One thing that I’ve been concerned about since the coronavirus pandemic started is how it will affect training. With social distancing guidelines, the reduction of in-person meetings, and other challenges, it’s easy to just push training down the line and get back to it when it’s more convenient. Heavy equipment operators have had access to remote training through computerized simulators for years, but one training solution just created a platform that’s even more remote.
Cat Simulators, a heavy equipment simulator training solution and a licensee of Caterpillar Inc., has recently announced the release of a portable simulator training module that can either be used in a social distanced classroom or at-home. It includes desk-mounted joysticks, the same that you would find in a CAT Excavator, and pedal controls.
The simulator is coupled with a training software that requires students to learn specific tasks, like walkaround inspections, loading, raking, maneuvering in tight spaces, and trenching.
While their original simulators sit on a large arcade-like module, which moves the chair around based upon the terrain and task to recreate real-world feel, the Cat SimLite will only employ a desk chair to increase the portability.
The purpose of classroom simulation training is to be able to make training much more consistent and standardize the curriculum for your new employees. Every jobsite and human trainer is different, so if employers know exactly what their employees have been trained on, it’s much easier to manage expectations and deliver more consistent results.
“We’ve heard from schools, training centers and businesses—they have to keep training, despite the pandemic. So that meant engineering a design compact enough that it could travel easily in pelican cases; or be set up in classrooms at a safe distance,” says Simformotion CEO Lara Aaron. “All of the things people love about Cat Simulators is packed into SimLite, including OEM controls and our exclusive reporting program, SimU Campus.”
Demolition by implosions videos are obviously fun to watch, but the actual process creates an insane amount of dust. The challenge becomes hoe do you douse an enormous structure that falls within seconds with enough water to control dust effectively? The answer might be more explosives…
When the 15-story Pentagone Plaza tower located in Clamart, France was imploded last week, the demolition team didn’t just set up some hoses, they surrounded the structure in a bunch of small, inflatable swimming pools lined with explosives. The intent is to send a vertical pillar of water into the air right before the explosives inside the building go off in order to create a wall of water that the dust has to fight through.
According to Demolitionnews.com, the system, created by Delair CFD, also includes having a bunch of water bags located throughout the inside of the building to help reduce dust internally, as well.
It’s a cool idea – and certainly adds an additional level of interest to the video – but, as you’ll see in the video below, there’s still a significant amount of dust that escapes. It’s difficult to quantify, but I’m sure the extra effort still helped to reduce the amount of dust spread off site.
Construction technology has come a long, long way in the past decades. There are now hundreds of construction-specific apps available, ranging from project management, to compliance and reporting, to photo documentation, to estimating, and many more. At times, it can be overwhelming keeping up with all of the available options in the market, especially for smaller to medium sized construction businesses that don’t have a dedicated technology team or budget.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), which currently operated 69 chapters throughout the country, has recently launched ABC Tech Alliance with 13 construction technology companies to help educate construction companies before, during, and after implementation of new technology.
“The need for technological solutions—both big and small—in the construction industry is clear, especially given changing work conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Matt Abeles, ABC’s vice president of construction technology and innovation, in a press release. “I look forward to the exceptional products, education and dialogue the Tech Alliance companies will bring to ABC members and our evolving industry, especially as we continue to implement technology to revolutionize the design, build and delivery process.
The alliance will allow ABC’s members to gain better access to special perks through the technology companies, such as beta testing and free technology programs and webinars. ABC has also created a Construction Technology and Innovation Committee to create even more partnerships with other technology companies and help guide member contractors.
The initial 2020-2021 Tech Alliance members have been announced as:
The Tech Alliance already has 3 upcoming webinars available for members to register for on their website, with topics including Safety and Collaboration, Estimating and Project Management, and Labor, Equipment, and Financial Tools.
OSHA announced the revision to the final rule on Friday, August 28th, a change that was lauded by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the National Association of Home Builders, and the Mason Contractors of America. In construction, the industry groups argued, there is very little risk to significant exposure to beryllium, even when performing abrasive blasting or welding operations where beryllium is most likely to present itself. General industry, on the other hand, is much more likely to have high exposure to the substance and will have more stringent requirements.
