Heavy Construction Has a World Changing History

Nowadays, the consequences of heavy construction is all around us with super high rise buildings at every block in every city. However, the history of heavy construction and the equipment used during the process is long and deep. So much so, that there is an entire non-profit organization set up to preserve the history of the construction equipment that changed and shaped our world.

The Historical Construction Equipment Association is run by dedicated staff members who preserve the history of the construction industry. Additionally, they preserve the history of the dredging and surface mining industries, their applications and types of equipment. The Historical Construction Equipment Association operates the National Construction Equipment Museum in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Museum preserves and displays historic literature, photographs, business records, and much more for manufacturing companies from the 1870s to today.

The importance of having a museum like this is to protect what would otherwise become heaps of broken down and unusable pieces of heavy construction equipment. These would normally be dismantled for the parts, used for scrap metal or just left to the elements. As well, the administrative and sales records of the company is usually thrown out to avoid being seen by the public and to prevent researchers from reviewing them. Often times, they are kept within family collections to protect and preserve them. This is why it's so important to create a museum that allows the public to discover this key piece of our history.

Since 1992, The National Construction Equipment Museum has rented a piece of open land in Bowling Green, Ohio that offers public displays of the historic machinery, exhibits and other artifacts. The collection has over fifty pieces of machinery that are representative of the development and history of the construction industry. In all, the artifacts and equipment will take you through the industry from the 1800's to the mid 1960's.

There is even a section of the Museum where volunteers restore machines to working order and revive their origin appearance and condition. The volunteers are not all from the construction industry, although they do share a passion for heavy construction machinery. At this point in the Museum's development, there are over 2,600 manufacturing companies represented by either artifact, record or piece of equipment.

Also, the heavy construction industry has many branches and businesses it affects. Many of these affiliate companies can be identified through the Museum's collection that includes truck and trailers, attachments, engines and components, mining contracts, dealers and auctioneers, non-profit organizations and even government agencies. Many of the archived companies span from the 1870s to the present day, including major collections of records from the Marion Power Shovel Company, Euclid, Volvo Construction Products, Clark Equipment Company, Austin-Western, the Cleveland Trencher Company and many more.

The Marion Power Shovel Company has a long history and was one of the first large manufacturers who designed, manufactured and sold heavy construction equipment. These machines included steam shovels, excavators and dragline excavators for the construction and mining industries. The Marion Power Shovel Company was founded in Marion, Ohio in August, 1884 by Henry Barnhart, Edward Huber and George W. King as the Marion Steam Shovel Company. Edward Huber was in fact a noted and extremely well respected inventor and industrialist of the time.

Long before he helped to create the Marion Steam Shovel Company he had invented the "revolving hay rake" that was patented in 1863. It improved the speed and efficiency of harvesting hay immeasurably and he went on to invent many more tools and agricultural implements which were very popular. Huber also began to build and sell affordable steam tractors which was the precursor to the heavy construction machine known as the steam shovel. Huber was also one of the first to produce modern gasoline powered tractors.

The company grew and changed dramatically through the decades and went from the Marion Steam Shovel Company to the Marion Power Shovel Company in 1946 to reflect the company's and the industry's change from steam power to diesel power. However, before that it should be noted that the Marion Steam Shovel Company supplied nearly all the heavy construction machinery for the building of the Panama Canal near the turn of the 20th century.

The Marion Power Shovel Company was eventually sold and became the Marion division of Dresser Industries, Inc. in 1976. It was then put up for sale in 1997 and Bucyrus International, Inc. bought the division for $40.1 million USD. Bucyrus eventually absorbed the Marion division's products into their product line, and closed the Marion, Ohio, plant. The Marion Power Shovel brand lives on however, as Bucyrus, honors and provides technical service and support for the Marion brand machines that are still active.

Many of the Marion Power Shovel Company's historical corporate files and archives are kept safe and on display at both the Bowling Green, Ohio's Historical Construction Equipment Association and the Marion County Historical Society in Marion, Ohio. The history of the Marion Steam Shovel Company and its subsequent journey through time may seem like a very local story on the surface. However, it's vital that the company's impact not be overlooked. Ultimately, the company and its founders, helped to shape the heavy construction industry across the country and around the world.

