Knowing when inclement weather is on the horizon can make all the difference on a jobsite, especially when it's imperative to stay on deadline and within budget. Learn how one Champaign, Ill.-based company is staying a step ahead of Mother Nature to remain competitive.
For construction companies across the country, correct weather information can mean the difference between a profitable job and a money-losing project. For Imperial Construction Inc., Champaign, Ill., the biggest weather challenge is precipitation—rain can ruin or delay concrete pours. In addition, extreme temperatures play a factor because concrete may not cure properly. Imperial Construction's work varies from concrete construction including parking lots, curb work, and slabs.
To prepare and plan for inclement weather conditions that could potentially ruin a project, the construction company subscribes to an advanced weather service provider, DTN/Meteorlogix, using its industry-specific weather solution MxVision WeatherSentry Online Construction Edition.
This weather service is an Internet-delivered subscription designed to inform construction companies of changing weather conditions that can impact jobsites, endanger employees, and increase material and labor costs. Using this product, Imperial Construction site managers can specify the exact location of their construction project and preselect which weather conditions are most important to monitor.
In addition to monitoring severe weather concerns, the program provides day-to-day operational tools, including real-time local radar, detailed location-based hourly forecasts, and a patented precipitation timing tool that supplies accurate start and stop times for rain, snow, and ice based on location.
Through the subscription, Imperial Construction also receives customized, instant weather alerts sent directly to the site managers' cell phone. The service constantly monitors custom weather parameters, 24 hours a day, allowing staff to focus on other duties without being tied to the office.
Additionally, the company's alerts include Lightning Manager, which provides advance warning to dangerous weather conditions using real-time lightning data. The construction company can set a 15- or 30-mile radius around its current work sites and be alerted if lightning begins to strike within the warning zones.
The company's four supervisors now can keep an eye on the weather throughout the day from their work sites. Another subscription is used in the office and solely dedicated to watching the radar.
The two tools Imperial Construction uses frequently are the hourly and local forecasts, because knowing when rain will start and stop helps them schedule jobs accordingly. “The weather is a big factor in what we do,” says Michael Slade, estimator for Imperial Construction. “It's important to know if it's going to rain, and when we can pour concrete. For example, if I look at the hourly forecasts and see that rain is expected in the morning, but will tail off around noon, we can schedule a pour in the afternoon.”
In addition to scheduling crews, job planning is dependent on the weather. “We order our concrete from a batch plant, and they deliver directly to the site. If rain is forecasted, we may call the plant and tell them to hold off on our order,” explains Slade.
Knowing the exact temperature also helps, as extreme heat and cold impact the curing process. “In the winter, we use insulated blankets to thaw the ground, and then after we pour, we put the insulated blankets back over the concrete so it sets right,” says Slade.
DTN/Meteorlogix, DTN's brand of commercial weather services, delivers industry-specific weather management capabilities for its customers to manage business risks, maximize personal safety, and minimize financial loss. For more information, visit www.dtnmeteorlogix.com.