August 11, 2020

Still Adapting

By Paul Daniels

Two weeks ago I attended my first virtual conference and I was impressed with the entire presentation. There has been a lot written about the event and the common message from all the presenters was that we are still adapting our businesses to succeed during the pandemic.

The NGA Glass Conference had some great speakers covering most aspects of the construction market, giving their best observations of the direction in which they see construction going. From the architectural side they see that materials being specified will be hard surface products that can hold up to constant cleaning. Glass and stainless steel, especially with some of the antimicrobial finishes available, will be popular. Office areas will change, eliminating high density open areas with more separation. Glass partitions will be a popular solution that allow daylighting and vision. Entrances to buildings will change, with dedicated entrance and exit doors, and fewer or larger vestibule areas. Most believe these changes will be permanent moving forward.

The panel discussion that covered current job conditions was an eye opener. Joe Conover, vice president of Clark Construction, described some of the challenges they face keeping the jobsite safe for all and how it is impacting productivity:

  • Staggering work times to allow separation when entering the building or using elevators;
  • Limiting the number of people who can work in closed areas at the same time;
  • Managing deliveries to the jobsite; and
  • Monitoring staff and subcontractors for compliance to CDC and local heath mandates, monitoring for symptoms, contact tracing and supplying PPE.

These are all challenges that you need to keep in mind when you are bidding a job. You need to ask questions so that you know how the jobsite will affect your productivity. The panel recommended that you “analyze the jobsite” and ask:

  • What are the new requirements for the jobsite?
  • How many laborers can be on a jobsite at one time?
  • What are the delivery requirements?

You also want to reduce your time on the jobsite by doing as much fabrication and assembly in-house as possible where you are in control. Longer than expected lead times were also discussed as an area of concern.

Letting your customers know that you are aware of these issues and have a plan to handle them will make them more comfortable with doing business with you. Lost productivity will affect the bottom line and your profits on the job; this is something you need to be aware of. The companies and employees that continue adapting to the changing times will succeed.