At the beginning of the year, analysts predicted that the construction sector was headed in the right direction. Dodge Data and Analytics suggested it would see six percent growth by the end of 2016. But since then, we’ve seen downgrades, and the growth forecast has been slashed. According to the most recent reports, the growth figures have gone negative.
If things are going to change, construction will have to act like other fast-growing sectors of the economy and go high-tech. It won’t be easy for an industry that’s so volatile. But it is necessary if the sector is ever to return to robust growth.
The good news is that things are changing. Experts in the sector are looking into new ways to use technology to improve productivity and keep workers safe. This is what they’re up to.
BIM stands for “building information modelling.” It’s an architect’s dream, all made possible by the power of computers.
It works a little bit like this. In traditional software packages, architects had to design their buildings layer by layer. There was a layer for the exterior, one for the wiring, another for the piping and so on. Each layer was built up independently of all the other layers in the stack. And each was mostly standalone.
But this created a problem. There was no way to know, without drilling down into the detail, whether the layers actually worked together. Often builders would only find out on the site that the plans didn’t match up. This cost them time, money and effort to put right. It was a serious concern.
Business information modelling changes all that. This new software allows users to edit one layer and for changes to then be made to other layers automatically. The goal is for all layers to be compatible with each other to avoid problems during the actual build. As you might imagine, this technology has proven to be something of a game-changer. What’s more, designers can work on projects simultaneously over the cloud. You can have designers working alongside electricians on the same software, making changes in real time. Thus, collaboration in the initial stages of construction has never been easier. Expect this technology to roll out more rapidly next year across the sector. BIM should bring significant cost savings to both the design and build stages of construction.
Cost And Schedule Modelling
Another major obstacle facing the construction sector is, of course, cost scheduling. Construction businesses work to very tight cost schedules and margins. In this environment, timing is everything.
New so-called 5D Macro-BIM software is designed to solve this problem. The idea is to feed the software relevant data and get back useful information on scheduling and feasibility. Going forward, construction experts will be able to make more informed decisions about cash flow.
Pre-Fab “Duplo” Construction Parts
In construction, there are two big costs: the price of labor and the price of raw materials. So the industry is looking for ways to reduce these costs.
One place they’re getting inspiration from is the manufacturing sector. Here, high-quality products are churned out in their tens of thousands at low cost. As a result, construction companies are looking for ways to get components constructed cheaply off site.
Going forward we’re likely to see more and more examples of parallel construction on the same project. Construction companies will continue to do their traditional roles. For example, they will keep pouring foundations and preparing the site. But at the same time, their partners will be building other elements, like walls, off-site. Working on multiple simultaneous projects will speed up the process of construction dramatically.
It is also hoped that these methods will not only reduce costs but improve quality too. Walls built in a factory will have fewer imperfections than walls built on the site.
Construction workers work under dangerous conditions. Alongside mining and logging, construction has among the highest fatality rates in the US. One of the biggest problems facing workers is tools that malfunction.
Now companies are moving to create tools that are safer in use and safer when they fail. One of the biggest problems is accidental tool release. In other words, things like drill bits and cutting blades flying off accidentally in mid use. But now toolmakers are implementing disc springs to prevent this from happening. Disc springs exert continuous pressure against tool moorings. And this pressure means that it’s much harder for tools to come loose during operation. The good news for construction companies is that this technology works independently. It’s not reliant on electricity or anything else, just the intrinsic pressure of the spring.
The whole raison d’etre behind smart buildings is to reduce the cost of ownership. Businesses want buildings to be smart so that they can run them at a lower cost.
One way they are looking to do this is by integrating sensors with buildings. Buildings will become increasingly divided up into sections, like a cruise ship. Each section will have sensors monitoring activity. These sensors will then pick up the movement of people, and when they do, they’ll do things like switch on lights and so on.
Smart tech will also be used to automate processes inside factories. For instance, data will be fed to areas of plants telling them to shut down if they are no longer required for production. Factory owners will be able to segment operations, depending on their needs.