Factoring And Invoice Discounting: Part 3 of 5 Dealing With Contractual Debt

Some types of debt can be difficult to fund through factoring or invoice discounting. This can be as a result of either the debt's nature, or to circumstances which will affect a factor's ability to collect in the debts to repay their lending in the event that the business fails.

The main difficulties here come in respect of contractual debt for the provision of a service over a long period involving stage payments. Engineering contracts for capital equipment are an example, where a payment of a third with order, a third on delivery, and a third on commissioning is not unusual.

Contractual debt is always difficult to factor since if the supplier fails part way through delivery of a contract, its customer will normally seek to offset the costs of replacing the supplier and any associated disruption costs (which particularly in the construction industry can be quite creative), against the debt outstanding.

Construction contracts which will often run for many months or even years, involving a series of stage payments are another particular problem area as they are normally based on a process of 'applications' rather than invoices for a definitive amount. Under this system the builder raises an application for payment based on their estimates of the value of the job completed to date which then has to be agreed by the customer's architect or surveyors before the final agreed sum becomes payable, normally within two weeks. The bulk of a construction company's 'debtor' book therefore usually consists of applications which will turn into a debt, but where the value of the debt is uncertain until shortly before it is paid over.

There are only a limited number of factors who will provide funding against this type of debt and this is usually at lower levels of advance (say 50% against a more normal level of 75% to 85%, together with a requirement for personal guarantees) as they have less certainty as to both the collectability of any debt and in the case of applications, its actual real value.

Some ongoing contracts, for example for the supply of materials to a manufacturer for use on its production line, may include 'liquidated damage' clauses. They are intended to provide a mechanism whereby the customer can be compensated at an agreed rate for any interruption its production suffers if your business fails to supply it with widgets as agreed. These clauses create an issue for funders as should your business ever fail, they give rise to the basis for your customers to offset a claim for these damages against the sums due to you on which a factor has lent.

Sales which require extensive after sales service or warranties (such as bespoke computer software) may not be fundable, as again the customer may seek to offset a claim relating to the loss of this support or the costs of replacing it against any debt due which the factor would be looking to collect.

Sales to overseas customers can be a problem as the factor's ability and cost to collect will obviously vary from country to country. Some factors are members of international groups and are therefore able to consider funding ledgers with a relatively high degree of international exposure (of say up to 50%), although even here this will involve an assessment of the spread of the ledger on a region by region or country by country basis. Most of the independent sector is however focused on UK based debt only.

Sales to a single or very low numbers of customer can lead to a problem with what is known as 'concentration'. To avoid having all their eggs in one (or very few) baskets, factors generally like to see their risk spread across a number of debtors with any individual customer making up no more that 20% to 25% of the borrower's debtor book as in the opening case study. However this is an area where factors differ greatly in their policies and some will fund 'single debtor' clients. Otherwise in these situations the lender may allow temporary overpayments but these will usually come at an additional cost.


The level of advance that you can expect will vary from lender to lender but in general the banks' factoring arms have a high degree of captive business introduced through their banking colleagues and therefore tend to be more conservative than the independents.

As a very rough guide, you might expect a bank-owned factor to advance say 60% to 85% against a normal book, whilst the independent firms may range between 75% to 90%, and will in addition consider providing top up facilities against stock or agreed temporary overpayments of say up to 100% to cover specific items such as a peak requirements at a VAT quarter or exit penalties imposed by another lender.

It is important to realise that these percentage advances should be regarded as the 'nominal' level of advance. Any funder will only advance against 'approved' debt and this means the total of your debtors less the balances disallowed as a result of aging, when normally any debt of over 90 days old will be disallowed; and reserves set against the accounts to deal with any:

- supplier contras;

- balances in excess of agreed concentration limits;

- intercompany trading; or

- individual debtors that the lender won't fund for whatever reason, such as overseas debtors.

