How to Incorporate Energy-Saving Features in Your Home

Climate change isn’t recent news, but it’s become one of the major talking points in recent years. This is largely because the detrimental impact of climate change is being felt right now, with 2020 named the hottest year on record and grim predictions about what will happen in the coming decades.

Activists such as Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough are pushing the impact of climate change to the forefront and now the impact of our actions on the environment is something we’re all aware of.

While huge organisations are being asked to take responsibility for their role in climate change, there are things that we can do on an individual level to make a difference, too. If you’re trying to reduce your individual carbon footprint, here are some ideas to help you bring energy-saving features into your home.

The benefits of saving energy

Everyone produces energy in the home. From boiling the kettle to leaving the TV on standby, we consume energy all the time, often without realising it. While we need a morning coffee, it’s important that we’re conscious about the way we use energy at home.

By looking at ways to consume less power, we’re reducing fumes released by power plants, conserving the resources we have, and protecting the environment and ecosystems. Using excess energy contributes to the warming of the planet, so trying to make a difference on an individual level can go a long way.

Additionally, being more conscientious about how much energy we use can help financially. Energy prices are rising, and these take a huge chunk of a monthly salary. Taking the time to consider ways to cut energy use around the home can benefit your budget in the long run.

Energy-saving products to try

So, are there any additions you can introduce to make your home more energy-conscious? More and more products appear on the market that are designed with the environment in mind.

A smart meter is a great addition. This allows you to set the exact temperature in your home, timing heaters to come on when you need them, and you can use them to monitor how much heat you use.

If you’re planning on introducing some of these, you could start with electric panel heaters. These are perfect for taking the chill off rooms that aren’t used much and they tend to feature thermostats and timers, so you can control when they are in use.

Also, switch your halogen bulbs for LED. As well as saving energy, these longer-lasting bulbs can save you up to £3 per year for every LED bulb you swap to.

Larger projects

If you have the budget, there are bigger jobs you can do around the home. Look at insulation, for instance. According to the Energy Saving Trust, just insulating under the floorboards on the ground floor of your home could save you around £45 a year on your energy bill, so it not only preserves heat in the home, but can save money.

Double glazing is another great way to preserve heat in the home. Most new homes come with double glazing as standard, but if you’re in an older property, you might need to invest in new windows.

Top tips

Here are some more ideas to cut back on energy consumption at home:

  • Wash clothes at a lower temperature
  • Air dry clothes rather than using the tumble dryer
  • Conserve water by switching the tap off while brushing your teeth, and taking a shower rather than a bath
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Benefits of Hiring Construction Tools and Equipment in 2021

Excuse the pun, but construction projects are the foundations of many people’s lives. Enabling us to live in aesthetically pleasing homes while spending a day shopping at the local shopping centre, we would not have any of these things without the construction industry.

For those who are within the industry, you most probably have an understanding of the costs of running a construction business and just how costly some of the equipment and tools can be. With this in mind, we will be considering some of the benefits of hiring said equipment for your business rather than buying it outright.

  1. State-of-the-Art Equipment: It goes without saying, but we would not be human if we did not want the most up-to-date technology or equipment. While the desire to obtain these items is going to be apparent in various aspects of our lives, it is also relevant in our working lives. However, especially with the likes of construction tools and equipment, it can seem somewhat more challenging to be able to access state-of-the-art tools and equipment without paying an arm and a leg. This is something that hiring construction tools minimise; you will be able to use the best equipment at a fraction of the cost. Companies like Bel Lift Trucks provide the opportunity for forklift hire, among others. You will be able to access the best equipment without breaking the bank. Ideal, if you ask us.
  • No Responsibility for Repairs: We are confident that no matter the industry you lie in, you have come across a particular situation that has frustrated you intensely. None more so than when a piece of equipment stops working and is in dire need of repairs. For the most part, repairs can be completed in a short time, especially if the issue in question is not all that serious. However, flipping that on its head, there are often times when problems can be more complex and require more repair time – something that could very well be the case with specific tools and equipment used in the construction industry. We have all seen how large some of the machinery is; it can’t be easy to repair and maintain! This is another element of the construction industry that is eliminated by hiring the equipment rather than buying it outright. The responsibility of the repair lies with the provider. For all you know, you could also be provided with a replacement piece of equipment in the meantime!
  • Storage Issues: It goes without saying, but finding adequate and safe places to store construction equipment and tools comes with its challenges, especially if it is of more significant size and is not as subtle to hide from prying eyes. Hiring equipment and tools from relevant businesses means that you needn’t worry about this, for they are able to provide storage solutions for the equipment. This could also save you money in the long-term, as well as hiring the equipment itself, so it is undoubtedly worth considering moving forward.
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Why Choose A Construction Management Software With Built-In Intelligence?

