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AUTHOR: Anna Liza Montenegro

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Construction Industry Outlook

2020 was an unforgettable year in many ways and one that may have permanently changed the world. 2020 and the early part of 2021 saw a downturn in construction starts. But as we’re reaching the mid-year point, things are starting to look up.

The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry were able to respond faster than other industries due to strong order books and demand from the residential segment.

2020 likely also helped AEC companies to reset and prepare sooner and more effectively for work, workforce, and workplace changes. The year ahead is only expected to accelerate these changes.

Connected construction presents a host of efficiency- and productivity-enhancing technologies that can enable new business models and strategies.

There may be another disruptive event around the corner that could catch the world off guard. But AEC firms that embrace digital, form strategic alliances, and prepare for the future of work are most likely to be better prepared for whatever comes next.

 

Dodge Data & Analytics’ Steven Jones shares the mid-year outlook program. Steven is a globally recognized expert in how emerging economic, practice, and technology trends are shaping the future of the design and construction industry. He speaks at conferences globally, authors the SmartMarket Report series on key industry trends, and hosts the ENR FutureTech events.

Steve outlines the national and regional starts forecast for 2021 and 2022, respectively, across our residential, nonresidential building, and nonbuilding sectors. The highlights will include those factors impacting the economic upturn now that the economy is starting to improve.

Watch this video and gain an understanding of the current market situation and a macroeconomic overview.

 

 

Steve does a deeper dive into what Dodge Data & Analytics think is going to be happening with the infrastructure bill. He shares some of what they’re learning in their quarterly surveys about the business health construction companies’ both commercial and civil projects.  Steven also looked at some high-frequency planning data to help the industry continue on its path to recovery.

 

Dodge Construction Outlook - US Total Construction Starts

 

Residential Construction

The pandemic has pushed many city dwellers to the suburbs as they look to avoid health concerns surrounding urban mass transit and public crowding. Near-record, low mortgage rates are expected to promote continued residential construction growth. Steve expects single-family home construction starts will rise as much as 7% in 2021; however, multi-family homes “will pay the price for single family’s gain,” with the dollar value of multi-family starts anticipated to fall by 1% this year.

 

Commercial Building

After dropping 23% in 2020, Steve forecasts a 5% dollar value increase in commercial starts in 2021. Steve also reports that “[w]arehouse construction will be the clear winner as e-commerce giants continue to build out their logistics infrastructure.”

Anirban Basu, the chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors, reports that COVID-19 accelerated these preexisting commercial construction trends. Basu explains, “Among the most obvious trends in e-commerce, a trend that was gaining market share even before the global health crisis began. An ongoing proliferation of fulfillment and data centers will serve this ongoing boom. However, this could translate to tougher times ahead for retailers and shopping centers . . . .” Development site consultant Tom Stringer expects suburban commercial construction to grow as companies look to move offices away from densely populated areas and build new manufacturing and distribution centers to help alleviate pandemic supply chain issues.

 

Public Works

Steve expects public construction to remain relatively flat but stable during 2021. According to Basu, “Countervailing forces are at work in public construction. On one hand, weakened state and local government finances suggest weaker public works spending going forward. On the other hand, . . . federal spending on infrastructure could increase as part of a post-inauguration stimulus package. Republicans and Democrats do not agree on much, but leaders from both parties agree that America spends too little on infrastructure.” While the federal government recently extended the FAST Act (for Fixing America’s Surface Transportation), any growth in the public sector likely will depend on the further stimulus or infrastructure bills.

 

Utility Construction

With the growing push for renewables and other climate change initiatives, experts anticipate energy construction, especially large-scale solar and wind projects, will rise significantly. Steve forecasts a 35% gain for utilities and renewable energies construction in 2021.

 

Summary

The construction industry is showing signs of growth in 2021 and beyond, but such growth may be checked by uncertainty and COVID-19’s lingering effects on construction operations. Contractors will continue to face pandemic-related time and cost impacts from added safety measures (PPE, physical distancing, screening), workforce shortages, and supply chain disruptions, all of which can cause delays, accelerations, and production losses.

 

Construction Outlook - Screenshot Long Term Changes Due to COVID

 

Contractors can manage these risks and enhance profitability by taking affirmative steps to protect their rights and claims under their contracts. Proactive measures include asking for extensions of time, ensuring compliance with all contractual notice requirements, and carefully tracking all extra work and costs.

For a continuing construction industry forecast, visit Dodge Data & Analytics.

 

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What’s New with Autodesk 2022?

Interested in seeing what the new Autodesk 2022 features can do for you? Microsol Resources hosts these annual webinar series on What’s New with Autodesk that showcase and highlight the newest features of the various Autodesk products on the different versions.

You can view these videos of our webinar recording these new features in action and learn some share tips and tricks along the way.

 

What’s New with Revit 2022

The latest release of Revit building design software provides better interoperability, boosts efficient and accurate document production, and delivers many user-requested features.

