MCA Reports Top Drivers in the Construction Industry

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) has released a report identifying the top 11 drivers in the nonresidential construction industry. The report, based on data analysis, surveys, and interviews with industry leaders, was prepared by FMI, a management consulting and investment banking firm dedicated to engineering and construction, infrastructure, and the built environment. The top trends in the industry trends were identified as follows:

  • Talent Shortages and Management Succession Challenges
    At the height of the recession, 30 percent of the commercial construction industry lost their jobs causing a lack of skilled workers as business picks up. The need to recruit and retain employees is key to attract the next-generation of millennials to the construction business.
  • Use of New Technologies
    With more prefabrication and modularization, use of robotics and 3-D printing, construction is becoming more standardized and computerized. BIM models are playing a role in all aspects of the construction process.
  • Productivity Improvements Needed for Profitability
    While use of BIM, prefabrication, modularization and green construction are necessary in construction manufacturing, at the contractor level, technology and planning are paramount to being profitable.
  • Changes in Construction Delivery Systems
    A slow shift is being seen from the traditional design-bid-build or hard-bid approach to more collaborative or alternative delivery methods that were gaining popularity before the recession.
  • Owner Transition
    As baby boomer leaders are getting to retirement age, the industry is facing a change in ownership among 50 percent of construction firms.
  • International Debt Problems
    Although the U.S. has experienced a resurgent economy, European countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are struggling. After years of growth, China is also experiencing a slowdown in its economy, threatening the savings and investments made in the last few years.
  • Forming Partnerships with Customers
    A more customer-centric orientation is returning. Manufacturers and suppliers must match their marketing and delivery methods to the needs of the contractor and become partners in the process.
  • Healthier Companies
    In order to survive the recession, companies had to get to positive cash flow (or at least neutral) in the new demand reality of the 2009-2011 period. This focus on efficiency created reduced cost structures.
  • Growth Through Acquisition
    The demand for attractive building product companies to purchase is high. Industry stakeholders are looking to realize overhead efficiencies and maximize nontraditional margin enhancements (risk management, technology, self-perform). Those companies realizing profitability in this way are positioned to prosper as the construction market improves.
  • Consolidation
    On the manufacturing distribution side, 2015 was a year of company consolidation. Market conditions led to unprecedented merger activity among large players. Today, a seller can receive what the company deems a fair price, while a buyer feels there is still enough business ahead to make a return on the investment.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Activity Benefit Buyers & Sellers
    Pace and scale of activity are both up with both strategic and financial buyers. With demand high and the supply of attractive companies low, one would expect prices to increase, and they have.

These trends are expected to play a role in shaping the nonresidential construction industry in the coming years and are part of considerations as companies make their plans. The full report is available to MCA members at www.metalconstruction.org.

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) promotes and expands the use of metal in construction through marketing, research, technology and education. MCA members include metal roof and wall panel manufacturers. Trade associations serving the metal construction industry partnered with MCA in this study. The participants are The American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI), The Aluminum Association (AA), Metal Roofing Alliance, National Frame Builders Association (NFBA), and the National Coil Coaters Association (NCCA).

ATC, MBMA and AISI Develop Website Providing Ground Snow Load Information

The Applied Technology Council (ATC), with the assistance from the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), has developed a website, which provides a way for users to easily obtain an ASCE 7 site-specific ground snow load based on GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude) or a street address.

This website overcomes the challenges in using the snow load map printed in ASCE 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures. These challenges include insufficient spatial resolution of the map to determine some site-specific ground snow loads and the lack of reference cities or towns on the map.

On this website, users can obtain values from the ground snow load map printed in ASCE 7-95 through ASCE 7-10 (1995, 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2010). Ground snow load is used with the equations provided in ASCE 7 to determine design snow loads for buildings and other structures.

Ground snow load information is now available for use free of charge on the ASCE 7 Ground Snow Load website. The site is a companion to ATC’s Windspeed by Location website where users can obtain ASCE 7 site-specific wind speeds from ASCE 7-93 through ASCE 7-10.

MBMA and the American Iron and Steel Institute Provide Faculty Fellowships

In a groundbreaking educational initiative, the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) is providing faculty fellowships in cooperation with the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). These awards will expedite development of a model program that partners the metal building industry with undergraduate engineering and architectural faculty and students. The fellowships will assist each selected faculty in developing a senior design class, referred to as a capstone course, with the focus on a metal building project.

Grant recipients are:

  • Dr. Justin Marshall – Auburn University
  • Dr. Ron Ziemian – Bucknell University
  • Dr. Mehdi Jalalpour – Cleveland State University
  • Dr. Michael Seek – Old Dominion University
  • Dr. John Cleary – University of South Alabama
  • Prof. Marci S. Uihlein – University of Illinois School of Architecture

“Even though metal buildings account for approximately half of all nonresidential low-rise construction in the U.S., most engineering/architecture students are not introduced to this form of construction as part of their formal education,” says W. Lee Shoemaker, Ph.D., P.E., MBMA’s director of research and engineering. “Our intent is to introduce metal building design and construction practices into the curriculum and foster an industry/academic partnership that provides real world experience for undergraduates.”

“This initiative has the ability to change our industry,” says MBMA Chairman, Tom Gilligan. “The more we educate future engineers, architects, contractors and planners, the more they will recognize the beneficial attributes of metal building systems techniques. As we train the next generation of designers, we can expect the industry to achieve even greater acceptance and market share.”

“MBMA will give the faculty who were awarded the fellowships the latitude to develop a program that works best considering their needs and resources,” says Shoemaker. “However, we are also interested in making the design experience as realistic as possible for the students. We would like this capstone to be more similar to a student’s first job, rather than their last college course.”

With regard to the engineering curriculum, Shoemaker stresses that appropriate standards and multiple realistic constraints within the capstone should prepare students for engineering practice in accordance with the expectations of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). “MBMA would like the model programs to address as many of the ABET Student Outcomes as possible,” he says.

ABET outcomes are:

  • An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering.
  • An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  • An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  • An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
  • An ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems.
  • An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
  • An ability to communicate effectively.
  • The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental and societal context.
  • A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in lifelong learning.
  • A knowledge of contemporary issues.
  • An ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

The selected university faculty will carry out the development of a capstone course at each of their schools in 2015-16, then make adjustments and improvements to the program based on their experiences. The final product will be a model capstone course program that is a combination of the best ideas created by the grant recipients. The final program will be made available to colleges and universities nationwide in 2017.

Thermal Spacers Create Continuous Insulation for Metal Buildings

SNS Thermal Spacers from Sealed “N” Safe are a cost-effective and easy-to-implement thermal bridge system between the outer shell and the inner frames of a metal building.

SNS Thermal Spacers from Sealed “N” Safe are a cost-effective and easy-to-implement thermal bridge system between the outer shell and the inner frames of a metal building.

SNS Thermal Spacers from Sealed “N” Safe are a cost-effective and easy-to-implement thermal bridge system between the outer shell and the inner frames of a metal building. Because the SNS Thermal Spacers reduce HVAC operating costs by as much as half or more, the return on investment is between 12 and 18 months. SNS Thermal Spacers are proven safe and effective, tested per AISI, ASTM, ICC and U.S. Energy Codes and structurally sound and watertight. The company provides solutions for architectural panels, standing seam panels, through-fastened panels, wall panels and complete building envelope systems.