Tag Archive for 'construction industry'

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* Last December the Army Corp of Engineers published a draft rule that would update and formalize how water supplies are controlled and managed at Army Corps reservoir systems, formalizing a somewhat uneven regulatory process for the last 60 years or so. On the front lines: cities, potable water, commerce, energy production, wildlife, navigation and recreation from the Dakotas to Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. Oh, and fracking just might be involved. Last week the Corp announced the comment period would be extended to May. This will likely impact related state and municipal water issues, e.g., in the Klamath River basin in Oregon and California.

* The Department of Agriculture proposed updates to regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered organisms, making it easier for “regulated entities whose organisms pose no plant pest or noxious weed risks.” Comments were due in May, but that has been extended for 30 days. The use of GMOs in energy crops was a big topic for DOE for many years, in association with Agriculture. It will be interesting to see how that research might shift in the next six to eight months.

* In its 2017 biennial report to the legislature Oregon’s Global Warming Commission has an important “key takeaway:” the majority of the increase (60%) in greenhouse gas emissions “came from the transportation sector, specifically the use of gasoline and diesel.” The GWC references “likely transportation legislation including a gas tax increase,” increased transit service levels, and “wider deployment of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) reliant on a clean electrical grid.” A related, possible 2017 legislative topic is establishing a carbon market, like California’s. So far, no moves on that front.

Tom Ewing

DEWALT® FLEXVOLT® System Outdoor Power Equipment-New outdoor tools for residential & commercial construction

DEWALT® expands the FLEXVOLT® System with Outdoor Power Equipment. Featuring the world’s first batteries that automatically change voltage when the user changes tools, the Outdoor Power Equipment lineup will include the new 60V MAX* Chainsaw, Handheld Blower, and  String Trimmer, all featuring the new FLEXVOLT® 60V MAX* 3.0Ah battery (9.0Ah when used in 20V MAX* tools).

For residential and commercial construction professionals, the FLEXVOLT® System is backwards compatible with most of the existing DEWALT 20V MAX* system, which now includes over 100 products.  This means that the FLEXVOLT® Batteries operate both the DEWALT 60V MAX* Outdoor Power Equipment as well as DEWALT 20V MAX* Power Tools.

The 60V MAX* Chainsaw (DCCS670X1) is equipped with a powerful brushless motor delivering gas performance. The low kickback 16” Oregon® bar and chain has auto-oiling for continuous lubrication and a tool-free tensioning system for quick bar and chain adjustments. The chainsaw delivers smooth cuts, long chain life, and does not have the engine maintenance that is required with gas-powered chainsaws. With no more cold starts and carburetor issues, this chainsaw starts easily with the pull of the trigger.

Its tool-free chain tensioning and bar tightening knob enable proper bar clamping force, and it features auto-oiling for continuous lubrication.  It has a 60V MAX* FLEXVOLT battery that powers 60V MAX* tools or it can be backwards compatible to work with 20V MAX* tools.

The 60V MAX* Handheld Blower (DCBL770X1) is also equipped with a brushless motor which generates gas performance to clear jobsite debris at up to 423 CFM & 129 MPH. The Handheld Blower also includes a flat concentrator nozzle to increase air speed to 175 MPH for heavy duty debris. A variable speed trigger and lock allow for full throttle control without having to constantly hold down the trigger.

It features a variable speed trigger and speed lock for total power control, and its lightweight and ergonomic design maximizes control and minimizes stress on your arms.  It has a 60V MAX* FLEXVOLT battery that powers 60V MAX* tools or it can be backwards compatible to work with 20V MAX* tools.

The 60V MAX* String Trimmer (DCST970X1) features a 15” cut swath accepting DEWALT 0.080” or 0.095” lines and a gear-drive transmission providing amplified torque that maintains cut speed under load. Optimal for construction cleanup and maintenance, the 60V MAX* Outdoor Power Equipment allows residential & commercial construction users to leave the gas tank behind and expand their DEWALT power tool and battery systems. The new 60V MAX* Chainsaw, Handheld Blower, and String Trimmer will be available where DEWALT products are sold in spring 2017.

For professional landscapers, the DEWALT 40V MAX* System offers a battery solution for daylong, heavy-duty outdoor use. All DEWALT Outdoor Power tools come standard with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract, and 90-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.

60V MAX* Chainsaw (DCCS670X1)          Available Spring 2017

60V MAX* Handheld Blower                     Available Spring 2017

60V MAX* String Trimmer (DCST970X1 Available Spring 2017

With respect to 20V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. Nominal voltage is 18.

With respect to 60V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 60 volts. Nominal voltage is 54.

With respect to 40V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 40 volts. Nominal voltage is 36.


DEWALT® announces the new 20V MAX* XR® Compact Reciprocating Saw

DEWALT® announces the new 20V MAX* XR® Compact Reciprocating Saw (DCS367) which features extreme runtime with an efficient brushless motor and is Made in the USA with Global Materials. At only 14.5” in length, the saw’s compact design allows it to fit in between 16” on-center studs and in other tight spaces. Additionally, this saw features a keyless 4-position blade clamp, ideal for flush cutting and versatility.