As a result of this disallowed debt, what really matters is your 'effective' advance, which is to say the funds available that you can actually draw down from the factor (your 'availability'), as a percentage of your total debtor book. As you can see from the potential reserves that will be applied above, this will often be significantly lower than the headline percentage advance you have agreed with the lender.

As discussed in the next article, this application of reserves to your account can be a particular issue if your business gets into difficulty.

So, before talking to a factor or invoice discounter, take a good look at your debtor book and the terms on which you are trading with customers. How much of your debtor book is realistically going to be fundable by a factor or invoice discounter and what issues might they face if they had to collect in debt if your business failed? The more you can address this up-front, the better the funding deal you are likely to be able to negotiate.

What Are Pre-Construction Services I Keep Hearing Builders and Contractors Talking About?

What are Preconstruction Services I keep hearing builders and contractors talking about?
Pre-construction Services are additional services that some builders and construction managers will provide to clients at the front end of a construction project prior to starting. The main purpose of pre-construction services is to assist the client from the beginning of a project at project conception in achieving their design and budget goals. The end result of the pre-construction process is typically saving the client time and money. I will go into greater detail of what services the contractor may include below. Builders and Construction Managers typically charge a fee for pre-construction services.

What does the Contractor include in the Pre-Construction Services?
The services provided by builders and construction managers during the pre-construction phase of a project will vary depending on the point at which they were hired on the project and the particular type of project. Below is a list of what your contractor may provide during the pre-construction process.

· Understanding the Mission, the Ultimate Goal.
The contractor will need to fully understand what the client wants to achieve. Everything must be disclosed in order for the process to succeed: Budgets, Design Ideas, Location, Timeline, Personality Concerns, etc. It is very important for the client to understand that everything associated with the project must be openly shared with the builder at this point.

· Project Site Review.
The contractor will walk the project site to provide information on: utilities, local government jurisdiction concerns, construction ideas, soil conditions.

· Construction Team Recommendations.
The builder may provide you with suggestions on other organizations that will need to be a part of the construction team. Some of these may include: Architects, Lenders, Engineers, Designers, Real Estate Agents, Land Brokers, Insurance Brokers.

· Preliminary Estimates.
At different phases of the pre-construction process your contractor may provide you with preliminary cost estimates. As the project continues to develop the preliminary estimates can be updated and the information become more accurate.

· Value Engineering / Scope Reduction.
Should there be a discrepancy between initial designs and client budgets, the contractor can recommend alternate materials and construction methods to bring then in sync.

· Constructability and Material Suggestions.
As the project design is developing, the builder will periodically review the construction drawings and documents to make suggestions on materials, construction related concerns, and building systems. This is also a good time to discuss green building options.

· Scheduling.
The preliminary construction schedule works a lot like the preliminary estimate. The builder will develop a preliminary construction schedule showing the timelines of the different activities that will occur during the construction process. This schedule will be periodically updated as the project design evolves.

· Bidding.
The contractor will put the construction drawings and documents out for bid when the following conditions are met: construction drawings are 100% complete, all drawings and documents have been approved by the client, the documents are in sync with the latest estimate and schedule. Once the contractor has received all their bids, they can then present a cost proposal to the client. At this point, if you have not already done so, you will want to discuss the Construction Contract / Agreement and if there are other options to discuss.

I strongly suggest that a builder, contractor, construction manager, construction consultant be hired for pre-construction services for all construction projects. You will never understand all of the benefits this service will provide the client and project unless you have been through the headaches of a project without it. The minor fees that are charged for pre-construction services will ultimately be nominal compared to the time and money they will save the client.

Freelance Engineering Jobs

A degree in engineering has always been a sure way of getting hefty pay packages in the previous century, irrespective of the particular stream. Engineers are the sculptors who have molded the modern day world out of rocks and sand. Even though specific trends in the demand of the particular type of engineering may vary - as is the case that if software engineers are in demand today, mechanical and civil engineers may be in demand tomorrow - it is presumable that the demand for a well-qualified engineer is never going to slow down.

