millimeter off, the surveyors steer the construction crew in the right direction before a problem can arise.
Once construction wraps, land surveyors conduct as-built surveys, which record the final location of a construction project and any deviations from the original designs that may have occurred.
How Surveyors Collect Data
Surveyors use a combination of digital and conventional tools to create the most accurate image of a site they can. Some examples of surveying equipment include:
Levels: Surveyors use levels to measure the difference in elevation between two points. Usually, they use these with level rods or tripods to get a precise reading.
Prisms: Prisms allow surveyors to lock in control points at a height suitable for pinpoint accuracy. Surveyors can mount prisms on surveying poles and use them with electronic distance measuring (EDM) equipment for maximum accuracy.
Theodolites: This essential surveying tool measures the vertical and horizontal angles between points. More advanced theodolites, also known as total stations, can also measure distances, complete calculations and record and store data for later use.
Electronic distance measurement: EDM uses electromagnetic waves to measure the distance between two points. Surveyors typically use theodolites to gather this information.
Drones: Surveyors can easily conduct aerial and high-risk surveys using drone cameras without putting themselves and others in danger. They can fly a drone into areas that are difficult for humans to access, like high bridges, canals and other civil infrastructure. The images produced through this process allow engineers to extract topographical data for their plans.
LiDAR: Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems use pulses of light to create a point cloud, which serves as the basis for a detailed 3D model of a space. Surveyors can stitch together multiple LiDAR scans to create an accurate image of especially complex or large sites.
The Role of the Engineer
Once the land surveyors have completed data collection, civil and construction engineers use this information to create the blueprints for the project. If the structure requires a foundation, a geotechnical engineer is typically the one responsible for ensuring the foundation will interact well with the geographical features around it.
The surveyors often provide their input during the design phase as well. This feedback increases the chances that the plans will succeed.
Beyond the design phase, construction engineers are typically responsible for overseeing the design and safety of temporary structures used during the construction phase. They may also be responsible for the following:
Preparing project budgets and communications
Planning distribution of water supply and electricity
Ensuring construction sites are safe and clean
Providing technical advice and feedback to construction crews
Selecting and procuring the appropriate materials for a project
Why Good Data Is Important for Civil Engineers
After surveyors have collected the necessary data for a project to begin, the raw data needs to undergo a series of processes in order for engineers to make use of it. Raw data can be messy and inaccurate, so it’s important to perform data preparation before attempting to use the information.
Data preparation is the process of cleaning and transforming raw data into a usable format. This process involves several important tasks:
Eliminating extraneous or duplicate data and any existing outliers
Filling in any missing values
Making corrections to data
Ensuring data fits standardized patterns
Reformatting data to facilitate analysis
Joining together data from multiple sources
Consolidating or separating fields
The benefits of data preparation for construction projects include:
Reliable results: With accurate, readable data, engineers are better able to draw plans that accurately reflect reality.
Potential savings: When engineers have accurate information about a site, they can more easily identify areas where they can safely cut costs.
Informed decisions: Accurate data equips engineers and project managers with the knowledge they need to make important planning and procurement decisions.
Increased safety: More accurate site data means engineers will have a better idea of the potential risks involved with a project, which can help improve worksite safety and speed the construction process.
Because data preparation can be a time-consuming process, it can be beneficial to go through a third party. You’ll be able to focus all your time and energy on collecting geographical data and translating it into building plans while your data prep partner takes care of the rest. Plus, having more eyes on the data can help find discrepancies and errors you may have missed the first time around.
Types of Engineers
Engineers who work on a construction or civil engineering project may specialize in a range of disciplines, including:
Architectural engineering: Architectural engineers design buildings. While they have a similar job to architects, architectural engineers focus on the functional aspect of a structure rather than its aesthetic appeal.
Construction engineering: Construction engineers are a subtype of civil engineers responsible for overseeing the design and implementation of large-scale building projects. Often, they are also responsible for developing project budgets and overseeing how the project works.
Civil engineering: Civil engineers are responsible for overseeing the complete construction and safety of a construction project. Their primary focus is on ensuring the functionality and structural soundness of buildings and infrastructure.
Geotechnical engineering: Geotechnical engineering involves gathering data on the behaviors of soil and rock. It also involves assessing factors like slope stability and the potential risk of landslides, avalanches or falling rocks. This information helps determine the makeup and design of a building’s foundation and how it contributes to structural stability.
Structural engineering: Structural engineers are responsible for designing and assessing large-scale projects like bridges, buildings and dams to ensure strength and stability.
Transportation engineering: As the name implies, transportation engineers focus on planning and maintaining transportation systems, like city streets and expressways. Surveying is crucial to transportation engineering because the condition of a road is often dependent on how well it interacts with the geological features surrounding it.
Unless the engineer has the skills and tools to conduct land surveys themselves, working with a surveyor is a must for any engineering or construction project.
What Tools Do Engineers Use?
In addition to the traditional paper and drafting pencil, engineers use a variety of computer programs to draw project plans, manage workflows and communicate with other parties working on the project. Typical examples include:
Computer-aided design (CAD) software: Programs like AutoCAD, DraftSight and Solidworks allow engineers to create detailed, readable 3D plans for construction projects.
Project management software: Tracking programs like Excel and Primavera are useful tools for tracking project workflows and progress. This kind of software also comes in handy when tracking and calculating material quantities or other data.
PDF editors: Programs like Adobe Acrobat and Bluebeam Revu are excellent for marking up and editing designs before sending them in for review. Some have collaborative features that allow whole teams to view and edit a document simultaneously, enabling users to catch errors they may have missed in earlier stages.
The specific tools an engineer may need depends on several factors, including the types of projects they work on, their specialization and where they are in their career. For example, a new engineer is more likely to use technical software most of the time, while someone who has been in the industry for a while might use something oriented toward project management.
Contact Take-Off Professionals for Data Preparation Today
The construction industry relies on good data to create safe, lasting structures — that’s what makes land surveyors and engineers so critical to the success of any building project. Both professionals gather and use data to plan projects and ensure they stay on track.
If you need to package data for your crew, TOPS can help. With more than 20 years of experience and a laser focus on data preparation, you can rely on us to create excellent deliverables for projects of all shapes and sizes. Our team consists entirely of engineers who work full-time to ensure you get the data you need when you need it, even when deadlines get tight.
All we need from you are your CAD files, paper plans and a completed work order. With this information, our team of engineers can create accurate, high-quality reports for your projects, including:
3D utility layout
Dirt and material quantities
Cut and fill maps
Mass haul analysis
Let us take some of the work off your shoulders. Reach out to request a free quote today — we’ll get back to you shortly with a detailed report and accurate turnaround times, giving you the confidence you need to win your bid and complete your project in time. We also offer free trials if you want a more detailed look at what we can do for you.