Virtual Reality iRacing Simulation Shows Real-World Engineering Benefits

A month into the substitution of online virtual racing for on-track real racing is producing some unexpected dividends, as drivers and engineers are uncovering ways to leverage iRacing simulation to prepare for their return to racing. Team Penske Indycar driver Simon Pagenaud was effusive about iRacing following his second consecutive virtual victory over his colleagues during a simulated race on the oval track at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi circuit.

It was a win achieved significantly thanks to reigning Indy 500 champ Pagenaud and his race engineer, Ben Bretzman, employing the optimal strategy for the timing of pit stops for fresh virtual tires and fuel. “I get a lot of help from Ben Bretzman, my race engineer, on the strategies,” Pagenaud said in the post-race interview. “As you can see, he is doing a great job with pit stops.”

It is hard for the driver to make such strategic decisions on the fly because of the stress of the racing, he said. “It is so stressful because you’re still lacking a lot of feedback,” Pagenaud observed, referring to the lack of seat-of-the-pants feel for the car’s motion while driving the simulator. “So I’m relearning another way to race. But I tell you, it is the same behavior for every driver out there.”

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Engineering Tech, Construction

Comfort Systems USA Announces Acquisition

Business Wire | February 01, 2024

Comfort Systems USA, Inc. today announced that it has closed its previously announced transaction to acquire Summit Industrial Construction, LLC (“Summit”) headquartered in Houston, Texas. As previously disclosed, Summit is a specialty industrial mechanical contractor offering engineering, design-assist and turnkey, direct hire construction services of modular systems serving the advanced technology, power, and industrial sectors. Summit’s capabilities encompass a wide range of modular and site-based construction, including process piping, equipment setting, large pipe rack trestles, and related steel erection and specialty concrete work. Summit is a trusted supplier to some of the world’s largest advanced technology, power and industrial companies and is currently deployed on several major chip fabrication projects. Initially, Summit is expected to contribute annualized revenues of approximately $375 million to $400 million, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $35 million to $40 million. In light of the amortization expense, Summit is expected to make a neutral to slightly accretive contribution to earnings per share in 2024 and 2025. Brian Lane, Comfort Systems USA’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are delighted to announce the closing of our agreement to acquire Summit, an extremely capable provider of modular and other complex mechanical services. Summit brings a stellar reputation as a modular technology leader in growing end markets, including multiple ongoing and large semiconductor projects. We are happy to welcome Summit’s wonderful leadership team and excellent production and craft workers across many states, and we are confident Summit will continue to innovate and grow as a part of our network of world-class contracting companies. We are grateful that Summit has chosen to become part of Comfort Systems USA.”

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Construction

Construction Partners, Inc. Completes Acquisitions in Alabama and Georgia

PR Newswire | January 03, 2024

Construction Partners, Inc, a vertically integrated civil infrastructure company specializing in the construction and maintenance of roadways across six southeastern states, today announced that it has acquired SJ&L General Contractor, LLC, a hot-mix asphalt and sitework company headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, and Littlefield Construction Company, a soil base, surface treatment and sitework company headquartered in Waycross, Georgia. Fred J. (Jule) Smith, III, the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "A key component of our growth strategy is to actively expand service capabilities within existing markets. Both the SJ&L and Littlefield acquisitions expand our services offerings in existing markets while also adding valuable crews and equipment." Smith continued, "The greater Huntsville metro area and Interstate 65 corridor continue to experience tremendous growth, and we look forward to integrating the SJ&L team with our existing operations at our Alabama platform company, Wiregrass Construction Company. As a combined organization, we can now offer turnkey services spanning the construction value chain on both private and public project opportunities within this market. Likewise, our Georgia platform company, The Scruggs Company, entered the Waycross market just a few months ago through the establishment of a greenfield hot-mix asphalt plant. Now having acquired Littlefield, we are even better positioned to capitalize on a robust surface treatment market and to offer a full range of infrastructure services from a strategic location that can reach from the Port of Brunswick on the Atlantic coast into south-central Georgia. We are pleased to expand both of these crucial growth markets and proud to welcome the employees of SJ&L and Littlefield into our continually growing CPI family."

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Construction

VOLLERS, Inc. Enhances its Portfolio with the Strategic Acquisition of LAYOUT, Inc.

PR Newswire | January 02, 2024

VOLLERS, Inc. (VOLLERS), the holding company that owns or partners with quality construction services brands such as Vollers Excavating, HVI Services, Aspen Landscaping and Assuncao Brothers, Inc., proudly announces the acquisition of Layout, Inc. (Layout), one of New Jersey's most recognized construction survey firms. This acquisition broadens VOLLERS' array of services in the construction industry through its distinct and operationally independent entities. Brendan Murray, current President of VOLLERS, will expand his leadership role by assuming the role of President at Layout. Giuseppe Messina Jr., from VOLLERS, has been appointed as Vice President of Survey at Layout. James Flores, from Layout, has been appointed as Director of Project Management. "Success in construction is not just about project completion; it's about fostering a culture of efficiency, innovation, and excellence. We're not just building projects, we're building companies that lead the construction industry," states Brendan Murray. "Adding Layout, Inc. to the VOLLERS family of companies enriches our mission and enhances our service offerings across the entire construction community." Layout comes to VOLLERS as a robust business with a strong history of managing complex and substantial infrastructure projects in the region. The synergy between VOLLERS and Layout promises significant value for clients, combining VOLLERS' world-class management capabilities with Layout's surveying expertise to meet evolving market demands with industry-leading effectiveness. "I am very honored to be given the opportunity to bring these two well-respected organizations together," says Giuseppe Messina Jr. "I look forward to leading a diverse and talented team in our unwavering commitment and dedication to providing top-tier service in the Survey industry."

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Materials, Construction

Continental Cement Teams Up with CemAI on Digital Solution for Hannibal Cement Plant

PR Newswire | January 04, 2024

CemAI, Inc. has teamed up with Continental Cement Company L.L.C.'s (Continental Cement) Hannibal, MO plant to install CemAI's predictive and prescriptive maintenance solution, combining a unique licensed software with a continuous monitoring and incident resolution service to further enhance its cement manufacturing performance." The CemAI solution uses Continental Cement's existing historical and real-time manufacturing data and applies machine learning, artificial intelligence and remote monitoring by cement experts to complement the expertise of Continental's local plant maintenance and reliability teams. This robust solution brings plant maintenance into the digital age." "We considered a number of approaches to utilizing our data to improve our maintenance efforts, eliminate downtime and increase equipment reliability," says Timothy J. Noud, Vice President of Manufacturing at Continental Cement. "CemAI offers a cement-centric, end-to-end machine learning/artificial intelligence service solution." Continental Cement has built its business on consistent quality, superior service, and delivering a safe working environment since they began producing cement at their Hannibal location in 1903. A leader in innovation and sustainable cement production, Continental Cement provides high quality cement for projects along the Mississippi corridor and is a subsidiary of Summit Materials, Inc. " "CemAI is proud to be collaborating with an industry leader on innovative ways to use data," says Scott Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer for CemAI. "We thank Continental Cement for their confidence in the CemAI solution to provide increased efficiency, improved reliability and optimized operations."

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