2020 is finally in the rear view mirror – although many of its battles are still being fought – but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some good things. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing the biggest and most interesting stories from the past year, but I’ll first be starting with those that interested you, the reader, the most.
Below were your favorite 10 Construction Junkie posts from 2020:
The sixth annual Best Construction Blog contest was a huge success, with more nominations and more overall votes than ever before. Of the 12 nominees, we crowned a new champion, the Bridging the Gap Podcast, which also set the individual record for most votes received. It really seems as though the medium of podcasting blew up in the construction industry over the past year, which I’m extremely excited about.
2020 was no doubt a challenging and eventful year, with many projects being delayed, canceled, or altered, leading to a lot of uncertainty and even more adjusting on the fly. Throughout the year, I worked hard to find helpful resources to help contractors navigate through the pandemic, like safety guides, webinars, deals on software, technology updates, and more.
I’m admittedly a little surprised by how popular this article was, but it seems as though this is a hot button topic on many jobsites throughout the country. In an OSHA clarification letter, the administration answered a the question, “Is there a specific OSHA regulation that prohibits the use of headphones to listen to music on a construction site?” The short answer is no, but they don’t exactly recommend it, either, for a variety of different reasons.
One of the biggest surprises of the year, for me, was Hilti’s announcement of their new semi-autonomous overhead drilling robot, named the Jaibot. Hilti has been a major player in the commercial construction industry, especially in concrete, and this is just one more creative solution the company has come up with to solve some age old problems.
Every year, Milwaukee Tool organizes an invite-only media event, called NPS, in order to showcase dozens of new products that they plan to release over the next year. Last year, the company had to pivot to an online event – and everyone was invited.
The online event, called Milwaukee Pipeline, was split up into 4 different events over the course of a few months. The second episode focused on their extremely popular modular storage unit, PACKOUT, and fans were certainly not disappointed by the announcement of PACKOUT drawer units (finally). The company also announced they were diving head first into laser lines in this episode.
Even before the Jaibot announcement from Hilti, the company announced another outside the box “tool,” their first exoskeleton. The Hilti EXO-01 wearable exoskeleton provides relief for work performed at shoulder level and overhead by transferring weight from the arms of the wearer to their hips. The 4-pound device includes shoulder and waist straps, as well as forearm supports. The company states that internal and external research has shown that the exoskeleton can reduce the peak load on muscles and shoulders by up to 47 percent.
As mentioned above, Milwaukee Tool pivoted to an online-version of their yearly tool release announcements in 2020, called Milwaukee Pipeline. The first installment showcased a bunch of new M12, M18, and MX Fuel tools, many of which have since been released, with others still to come.
In January of 2020, I spent some time out in Las Vegas to attend the World of Concrete, which is an immersive experience for all things concrete and masonry related. While there, I was able to catch up with the team from Advanced Construction Robotics, the makers of TyBot, the autonomous rebar tying robot.
The TyBot uses a series of cameras and artificial intelligence to identify the intersections of rebar, so no operator or pre-programming is necessary. Once the machine is setup on the screed rails, it can tie up to 1,000 ties per hour. With its typical uses being in bridge work and manufacturing facilities, the width of the TyBot can expand anywhere from 9 feet to 100 feet.
Speaking of the World of Concrete and tying rebar…I was inspired by the many different solutions companies have come up with recently for easing the back breaking burden of hand-tying rebar. In addition to the Tybot, there are several other solutions on the market, including battery powered options, and some in development, like a drone that can tie rebar.
KEEN Utility work boots burst onto the construction scene in 2009, about 4 years after the company was founded. Since then, they’ve brought their signature style and technology to a wide range of boot types to cover all types of work.
At the World of Concrete 2020, KEEN Utility announced several new work boot styles, each offering a different look, but also form and function for feet of different needs. No boot is one size fits all, so you need to match the type of boot with the work that you do.
At the show, Keen had given me a sneak peak of a few of those new boot styles, which have since been released. The rugged Cincinnati boot has become a customer favorite.