What's top of mind for one of the biggest construction project owners in the U.S.? Attendees at the Construction Users Roundtable national conference, held in Chandler, Ariz., on Nov. 7-9, got insight into Intel's strategy to execute $3.5 billion worth of construction in 2011.
Tim G. Hendry, Intel's procurement and fabrication vice president, said the challenge for the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer is to keep its four-year lead over competitors. "With speed comes challenges," he said. Intel is experiencing "steeper, shorter project profiles, and we've got to figure out innovative ways" to shorten the construction cycle besides putting more and more workers on the same site, Hendry said.
There are limits to the speed that can be achieved with "serial construction practices," Hendry added, but parallel staging "generates rework—and nobody likes rework." When Intel has pulled in schedules "the brute-force way," it has pushed costs up. The owner has tried both building information modeling and prefabrication but found both methods fell short because of the "extreme complexities and tight coordination" that fab plants require. But, Hendry said, "[These are] two strategies we are not ready to give up on from a speed and quality perspective. We think the technology is ready, although implementation poses challenges as well as scaling it to our needs." Intel also wants to use more modular design in its plants.
Representing DuPont, another major construction owner, Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) President Michael Conley said the association now has as members 55 owners, 16 contractors, 13 associations and 27 subscribers—a new limited-membership category that allows industry firms to have access to CURT best practices and the organization's committees.
Conley also drew attention to CURT's new "Contractor Workforce Development Assessment" survey, a tool designed to help owners measure the activity and effectiveness of contractor training programs. By giving preference to contractors with robust workforce development programs, the owners hope to motivate firms to improve training programs.
Daniel Groves, CURT director of operations, said this effort expands the group's support for the Choose Construction Initiative, including "Go Build," an image-enhancement campaign; "Build Your Future," a recruiting and training program hosted by the National Center for Construction Education and Research; and CURT's own Construction Labor Market Analyzer, a tool that enables the industry to assess and respond to labor market pressures.
The "Go Build" program, the construction image-building program with TV, radio and print mass media campaigns, started in Alabama but is on the verge of spreading to other states, said Bob Woods, Alabama Workforce Development Initiative executive director. "We are working with the Georgia governor's office and hope to launch there in the first quarter of 2012," he said, "and we have met with stakeholders in Mississippi." With Mike Rowe, the host of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," as its spokesman, the marketing program has attracted 4,000 individuals to register since 2010. Woods said database users include certified training providers, such as two-year colleges, training halls for craft trades and contractors with in-house training programs; each has used the database for recruiting.