Hence, it is not surprising that a significant fraction of the engineers work on a freelance basis, as is the case of most professions today, such journalism, architects, writers, and web designers, to cite a few examples. This is even truer for certain specific branches of engineering, such as software engineering, civil engineering, and bioengineering.

Government bodies and corporate bodies from different streams hunt for well-qualified engineers to undertake all sorts of projects. The ambit of projects might include almost anything, from constructing a model for making a car accident proof (production engineering), to smaller and faster bluetooth modules (electronic and communications engineering), to a 4-cylinder gasoline operated engine (automobile engineering) to a PLC program for mobile devices (software engineering) to the construction of a small bridge (civil engineering). The particular thread that connects all of these projects is all of them are short term, small-scale projects - perfect for a freelance engineer who likes to work on a contract basis without being associated with firms or companies in a long-term deal.

The duration of the contract for a freelance engineer may be anything from a few months to a few years - depending on his field of engineering and the specific project. The freelancers sidestep all the baggage of office life and relish their freedom of timings and the personal touch imparted to their job by the act of freelancing.

The companies on the other hand, strike deals at rates lower than corporate engineering firms and get almost as good service from the freelance engineers. The interaction between these two parties occur primarily through ads in papers, or more recently, via internet forums which provide a platform for companies to put up their projects and for freelance engineers to apply to them as per their wish. Even though this breeds a lot of competition amongst the freelancers, freelance engineers are a tough breed who has been persisting in a cutthroat market of other freelancers as well as corporate engineering firms.

However, freelancing is not as romantic as it may sound at first - freelancers have to bear the brunt of financial downturns, such as the one last year. Furthermore, a well-established company say something like Shell, might pay huge, obscene amounts to its top engineers, which might make one, think twice before leaving a top company for a freelance engineering career. Also, in freelancing one has to be always on one's toes, as projects do not just drop on your lap, you have to go and get them. Only by selecting smartly and wisely can freelance engineers hope to carve a notable career for themselves.

Freelancing, particularly in engineering, has several visible shortcomings at the outset - but any freelancer could tell you that they would never give up their freedom, and the liberty to work at will, for all the money in the world. It is this different set of priorities that make freelance engineers take the path that they take.

Construction Estimating Form Makes Bidding Easier

All construction contractors and construction estimators use an estimating form. These forms contain all the necessary information to provide an accurate estimate. With an estimating form, there will be no forgotten information. All the information that is needed to provide an estimate is right in front of you, all you have to do is fill in all of the information. A complete estimating for should contain the following information;

· Unit cost of materials

· Amount of estimates

· Square and cubic foot estimates

· Unit price of estimates

· Assembly estimates

This information will assist you in putting a bid together to send to general contractors who will consider your services if your bid is within their budget. A bid form is another form that all construction contractors should have readily available. Often times, if the General contractor is interested in your bid, he or she will send you a contract form from their office for you to fill out. You will still use your bid or proposal for the numbers, however it will be transferred to the General Contractors letterhead. Standard operating procedure states that the following information be included on your proposal;

· Your company name, address, telephone number

· Contractor license number including expiration date

· Current date

· Job name and location

· The title of your scope of work

· A description of what your range of work includes, including material. If a joint check is mentioned, make sure you include it on your bid or proposal

The total of your proposal should always be written in words as well as numbers. It is important to include any type of payment arrangements that are made. Make sure that you sign the form, and print your name so that it can be read easily. Make sure that you restrict the number of days that your bid or proposal is good for. This will create a faster response time, and finally, make sure that there is a place for the General Contractor to sign providing he is in agreement with your bid or proposal.

There are many different contract-estimating forms available to meet the needs of any project. There are standards and guidelines that need to be followed by all contractors that have been developed by the American Society of Profession Estimators (ASPE) and the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE). The forms that are provided allow the contractor to make adjustments to fit the project they are bidding on.

Construction bidding and estimating software is available on the market today, this software contains all of the information and necessary forms to create an accurate bid or proposal. It will contain Contracts, bid proposals as well as change orders for remodeling, new construction and Time sheets and Material jobs. It will also contain Process billing sheets, purchase orders for all materials needed, along with time and material invoices.