Construction Industry Generally Doing Well in Spite of Covid. – New Tracking Tools

This year has been filled with uncertainty and has significantly damaged many industries, but so far the construction industry seems to be doing well. If you only watch the news or you talk to restaurant and bar owners it will seem like business has totally stalled, but talking to contractors, you will generally get the impression that things are ok.  As we enter the fall of course, there is a lot of concern over whether these “decent” times will continue. 

By late March most of the country had instituted some kind of Shelter in Place order. In the weeks after that construction activity as tracked by worker hours had declined most in early April – down approximately 17% nationwide. The dip was relatively short-lived though and by the end of May worker hours had rebounded. As of August total worker hours were 2% higher than the first week of March. It’s as if there was no pandemic.

There has been a disparity between the types of construction companies that have been affected most. Smaller companies (<$20M) were hit with the largest declines while larger companies saw more modest dips. As time passed by those differences were still there but parity has nearly been reached among different sized companies so that now all of them appear to be about on par for where they were in early March before any lockdowns.

Of course as we approach winter there is concern about whether the industry will continue its resilience. August saw 16,000 jobs added to payrolls which is a good sign however non-residential jobs saw declines. Nonresidential and infrastructure jobs decreased by 11,000 according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

A majority of firms have reported delays or cancelations of projects even though surveys show that 52% of firms struggle to find craft workers.* So challenges to planning and uncertainty about the course fo the pandemic have left much of the industry scratching their heads about what to do next.

Projections of future activity by PSMJ Resources’ forecast of proposed projects for architecture, engineering and construction companies saw a nearly 30% decline in backlogs indicating future slowdowns. 

The Architectural Billings Index, long a bellwether resource for construction, stood at 40 for the month of June. Any score below 50 indicates that architects see declining billings, but the 40 also held signs of hope since it was a definite improvement over May’s 32 index number.**

Fortunately a variety of new forecasting tools have become available for the industry. The Associated General Contractors of America offers analysis and surveys and can be a go to resource but recently more private sector companies have offered high tech methods of tracking construction data in detailed ways that have never before been available. Companies like Procore, Multivista, OxBlue, Smarvid provide the industry with nearly real-time data. 

Hopefully the industry will continue the pattern set so far during the pandemic even as we enter a challenging fall when Covid cases have already started to rise again. With new tools and insights contractors have greater ability to anticipate necessary changes as conditions continue to be so unpredictable.

* https://www.agc.org/news/2020/09/02/coronavirus-has-caused-significant-construction-project-delays-and-cancellations-yet

** https://www.equipmentworld.com/construction-seems-ok-despite-economic-uncertainty-but-will-the-work-hold/

Using Scissor Lifts Safely

Scissor lifts have become an indispensable tool for use on job sites as well as public and private venues where a reliable elevated platform is needed. Their efficiency over ladders and scaffolding make scissor lifts a superior choice for many contractors. However when used improperly or recklessly they can cause serious accidents and injuries.

Over a one-year period, OSHA investigated ten preventable fatalities and more than 20 preventable injuries resulting from a variety of incidents involving scissor lifts. OSHA’s investigations found that most injuries and fatalities involving scissor lifts were the result of employers not addressing: Fall Protection; Stabilization; Positioning *

Fall Protection

Scissor lifts are required to have guard rails to prevent workers from falls. Those operators or occupants should check the guardrail before working on it. They should only stand on the platform, not the rails and keep work within a manageable reach. 

One untrained operator of a scissor lift was killed in 2020 when attempting to film a football game. He had extended the lift over 39 feet while wind was gusting up to 50 mph.The winds blew the lift over and killed him.*

Stabilization

Stability is of the utmost importance to the safe use of a scissor lift. Manufacturer’s recommendations for safe movement are vital. This most often excludes moving the lift while it’s elevated. Level surfaces are essential, and avoiding use in poor weather is advised. Be sure that vehicles are prevented from coming close to the scissor lift. Tip-overs can happen in the blink of an eye.

Collapse of a scissor lift is rare but it is still very important to heed load limits. Also never bypass safety mechanisms or raise the platform with another machine – like a forklift. 

Positioning

Operators must be careful to position the scissor lift in a way that avoids risk of electrocution, 

thermal, burns or arc flashes. Avoid positioning near power lines, electrocution can happen without direct physical contact. 

Scissor lifts also present similar hazards to other kinds of vehicles including crushing hazards or impact hazards. Care needs to be taken when moving underneath a fixed object.

Training

Of course the best way to ensure safe scissor lift usage is to make sure operators are trained to the current standards on the particular equipment they are using. 

Operators should do a pre-start Inspection before each use. That includes inspection of:

Vehicle components

  • Proper fluid levels (oil, hydraulic, fuel and coolant);
  • Leaks of fluids;
  • Wheels and tires;
  • Battery and charger;
  • Lower-level controls;
  • Horn, gauges, lights and backup alarms;
  • Steering and brakes.