Working on construction projects needs contractors to continuously work and monitor various parameters of quality construction in order to ensure timely execution and profit generation. And one of the most crucial factors that help to achieve the quality is the use of the right technology, especially construction management software that can help automate the task related to workforce management, resource allocation, and operational goals.

Using an integrated construction management software with cloud functionality and built-in intelligence features allows an optimized workflow cycle eliminating any chances of pilferage and unwanted overheads.

Business Intelligence & Construction Project Management

Business intelligence is a technology designed to process data allowing improved operational management. Construction firms can leverage this technology to prevent any error-prone processing of the data to ensure maximum transparency.

This is why Business Intelligence technology has managed to gain a significant position in the development of construction ERP software. The use of Business Intelligence technology in the construction project management process allows working on project schedule, cost overruns, and critical project resources giving a save on time and improved maintenance.

Features Of A Construction Management Software with BI

  • Dynamic Dashboard: Working on a business intelligence-based construction management software allows easy graphical representation of data for quality decision-making.
  • Customized Reports: Get an intuitive view of the project data and progress.
  • Convenient Data: Have universal accessibility and convenience you need to control data.
  • Transparency: From employee data to approvals and billing, BI allows you to ensure maximum transparency.
  • Predictive Analytics: Using BI technology in construction management software allows managers to keep a check on business opportunities. Also, it gives you the advantage to analyze any lost bids and investigate them to make educated decisions and use the information for having consistent and promising results.

The Benefits Of Using BI Based Construction Management Software

When you are having a business intelligence-based system that can analyze data and process it to add value to routine operations, contractors get the benefit of improved decision making and a more accessible resource utilization strategy.

  1. Reduced Risk: when it comes to risk reporting managers need immediate access to data and when this data is managed through business intelligence, working on the risks and losses becomes much more streamlined.
  2. Minimized Error: unlike legacy practices that are purely based on human intervention, using business intelligence allows users to overcome any error through automated data processing which ultimately helps to improve transparency and faster data transmission.
  3. Cost Control: business intelligence in construction management could help with cost control practices as contractors get the ability to pre-plan their budget and time for maximum profit margin while ensuring rapid and sustainable progress.
  4. Third-Party Integration: another good reason to use smart construction management software is the ease of implementing third-party integrations that can help to simplify operations with advanced technology features like IoT, voice operations, etc.
  5. Save More Time: last but not least, using Construction management software with built-in intelligence allows contractors to have maximum save on time without compromising on efficiency and effectiveness of the operations. Also, using such a system can help office staff and project managers to experience versatile data analytics to enjoy an improved project pipeline.

The Crux

All in all, using construction management software with BI can help the contractors to keep all the data organized and managed. This is why more and more construction firms are relying upon the technology aiming for better project management, resource control, and accounting.

And if you are having trouble sustaining projects or facing a tough time working on opportunities, all you need to do is plan for an intelligent BI-based construction management software that can help you meet your business needs without compromising at any stage of the project lifecycle.