What does this mean for construction? It means that we’re going to need whole new classes of tech-savvy people who understand how to implement these systems. Just like we had plumbers and electricians in the past, we’ll need smart technicians in the future.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs are already making their impact felt in the scaffolding sector. Scaffolders are using drones to monitor their work, without having to send people to check. Now the use of these devices is coming to the construction site in general.
UAVs are essentially flying mobile phones. They come with a plethora of onboard gadgets and gizmos for all sorts of uses. Perhaps the most useful for construction is the simple camera. Construction companies can use UAVs to create digital maps of terrain before a building project begins.
UAVs are also a good way for management to keep tabs on the job site from remote locations. Managers can monitor progress and even worker safety, all from their connected iPads.
Finally, UAVs are being put to use in marketing. Developers are now turning to the technology to film stunning videos of their projects, both inside and out. Is there nothing drones cannot do?
3D Printed Parts
So far the idea of a fully 3D printed building has remained a dream. Yes, there are proof-of-concepts out there. But none has yet produced a building that any regular person would like to live or work inside.
That doesn’t mean, however, that 2017 won’t see an increase in 3D printed building materials. In many ways, 3D printing is a natural progression for the construction sector. Here is a technique that will allow builders to manufacture custom parts for their sites. The limitation right now is with both the speed and resolution of current 3D printers. They take a long time to produce the material that they need. But they offer construction companies some big advantages.
One of the biggest pros for using 3D printers is that they are great with recycled materials. The raw materials are simply fed into the printer in powdered form, and out the other side comes something usable. 3D printing will also be able to generate new and hitherto unseen design concepts. The normal rules of construction don’t apply when you’re able to build up shapes layer by layer. Finally, 3D printing will ultimately reduce costs to a fraction of where they are today. 3D printing removes the cost of complexity altogether by handing over precision tasks to a computer. It’s like the fact that it’s no more costly for your inkjet printer at home to print out a Monet painting than it is a smiley face.
Automation And Robots For Rote Tasks
The robotics industry is in another strong growth phase, thanks to demand from the Far East and China. But they’re not just being put to work in factories: they’re finding their way onto building sites too. It’s all being driven by reductions in costs and improvements in robot intelligent. Robots are finally becoming adaptable and able to operate outside of highly controlled environments. This means that for the first time ever, we’re going to see robots doing complex, but repetitive tasks, like brick laying.
And the workers? The idea is that workers will oversee the operation of the robots. They’ll become coaches and mechanics, making sure that they’re doing their jobs properly. It’s an interesting concept. And what makes it exciting is that each company will be able to output far more in much less time. Expect to see a robot brickie on a building site near you soon.
5 Small Business Ideas for Camera Drone Owners
Drones are now indispensable in many professions and camera drones have taken photography to a higher level. Breathtaking images of everything from wildlife, to aerial shots over cities are in the hands of expert drone operators and that’s why they are in demand in business.
Industries like engineering, tourism, and real estate and of course also the film industry to name a few use drone technology but there are many other uses for them too so his blog article expands on drone usage in business – read on.
What Is A Camera Drone?
Drones that have a camera mounted and take photos and video are known as camera drones. There are a lot of types and brands which has made them affordable to sole operators as well as large enterprises.
Camera Drones Usage In Business
The market for camera drones in business is evolving too. Advanced technology like 4K cameras (and maybe 8K soon too), Bluetooth, collision avoidance systems, and built-in GPS to capture and share higher quality video has grabbed the attention of many different industries. Check out this article for the best drones in the market.
If you’re considering a new business idea or wish to go solo here are 5 ideas for using camera drones:
1. Photography and Videography
Take photos and videos for various clients. Prospective clients can be real estate agents who want aerial shots of their properties, hotel owners who wish to showcase their services, filmmakers who require some quick shots and would rather take your services than buy an expensive drone, and many more.
