Tag Archive for 'economy'

Topcon introduces new 10-inch touchscreen display for construction machine control

Topcon Machine Control

Topcon Positioning Group announces the release of the latest addition to its longstanding line of touchscreen control boxes for construction machine automation — the GX-75. With its 10-inch touch screen, the system is designed to offer a large and easy-to-use display for operators.

“The GX-75 is the largest touchscreen display for Topcon construction machine control ever available,” said Kris Maas, director of construction product management. “Its 10-inch, bright, rugged and sunlight-readable screen allows operators in the cab to see more of the project file, at once, in practically any weather condition.

“It is also a perfect system for operators using the Sitelink3D monitoring and management service to instantly communicate job site progress to the office in real time, as well as quickly receive updated plans and job files,” he said.

The Topcon is currently available for use with dozer, motor grader and excavator machine control systems. It comes with a standard lock connector used with previous Topcon control boxes, allowing for backward compatibility.

“The display also includes LED light bars that allow operators to easily see where they are in relation to grade with just a glance,” said Maas.

The GX-75 includes an adjustable mounting backpack designed to provide versatility — whether an operator prefers to view project information on the left, right or center of the cab.

Additional features include integrated virus protection, and easily-accessible USB ports for saving and downloading job files.

For more information, visit topconpositioning.com.

Wells Fargo Reports: Leading Index Climbs Higher in May

The Leading Economic Index (LEI) continued its upward march in May, consistent with our expectations for a continued moderate expansion. The coincident and lagging indices were both modestly higher as well.

Everyone is Lending a Hand

  • The LEI increased 0.3 percent in May, marking its ninth consecutive month recording a gain. Eight of the components added to the topline figure, while only one subtracted from it.
  • Building permits was the only component that weighed on the index, shaving off 0.15 percentage points from the topline figure. This is consistent with housing starts data for May, in which both single-family and multifamily starts declined.

Expectations Continue to Propel Index Higher

  • The interest rate spread component was, once again, the largest contributor to the index in May, adding 0.16 percentage points. Consumer expectations added an additional 0.08 percentage points—sentiment remains optimistic.
  • ISM new orders provided a 0.08 percentage point boost to the index, an indication that the gap between “soft” and “hard” data may be narrowing, if only slightly.

ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator Rebounds in 2017, Gains in All Categories During First Quarter

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today reported that its Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) rose to 9 months during the first quarter of 2017, up 8.1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016.  CBI is up by 0.4 months, or 4 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

“This was a terrific report,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “For the first time in the series’ history, every category—firm size, industry and region—registered quarterly growth in CBI. Among the big winners were firms in the western United States and those with annual revenues between $30 million and $50 million per annum.

“However, some contractors have expressed concerns regarding construction conditions in 2019 or 2020,” said Basu. “These concerns are rooted in a number of factors, including the already lengthy duration of the economic recovery, evidence of saturation in certain commercial real estate markets, weak momentum in numerous public spending categories and tightening monetary conditions. However, first quarter 2017 CBI strongly suggests that rumors of the business cycle’s demise are exaggerated, at least thus far.

“Because of these and other emerging concerns, ABC’s CBI measure is arguably more important than usual,” said Basu. “Backlog is a leading indicator, and meaningful declines in CBI could potentially confirm fears that the current construction spending expansion cycle is winding to a close.”

Highlights by Region

  • Surging financial markets helped support activity in financial centers like New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Expanding cyber-security and life sciences activity supported markets as geographically diverse as Washington/Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Silicon Valley, Calif., and Seattle.
  • Though backlog is slightly lower in the South on a year-over-year basis, it continues to report the lengthiest backlog, at 9.8 months. A number of markets remain extraordinarily active with respect to commercial construction, including Atlanta and Miami and Tampa, Fla. Distribution center construction also continues to be active due to a combination of busier seaports and the ongoing online retail boom.
  • Backlog in the West was up by a remarkable 26 percent during the quarter.  Part of this was due to statistical payback after a surprisingly weak fourth quarter. However, this is also a reflection of the rapid commercial growth in Seattle, Denver, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Phoenix and other population growth hotspots.
  • Higher oil and natural gas prices helped to drive CBI higher in the Middle States. Backlog in the region expanded by a more-than-respectable 10 percent during the first quarter, and now stands at a healthy 8.5 months.  Chicago continues to be a weak spot, however, registering slow job growth relative to other major U.S. metropolitan areas in recent quarters.
  • Backlog in the Northeast rose to 8.7 months during the first quarter. Backlog is up by almost precisely half a month over the past year. The New York and Boston metropolitan areas remain particularly active.

