By Jennifer Morrell
Almost six years ago, when I first entered the world of masonry, I was highly impressed with the different types of software available to contractors and project managers. Then came the rounds of estimating software, which really changed the way contractors do business – right there on the jobsite. And then, the configuring was done on a laptop. Today, it’s more likely an iPad.
As of late, I’ve been blown away again by the software ingenuity in our industry. This time, it’s a little different. Not only are software companies staying atop their game, but also manufacturers are leaving their footprints. Super-sophisticated applications (apps) for mobile devices seem to be popping up everywhere. The creativity is amazing. From Holcim’s Weather App that tells masons if conditions are right to lay brick that day, to General Shale’s new app that allows users to browse product colors and sizes in brick, thin brick and pavers, and then email favorite selections or final cost calculations without leaving the app. The innovation is growing by leaps and bounds.
Of course, we have the big, tall, fat, imposing elephant in the room: Building Information Modeling (BIM). The old saying, “Get on board or get out of the way,” applies here. BIM is prevalent for architects and engineers who are designing buildings. But masonry is not currently an option as A&E look at different available wall systems. But that is about to change.
But that’s going to change. Thanks to six determined and dedicated funding organizations, masonry is knocking at the BIM door. The Mason Contractors Association ofAmerica (MCAA), the National Concrete Manufacturer’s Association (NCMA), the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), Western States Clay Products Association, the International Masonry Institute (IMI) and The Masonry Society (TMS) have banded together to urge software developers to include masonry in BIM software. To do this, the groups are working with The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), which is creating a “roadmap” that has just been completed.
Masonry will update you on this roadmap in our May issue. Stay tuned. Technology is changing your world, like it or not. And, from what I’ve seen, there’s plenty to like about it.
Jennifer Morrell is editor of Masonry Magazine.