July 2018

246 247 light, and communication technology to buildings and communities across the U.S.With national offices in Bethesda, Md., and 119 local chapters, it routinely showcases members doing cutting-edge work.That includes its annual convention and trade show every fall that features an expanded exhib- it aptly named TECHTOPIA.This exhibit offers an in-depth look at emerging trends and technologies transforming construction. “It’s important that electrical professionals know how this is affecting their businesses,”Grau said. The cost of technology is one piece of the puzzle, Grau added, but it’s not necessarily the hardest part to address. Realizing the need to shift course comes first.“The decision to invest in the first place takes more time and consideration,”he said. One of the places where the money is heading: advanced processes such as building information modeling (BIM). BIM involves the generation and management of digital representations of physi- cal and functional characteristics of places. Now a driving force in electrical construction, the THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION three-dimensional design program lets electrical contractors create a building’s electrical system virtually within a project’s digital construction drawings.With the advancement of BIM, using prefabrication methods in residential and com- mercial projects has re-emerged as a growing trend in the industry. Assembling modular units ahead of time helps contractors improve produc- tivity, and as they’ve become more efficient at starting and ending jobs, they can increase the volume and complexity of assignments. “Electrical contractors are ‘prebuilding’ systems that can be brought to the construction site ready for installation right away,” Grau said. “In most cases, that means a smaller on-site construction presence will be required.” Other types of technology making waves among electrical contractors include unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly referred to as UAVs and drones) and wearables. Drones are used in everything from power and pipeline inspections and agriculture to real estate and law enforce-