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The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association will continue to push its “Build with Strength” campaign in 2018 to promote the use of concrete in construction. This effort is particularly important as wood is predicted to still make more gains in some types of construction.

The campaign includes a coalition of architects, builders, engineers, policymakers and more providing technical assistance and free design, in some cases. You can get expert answers about specifications, durability, disaster resilience and cost estimating in relation to frame and post-tensioned flat plat construction, voided slabs, insulating concrete forms and more. You can find links to the concrete-promoting campaign logo at NRMCA website.

The search for skilled labor

Cement contracting companies are likely to still find it tough to find skilled laborers, as recruiting into the field – particularly from the millennial crowd – still has its challenges. This should also drive up wages over 2018 into 2019.  Meanwhile, some states have had mandatory minimum wage increases, which will impact cost and usage of day labor and apprentices at construction sites in those states.

According to consulting firm Old Castle, “overall construction costs are forecasted for ongoing increase in 2018 in the 2-3% range, led by 3-4% higher labor costs.”

New technology tools

The masonry robots are coming! Well, not quite. While there likely is research happening to develop construction applications within the robotics industry, you’re more likely to find a useful, construction-related application for your smart phone this year.

Mobile apps are already in use for trade-specific tasks. Now foreman and project managers have real-time and accurate construction supply, shipping, product and project information at their fingertips via their iPhone or Android smart phone.

Meanwhile, check out some of the latest innovative improvements now available with the latest power tools and equipment on the market. We’ll cover these throughout the year in future posts.

Some new technology minimizes health risk and complies with criteria from Table 1 of OSHA’s new regulation (see more on this in the upcoming OSHA article). Others save fuel, time and/or aggravation.

Tired of the frustration and delay of cold starts, for example?

“Some tools are a [pain] to start when cold,” said a concrete contractor known who’s known locally as “Big Mike.” He continued, “I hate that [stuff] when I’m already under the gun on time!” 

If you’ve had those days like ol’ Big Mike, check out the MAKITA 4-STROKE CUT OFF SAW. It’s the WORLD’S FIRST 4-Stroke Power Cutter by Makita with a 4.1 HP motor, it doesn’t require fuel mixing, and features innovations like a PRESSURE COMPENSATED CARB, which reduces flooding and ensures clean starts, even on Mondays.