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Automated Trenching Robot Opens Conversations On Construction Technology

Jul 10, 17 Automated Trenching Robot Opens Conversations On Construction Technology

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As automation takes over manufacturing and replaces a multitude of human jobs, companies are transforming the way they operate — and the definition of work in general. And one human-powered industry may be next to adopt automated technology: Construction. New Atlas reports that European researchers have developed an autonomous robot to assist in trenching. The robot is called BADGER, which stands for roBot for Autonomous unDerGround trenches opERations, mapping and navigation, and is being developed by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain, as well as researchers in Germany, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Trenches are traditionally dangerous environments, so OSHA has strict safety measures in place for construction employees. For example, any trench five feet or deeper requirers a protective support system to prevent cave-ins unless it is made of solid rock. Any trench that is 20 feet or deeper needs a protective system designed by a professional. Technology like BADGER could up trench safety significantly, as its worm-inspired body can dig underground and work through a series of sensors, according to New Atlas. While news of automating the construction industry could come as a surprise to some, experts indicate that it may become part of a larger trend. Sam Stacey, director of innovation, industrialization, and business improvement for Skanska UK said in a statement to Raconteur that the construction industry has traditionally not been part of technological research. “We’re a low-margin industry, which has led to a lack of investment in research and development over recent decades, especially when compared to other industries,” he said. But advancement could just require a change of thinking for construction managers, Tim Chapman, director at Arup, said in a statement to Raconteur. “It’s the change in mindset that’s always proven to be the biggest challenge,” he said. “There are still many practitioners who want to protect the established ways of doing things, but the evidence from other industries where technology has taken hold is that soon it will be too big a draw to ignore.” Besides automation like BADGER, Raconteur reports that construction...

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OSHA Delays Construction Crane Certification Requirements Until 2018

Jul 07, 17 OSHA Delays Construction Crane Certification Requirements Until 2018

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has delayed updating crane certification requirements, subsequently impacting the construction market across the United States. According to Lexology, after the most recent Federal Register notice, OSHA is now attempting to delay its new certification requirements for construction crane operators. The upcoming requirements were originally set to go into effect on November 10, 2017, but OSHA is looking to hold off at least a year. Many of the construction safety rules might remain unchanged, but it’s still important for crane operators and construction production workers to stay up-to-date with the past, present, and future requirements. One of the long-standing OSHA rules pertaining to construction cranes, for example, is that the cranes must be correctly assembled on firm, completely drained ground, and should also graded sufficiently in conjunction with appropriate supporting materials. The new certification requirements shouldn’t alter many of these already in place regulations, but will certainly change the way a user operates cranes and other construction machinery. The new requirements are being delayed amidst industry concerns over third-party testing organizations being forced to certify the crane operator for both the type of crane and its lifting capacity. In addition, the delay is being attributed to some industry leaders questioning whether or not the certification requirements are sufficient enough. Before OSHA can officially delay any of these new rules and requirements, however, the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) must be consulted. The ACCSH has since advised the Secretary of Labor and the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA in the formulation of standards affecting the construction industry as a whole, specifically pertaining to policy matters involving the Safety Standards Act, Contract Work Horus, and the OSHA Act of 1970. Certain materials being used for crane construction could also be considered during the requirement delay process as well. Tungsten, which was discovered 236 years ago and finally put to use throughout various industries in the 1930s, has directly contributed to the construction market. Tungsten carbide has...

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Regulators Pushing to Stay Ahead of Self-Driving Technology

Jun 30, 17 Regulators Pushing to Stay Ahead of Self-Driving Technology

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Automated vehicles have been around for a while, specifically in industrial and manufacturing settings. In fact, the worldwide AGV market is forecast to be worth $2.3 billion by the end of 2024. But automated, or self-driving, vehicles have only just begun to hit the roads commercially, and regulators are scrambling to keep up. In the ever-growing movement to get self-driving technology on the roads, lawmakers are getting left in the dust. As self-driving technology advances, new regulations and laws that conflict on a state-by-state basis have lawmakers concerned about hold-ups to vehicle development. As a result, some people are calling for federal action. “If you had 50 different requirements for 50 different states, each state [might do it] different,” said Chan Lieu, an adviser to the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. IHS Automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley told USA Today that more conflict is arising in light of demands for federal action. “It could be messier, and it could take longer than we want it to,” Brinley said. “We will see some state-by-state and some federal fights happening.” The biggest issue in this case is a purely political one. While every self-driving car regulation is focused on safety, not every lawmaker is on the same page. While federal action may be inevitable, states and even cities are arguing that they have a key role to play in the development of this technology. And a federal regulation could take them out of the equation. Self-driving cars are already changing the roads, but the development of this technology has the potential to change countless other things about the way society functions. Personal car ownership, urban development, and insurance business would just be a few factors that would change. Not to mention the roads themselves. Traffic marking paint, worth an estimated $454 million in 2014, may become more or less important depending on autonomous vehicles’ spatial recognition capabilities. In an effort to predict some of these changes and keep up with the rapidly-developing technology, upwards of 50 bills...

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Better Business Bureau (BBB) Warns Homeowners to Avoid Summer Scammers

Jun 29, 17 Better Business Bureau (BBB) Warns Homeowners to Avoid Summer Scammers

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Summer is finally here and that means more vacations, plenty of nice weather, and, unfortunately, an increase in homeowner scams. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and other consumer protection departments around the country are fully aware of this annual issue, and are currently in the process of warning homeowners and individuals of the potential for scams during the warmer months. “We know that scams are cyclical, as an example, every summer we see an increase in employment related scams,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB. “With our new data, we are able to better gauge the impact of those scams and others.” According to ABC 7 Chicago, the number one most common summer scam has to deal with fraudulent tax collectors. Roughly 50% of reported scams and inquiries fall under tax-related scams. Criminals will pose as agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and attempt to gain credit or debit card information from victims. The BBB advises that a legitimate IRS employee would never call someone and demand an immediate payment, threaten to bring in law enforcement if a payment is not processed, or not allow the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount of money owed. American people, especially homeowners, should be aware of home warranty scams as well. Quality national home warranty companies will provide the best in protection and coverage for at least 10 years on qualified structural defects from the date of closing. Fraudulent home warranty companies, however, or scammers who pose as contractors, will offer this type of protection coverage or service, acquire some sort of downpayment, and then never perform any duties, effectively scamming homeowners of their hard-earned money. As ABC 2 reports, the BBB advises homeowners to never send money to someone the sender doesn’t know and be cognizant of exactly who is entering and leaving your...

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