You can also use your drone to cover weddings and sporting events for expanding your own photography services if you provide them. To further enhance the quality of the images, which you’ll want to do especially if you’re covering weddings, you can use automatic photo enhancing software as explained in that article by ‘go to and learn’. Even on the darkest day, with the right software an underexposed image can be lightened and so much more.
2. Security Surveillance
A business revolving around home and commercial security can be started with the help of a few drones. Having the ability to provide aerial surveillance that syncs with the clients’ phones will help sell your services more often as compared to other companies. Other than visual surveillance, drones can also help with detecting fire threats or water leaks, aiding with emergency response.
3. Aerial Mapping
Providing aerial mapping and surveying services to construction companies and architects is another fruitful option. This a specialized job, however, so you should have a few experts on your team and a few specialized drones to get the work done. This hassle pays off though, as aerial mapping services tend to make a lot more money than providing just photographic surveys.
4. Drone Renting
Want to do something very easy and still make money with your drone? Start renting it out. People are always looking for drones they can use for a project and then return rather than having to spend a good amount of money to buy a good one. The best thing about starting a drone renting business is that you can do it with even one. Of course, the more drones you have the better your business return. With any business idea, make sure you get professional advice.
5. Search & Rescue
If you are willing to develop a small business that has the potential to grow really big, then providing search and rescue services with your camera drones is a good idea. Drones are not only easier to operate than helicopters for search operations but they are also a fraction of the cost. They can also fly at night, which makes them much more ideal than helicopters for such operations.
Drones can also be equipped with infrared and night vision to see better at night and be able to locate people using heat signatures. And they can also provide emergency supplies to people once they are located. This is not only a lucrative business idea but also a morally good one.
It’s an exciting time to be around, as there are so many different ways to create an income, all the while having loads of fun doing it.
How To Create A Dropshipping Business Worth Millions
Are you looking at starting a new business venture? If so, then you might want to consider a dropshipping company. One of the benefits of the dropshipping trend is that anyone can do it and when we say anyone, we really do mean it. In fact, one student managed to establish a dropshipping business worth just $1.2 million in just a few months. Do you want to get started with this venture yourself? Well, first you need to know what dropshipping is!
What Is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a supply chain management method where the retailer or person selling the items does not actually have them in stock. Instead, when the customer places an order, the retailer will send the request directly to the manufacturer or the wholesaler who will then take care of the shipping. The goods will be directly shipped to the customer by the manufacturer which makes the entire process easier for the retailer, and more secure for the recipient.
This is a common practice among online stores, especially those that are just starting up. The entire management system makes it easier for online stores to get the products to the customer, as they do not then need to order the items in. It also means that the items are less likely to be out of stock if the purchase is going straight to the manufacturer.
How To Get A Successful Dropshipping Business
You might not find success immediately dropshipping. Remember that student we mentioned who now owns a $1.3 million business? Well, he actually started by making a loss of $15,000. As such, it can be trial and error as his second attempt was actually far more successful and took off. Does this mean that it all comes down to luck?
Well no, not quite, because you do need to first think about the product that you want to sell. You need to make sure that there is going to be a high demand or that you can create high demand. Since you will still be running an online store, you also need to think in terms of systems and hosting of your website and online store. There are clear pros and cons for both on-premise versus cloud hosted software and you’ll want to make the right decision for your business. What are your storage, speed, security, requirements and then there’s also the marketing and promotion. These days, it’s important to focus on digital marketing like SEO.
Finally, you need to make sure that you locate a manufacturer who is willing to work with you, dropshipping the products you sell. This can be quite complicated and will typically involve negotiations. Don’t settle on the first manufacturer you find and instead look for the one that perfectly matches your business model and is able to provide to your requirements.
You will also need to select a selling platform. A selling platform needs to be user-friendly and easy to manage. There are countless options available on the market, so make sure you research a few before settling on the right one for your business model.
