Volume 44, Issue 6 - June 2009

Contract Glazing

Permasteelisa Streamlines Curtainwall Processes via Autodesk

Permasteelisa S.p.A. will combine the use of Autodesk Inc.’s architectural and manufacturing 3D design software and services throughout its curtainwall creation process to improve its ability to react to customer demand, as well as focus on increased quality of product and service.

The new Permasteelisa Moving Forward (PMF) system is expected to accelerate the company’s ability to react to customers from initial inquiry to final installation. The PMF system is a custom suite developed together with Autodesk using Autodesk software, including the Revit platform for building information modeling (BIM). This new design platform will serve 5,000 users in 50 global locations and enable users at up to five sites to work simultaneously on the same project. 

As an example of how the initiative will work, Permasteelisa can design a new curtainwall based on 3D models created in Revit and then transfer the data to other teams working on materials and manufacturing to create a single 3D digital model in Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD Mechanical software.

InterClad Announces New Location

Glazing contractor InterClad, an Egan Co. based in Plymouth, Minn., has moved to a new location.

“After almost 11 years in business, we have purchased our own building and will be moving across the freeway,” says Bill John, president of InterClad and executive vice president of Egan Company. “For my valued business partners and friends, I would like to thank all of you for making this possible and helping to make InterClad a success over the past decade.” www.kawneer.com 

Increases in Surety Bond Guarantees Could Help Spur Construction Growth

In years past, many contract glaziers found it challenging to gain surety bonding. In the early 2000s sureties incurred numerous losses and tightened up on underwriting and pricing, closing off opportunities for some small contract glaziers.

Then, just a couple of years ago, the industry loosened up and bonding requirements became less stringent, making it a bit easier for small contract glaziers to gain bonding (see October 2007 USGlass, page 32). Now, even with the country in the midst of an economic and financial crisis, some contract glaziers still are able to bond their jobs with relative ease. Danny Davis, vice president and chief operating officer of Arrow Glass and Mirror in Austin, Texas, says his company has had no trouble bonding jobs. 

“Some commercial general contractors have made it their policy that [contract glaziers] must have the capacity to obtain bonding,” says Davis. “We think that is good and look at it as a competitive advantage.

”And help may even be on the way for those small business contract glaziers that may have struggled to gain bonding in the past. As part of the Recovery Act, those companies can now qualify for U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)-backed surety bonds of up to $5 million, more than double the previous amount of $2 million. Through its Surety Bond Guarantee program, the SBA, in partnership with the surety industry, will guarantee bid, payment and performance bonds. The SBA will provide a guarantee to a participating surety company of between 70 and 90 percent of the bond amount.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy and we want to get them up and growing again, as that will help everyone,” says Frank Lalumiere, director of the SBA’s Office of Surety Guarantees. “The country is in a tough way right now and a lot is being done to turn that around.

”Lalumiere says that while construction may be slow, with the Recovery Act money that is going toward it he expects to see it turn around soon. And for those companies that will be looking to take advantage of the SBA’s surety program, Lalumiere has a few tips they should keep in mind.

“They need to be sure that they have a current business plan in place, that they have their financial statements in order and they need to be prepared to talk about cash flow requirements,” says Lalumiere.  

Ironworkers and Glaziers Favor the Use of Project Labor Agreements

Many curtainwall installers and glazing subcontractors are already familiar with project labor agreements (PLAs) but now, with stimulus funds dedicated to federal construction projects, installers can likely expect to see them even more. 

Earlier this year President Obama signed an executive order requiring the use of PLAs on all federal construction projects, stating: “Large-scale construction projects pose special challenges to efficient and timely procurement by the Federal Government. Construction employers typically do not have a permanent workforce, which makes it difficult for them to predict labor costs when bidding on contracts and to ensure a steady supply of labor on contracts being performed. Challenges also arise due to the fact that construction projects typically involve multiple employers at a single location.”

But PLAs are not just for federal jobs; some say they have also proven beneficial on many other types of jobs—especially large-scale, complex installations. Several union organizations with focuses on curtainwall construction say they are in full support of the use of PLAs as they serve as effective construction management tools for quality construction. Eric Dean, general vice president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, heads up the association’s ornamental architectural and miscellaneous metals efforts, which includes curtainwall construction. 

“PLAs provide criteria for every contractor, builder, owner that assures the consistency of the project and it ensures uniformity to build the project on time and without labor disputes,” Dean says. “It’s a blueprint document on how labor contracts can help on these projects.”

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) also is in favor of PLAs.

“We feel the PLAs increase the efficiencies of projects and that they do not increase costs,” says George Galis, IUPAT’s general secretary-treasurer. “Our contractors report to us all the time that on hard-dollar bid projects, especially major curtainwall jobs, they are able to beat out non-union workers.” Galis adds, “PLAs are not going to cost the end-user or the taxpayer any more money.” 

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