Within days of the earthquake and tsunami that severely damaged Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Japanese government were in talks with equipment manufacturers about how their specialized machines could lend a hand. Cargo planes airlifted huge concrete pumps to water-cool the reactors, and a robotics manufacturer known primarily as a defense contractor stepped forward with an unusual proposal. “We had contacted TEPCO, and after a demonstration of our equipment they chose to deploy it to the site,” says Ed Godere, senior vice president, unmanned systems, QinetiQ North America, Reston, Va. QinetiQ manufactures compact, remotely
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.