What We See

We’re not psychics, but we have an idea what the future might look like. For years, we’ve monitored a number of trends, and their confluence seems inevitable.

For instance, earlier this month, attendees of NECA 2018 Philadelphia probably found themselves unable to avoid the message that the skilled-labor shortage is here and organizations such as NECA are banding together to spread the word that the trades offer great opportunities for young people. Workforce development is a primary issue for NECA, and as causes go, getting more workers into the industry so contractors can be more productive and successful is something everyone can get behind.

However, with the threat of automation looming (and witnessing the devastation it has laid to workforces in other industries), ECs must face the need for tools to maximize productivity today. That’s what this issue is about: technologies and tools that offer the opportunity for ECs to make the most with what they have.

Investment is crucial. It takes time and money to evolve. It may be hard, however, to know what to invest in and who to train.

That’s why you have us. Begin this issue with “In Tune With Technology.“ Susan Bloom introduces us to three electrical contracting firms using technology in the way that works best for their size, staff and projects. Jeff Gavin breaks down “The March of BIM” from big contractors toward mid-size and smaller firms. One interviewee says in the article: “Companies are looking to do more with less as it applies to labor shortages. BIM might be an answer.”

Emerging technologies aren’t just about your operations, though. Maybe you’re looking for a new market to expand into. We have you covered there, too.

By 2020, wind power is projected to be 22 percent of all electricity generated. While federal assistance disappears after next year, wind is expected to remain a contender, certainly for utilities. Check out “Strong Winds Forecast” by Jeff Gavin. Say you’re not a utility, but a homeowner with a solar array on your roof generating a lot of power. How do you save it up? Chuck Ross breaks down residential energy-storage systems in “Battery Basics.”

It wouldn’t be an emerging markets issue if we didn’t fly out the unmanned aerial vehicles, would it? Deborah O’Mara answers the not-age-old question in the physical security sector, “Can Drones Assist Your Business?” Jim Romeo talks to an expert in aviation law about how ECs can deploy UAVs. Have you thought about fueling autonomous cars? Jim Hayes updates us on intelligent traffic systems in “Take the Wheel.”

The profile this month is on Lanco Electric Inc., which has completed jobs for more than 40 municipal water authorities over the past 25 years. Claire Swedberg focuses on three Lanco projects in “Ahead of the Curve.”

If nothing else, we know the future of electrical construction is for ECs that are agile and adaptable. Skilled-labor shortages can’t stop you. Emerging technologies are all about finding ways of beating challenges. Maybe there’s an idea or two in here for you this month.

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