“The final rule amends the following paragraphs in the beryllium standards for construction and shipyards: Definitions, Methods of Compliance, Respiratory Protection, Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment, Housekeeping, Hazard Communication, Medical Surveillance, and Recordkeeping. OSHA has removed the Hygiene Areas and Practices paragraph from the final standards because the necessary protections are provided by existing OSHA standards for sanitation,” OSHA explained in their trade release about the rule revision.
These changes will be in effect starting on September 20, 2020 and OSHA expects the changes to affect 12,000 workers across 2,800 businesses in the construction and shipyard industries.
“A comprehensive beryllium standard regulating all of construction was unnecessary and would divert resources from contractors away from other, higher safety priorities,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of HSE and workforce development, in a press release. “OSHA’s analysis of its own sampling data demonstrates that exposures from construction operations are highly unlikely to exceed the action level in typical circumstances. Importantly, employers are still required to comply with the applicable provisions of the beryllium standard in cases when a particular construction jobsite contains high levels of beryllium, for example, at a beryllium manufacturing facility.”
A Couple of years ago, exoskeleton maker, Ekso Bionics, released the EksoVest, which was a lighter weight, upper body support mechanism that provided lift support to the wearer. After real world testing and customer feedback, Ekso Bionics has released the next generation of the EksoVest, called EVO.
The Ekso EVO is a slimmer, sleeker, and lighter weight version of the EksoVest that also promises a reduced cost, more comfort, and reduced heat while still providing plenty of support for the user. Like the previous mode, the EVO does not require a power source to get the benefits, it uses a passive, spring loaded system to provide 5-15 pounds of lift assistance in each arm.
The company says the new vest should also offer additional flexibility, while maintaining the ruggedness necessary at a construction site or manufacturing plant. Their goal with the EVO is to help reduce shoulder, neck, and back injuries from overhead work, repetitive tasks, and overexertion.
Perhaps even more importantly, the EVO is compatible with standard safety harnesses when working from heights. It’s also able to be put on and controlled without the help of another person.
“Through working closely with our customers, we gained tremendous insights and feedback that help us evolve EVO to better meet their needs and provide a programmatic solution to some of their most complicated ergonomic problems,” said Michael Pratt, vice president at Ekso Bionics, in a press release. “By augmenting human capabilities, EVO was designed to relieve the burden on industrial workers and provide them with a technology solution that improves their quality of life. True to our mission, we are now offering a flexible acquisition model that will lower the capital barrier and allow more industrial workers access to the latest exoskeleton technology.”
While Ekso Bionics has stated the EVO will be lighter and less expensive than the EksoVest, it has not released the specifics. The EksoVest retailed for about $7,000 and weighed 9.5 pounds, so we at least know it won’t go over either of those figures.
For more information, check out their EVO Introduction video below:
Announced last week, Lowe’s will be rolling out a tool rental program for contractors. Starting with their first tool rental department opening on August 20th at one of their Charlotte, North Carolina stores, the home center will continue to expand the concept throughout the country over the next few years.
Each tool rental department will contain:
Commercial-grade equipment, from manufacturers such as Husqvarna, Bosch, Metabo HPT, and Skilsaw, among others
A wide assortment of tool and equipment categories, such as concrete tools, ladders, paint & drywall, plumbing & pumps, power tools, tile saws, demolition tools, trailers, welding equipment, trenchers, and more.
In store self-service kiosks for checkout, digital documentation, and the ability to reserve tools online
4,000 square feet of space for tool service, on-site cleaning, and product demos
The tool rental areas will not be taking away from the existing floor space, the company says, and each store that adds the service will either be expanded or take over a spot adjacent to an existing store.
“For all of our customers, having the right tool is key to every project, but they may not always want to purchase a new tool or piece of equipment. Lowe’s Tool Rental helps customers save on the cost of owning, maintaining and storing the tools they need,” said Fred Stokes, senior vice president of Pro Sales and Services for Lowe’s. “As the new home for Pros, offering tool rental is just another way we are committed to keeping them working. Whether a Pro’s tool fails on the job, needs a repair or they’re looking to try something new, tool rental will allow them to get back to the jobsite faster, saving them time and money.”
Five months after the initial nationwide shutdowns and we’re still, unfortunately, in the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic. What we know about the virus differs greatly since day 1 and continues to evolve over time, so it’s important to continually recalibrate your efforts to keep your employees and your jobsite safe and healthy.
