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From the Editor

It seems that every couple of decades a major development is made that puts the world on its head.

In the 1900s, it was the automobile and Henry Ford's utilization of the mass production, assembly-line system. Although automobiles were around long before Ford's Model T, it was the ability to produce them affordably — improving assembly time from 14 hours to an hour and a half, lowering the selling price from $1,000 to $360 — that finally brought around the reign of the vehicle, which really has had a hold on us ever since. Ford's ability to severely undercut the competition led others to use mass production techniques in their own industries.

Nowadays, it's the microchip, microprocessor, laser, the Internet and other major technological innovations that are driving every industry beyond the old boundaries. No matter how much you might try, you can't get away from it. Technology — it's everywhere. And much like the introduction of mass production, technology is changing the face of how things are done in masonry and the construction industry as a whole.

From wireless communication gadgets that help ease communication with your crews, laser leveling devices that put the plumb bob to shame, and Internet project management software that makes construction into a smooth operation, technology is starting to creep more and more into the industry. You can send and receive e-mails on your RIM Blackberry handheld from almost anywhere, submit a change order online, and use a scanner to keep track of your equipment and "check-out" gear to your crew members.

Need a metal piece to make one of your machines better for a particular situation? Go to eMachineShop.com, download the free CAD software, e-mail the design and they'll make you a new part.

Technology is even marrying up with materials, such as the highly touted "smart bricks" that hold a microchip sensor letting users know the building's condition through various readings (see "Bricks Get I.Q. Boost" on pg. 44, October 2003).

You can run and you can hide, but just as Ford was able to use mass production to undercut his competition, these new technologies will be used in the construction world to undercut competition in a similar manner, whether it's business against business or system against system.

While we've covered many of the aforementioned technologies in Masonry over the last year or two, this month we focus — pun intended — on digital cameras, a technology that may not make or break your business, but can certainly create an easier life and increase your share of the building market (see page 22). With a click of the button, you can document the work site, take before-after pictures, and get an image of your latest creation for your web site or to show potential clients. A picture is worth a thousand words, so harness the power of technology and don't let the industry pass you by.



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