At long last, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—now commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—has published project information and guidelines to help contractors prepare to bid on the $1.2 trillion in funding that will soon be released to projects nationwide.
According to recent guidance released by the White House, about half of the funding will be sent to the states via “implementation coordinators,” who will organize and support projects in their local communities, while the other half will be granted by the federal government. The guidance demonstrates how the first $65 billion will be distributed through 25 applications given out by state and local governments.
Most of these applications will open soon, which means that now is the time for contractors to take a look at their technology and internal processes to ensure they have the right procedures and protocols in place to competitively bid on—and win—these highly lucrative contracts.
Government contracts tend to have a bevy of stringent rules, regulations, and demands attached to them, and the projects associated with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be no different. In order to meet those requirements and reap the monetary benefits of these projects, contractors should have the following capabilities implemented into their workflows and business practices:
- A technology-forward operational platform that provides open collaboration capabilities across all project stakeholders and gives transparency to governing bodies
- The ability to collect, store, and report on information in real time—from cost and project progress to safety, HR data, data security, and more
- Workflows that ensure consistent compliance with payroll, prevailing wages, health, safety, environmental, and other regulations outlined in federal construction contracts
- The right HR tools and strategies to find, hire and train new workers, build long-term construction careers and meet employment, DEI, and other workforce requirements
- Ability to work efficiently with unions and collective bargaining efforts because while the law doesn’t preclude non-union contractors, it was designed to significantly favor labor union employment
- Flexibility and scalability to meet equipment, materials and supply chain needs, including an emphasis on buying American-made goods
- A strategy or roadmap for sustainable construction, including meeting current environmental standards and creating future efficiencies that further reduce carbon emissions
- Up-to-date data security and cybersecurity measures
Given the many governmental requirements and the fact that competition for contracts is expected to be fierce, the biggest winners will likely be those who have moved their construction management operations to the cloud and are using connected construction management software to achieve a single source of real-time data.
“Having a centralized way to collect and share data—from jobsite productivity and project management information to project accounting and human capital management—helps ensure that everyone is working off of the same information in real time, which is key to ensuring that major infrastructure projects stay on track,” says Matt Harris, vice president and general manager of Trimble Viewpoint. “Because when data is unified and easily accessible, workflows are streamlined, costs and timelines are better managed, and issues can be caught immediately so that they don’t become bigger issues down the road.”
However, the benefits of modernizing operations are not limited to meeting government contract requirements. Project owners of all construction disciplines are demanding more project insight, efficiencies, and on-demand reporting and financial status updates. With connected, cloud-based construction solutions, contractors have faster, easier access to data, helping them make better-informed business decisions. With these solutions in place, contractors can share and communicate data seamlessly, even from remote locations; access the latest project data like job costs, WIP, employee or safety stats in real time; get immediate material pricing, load counts, inventory updates, and much more to save costs and reduce project downtime; mitigate project risks and safety issues by spotting problems before they ever occur; easily set and measure against benchmarks and identify trends, like spotting potential profit fade before it occurs; and capture more accurate data on heavy machinery usage and performance to ensure that equipment fleets are achieving maximum efficiency.
ADOPTION OF DIGITAL DELIVERY
The adoption of digital delivery is another critical technology upgrade that many contractors would benefit from implementing. Digital “as-builts” are 3D models that bridge design, construction, and operations, enabling a project’s stakeholders—from an owner to the engineers to the contractors—to all work collaboratively from the same model in real time.
Unlike 2D paper drawings that aren’t easily shareable and don’t accurately reflect changes to a project as it evolves, which can lead to a breakdown in communication and execution, 3D models enable stakeholders to collaborate in ways that facilitate communication, efficiency, visibility, and transparency. By allowing everyone involved in the project to access, share, review, and comment on data-rich building information models (BIM) in real time, costly change orders, tedious tasks and time-consuming coordination meetings can be reduced, helping to prevent schedule delays and cost overages.
“According to a recent report released by Trimble and Dodge Construction Network, more than two-thirds of project owners contractually require contractors to use some form of digital documentation and practices,” says Cyndee Hoagland, senior vice president for Trimble’s Owner and Public Sector. “Project owners clearly see the advantages these technologies provide, and it would benefit contractors to embrace these technologies as well, since they enable infrastructure assets to be designed and built faster, safer, cheaper, more efficiently, and more sustainably than before.”
As funding for infrastructure projects is set to roll out, contractors would be wise to review their technologies and digital practices and determine whether they’re up to par for bidding and winning these infrastructure contracts.
About the Author:
Jenn Said is a freelance writer who covers the construction industry.
Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2022
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