Mark Silver, president, iGage

The best thing to say about 2021 might be that it’s no longer 2020.

Happily, for concrete construction contractors, there are many other reasons to toast the new year. Just ask Mark Silver, one of the country’s top authorities on field layout tools. His Utah-based company, iGage, is a go-to for many contractors looking to use measuring technology to transform project workflow.

Silver’s insights about 2021 are hard-earned. His annual pre-pandemic business travel schedule routinely took him across China, Europe, and the United States, and both his global business network and his company’s sales insights make him uniquely qualified to offer a heads up.

What tops his 2021 hit parade? The big one: a national infrastructure bill. “Transportation items could survive and would probably pass even a divided Senate as pandemic relief and much-needed infrastructure improvement,” Silver reports. He adds that the new administration is eyeing several large-scale solar- and wind-energy projects, which could bode well for contractors in certain regions.

But that’s just the beginning. The portents signal a potentially golden year for concrete construction. Four more observations:

  • Falling Prices, Greater Layout Precision. At the heart of surveying and layout positioning are technologies like global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and real-time kinematic algorithms (RTK). These baseline technologies should “… see strong advancements in performance at significantly lower prices. The traditional gap between first- and second-tier manufacturers may disappear in 2021,” Silver says. The days of tape measures, string lines, and plumb lines may fade at an even quicker pace in 2021 as more and more contractors see how technology can help them compress workflow, reduce labor time, and win more bids.
  • What Pandemic? “Mountain state customers are busier than ever,” Silver says. “Spending for capital goods like total stations remained very strong throughout 2020. The pandemic has not stressed engineering, construction, or survey business much. Thankfully, COVID-19 has been one recession that has not decimated the construction business,” Silver observes.
  • Bluetooth Breakthrough. Bluetooth 5.0 is now standard in every new smartphone. The new 5.0 standard, when paired with a measuring device that also supports Bluetooth 5.0, means considerably faster transmission speeds at far greater distances—as far as 800 feet. The expanded range makes automating stakeouts an even more attractive option in 2021.
  • Smartphone Convenience. Any Android device, including smartphones, can now control measurement, stakeout, and as-built with simple, highly graphic steps. The phone-based app collects data from a total station or other field measuring tool and helps users analyze and interpret data on the fly. Silver says X-PAD Ultimate Field Software from GeoMax, a Hexagon company, is a superb example. “Every screen has more stuff on it, which makes it easier for older users like myself to navigate,” Silver says. “Everything just makes sense; the buttons are easier to understand,”

Let’s hope 2021 is the year that we close the book on the pandemic. In the meantime, it’s good to know that the months ahead could be some of the best for concrete construction.

Learn how GeoMax can help you transform surveying and mapping speed and efficiency in 2021.