The Construction Industry Safety Alliance (CISC), has recently updated their COVID-19 Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Plan for Construction. The purpose of the resource guide is “to outline the steps that every employer and employee can take to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19,” the guide states. The 22 page guide covers a variety of topics, including:
Responsibilities of Managers and Supervisors
Responsibilities of Employees
Job Site Protective Measures
Job Site Cleaning and Disinfecting
Job Site Exposure Situations
If your company is struggling to come up with a solid plan to handle these difficult exposure situations, this guide is an excellent place to start. It’s also a great resource to check against your own policies to see if anything needs updated.
There are some pretty cool ways to get to remote and difficult to navigate jobsites, like helicopters and this blimp-like aircraft, but I’ve never seen something quite as relatively affordable and attainable as the Fat Truck.
The Fat Truck 2.8 C, created by Zeal Motor Inc., is a four wheeled all-terrain off road vehicle that can not only haul materials and 8 total passengers to a remote job site, but can also float on water. The vehicle is designed for transporting work crews to difficult to navigate sites, where a bus would have trouble driving to and where a helicopter might be too expensive.
Specializing in power line, pipeline, telecommunications, wind farm, and first responder rescue missions, the Fat Truck is not only useful, but something people that aren’t even in their target audience can appreciate and enjoy.
The vehicle weighs a hefty 6,000, can haul 2,200 pounds of material or people inside, and can reach a top speed of 20mph. It’s controlled by a one-handed joystick and has a built-in compressor in order to inflate or deflate the tires, which are 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide, based on the needs of the terrain.
Fuel consumption is not measured by miles per gallon on a piece of equipment like this, but the manufacturer says that it will use 1.1 to 1.5 gallons per hour of use, enough efficiency for a full days work.
For safety, the Fat Truck is certified as a Rollover Protective Structure and also includes a glass hammer to break the tempered glass windows in case passengers are trapped inside.
The Fat Truck is powered by a Cat 2.2C industrial engine, which delivers 67 horsepower to push the vehicle over the rough terrain. The engine is positioned in the center of the vehicle’s interior for better balance. There is a removable panel surrounding the engine to access for service.
A variety of customization options are available, including roof racks, lights, rear seat belts, radio, roof hatch, back up camera, and amphibious trailers, among others. The base price of the vehicle starts at $127,500.
For more information, you can check out the Fat Truck 2.8 C in action below:
Every year, Milwaukee Tool organizes an invite-only media event, called NPS, in order to showcase dozens of new products that they plan to release over the next year. This year, the company had to pivot to an online event – and everyone is invited.
The online event, called Milwaukee Pipeline, is being split up into 4 different events over the next few months. The first one, showcasing M12, M18, and MX Fuel tools was held last night and we have all of the details.
Here are the highlights:
Multi-Tools and Accessories
Milwaukee didn’t just announce an updated oscillating multi-tool, they released 2 and a bunch of blades.
M12 Fuel Multi-Tool (2526-20)
Estimated release: September 2020
Milwaukee touts that this new M12 OMT provides the fastest 12-volt cut speeds, low vibration, and tool free blade change. The brushless motor is combined with an oscillation angle of 3.9 degrees and oscillations per minute between 10,000 and 20,000.
The M12 OMT will be available in both bare tool for $149 and kitted with an XC4.0 Battery, Charger, a Universal Fit OPEN-LOK Oscillating Multi-Tool Wood Blade, a Multi-Tool Sanding Pad, a 60 Grit Sand Paper, an 80 Grit Sand Paper, (2) 120 Grit Sand Paper, a 240 Grit Sand Paper, and Lunchbox Carrying Bag for $219.
M18 Fuel Multi-Tool (2836-20)
Estimated release: November 2020
The M18 Fuel OMT will release a few months behind its M12 sibling, but also promises fastest cuts and lowest vibration. It does pack a little bit extra punch than the smaller version, with an oscillation angle of 4.2 degrees to go with the 10,000-20,000 OPM. The tool will also feature a 10-setting dial and an Auto-Load function, and a 180 degree LED light.
The M18 OMT will be available in both bare tool and kitted with an XC5.0 Battery, Charger, a Universal Fit OPEN-LOK Oscillating Multi-Tool Wood Blade, a Multi-Tool Sanding Pad, a 60 Grit Sand Paper, an 80 Grit Sand Paper, (2) 120 Grit Sand Paper, and a 240 Grit Sand Paper. Prices have not yet been released.