Author Bio: Ed Williams is the Senior Team Lead at ProjectPro, an integrated construction accounting software. He holds a massive industry experience and is a Microsoft Dynamics expert who is focused on successful implementations. He is a visionary leader and always aim to deliver the best to the construction and project-oriented industries.

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Cheltenham construction firm rewarded with £38k tax relief for innovation

  • Love2Build describe tax relief as “much-welcome sum of money following a rough last year”.
  • Firm was previously unaware their projects would qualify for the government incentives.
  • £38k to be invested into the business, including company rebrand.

A Cheltenham construction firm has received more than £38,000 in research and development (R&D) tax credits after identifying innovation within its building projects.

Love2Build, established in 2015, prides itself on providing high-quality, fine finish construction work, and described the windfall as a “much-welcome sum of money following a rough last year”.

Previously unaware that their work was eligible for the government incentives, after contacting R&D tax specialists Access2Funding, Love2Build began to uncover hidden finance within qualifying projects.

The firm has taken on a series of innovative projects in recent years. These have included extensive work done on a farm that involved the business creating a technological advancement in the way builders can provide structural support when removing walls, whilst allowing as much area as possible around the work to still be useable. Love2Build produced specific custom-made fabrications so the product would work and used trial and error to achieve the result. Another example of innovation was when they created a modern extension with a roof terrace whilst allowing the aged aesthetic of the rest of the cottage to remain undisturbed, achieving this by researching and testing different materials to find the best solution.

Love2Build now has a large sum available to reinvest into their business. Plans with the money include paying back government-backed loans, purchasing new tools and rebranding their company with a new logo and website.

Daniel Duncombe-Davis, Director of Love2Build, said: “The terminology ‘research and development’ can make people think their business is not eligible but what I’ve learnt from Access2Funding is that as builders, a large proportion of what we do every day is R&D. We’re always thinking on our feet, trying to find solutions to problems. If there’s something that’s not going to work on the plan and you are altering it with your own design input, then that could be R&D.”

Daniel went through the claims process with Dan Moss and Jack O’Brien at Access2Funding. He said: “The whole process was streamlined, and the team helped dispel any apprehensions I had regarding what actually qualified, making things very simple for me to understand. They also helped professionally extract any information that was needed for the claim. Anybody in the construction industry with a sizeable turnover should definitely speak to these guys! Any business owner full stop actually!

“The whole experience was fantastic, and after just four weeks I received the payment. Ultimately, I now have money available to my business that I never knew I even had access to. It’s almost too good to be true!”

R&D tax credits are a HMRC incentive, designed to encourage UK businesses to continue to grow by innovating. A limited company can receive a reduction in its corporation tax bill or a cash payment.

If a business is seeking to resolve a scientific or technological uncertainty within its projects by creating new processes, products or services (or amending existing ones) then they could be performing R&D without realising it.

Dawn Coker, Chief Executive Officer at Access2Funding, said: “By its very nature, the construction industry poses many opportunities to innovate, as challenges crop up in projects and businesses must adapt and overcome to achieve a solution. Yet so many qualifying projects are being undervalued as day-to-day business when they could be put forward as part of an R&D tax credits claim.

“It was wonderful to hear Daniel’s overwhelming feedback and we are so pleased that the cash he received will be used to help his business grow following what has been such a difficult time for so many businesses.”

The latest HMRC statistics show that the construction sector is lagging behind some other sectors when it comes to claiming R&D tax relief, accounting for just 4% of all claims across the scheme, despite being one of the key sectors that innovate regularly.

About Access2Funding

  • Access2Funding’s team of tax specialists, experienced business growth experts and skilled client account managers work with organisations to uncover hidden funds. They are experts in securing tax relief on R&D investments, along with Capital Allowance (PEFFs), Patent Box, Alternative Funding and more.
  • £23m returned to UK businesses in 2020.
  • More than 1,160 successful claims.
  • £39k average claim, with 100% success rate with R&D claims.
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6 Things to do Before starting a property renovation in Scotland

While a home refurbishment project can be an exciting proposition, without proper planning it can easily become a nightmare. There are numerous pitfalls associated with home renovation if you fail to prepare properly. These range from hiring unreliable and poor quality tradesmen to going way over your budget.