We hope that you have found this article useful, and now know how you can create a successful dropshipping business that could be worth millions! Take the chance and start your company today for this opportunity.
Tips For Starting Your Own T-shirt Printing Business While At University
When student Ben Francis started selling screen printed clothing from his garage 6 years ago, he would never have thought his startup would grow into one of the biggest brands in fitness. Today, Gymshark is supported by millions of social media followers and boasts customers from over 130 different countries.
Success stories like Gymshark’s demonstrate that setting up your own business at University is definitely possible and may lead to massive success. Being at University is a great time to set up your own business- University students have more free time, fewer commitments and there are a wealth of resources and organisations designed solely to support young entrepreneurs.
Selling t-shirts online has become a popular business model and offering a customisable aspect by printing personalised designs is a great USP. For University students, starting a t-shirt printing business is an inexpensive way to start a business while studying.
Here are 5 tips for starting a t-shirt printing business while at University:
Don’t worry if you’re not currently taking a business or marketing course, as there may be optional entrepreneurship classes you can take at University to train you for the world of business and give you startup advice.
There are many resources on the web to learn how to run a t-shirt printing business and more pointedly how to create customised prints, including this insightful blog post on how to embroider logos on workwear.
For setting up a t-shirt printing business it is important to do research into the industry and competitors as well as into the potential market. When it comes to the t-shirt printing industry, there are a wide range of potential customers so be sure to think about who exactly you want to be selling to.
Create a business plan
Creating a business plan is an important part of setting up a new business as it is a good way to explore the feasibility of your new business and is essential if you will be seeking out external financing.
As part of planning for the business make sure to:
- Establish the mission of your company
- Know where you will obtain your raw materials from
- Analyse the competition and know how will you make your brand stand out from other t-shirt companies
- Think about how you will market the business
- Identify your target market
- Do some financial projections, for example a sales forecast
Secure start-up funding
There are many ways to raise startup funding including business incubators and accelerators, angel investors and venture capital firms, and investment from friends or relatives.
Consider researching into small business grants as there are thousands of grant schemes in action across the UK and many will be eligible for University entrepreneurs.
The main sources of grants are from the UK government, the European Union and your local authority but they are also offered by Universities, charities and corporates. It is worth researching into all of these before making a decision.
Another great source of funding is the Prince’s Trust which is the country’s leading youth charity programme, who offer financial help and business support for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Another financing option is The Start Up Loans Company which is a government-backed scheme helping individuals start or grow a business in the UK. The Start Up Loans Company allows you to borrow up to £25,000 to start a business for a low fixed interest rate of 6% per annum.
Create a support network
Search out support channels such as your University’s business resources and alumni network. You could also reach out to other entrepreneurs and local businesses to gain advice on entrepreneurship and useful contacts. Research into any meetup groups and network/ startup events in your area to widen your network.
Use free resources
To save you money be sure to make use of any free resources, including those provided by your University. Your University may have databases, contacts, workshops, and more that you can use while still studying.
Another great asset is the people around you- fellow students, lecturers, tutors etc. Reaching out to others for advice or opinions can be of great use when setting up a business and you may even find a business partner.
There are also a few charitable organisations which you can use such as the The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE). The NACUE is an organisation for students in enterprise and has a UK network of over 260 students and enterprises. They support and connect student entrepreneurs through student-led enterprise societies, practical programmes and events.
Trends In New Business Ownership In America
New business ownership is a great indicator of how the country is doing, right? Surely the more entrepreneurship going on the better?
Well it’s not just that simple, we need to look at what types of start-ups are happening, how successful they are and what they do once established.
It’s been reported that 90% of start-ups fail and this is due to a whole host of reasons, many businesses haven’t been researched properly, don’t have a market for their product, funding issues or any other thing can kill off a new start-up.
What Types Of Start-Ups Are Happening now?
What are the types of businesses that are starting up in America today and how does this differ from the past? It’s no surprise that online is where business trends are going with companies utilising freelance remote workforces more and more, communication and online marketing etc and even manufacturing and industrial businesses are concentrating more and more on automation and technology based solutions.