Estimated release: Available now
To pair with their new OMT’s, the red brand also recently released a large collection of OMT blades for various applications. There are a ton of them, so I won’t go into much detail, but here’s a rundown of their offerings:
Titanium Enhanced Extreme Metal Carbide Teeth Blade
Titanium Enhanced Bi-Metal Multi-Material Blades
Titanium Enhanced Bi-Metal Metal Blades
Japanese Tooth Hardwood Blades
Sealant Cutting Blades
5-in-1 Drywall Blade
M12 23GA Pin Nailer (2540-20)
Estimated release: Q1 2021
Many believed that this would finally be the year that Milwaukee releases a cordless pinner – and they were right…well, kind of. The brand did surprise us by releasing it on their 12-volt platform, since the other market competitors are all 18 volt, but it won’t actually be available until early next year. Oh well, at least we have something to look forward to.
Milwaukee says this pin nailer will have enough power to shoot ½” to 1-3/8” pins and to fire up to 750 pins per battery charge. It also looks extremely compact for a battery nailer. Like their other battery nailers, this too will employ a nitrogen air spring mechanism for speed, accuracy, and recovery time.
No word on price or kit options just yet.
Milwaukee took another deep dive on impact wrenches this year, after the past couple of years yielding positive results on the market. Their new announcements ranged from an ergonomic compact impact wrench to a beastly 1” d-handle high torque impact wrench. Let’s start with the big guns:
M18 Fuel 1” D-Handle Standard Anvil High Torque Impact Wrench w/ ONE-KEY (2868-20)
Estimated release: August 2020
This beat will be able to deliver 2,000 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque and 1,900 ft-lbs of fastening torque with its 24.4 pound frame (with battery). Though it’s big and powerful, Milwaukee says it can still install up to 200 1-1/4” bolts on a single 12ah battery charge.
The tool also features ONE-KEY to allow users to set a repeatable torque, in addition to customizing settings, tracking its location, and managing the tool through the use of Bluetooth technology.
The new 1” impact wrench will be sold both bare tool and kitted with two 12.0ah batteries, a charger, tool free adjustable handle, lanyard loop, and contractor bag. No pricing has been released yet.
The Extended Anvil impact wrench is very similar to the one mentioned above, but it will provide additional reach and also Lug Nut Mode, which will prevent over tightening of fasteners. When the tool senses that the lug nuts are within 350-450 ft-lbs of the optimal range, it automatically shuts the tool off.
This will also be sold both bare tool and kitted with two 12.0ah batteries, a charger, tool free adjustable handle, lanyard loop, and contractor bag. No pricing has been released yet.
M18 Fuel Compact Impact Wrenches
Estimated release: November 2020
Available in both friction ring and pin detent varieties, these new compact impact wrenches measure only 4.8” in length, weighs 3.9 pounds with battery, and provides up to 250 ft-lbs of nut busting torque. It will also feature an AUTO SHUT-OFF mode, which will only apply a maximum of 20 ft-lbs of torque for hand-tightening fasteners.
The friction ring compact impact wrench will be available in both 3/8” and ½” and the pin detent will be available in ½”. All varieties will be available bare tool or kitted with two 5ah batteries, a charger, and contractor bag.
M18 Fuel Mid-Torque Impact Wrenches
Estimated release: November 2020
These new mid-torque wrenches could provide the sweet spot for many contractors, combining both a reasonable size and weight, as well as packing a punch. The wrenches will features 650 ft-lbs of nut busting torque, while only weighing 5.1 pounds with a battery.
Like the compact impact wrenches, these will also feature an AUTO SHUT-OFF mode, but will apply no more than 35 ft-lbs before shutting off to allow for hand tightening. When reversed, that same mode will deliver full torque to loosen the bolt and then drop the RPMs once it senses the bolt has loosened to prevent fastener drops.
These will also be available in 3 different options: 3/8” friction ring, ½” friction ring, and ½” pin detent. All three will be available bare tool or kitted with two 5.0ah batteries, a charger, and contractor bag.
Milwaukee has many different vacuum options, but with the ever increasing pressure to keep jobsites as clean as possible, I’m not complaining that they’re releasing 3 more.