If you want to ensure your renovation runs as smoothly as possible it is imperative you prepare thoroughly. Here are a list of things you should do before beginning any refurbishment to avoid causing yourself a whole host of problems.

Spend Time Reviewing the Space

When doing a renovation project many people can’t wait to get onto to the exciting part like choosing décor, lighting and furnishings. However, this is something that is better done later on in the project. Quite often the colour scheme and lighting you have set your heart on may not complement the space you are renovating. It is better to wait till you are further into the refurbishment when you can see colours on walls and assess things like natural light. By doing this you can avoid many of those back to the drawing board moments that occur in a lot of renovations.

Set a Realistic Timeline

It is not unusual for renovation projects to take longer than expected. Things like the unavailability of tradesmen and materials can cause your project to be delayed. It is important therefore that when you are planning any renovation project you set a realistic timeline and build in some contingency for unforeseen issues. That way you can avoid the frustrations that come with things not being completed on time.

Expect the Unexpected

Lots of houses have hidden secrets that come to light during the course of a renovation project. If you don’t plan ahead these issues can be both inconvenient and expensive. One way to avoid this is by planning extra time into your renovation timeline and a contingency in your budget. This will allow you to be prepared for any unforeseen mishaps.

Take Care When Choosing Contractors

The quality and success of any renovation can be dependent on the contractor you choose to undertake the work. It pays therefore to take time a do some diligent research when selecting your builder. You need to take relevant time to ensure that any contractor has both the skills and experience to complete your project. One of the best ways of doing this is by word of mouth. By choosing a contractor with a good local reputation you can have peace of mind that your project will be in good hands. If word of mouth is not possible then use things like internet reviews to check out prospective workmen, also being a member of a professional association is usually a good sign. We would advise that you ask to see examples of work they have completed most reputable builders will be happy to do this, if they cannot or make excuses then alarm bells should start to ring.

Set a Budget

It goes without saying that you must set yourself a realistic budget for your renovation. Before starting you need to cost out everything to ensure you fully understand the total cost of the project. As mentioned earlier it is always advisable to build in a contingency to your budget for unexpected issues. However you need to ensure that you have taken into account the cost of all major parts of your project. It is vitally important that you agree a cost with your builder prior to the commencement of the project and get any quotes in writing and formally agreed. Also make sure any additional work required by your builder is signed off by you before being done. All this will allow you to keep your budget under control and avoid any big overspend.

Scaffolders

When renovating the exterior of any property especially upper floors and roofs it is likely you will need to employ the services of professional scaffolders. Erecting scaffolding in Edinburgh around any property can come with problems if not done properly. The very nature of scaffolding means that it is subject to a number of health and safety regulations. It is vitally important that you select a professional scaffolding company to ensure that your project can be completed safely and in a way that causes minimal disruption to you and any neighbouring homes or businesses.

Here at Check it Scaffolding our services is not strictly limited to Edinburgh, we have provided scaffolding for all manner of commercial and domestic refurbishment projects throughout Scotland. So, if you are in need of scaffolders in Glasgow we can help.

While there is no 100% guarantee that your renovation project will go without a hitch, taking some of the steps we have outlined above will definitely minimise any risks associated with any refurbishment.

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‘Don’t make the same mistakes as BIM’ – new guide to digital twins calls for simpler approach

A new guide to digital twins in construction and infrastructure is showing the industry how to make the most of the technology while avoiding the pitfalls that originally beset the implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Published by 3D Repo, specialists in cloud-based BIM and digital twins, the free guide looks at the current status of digital twins, how the concept fits into today’s construction industry, how to debunk the myths surrounding them and how to use readily available tools to create digital twins via a much simpler process. This work builds upon the recent Digital Twin Toolkit by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) which 3D Repo contributed to.

