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The Necessary Marriage Of Construction And Technology In The Post Pandemic World

Shawn McNamara, Director of Business Development, Dayton Superiors

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customers who use these facilities, by phone or email as much as possible. Onsite at these facilities, you typically have a couple of employees who guide trucks to specific sites for dumping waste so there is little physical contact.

At one point, early during the pandemic when masks were hard to come by, a small group of our employees came up with a novel solution to address the scarcity of masks. Promotional t-shirts were “donated” by our Public Information and Outreach Division and several employee volunteers who knew how to sew offered to sew the t-shirts into masks. This helped us keep frontline employees supplied and safe, until we were once again able to order masks for them.

The credit for thinking outside the box and making sure we were able to operate despite COVID-19 goes to our employees and senior management team.

Experience with crises also helped.

In 2016, Miami-Dade County became ground zero in the United States for transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. At the time, and to this day, mosquito control in Miami-Dade County was managed by us, DSWM. Although the “hands-on” work was conducted by the Mosquito Control Division, the solid waste side provided the support necessary to make Miami-Dade County, Florida, the first place on earth to end an outbreak of Zika successfully.

If that wasn’t enough, 2017 brought another, more challenging test. Hurricane Irma touched pretty much everywhere in Florida, especially the Keys, which bore the brunt of what was a monster Category 4 storm.

Although Miami-Dade escaped the worst effects of Irma, we were by no means spared. One of the most noticeable consequences of Irma on Miami-Dade was the amount of debris it left behind. Dead vegetation, fencing and other detritus covered the streets of Miami- Dade County—all over the county, in fact.

It fell upon DSWM to take the lead in cleanup efforts. Fortunately, our team, working with several pre-qualified contractors, successfully cleaned up the streets of Miami-Dade County in a little more than three months.

 

This was quite a remarkable accomplishment, considering we were competing for many of the same disaster cleanup contractors that other parts of the state and even Texas (which had been hit a month earlier by the devastating Hurricane Harvey) were seeking to hire.

By the time everything was said and done, DSWM and its contractors had removed, ground down (for volume reduction) and disposed of nearly 4 million cubic yards of storm debris from our 320-square-mile service area. All this, while we were still providing our regular waste and recycling collection, and disposal services to our residents.

Nobody knows what 2022 will bring. I’m pretty sure we’re all hoping it brings an end to the pandemic and no new surprises (I know I am). But I feel fortunate knowing I have a team on my side—the DSWM team—that has proven, time and again, it is up to any challenge.

dollars were realized by the contractor from optimizing steel quantities specified. Inherently, nothing was incorrect with the initial design from an engineering and safety standpoint but using spreadsheets, and older design methodologies resulted in an overly conservative structure. With newer tools, projects can now be analyzed from a micro perspective to optimize every portion of the work scope. If we extrapolate these savings using the estimated market size of Tilt-Up, published by the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA), that presents upwards of over $50,000,000 dollars of unnecessary building materials in one construction sector alone. Overlaying this with today’s market constraints, the lack of employing more technology-based tools within the design and construction sectors will likely contribute to excess material needs, reduced profit margins, and resulting less investor expansion.

"The drastic reduction and constraints within a vocation and STEM-related fields have created more efficient building design essential"

As more advanced technologies materialize, it is crucial to consider the transitional relationship between established methods and new technological tools. Ensuring efficiency through transition is paramount. Without proper program support, projects and processes are subject to harmful disruption. Therefore, innovation and incorporation between BIM and technology tools such as REVIT®continue to set the standard, reshaping the construction industry during this revolutionary period. Transforming what was previously weeks’ worth of work into hours is invaluable. Thus, bridging the gap between older 2D and accepted BIM technologies with cutting-edge 3D building models every trade can utilize to best perform their scope of work.

 

As mentioned above, the current workforce is transitioning between generations, and it has become increasingly difficult to find replacements. We have seen success by engaging both our Technical and Non-Technical associates with newer technologies, such as Tilt-Werks®, thereby working towards a solution for a constrained workforce and an engaged and interested new generation within design and construction. A recent report conducted by The US Chamber of Commerce concluded that “In the midst of a deepening workforce crisis, finding skilled labor continues to be a challenge for contractors. This quarter, 88 percent of contractors report moderate-to-high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers. Of those, nearly half (45 percent) report a high level of difficulty.”Our younger generation’s exposure to computers and technology since birth provides a unique and new perspective on our industry challenges today and in the future. Of which, we should be embracing, as technology will most certainly be a part of future solutions.

Additionally, the importance of engaging with publications has, and will always remain paramount. However, using technology as a driving factor has enabled additional success as well. Dayton Superior’s partnership with the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) on providing personal, hands-on ACI certification events has engaged and captured new and future talent within the industry. During the uncertainty and challenge of COVID, technology-enabled us at Dayton Superior to experience unprecedented growth, outreach, and engagement through partnership programs such as ACI Certifications through the TCA. Telecommuting and virtual engagement have continued to ensure our industries thrive and develop for the everyday challenges we encounter and the solutions they demand.

As this symbiotic relationship between technology and society continues to foster, it is important that we keep a tactful eye on ensuring our design and construction communities mindfully adopt new approaches and tools. It is our duty as design and construction professionals to aptly drive the industry forward, suitably meet owners’ needs, and, most importantly, provide safety to the public.

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