M18 Fuel Compact Vacuum (0940-20)
Estimated release: October 2020
The M18 compact vacuum is the most versatile vacuum in this new batch. To provide options for all different cleaning applications, this vacuum comes with 5 different solutions, such as a powered floor tool, a floor tool, a brush tool, a utility tool, and a crevice tool with a flexible hose.
The vacuum also features a two-stage debris separation mechanism, to separate large and small debris. To extend the life of the battery, the tool features a high and low mode, which allow runtimes of up to 18 minutes and 28 minutes on a 5.0 battery pack, respectively.
This tool will only be available bare tool, with all of the attachments mentioned included.
M12 Fuel 1.6 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum (0960-20)
Estimated release: October 2020
Milwaukee’s 12-volt lineup will also be seeing a new vacuum, with this compact 1.6 gallon wet/dry vacuum. When they first announced this, I was admittedly a bit skeptical, as vacuums are notoriously battery hogs, but Milwaukee says this model will last up to 14 minutes on high and 26 minutes on low with a 6.0 battery back – much longer than I would have expected.
This tool also features an air volume of 45 CFM and will be quieter than most other options at 87 decibels.
The M12 wet/dry vac will be offered in bare tool and kitted with a 6.0ah battery, charger, hose, HEPA filter, crevice tool, utility nozzle, and wall mount kit. Additional accessories like HEPA filters, wet filters, dust bags, brush tool, and power tool adapter will also be available separately.
Perhaps my favorite announcement from the 1st episode of Milwaukee Pipeline was the PACKOUT compatible 2.5 wet/dry vacuum. The widely popular modular storage system, PACKOUT, continues to expand and the addition of a vacuum is welcomed. This vacuum will be the same size as the fairly recently released PACKOUT ammo box and PACKOUT cooler, which are both half the width of the full width cases and 3-times the height of the organizer boxes.
Like the M12 vacuum above, this PACKOUT version will only run at 87 decibels, as well, but will be able to run for up to 30 minutes on high and 50 minutes on low speed with an 8.0ah battery. A power tool dust adapter is also included with this tool. Much appreciated, Milwaukee.
This vacuum will also be sold bare tool, but will include the aforementioned power tool adapter, plus a flexible hose, HEPA filter, crevice tool, and utility nozzle. No pricing has been released.
While MX Fuel was mentioned, there were no new announcements, only updates to previously announced equipment. Both the 3600W/1800W Power Supply and the Tower Light are expected to be released in “early 2021.” The sewer drum machine with the stair climbing assist POWERTREDZ is available now.
After 31 long months, the construction of Allegiant Stadium, the brand new home of the Las Vegas Raiders has finally completed. The joint venture of Mortenson | McCarthy announced that they have received their certificate of occupancy at the end of July.
In addition to hosting the NFL’s Raiders, the $1.97 Billion stadium will also be the future home to UNLV Football, NCAA’s Las Vegas Bowl, and the PAC-12 football championship games in 2020 (assuming that still happens) and 2021. The structure holds 65,000 seats and features a natural turf field that can move inside and outside of the stadium for better growing conditions, a translucent roof, and, apparently, a night club (huge Las Vegas flex). The exterior features the design aesthetic of a sports car, which also fits perfectly in the city.
The retractable field weighs an astonishing 20 million pounds and is able to move inside and outside of the stadium thanks to 540 electronically-powered wheels. The 7-acre translucent roof system, made of Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (or ETFE for those of you not studying for the next spelling bee), is suspended by 100 stainless steel cables.
In total, the JV said that the construction required the work of over 200 firms, including contractors, designers, engineers, vendors and more. Perhaps more importantly, their safety record was well below industry average with a recordable incident rate (TRIR) of 0.98.
Workforce and business inclusion were also a focus for the group, which stated 62% of the workforce was minority and/or female, and small businesses comprised 23% or the total companies working on the project.
Throughout the construction, the team had released a series of in-depth videos of the construction process, called “From the Ground Up,” which was narrated by Mike Rowe. To watch the first nine of the 11 fascinating episodes, you can check out my first article from last year here and my second article from earlier this year here. I’ll embed episodes 10 and 11 to the bottom of this article.
In addition to latest From the Ground Up videos, I’ve also embedded a video that gives an in-depth tour of the nearly complete stadium (at the time) given by one of the architects.
From the Ground Up – Ep. 10: “How The Forces Work”
From the Ground Up – Ep. 11: “There’s No Road Map For This”