I'm a big picture person. When I stand in the aisle of my local hardware store staring down the cost differences between incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs, I know the numbers: an incandescent bulb costs less than $1 and will last for 750 hours; a compact fluorescent light bulb costs about $5 and will last for 10,000 hours.
Considering the purchase price and the fact that compact fluorescent light bulbs use about one-third the energy of an incandescent bulb, I'll make up that initial purchase price in about a year. Everything after that for the life of that compact fluorescent bulb is gravy — continued savings.
As I read through the articles in this month's issue, that big picture number crunching came to mind. In my cover story, a profile of Modern Foundations of Woodbine, Md. (page 20), I write about owner Bruce Neale and his utilization of robotic total stations on foundation layout, GPS tracking on his trucks and maintenance management systems throughout his equipment fleet. In the case of the robotic total stations, this equipment helps him reduce labor costs and increase accuracy on the jobsite, eliminating the need for re-work. In the case of the technologies he uses to manage his truck and equipment fleets, these systems cut out inefficiencies, prevent maintenance issues and have even contributed to his company receiving an insurance rebate for safety efforts. In the feature article "What Can a Robotic Total Station Do for You?" (page 30), contributing writer Rod Dickens explains how this technology saves contractors time and money through increased accuracy and reduced labor needs.
Some of the other technologies our readers have adopted only to realize a strong ROI include laser-guided grading equipment, which can increase quality and reduce labor and material costs; laser-guided concrete screeding machines, which again increase quality while reducing labor and material costs; business management software, which can streamline bidding and billing processes and offer valuable jobsite reporting; and even company-wide requirements for smart phone use to simplify jobsite communication.
These technologies have two things in common: they will cost you money and they will save you money. If you are a short-sighted thinker you might see the price tag on one of these technologies, stagger backwards clutching your heart and your hat, and go back to business as usual. If you are a big picture person, you will see that price tag, go back to your office and crunch some numbers, then realize the importance of investing in technologies.
It's never a good idea to spend your time and money foolishly, but in today's economy, the ability to see the big picture can mean the difference between failure and success. Maybe not so much in your light bulb choice, but really, every little bit helps.