 

Highlights by Industry 

  • Backlog in the commercial/institutional segment rose by more than 11 percent during the first quarter, and now stands at nearly 9 months. Backlog also expanded in the heavy industrial and infrastructure categories during the first three months of the year.
  • Average backlog in the heavy industrial category rose to 5.88 months, but remains well below levels registered during much of the history of the series.  Excluding the fourth quarter of 2016, this represents the lowest reading since the fourth quarter of 2014. There are many forces at work, including slowing auto sales, downward pressure on prices in a number of key manufacturing segments and soft exports.
  • Backlog in the infrastructure category expanded during the first quarter and remains above historic levels. Actual infrastructure spending has been unimpressive in many categories recently, including wastewater, water supply, dams/levies and highway/street. Available survey data hint at a bit of a pickup in activity during the quarters ahead.
  • Commercial/institutional backlog expanded to 8.9 months, matching its highest level since the third quarter of 2014. Though there are growing concerns regarding overbuilding in a number of metropolitan areas, and retail stores continue to close in large numbers, increases in office and hotel construction are helping to propel this category forward.

Highlights by Company Size

  • Backlog for each of the four company size categories increased to start the year.  Firms with revenues of $30 million to $50 million, many of which are in the commercial/institutional segments, were the clear outperformers in terms of expanding backlog during the first quarter of 2017. Backlog for this group of firms expanded by more than two months, indicating growing confidence among developers and other purchasers of construction services
  • Backlog among firms with annual revenues of less than $30 million increased by 5.3 percent during the quarter. Over the course of time, the nonresidential construction recovery has broadened enough to encompass many of the smallest firms.
  • The largest firms, those with annual revenues above $100 million and which are disproportionately represented in the infrastructure category, report the lengthiest backlog at 11.8 months. This was up by more than 9 percent during the quarter.  Backlog for this group is approaching the one-year mark, which is considered to be a sign of significant health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CBI is a leading economic indicator that reflects the amount of construction work under contract, but not yet completed.

CBI is measured in months, with a lengthening backlog implying expanding demand for construction services. More charts and graphs are available on abc.org

ABC Comments: President Trump’s Apprenticeship Expansion Helps All Americans Build America

Associated Builders and Contractors applauded President Donald J. Trump on today’s executive action on apprenticeships, which is an important step toward building new career opportunities for all Americans.

If fully implemented, the order will allow industries to build innovative workforce development systems that address glaring skills gaps in our workforce.  With the construction industry currently facing a workforce shortage of as many as 500,000 jobs, this order is an important first step to allow more entryways into becoming a construction professional.

“Associated Builders and Contractors looks forward to working with the secretaries of labor, commerce and education to implement the executive order and develop new, innovative and effective models to train an expanding American workforce,” said ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman.  “With our industry in need of half a million workers today and even more in the future, we need to expand upon current apprenticeship methods that have left us with a worker shortage and embrace an all-of-the-above training approach to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce. ”

ABC and its 70 chapters are doing their part to train construction professionals using state-of-the-art and flexible learning models like “earn while you learn,” just-in-time task training, competency-based progression, work-based learning and government-registered apprenticeships to build a safe, skilled and productive workforce.

In addition to an annual investment of $1.1 billion dollars into work-based training by ABC member companies, ABC local chapters and affiliated training centers offer more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, safety and management training programs around the country, including Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship programs.  In partnership with the industry-recognized curriculum and credentials developed by NCCER, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education foundation, ABC offers this training at over 1,400 locations across America.

ABC is looking forward to working with President Trump and Secretaries Acosta, Ross and DeVos to craft industry programs that expand the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition of registered apprenticeship and offer all Americans the opportunity to achieve their dreams and build a fulfilling career.

Learn more about how ABC is building the people who build America at workforce.abc.org.

Wells Fargo Reports: Housing Starts Disappoint Once Again

Housing starts fell 5.5 percent in May, with both single-family and multifamily starts declining. Permits also fell, suggesting that starts are likely to languish near their current levels for another few months.

Explaining Away Weakness Is Getting Old

  • Housing starts once again turned in a disappointing performance, with single-family starts falling 3.9 percent and multifamily starts falling 9.7 percent. Permits also declined both at the single-family and multifamily level, suggesting there is more at play than some temporary statistical issue.
  • Even with another weak month, starts are still running 3.2 percent ahead of their year ago pace through May.

A Slow Housing Recovery Remains in Place

  • May’s 3.9 percent drop in single-family starts and 1.9 percent drop in single-family permits is perplexing, particularly given that builders are selling homes as fast as they can deliver them.
  • Worker shortages may be a growing issue, with the number of single-family homes authorized but not started rising 4.0 percent in May and surging 14.7 percent over the past year. Apartment construction is clearly declining, however.