Lift components

  • Operating and emergency controls;
  • Personal protective devices;
  • Hydraulic, air, pneumatic, fuel and electrical systems;
  • Fiberglass and other insulating components;
  • Missing or unreadable placards, warnings, or operational, instructional and control markings;
  • Mechanical fasteners and locking pins;
  • Cable and wiring harnesses;
  • Outriggers, stabilizers and other structures;
  • Loose or missing parts;
  • Guardrail systems. **

Sadly many workers are killed and injured every year while using aerial lifts like scissor lifts. With proper training and reinforcement of safety protocols by management there should be fewer and fewer such incidents. 

Scissor lifts are powerfully effective and efficient tools and are now indispensable in a multitude of settings. Familiarity with safety protocols is a small price for the advantages gained.

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3842.pdf

** https://www.osha.gov/Publications/aerial-lifts-factsheet.html

Three Myths about Heavy Equipment Rental, and the Reason You Should Rent

Myths come in all forms from fairy tales to conspiracy theories. Well, just because a few people say that toilets flush in a different direction in the Southern Hemisphere doesn’t mean it’s true. (I know you’re gonna wanna Google that. ha!) Myths about construction equipment rental can be persistent, but believing them might actually cost you money in the long run.

It used to be that people thought renting equipment was a bad way to manage costs and run a business, but that has changed in the last decade or so. Equipment rental has gained in popularity and acceptance to the point where, now, it’s often looked at as being an effective way for companies to stay flexible and profitable. 

Below are three persistent myths about renting:

Myth 1: You Basically Throw Your Money Away When You Rent Equipment

Often, renting equipment becomes a path to owning. As companies grow they may get busy for a few months but feel unsure about whether the extra business justifies a large capital investment, or worry that the extra work might go away. A contractor may also may want to expand into a different type of construction project but feels he needs time to see whether those projects work well with his business model. 

In these cases renting for a season or individual project might save someone from having buyer’s remorse. Being stuck with a large investment in a machine that doesn’t earn that money back is really the worst way to throw your money away! By renting, you can try a machine and know if its capacity and features best suit your needs, and allows you to try other options before committing.

Myth 2: Rental Equipment is Beat Up Garbage

Well, this is not a subtle way of portraying the experience some people used to have with some equipment rentals, especially from businesses that probably aren’t around any longer. Reputable equipment rental companies like West Coast Equipment make sure that every machine is in excellent working condition BEFORE it goes out to a customer. Rental equipment today has often been maintained more regularly than privately owned machines. Regular maintenance is a necessary investment for good rental house so they know their machines are safe and reliable and that their customers will be satisfied.

Myth 3: Rental Equipment has Outdated Technology

Although customers can request machines that have minimal features to reduce costs, today some of the newest and most advanced construction equipment is available to rent. Load sensors and smart device connectivity and more are readily available. Some advanced features can be added to older equipment as well. 

Busting Myths

Old myths die hard.

The fact is that equipment rental can be a brilliant way to manage costs and keep flexibility without committing to a huge capital investment. Renting can allow a contractor to take on specialty projects or probe new types of work. 

West Coast Equipment works hard to insure that its rental fleet is in tip top shape and that you get the features and functionality you need. If you decide you should purchase a machine instead of renting, we can work out flexible financing options for you as well. We are here to help!

Working with your rental company to get you the machine with the features you need at the cost that works for you is exactly the way to bust these myths! 

New FMCSA Rules, More Flexibility for Construction Fleets

The hours of service (HOS) rules govern the amount of time drivers of commercial vehicles can spend on the road and is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These rules are intended to prevent accidents by minimizing fatigue primarily targeting long-haul drivers.

The new rules will take effect September 29th. They intend to give greater flexibility while still addressing safety. 

There are four critical changes:

  • expanding the short-haul exemption
  • expanding the driving window during adverse driving conditions
  • modifying the 30-minute break time requirement
  • modifying the sleeper berth exception

Two of these rules directly benefit construction contractors, expanding the short-haul exemption from 100 to 150 air miles, and counting non-driving activities toward the 30-minute rest requirement. 

These changes will particularly help for deploying drivers who end up waiting in long lines to load and unload equipment.

Modification of the 30 minute break

FMCSA now requires a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break. For short-haul work the 30-minute break therefore would very rarely apply since “in attendance” time may be included in the break if no other duties are performed.

Driving time in Adverse Conditions Extended

Up to two additional hours have been added to the driving window in adverse conditions. The HOS rules currently define adverse conditions as: snow, sleet, fog, other adverse weather conditions, a highway covered with snow or ice, or unusual road and traffic conditions. These factors may not be known to the dispatcher at the time the run is begun. 

FMCSA says that in the event of unanticipated conditions, adding time to the duty day in adverse conditions allows drives to reduce speed or delay operations makes drivers and roads safer.