The small scale start-up, the spare room or garage success looks like becoming more of a distant memory as even new start-ups are having to come in funded and prepared to compete with the big boys.
High Quality Start-Ups That Are Fuelling The Economy
The number of start-ups are down overall but high growth start-ups are on the increase and a good indication of what the quality of these start-ups are is that the amount of new trademarks are growing each year and this shows that these firms are taking protection of their intellectual property, and therefore growth, more seriously and that is good news for the overall economy and for employment.
Tiny business that only employ the owner or family which account for 75% of start ups are not the answer to growing the economy these days.
What Kind Of Companies Manage To Grow?
From the nations’ point of view growth is really what we want from as many as our start-ups as possible as this fuels jobs, wealth and happiness for citizens. This guide to sustainable growth shows how to not only gain the growth needed but to sustain this to be able to flourish and be the kinds of companies America needs.
Companies that will last need to have a solid direction, this may sound obvious, but it’s shocking how many companies don’t have an adequate business plan or if they do don’t refer back to it to see if they are on track and adjust if not.
The business needs to have a strong brand identity so that customers know it and what it stands for. Most importantly this strategy needs to be long-term and so sustainable growth should be realistic and achievable.
So in many ways business start-ups are changing in that they are focused more and more on technology, automation and the internet. But in many other ways nothing has changed, businesses still overwhelmingly fail and those that succeed are what drives the economy forward.
So long as we have the 10% of success stories driving the economy forward then progress will be ensured long term.
Love Pets? Top Startup Ideas for You
The domestic animal (pet) industry is buoyant with pet care said to be one of the most recession proof sectors around. Maybe this is why there are many successful franchises operating, from short stay and daycare centres, to training and exercise gyms and speciality stores.
In business, we’re told to do something we love and if we do and do it well, we’ll be successful. Well, here’s your chance. If you love pets, consider a business in one of these areas:
1. Pet training services
The great thing about domestic animals and birds is they have a brain so we can train them, and not just for our entertainment. In fact training an animal for our pleasure is somewhat frowned on so focus on training for drug and bomb detection, or search and rescue.
Plus there’s also the specialist field of recovery particularly after a major event.
Cadaver dogs do an amazing service using their nose of which their sense of smell is way better than humans.
Animals also provide support and company for the elderly, and the disabled so there’s a lot of opportunity in animal training.
A pet training camp can be a great way to turn what you love into a sustainable business.
Law enforcement agencies, for instance, need police dogs to undergo training. Normally, police departments have their own dog training academies, but those in smaller town will have to get contractors to handle the training. K9 units often undergo obedience and agility courses, so you may as well include these in your curriculum.
Another great idea. albeit more left field, is, bird training. Not just any bird but Psittaciformes, which include parrots, cockatoos, parakeets. This is definitely a specialty area. If training is just not your thing, consider short stay pet accomodation or a daycare center.
2. Daycare centers
In America, ‘pet sitting’ while you’re on vacation or out for the evening, has always been an important tradition among suburban families, however pet hotels and daycare facilities now reign. It’s not just for Hollywood celebrities, everyday homes are using these businesses to mind their previous pets rather than leave them alone while the children are at school and the adults are at work.
So are a dog daycares profitable? K9 Franchise, did their research, and found it’s a multi-million dollar industry! So with the right business model and support systems it’s a sector that growing and is highly successful, and that’s due to us.
As our lifestyles have changed over the time, so too has our desire for pets. We’re having children later in life, so the pet comes first, and of course they’ve ingratiated themselves so they are around when the children come and go. Even non animal owners have turned to pets to avoid empty nester syndrone, as it’s proven that domestic animal ownership alleviate loneliness.
Taking on a daycare franchise, may be the way to move forward in your own business. The huge investment needed to get your daycare business started, plus the cost of support services like marketing, tech, and operational procedures are shared among the all franchisees, so the franchisee model works well in this sector.
