MDC Systems® has recently entered the commercial drone industry with its drone for various inspection and engineering evaluation services. The future for the commercial drone industry looks very bright. In 2015 the U.S. commercial drone market size was an estimated $400 million, and by the year 2022 it is projected to grow to over $1 billion.
by Michelle N. Delehanty, PE, PMP
MDC Systems® Consultant
According to the farmer’s almanac, this upcoming winter is predicted to be more severe than last year, which already seems as if it were one for the record books. For many regions throughout the United States, that means a multitude of storms, extreme cold, and potential closings to schools, offices, and, most problematic, construction sites. These closings of construction projects can lead to schedule delays, change order requests, and ultimately claims. In order for a contractor to justify to the owner that there is indeed a weather-related construction delay, they must demonstrate four specific things: (1) that the delay is within the terms of the contract (2) that the activity delayed had a direct effect on the project end date (was on the critical path), (3) the weather event occurred in excess of the “normal” weather for the season, and (4) there is documentation of which specific activities were delayed on each weather occurrence.
Our long history and experience is that the failure rate for projects in general has remained high. Why haven’t the advances in project management science, computers technology and communications been effectively brought to bear on the engineering and construction business? What about the advertised beneficial impact of 3-D computer-aided design, computerized critical path methods schedules and building information modeling? Are today’s engineers not as good as those who built the mega project of yesteryear like the Panama Canal, Empire State Building or Hoover Dam?
Design-Build Delivery can create new responsibilities for designers where they would not exist in traditional Design-Bid-Builddelivery situations and require new awareness on the part of contractors to the iterative and uncertain world of conceptual design. These new responsibilities require a paradigm shift for both Designers and Contractors as the realities of working together challenge the leadership of the organizations.
For designers the change requires them to abandon their traditionally “client only” focused advice and consent role and adopt a new paradigm of working for, or with, the contractor to deliver an acceptable and profitable product. For the contractor working with and supporting the designer changes the very nature of their previous working relationship. The contractor is now working with and for the people they are all too often at odds with concerning project delivery.
Where is the critical path? This is one of the questions most often asked concerning schedule analysis. For some types of projects it is easy to anticipate where the critical path should be; for instance in high-rise building construction, the critical path is most likely to be: excavation, foundation, structure, weather enclosure (building envelope), MEP, finish activities.
The U.S. faces significant and diverse economic risks from climate change. The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation’s current assets and ongoing economic activity.
We have never met an Owner who was happy to hear, “We need a change order.” What we’ve learned over the years is that even though change orders are facts of life in construction, there are strategies to help you avoid them.changeorders-graphic
Change orders (CO) fall into two categories – owner driven and non-owner driven. Both can be mitigated.
Owner driven change orders happen when Owners change their minds, adding a window here or changing the carpet there. We’ve even seen buildings moved and floors added mid-project, which leads us to the first CO avoidance strategy.
Hiring an engineering expert shouldn’t be an arduous task, although sometimes the process may seem overwhelming. Usually the claim is at the point where you want answers yesterday but because of resourcing, workloads, or budgets you are in a time crunch to find them. Even if you are not initially intending to use the services of an expert, gaining access to certain portions of data during discovery is a proactive way to ease trouble or scrambling down the road. Whether it’s for a third party opinion, an independent design, a mediation statement, or a testifying expert, the engineer you hire will likely need information from the sources discussed below.
Can a Designer or Owner shift responsibility for design errors and omissions by requiring an enhanced effort for construction coordination drawings by contractors?
To answer this question we will recount an example project that was bid as Design-Bid-Build where the fundamental element of the dispute was design defects with regard to spatial arrangement and sizing of system features.
The benchmarking process is one where a project’s general scope using key metrics is compared to other similar projects. This general metric/scope includes such items as total gross square feet, net square feet, rentable square feet, net-to-gross ratio, number of occupants, the number of particular spaces (i.e. number of rooms in a hotel), general configuration (footprint and/or number of stories), location of project, and timeframe. If this initial comparison doesn’t illuminate a projects cost and/or schedule similarities or peculiarities, then one must delve deeper into the project scope to determine any or all differences. This means the stakeholders must understand the projects detailed scope parameters such as type of structure, assumed number of interior spaces, the level of finishes and specialties, the vertical transportation needs, the requirements of the mechanical and electrical systems, and site specific differences (roads, utilities, parking, etc.). Once this type of comparison is completed, a proposed facility should be fully benchmarked against its peers.