“This is one of the biggest changes to the rules that we have seen in some time,” says Nick Goldstein, vice president, regulatory and legal issues, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). “FMCSA reached out. This has been a multi-year project on their part. They have conducted listening sessions, public comment sessions.” The rules were created with input from the regulated community.*

ARTBA has advocated for these changes in order to address situations where rules intended for long-haul drivers were also applied to short-haul drivers. Because the working realities were so different, some of the restrictions created an unnecessary burden and limited flexibility for the industry. 

“The revisions will help transportation construction contractors deploy project personnel more efficiently, saving time and costs while maintaining high standards for safety,” says Dave Bauer, ARTBA president and CEO. “These updates are especially needed for transportation construction to play a crucial role in our nation’s economic recovery.*

Finding the right balance between safety and efficiency is always a challenge and the new rule revisions move the industry further along the right path toward finding that balance.

* Quotes reference

FMCSA Website HOS Rules

 

Summer 2020 Service Special Ending Soon! (updated)

We want to remind you that the WCE Summer Service Event will be ending soon!

Summer is almost over so now is a great time to take care of that service you know you’ve been needing. West Coast Equipment’s Summer Service Specials save you money on oil and service. 

Our factory trained technicians will also create a 115 point inspection condition report. Schedule your appointment today with your nearest West Coast Equipment location.

John Deere / Cummins / Perkins T-3      $450

Cummins T4i & T4                                      $600

Deutz / Kholer                                             $600

Download the flyer below

Heavy equipment Services

West Coast Equipment’s Pre-Owned Machinery

Used & Refurbished equipment from West Coast Equipment represents and exceptional value. Have confidence and buy from an authorized dealer rather than take your chances with classified or online ads. 

We are an authorized dealer for all the major brands and therefore have an intimate knowledge of the machines we buy.

Refurbished Equipment 

  • Is reconditioned to a like new appearance including factory paint when possible
  • Fully inspected by our in-house master technicians
  • Worn grips, deteriorating handles are repalced
  • Annual inspections are up to date
  • Comes with 30 day warranty

 Used Equipment

  • Each unit is fully inspected by our in-house master technicians
  • Necessary repairs and maintenance are done
  • Every used machine is covered by a 30 day warranty

If you ever have questions about a used or refurbished machine you purchase from us, you can be assured that we’ll have the answers for you because we have been the experts to call for 36 years.

Right now we have two freshly refurbished Genie Scissor Lifts. Check them out:

 

Genie Scissor Lift 2

Genie Scissor Lift 3

Genie Scissor Lift 2

This unit has been:

-Refurbished to a like new appearance
-Freshly painted using factory Genie Blue
-New sticker kit and deck grip tape installed
-Fully inspected by our in-house master technicians
-Annual inspection are up to date
-Comes with 30 day warranty

Year: 2015
Make: Genie
Model: GS-1930
Maximum Height: 19′
Hours: 108
Serial Number: GS3015A-142668

$8000.00 USD

Click here to learn more about used and refurbished machines.

 

Refurbished Genie Scissor Lift Genie Scissor Lift 2015 Genie GS-1930

Spec Sheet Genie-GS1930

Genie Scissor Lift 3

This unit has been:

-Refurbished to a like new appearance
-Freshly painted using factory Genie Blue
-New sticker kit and deck grip tape installed
-Fully inspected by our in-house master technicians
-Annual inspection are up to date
-Comes with 30 day warranty

Year: 2015
Make: Genie
Model: GS-1930
Maximum Height: 19′
Hours: 141
Serial Number: GS3015A-143411

$8000.00 USD

Click here to learn more about used and refurbished machines.

2015 Genie GS-1930 Serial Number: GS3015A-143411 2015 Genie Scissor lift

Spec Sheet Genie-GS1930

Genie Scissor Lift 1 Refurbished

This unit has been:

-Refurbished to a like new appearance
-Freshly painted using factory Genie Blue
-New sticker kit and deck grip tape installed
-Fully inspected by our in-house master technicians
-Annual inspection are up to date
-Comes with 30 day warranty

Year: 2015
Make: Genie
Model: GS-1930
Maximum Height: 19′
Hours: 56
Serial Number: GS3015A-139432

$8000.00 USD

Click here to learn more about used and refurbished machines.

Genie Scissor Lift 2015 Genie Scissor Lift Serial Number: GS3015A-139432 2015 Genie GS-1930

Spec Sheet Genie-GS1930

 

JLG Zero Interest Loans on New Machines

JLG is offering ZERO interest loans up to 24 months on new factory shipments between April 1st – June 30th. (Great deals on longer terms are also available.) This rate applies only to new units.

Some examples of your monthly payments are below.

If you Buy a Machine for: Your Monthly Payment will be: Term
$25000.00 $1041.67 24 months
$50000.00 $2083.33 24 months
$100000.00 $4166.66 24 months
$200000.00 $8333.33 24 months

Download Flyer Here for more detailed information

Contact West Coast Equipment today to talk about that new Scissor Lift, Telehandler or Boom Lift you’ve been considering. We can give you all the details and talk about options. Now is a great time to invest in the future growth of your business.