3. Boutique and specialty stores
People love to pamper their pets. Pampering them is a surrogate to pampering a child or us. So there’s no limit applied to how often toys and accessories are purchased to keep pets comforted and entertained.
This is an exciting business with lots of innovation in this sector. There are boutiques and specialty stores that sell items from costumes, aquarium decorations, hamster cage setups, baked goodies, and other nifty things that cater to every pet lover.
However we say: caveat emptor aka ‘buyer beware’. Do your homework before venturing too far into the unknown when it comes to speciality products and services. There’s a risk, there will be a lack of demand, or you’ve entered a crowded marketplace with too much supply. However with more risk there’s more upside when offering a unique proposition. Word will get out among pet lovers and there’s no distance too far to go, when it comes to pampering pets.
New Packaging Machinery A Win For Food Outlets
Packaging is everywhere, and none more so now than in the food industry.
Packaging machinery used to be complicated to use and needed a lot space hence it was manufactured for wholesalers only. Of course this is no longer the case in fact, it is so ingrained in our retail culture that we don’t really think about it very much anymore beyond which bin it should go in once it has been used. This is a shame because, despite the recent negative press, packaging has a serious job to perform.
Longer Shelf Life
Go and have a look in your fridge – how much fresh food is there in here that would have already perished if it weren’t for the wrapping it came in? The answer is most of it.
Packaging isn’t just there to give you nutritional and health information such as sell-by dates and calorie content; it is also there to act as a passive preservative that means you can safely eat it for a much longer period than if it wasn’t well sealed.
Using packaging like this isn’t just good for consumers; packaging also allows businesses to thrive.
The right packaging can extend the shelf life of a product by a significant amount of time (think about that tin of beans that is yet to expire despite sitting covered in dust at the back of the cupboard for the last few years!).
In particular, fresh products last longer, giving customers more time to purchase and creating a much more competitive price margin.
Rise Up The Boutique Food Retailers
Packaging technology has been around for a long time but recent tech advances mean that now even small boutique food retailers can use it.
Instead of relying on large factories to produce fresh foods, home businesses are now able to create a more sustainable business model using clever packaging designs and technologies. For example, a baker could now bake a cake a day or two ahead, package it and deliver, still fresh, to the customer later on.
While shelf life might be the most important thing for the food inside, presentation is another factor that is significant for consumers.
We are all naturally curious about what we eat and checking to see whether something looks appetizing before purchasing is an instinctive behaviour. We want visual assurance that what is in the box is what we expect and nothing more.
Shrink wrapping is particularly great for this as it is one of the best ways to add valuable days to a used-by date as well as show off a particular food or product.
Whether the shrink wrap is used to expose the whole item or shrouded in cardboard with a handy peephole, shrink wrapping also gives the consumer a feel for the texture of a product.
Bright Future For Small Food Outlets
For small businesses, getting the packaging right is crucial. Being able to pack on site is the best way to minimize waiting times and maximize shelf life.
C Pack Packaging Machinery have been in the business of selling new and used packaging machinery for years and they say their client base has broadened a lot in recent times. Their client base used to be large manufacturers but tech advancement has allowed smaller retailers to create new service lines like take out freshly cooked roast dinners due to the use of the new technology. As a business, C Pack Limited say they’ve learnt a thing or two about dealing the retail sector and it’s great for their business and of course the food outlets.
As packaging technology has developed, customization has become possible meaning that small businesses can get exactly what they need from the tech. and they can accomodate the machinery in their premises.
Similarly, simplifying the technology to make it more user-friendly has allowed smaller businesses with non-specialist staff to get in on the market.
Consumers might not think too much about packaging but that is usually because it is doing its job so well. And with further advances in technology, the future of food production is looking bright. Startup businesses in freshly cooked or made food have a bright future too so here is yet another example of how advances in technology are working for us!
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