Learn about new features in the latest release of Autodesk Revit 2022 by watching this video or reading this article.

 

 

What’s New with AutoCAD 2022

Autodesk has released AutoCAD 2022 and AutoCAD LT 2022, and they have added features that facilitate collaboration and working with cloud storage solutions.

Learn about new features in the latest release of Autodesk Revit 2022 by watching this video or reading this article.

 

 

What’s New with the Autodesk Construction Cloud for Design (Autodesk Docs, BIM Collaborate, and BIM Collaborate Pro)?

Today, collaboration and access to information from anywhere, and at any time, is critical to successful project management. More than just a name change from BIM 360, the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform provides a new interface and additional features.

Learn about new features in the latest release of Autodesk Docs, BIM Collaborate (formerly called BIM 360 Coordinate), and BIM Collaborate Pro (formerly called BIM 360 Design) by watching this video.

 

 

What’s New with the Autodesk Construction Cloud for Design (Autodesk Docs, BIM 360 Build, and Takeoff)?

More than just a name change from BIM 360, the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform provides a new interface and additional features.

Learn about new features in the latest release of Autodesk Docs, BIM 360 Build, and Takeoff by watching this video.

 

 

 

What’s New with Autodesk 3ds Max?

3ds Max brings performance enhancements to a slew of modeling tools enabling artists to work faster, boost productivity and focus on being creative. This update includes a faster Smart Extrude experience, improvements to popular modifiers, a new Settings Recovery tool, and more. To learn more about the latest updates, read this article.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2022 Hero Image 2

 

Microsol Resources will bring you the latest information on Autodesk products so be sure to always follow our TECH Resources, YouTube, and other social media channels to stay up to date.

If you have any questions, please email info@microsolresources.com or call us at 888-768-7568.

 

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What is Digital Twin?

There are many notable twins in the world today. You might even be a twin but do you know what a digital twin is.

Essentially, it’s a digital version of a physical object a dynamic up-to-date digital replica of a built asset or environment with the help of building information modeling (BIM), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the internet of things (IoT) technology. Data from the original asset is used to build and improve the digital twin by providing a precise up-to-date model of its original.

What is the benefit of a digital twin?

A digital twin can help designers, engineers, contractors, owners, and manufacturers create more efficient structures. Digital twins can help with everything from planning, design, and construction to operations and maintenance.

Consider a building that’s already been designed and constructed. Imagine there’s a digital twin of the entire facility from the roof to the HVAC to the mechanical engineering and plumbing systems.

Now imagine that sensors in the building provide the digital twin with real-time information the digital twin updates itself according to the data. Then, building owners can view areas where the building is aging or faulty and make improvements on a greater scale.

Multiple digital twins can be integrated in an entire ecosystem.

So how did digital twins get their start in the 1960s?

NASA was one of the first agencies to use mirroring technology to replicate systems in space. Notably, NASA created a replica of Apollo 13 which became critical in the midst of its challenging mission. Engineers were able to test solutions on the replica to avoid further disaster.

Dr. Michael Greaves, Chief Scientist for Advanced Manufacturing at the Florida Institute of Technology introduced the concept of the digital twin at an American Society of Mechanical Engineers Conference in 2002. He proposed a product lifecycle management center that contained the elements of a digital twin, the physical space, the virtual space, and the flow of information between the two.

The manufacturing industry was quick to adopt digital twins and the architecture engineering and construction industry followed suit with the help of technological advancements like BIM or building information modeling.

 

How has the digital twin evolved since then?

Today, digital twin technology plays a big part in the digital transformation of the design, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and maintenance industries. A digital twin starts with knowledge of the assets and spaces that make up a facility.

This type of descriptive twin is a live editable version of design and construction data such as a visual replica of assets or facilities. An informative twin has an added layer of operational and sensory data as more and more data is added the twin becomes richer and richer and more strongly linked to its physical counterpart.

Predictive twins are able to leverage this operational data for insights while comprehensive twins simulate future scenarios and consider what-if questions in the future twins will become autonomous able to learn and act on behalf of users because digital twins can gather key information about things like population growth, natural resource supply levels, and historical data on environmental disasters.

Digital twins can help build more resilient cities and infrastructures as the world changes.

Eventually, an entire ecosystem of digital twins will help industries respond to global challenges with powerful simultaneous changes right now.

Digital twins are helping operations and facility managers respond faster by removing the need for complex and time-consuming maintenance documents.

Owners can gather information from the design and build phases to make faster business decisions lowering operational and maintenance costs.

Professionals on site can predict material and labor cycles reducing waste and enhancing safety by helping professionals gain more insight into the inner workings of the
world.

Digital twins are becoming partners in building a better future.

For more information about how it is being used, watch our webinar recording the two-part TECH Perspectives webinar series we did and hear from Microsoft, CallisonRTKL, and Stantec. 

Hear our discussion as we focus on the challenges of implementing, managing, and measuring Digital Twin solutions.

 

 

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