Only Online - USGlass January 2007
Learn the Latest Trends in the Building Industry and How to Stay Ahead
With new materials on the rise, automation playing a greater role, and competition
from China heating up, those in the building industry need to stay on top of the
latest trends in order to survive. Such was the message of Richard Voreis of the
Consulting Collaborative, who spoke aqbout building construction trends at a recent
"Fiberglass will gain significantly in popularity," said Voreis, "and may be able to capture some market from aluminum."
Trend Toward Being Green and Energy Conscious
Voreis noted the desire for increased energy efficiency has hurt one material in particular, at least in the residential market.
"The ENERGY STAR® program almost put aluminum out of business," he said.
He also noted some of the priorities of the Department of Energy (DOE) as it relates to the building industry. These include:
Voreis predicted that companies will introduce more "smart" technologies in the not too distant future, reminding attendees of the DOE's goal of net-zero energy buildings, he adds.
Trends in New Construction and Remodeling
Voreis predicted that re-glazing will increase in popularity, as will the use of modular and/or unitized products and that technology has more of an impact on the building process (more on that later).
In discussing remodeling, Voreis said that of the five million buildings in the United States, 80 percent are 15-years old, while 55 percent are more than 30-years old.
"These buildings need to be updated both in terms of aesthetics and functionality," he said.
He added that 510,000 buildings undergo exterior renovation each year (windows,
doors, curtainwall, etc).
"No one ever guesses retail," he said.
Trends in Automation
Product selection, budget, drawings, spec will all be transmitted via the Internet, he added. "The leading manufacturers will assist customers in this area."
"It can take four minutes to generate a half million dollar bid via the computer using smart 3-D virtual models," said Voreis. "This will reduce errors, control costs and save time."
"You absolutely, positively must embrace technology. It's going to come quickly and you must be ahead of the game."
"The lack of skilled and trained employees [are due to a] decline in trade unions and appropriate training, a decline in craftsmanship and qualified salespeople and a lack of skilled and trained candidates.
"We're not attracting young people to the industry," he said.
The Big Trend - Competition from China
The construction economy is not a problem. He said the real problem is increased domestic and global competition. And when it comes to global competition, the biggest threat is China.
"Your organization has to be as efficient as it can possibly be," said Voreis. "They [Chinese companies] have 50-60 extrusion facilities in the same building. There is no one working. It is all automated."
He added, "The Chinese don't understand this market-testing, etc. But that's today. They're going to learn it Communicating is tough but that is going to change also."
And those who think that it is difficult for Chinese companies to get products to the United States efficiently, Voreis gave an example of a Las Vegas hotel "The curtainwall was glazed there, assembled there [in China] and shipped here," he warns.
Although, there will be challenges, companies can respond to these challenges, and excel, but companies must prepare now for the future.
Source: The Consulting Collaborative
Tara Taffera is a contributing editor for USGlass magazine.
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