Lead author of the whitepaper and 3D Repo’s Head of Digital Twins, Matthew Osment, said:

“When we think of the potential of this technology, the grand notions of monolithic interconnected models are inspiring for some, but also very daunting for majority of consultants and contractors who want to get a foothold on the digital twin ladder.

“We must learn from history. Similar concerns held back the uptake of BIM, as potential users were put off by the idea of complex software set-ups and massive up-front costs.

“The purpose of this guide is to spread the lessons learnt from what happened with BIM. It doesn’t have to be this complicated – in reality, taking ‘baby steps’ with digital twins and gradually scaling up is also a valid approach that can provide very positive outcomes without huge investment.”

3D Repo is currently working on several digital twin solutions with its clients. CEO and founder, Dr Jozef Dobos, is actively contributing to setting the standards in collaboration with the Digital Twin Hub at CDBB. 3D Repo also recently received an Epic MegaGrant from Unreal Engine to develop a new digital twin platform that can stream data into a running game thus removing the need to bake in the assets.

Download the free guide here.

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What is Bladder and Tubular Hydroforming?

Hydroforming is simply using the force of a liquid such as water, oil, or hydraulic fluids to shape a component. It is an affordable way of making ductile metals like brass, alloy steel, aluminum, stainless steel, etc. into different forms and shapes. Most metals that have the ability to cold-form can get hydro formed. This helps to make them strong and structurally stiff.

Hydroforming works as a type of specialized die forming. It utilizes high-pressure hydraulic liquids to press working materials that are at room temperature into a die. In this way, complex shapes which would ordinarily be impossible are formed without need for welding.

Hydroforming is used in a variety of industries most especially in the automobile and aerospace industries. These industries make use of these composite shapes to manufacture lighter, stronger as well as rigid one-piece structures. These structures are then used in manufacturing car and plane parts.

Hydroformed parts are often made with a greater stiffness-to-weight ratio and at a lower cost when compared to conventional methods. You can read further on this here. There are two main types of hydroforming. They are bladder and tubular.

Bladder Hydroforming

This is also known as sheet or deep draw hydroforming. In this process, a blank sheet of metal is placed in the press. Pressure is applied to this metal and this forces it into the die that is beneath it. This type of hydroforming is versatile and can be used for a broad range of parts.

This method is beneficial to several industries including healthcare, defense, aerospace, power generation and commercial lighting. All these fields need complex and specialized shapes as well as parts that must be adhered to strictly. Sheet hydroforming helps to provide the precise surfaces and shapes that are required.

In this type of method, there is bladder forming where in that bladder contains the fluid. Therefore, the liquid does not come in direct contact with the sheet. This type is quite similar to using stamping but a rubber diaphragm is used.

This diaphragm is supported by up to 18,000 psi of oil pressure and works as the other punch half. When this pressure is increased, it forces the metal into the press taking its shape. The tooling cost for this method is reduced in half because only one part of the die is needed.

The process starts with a blank sheet, a blank holder, a die as well as a punch. The blank piece is placed into the holder which is over the die. The die’s cavity is the shape of the part that is to be formed. The next step is the punch moves towards the sheet and pushes it into the die.

This stretches or bends the part into the required shape but does not alter the sheet’s strength. The shapes formed may be straight or may have different cross-sections, curved walls and so on. The most common though are rectangles and cylinders. Examples of these parts are cans, cups, fuel tanks, car frames, etc.

Tubular Hydroforming

Tubular hydroforming is so named because of the metal tubes utilized as the foundation for the formed part. It is a particularly useful process for the automotive industry as there is a great requirement for tubular parts.

In this process, pressurized fluid is used on the insides of the tube. This metal is pushed out into the mold that is surrounding it thereby getting its shape. This process is used to create a variety of tubing as well as pipes of different lengths, shapes and weights.