Although the saw is compact in size, it has the power to get the job done, achieving up to 2.5X more runtime**. This allows for long use in applications ranging from plumbing to demo work in residential and commercial construction. This saw features a variable speed trigger allowing the user to instantly control speed and the bright LED light, helps to illuminate jobsite areas.


Extreme runtime, efficient brushless motor

Made in the USA with Global Materials

14.5” in length, fits between 16” on-center studs

Keyless 4-position blade clamp

The new 20V MAX* XR® Compact Reciprocating Saw adds to the growing 20V MAX* System from DEWALT which now totals over 100 tools and batteries. This reciprocating saw is optimized for use with DEWALT blades such as new XR™ Reciprocating Saw Blades from DEWALT, coming in spring 2017, which are designed for use in cordless tools to help extend battery runtime.Available where DEWALT products are sold, the 20V MAX* XR® Compact Reciprocating Saw from DEWALT will come standard with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract and 90-day money-back guarantee.

Compact for tight spots, powerful for tough jobs

Available as:

20V MAX* XR® Compact Reciprocating Saw (DCS367B) Bare

20V MAX* XR® Compact Reciprocating Saw (DCS367D1) Kitted with 2.0Ah Battery

20V MAX* XR® Compact Reciprocating Saw (DCS367P1) Kitted with 5.0Ah Battery

Regarding 20V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. Nominal voltage is 18.

**On average, using DCB205 battery vs. DC385 using DC9096 battery in 2×4 wood.




Products at Work – Technology Adopter Reaps Immediate Benefits

Contractor overcomes challenges on big-box site-prep project

 By Jeff Winke

Palmer, Alaska has just under 6,000 residents, but as a commercial and cultural center for the region it draws visitors from well beyond its city boundaries. Come the end of summer, the annual week-and-a-half long Alaska State Fair, located in Palmer, can draw more than 300,000 visitors. The fairgrounds are located approximately one hour north of Anchorage, which helps explain how Palmer and the fairgrounds can draw such large numbers.

An indicator of how Palmer, which was established around a 1930s New Deal farm colony has changed, can be seen in the growth of the Palmer big-box Fred Meyer store. Built about 10 years ago and the smallest in Fred Meyer’s retail network at 66,000 square feet, the Palmer store was built then much to the chagrin of many locals who feared the end of their quaint, small-town community. Fred Meyer is owned by The Kroger Co., one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers.

During the years, Palmer residents made peace with its Fred Meyer store. The location is big enough to offer groceries and other items including a little clothing — socks, jeans, and underwear. Recent scuttlebutt was that the store was so successful it was outgrowing its “small” space.

When Palmer community affairs manager Melinda Merrill confirmed that Portland-based Fred Meyer planed to build a new store on the other side of the Glenn Highway from the current location, she pointed out that although the store was small it had significant sales volume. She said: “The business is big. Our community can support a bigger store. It does far more business than most stores its size.”

With the demolition of a vacant 30-year-old shopping center, the site was readied for the new 100,000 square foot Fred Meyer. The new store is expected to cost $20 million to $30 million to build, and is expecting to add 100 jobs.

The big-box builder giant ESI or Engineered Structures Inc., Boise, Idaho, won the contract as general contractor for the Palmer Fred Meyer. ESI concentrates on commercial construction, primarily for major retail outlets such as Fred Meyer, Albertson’s, Wal-Mart, Staples, Home Depot and other big-box stores in all of the Western states.

“We were sub-contracted, by ESI, to perform the civil site work, and site balance to include import-export, waterline installation, storm drain installation, sewer installation, and all excavation for the concrete foundation, sidewalk, and curb,” stated Scottie Johnson, project manager with Dirtworks, Inc., Palmer, AK. “The contract value for our work on the project was $1.9 million.”

The residential and commercial construction company, Dirtworks, was started in 1989 and has expanded gradually ever since completing projects for individual residents to large, complex municipal and commercial projects. The company has also completed work for the Alaska DOT and Public Facilities.

The site had a small commercial building, which housed a grocery store until 2010. That store opted to build a new location across the road too, on the other side of the Glenn Highway where the new Fred Meyer store is being built. Plans call for the new Palmer Fred Meyer to give shoppers more of the full-line amenities found in larger Fred Meyer stores. The store will feature more furniture, apparel and garden supplies, as well as expanded natural food sections.

The condition of the 10-acre site was flat with a large, approximately 66,000 cubic yard hill that ran along the back and around the corner. The majority of the jobsite was previously occupied by the grocery store. But in order to fit the new bigger Fred Meyer store the site needed to be bigger. The soil was sandy gravel with big rock and silty brown topsoil type material. Dirtworks approached the site as a site balance project, utilizing the hill on the back half of the property for fill.

“The project was to be started around the first week of May 2016, but we were able to start in April,” Johnson said. “We were given a month to get the majority of the site balanced and the new building slab area approved and ready for the footings to be dug. “

For the project, Dirtworks used three mid-size hydraulic excavators that included a Case CX460, Hitachi ZX350LC-6, and a Hitachi EX200LC-5. They also had a pair of 40-ton rock trucks, a Cat D-5K dozer equipped with Topcon 3D-MC² GPS machine control system. They also used a combo Topcon HiPer V receiver rover and base station and a hand-held or rod mounted Tesla data collector.