Stiffness, dimensional accuracy, as well as strength, are effortlessly achieved using this process. It also helps to make light and safe parts for the automobile industry.

Tubular hydroforming involves two main practices which are low pressure and high pressure. In the low pressure process, pressure is applied moderately to the tube when the die is closed. For the high pressure, the tube is totally enclosed in the die before pressure is applied.

The whole process starts with an idea of the part that is needed. Engineers and designers research and work to form a plan and ultimately produce a prototype. This prototype is then created using this hydroforming method. The process is labor-intensive but it produces very high quality, light and durable components.

It has also become increasingly popular for its history of producing these quality parts at a reduced cost. It is now commonly used in design, industry and innovation allowing automotive parts to be constructed easily. A good example is in the bicycle making industry. Due to this process, bicycles are lighter, more sturdy and agile than they have ever been.

Tubular hydroforming comes with benefits that include:

  • Better flexibility in product design and strength
  • Lighter weight due to using less material
  • Greater bending strength and stiffness
  • High level of accuracy in production
  • Greater overall quality

Bladder vs Tubular

While bladder and tubular hydroforming are important, they are used to obtain different sets of results. Tubular is used when complex components like curved sections are needed. Examples of these include door handles of trucks, car parts, bicycle frames, brass tubes of saxophones, etc.

Bladder or sheet hydroforming on the other hand is used when large and flat components are required in a particular shape. Examples include car doors, antennas, lighting fixtures, etc. Between the two, there is no better option. The best method to use per time is dependent on what you desire to create.

Conclusion

Hydroforming was initially used for making kitchen spouts and plumbing fixtures. It has grown over the years and has become very popular in a variety of manufacturing industries. Its versatility makes it useful for making many different parts that are useful to these industries.

What’s more, it also comes with plenty of benefits. Chief amongst these is its affordability and the high quality of parts produced. Added to these, the components produced are sturdy and long-lasting. Of the two processes, the best to use depends on the project as well as the type of equipment available.

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Education programme continues to expand its global reach

The number of international students enrolled in the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers’ (GAI) Diploma programme has surpassed those in the UK for the first time in its history.

Almost 60% of students enrolled in last year’s Diploma programme were located outside the UK. 54 students passed the stage three exam to become GAI Diploma holders (DipGAI), of which 28 were international students and 26 were based in the UK. Half of the international students were based in the Middle East and, for the first time, this cohort of Diploma successes also included learners from New Zealand and Cyprus.

The core of the GAI education portfolio is separated into two qualifications: the Certificate in Architectural Hardware (CiAH) and the GAI Diploma. In total, exams across all stages were sat in 22 different countries by over 300 learners.

This year also saw 90% of students pass their CiAH stage one exam, one of the highest pass rates to date, and 80% of students passed stage two.

Rachel Tipton, manager of the GAI education programme, said:

“The past year has been particularly tough for learners, with many being furloughed, so everyone who has progressed through the education programme should be incredibly proud of the resilience and dedication they’ve shown.

“The GAI has been providing a unique education, qualification and CPD programme for door hardware professionals since 1961. It’s the only recognised programme in the world that leads to a qualification in architectural ironmongery to British and European standards, and can be used to demonstrate a commitment to professional development and to competence in the wider construction industry.”

The CiAH consists of two stages with 24 education modules covering everything an architectural ironmonger is required to know, supported by eight block assessments to test the students’ understanding.

Once learners have gained their CiAH, they can continue their studies to achieve the GAI Diploma. This stage three exam focuses entirely on the skills and learning needed for scheduling the architectural ironmongery, electric hardware and key control for a project, and is of particular importance to those architectural ironmongers working on projects being built to UK and European standards across the globe. Once they have completed the diploma, they can use the designation DipGAI, an industry recognised designation of professionalism.

To find out more about the GAI education programme, visit: www.gai.org.uk/Education

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