“The biggest challenge on this project was the tight deadline we needed to adhere to so that the new store could open on time,” said Johnson. “Two things that helped with these challenges was the ability to start a month earlier than originally scheduled, and having our dozer equipped with GPS machine control, which helped us quickly achieve accurate grade.“

There were no early completion incentives, but there were penalties for the general contractor if milestones were not met.

The Topcon 3D-MC² dozer system is designed to achieve finish grade with the machine traveling at a faster speed. Traditional finish grading with a dozer generally will take multiple passes at slower speeds.

“The GPS machine control system meant we could run the dozer faster and with its accuracy we could pretty much achieve finish grade in one pass,” Johnson stated. “Less dozer time on the job translates to less fuel, less machine wear, and we were able to keep the project on schedule and on budget.”

For Dirtworks the use of machine control and site positioning technology is new to them.

“We learned about this technology from GPS Alaska, our local Anchorage Topcon dealer,” Johnson said. “They stopped by our office and talked about the equipment with us and we liked what we heard. We actually bought a Topcon Tesla handheld data collector and two HiPer V poll-mounted base and rover combo GNSS receivers. We didn’t have a job for the equipment at the time or any experience with it, but made the investment because I always thought doing things with tape measures, stakes and lasers was slow and time consuming. Once I was told that you will have cut-fill information anywhere you set this thing within the project I was sold.”

Dirtworks currently owns four HiPer V base-rover combos, two Tesla data collectors, and a dual 3D-MC² dozer system.

The Topcon HiPer V base-rover combo is considered an all-on-the-pole GNSS receiver that can use 226 channels to lock in a satellite signal.

Smaller than a tablet computer, the palm-size, touch-screen Tesla data collector is designed to be flexible. It can be hand-held to provide a vertical screen orientation or affixed to the GNSS receiver rod to provide a horizontal-screen orientation.

“Our experience so far with GPS machine control and site positioning technology has been great,” stated Johnson. “It quickly is becoming something where we are almost forgetting how to work without it – interestingly, even for our guys that have spent their entire careers not using this kind of technology, they are almost lost without it now!”

For the Palmer Fred Meyer project, Dirtworks used a HiPer V base-rover combo, a Tesla data collector, and the GPS grade control system on its dozer. The Topcon systems were used throughout the entire project to control the production.

“The thing that is so nice when using technology is that even on a site this big with a good map and model we can hand the data collector to anyone on the crew and get usable information,” Johnson explained. “We bid the project to be a site balance, using onsite materials to bring the site up to grade by removing the material from the back of the property and spreading over the remainder of the site.

“Our figures were based on the provided geo-technical report which provided a bore log in the top, tallest and fattest part of the hill, showing gravel from top to bottom. Only problem… as it turned out, where they punched the bore log happened to be the only area where there was usable gravel. Just beyond this bore log, the gravel disappeared and became unusable silty material. This meant that the project went from a quick excavator and rock-truck show to a highway truck job. The silty unusable material had to be hauled away and better usable material needed to be imported. It is always quicker to move material onsite with rock trucks than it is to use highway trucks. So, we needed to make sure we were always able to run the maximum amount of highway trucks that the loader at the off-site pit could handle, along with the help of our excavator loading trucks off site.

“This is where the machine control on the dozer became so key. I do not believe that if we were using traditional hubs and stakes, we wouldn’t have been able to maximize the trucks like we did in order to keep the fast pace we needed.”

Johnson concluded that without the Topcon systems used on the Fred Meyer site, the project would have required more people, time and “just energy spent taking the necessary steps to ensure the site is moving in the right direction.”

For Dirtworks, the adoption of machine control and site positioning technology appears to be changing how they approach their market.

“I don’t know yet if our new technology will make a difference on how we bid against the competition,” said Johnson. “It has given us confidence knowing that we will have complete grade control of a project site no matter what the size, utilizing minimal personnel.”


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Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wis. He can be reached through jeff_winke@yahoo.com.

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update


* President Trump signed an Executive Order “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High
Priority Infrastructure Projects.” The EO seeks “to streamline and expedite…all infrastructure projects, especially projects that are a high priority for the Nation.” Process isn’t quite clear. First, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has 30 days to evaluate whether a forwarded project is, indeed, “high priority.” Then, CEQ will establish “in a manner consistent with law, expedited procedures and deadlines” for completing environmental reviews and approvals. Leadership will be held accountable if deadlines are missed.

* According to my notes Thursday, Feb. 9 will be one year since the Clean Power Plan was stayed by the US courts.

* Big gubmint: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeks comment regarding potential modifications to its policies for evaluating oil pipeline indexed rate changes. The Commission also seeks comment regarding potential changes to FERC Form No. 6, page 700. Page 700, within one form? Uh… literally? And do you have to read the 1st 699 pages to make sense out of page 700…? A lot of work to move not one drop of oil.

Tom Ewing