Sep 20 2018

A Viewpoint view: clients now the key

Whole-life thinking by owner-operator clients – and by their investors – will change how technology is adopted and applied, believes SaaS vendor Viewpoint’s head of strategic asset development, Mark Coates.

Viewpoint - a Trimble company“We are on the cusp of a major sea-change in client attitudes to how built assets are delivered,” believes Mark Coates, the UK-based head of strategic asset development at Newcastle-based SaaS construction collaboration technology provider Viewpoint (since July 2018 a Trimble subsidiary).

Coates is a former quantity surveyor with extensive family connections in construction around the world. Recruited by Viewpoint in late 2017 from (June 2017 post), he spends most of his time talking to asset owners and their advisors; he is therefore well placed to comment on shifts in technology adoption and asset-related thinking. Time, cost and quality still drive many contractors’ commercial decisions about what technologies to deploy on a project, he says, “but we can do so much better.” Viewpoint is looking to establish long-term value-adding relationships with customers, integrating its technologies with owner-operator clients’ in-house systems and with other providers’ solutions. Coates says:

Mark CoatesSophisticated clients are increasingly thinking about the ‘whole life’ of their built assets. They are now starting to see them as investment ‘products’, and so need to regularly re-evaluate them, to have a clearer view of how those ‘products’ perform – particularly if they might need to update them, dispose of them, or acquire new, better ones – right down to the performance of individual systems.”

He sees the early days of cloud-based project collaboration as mainly about creating an online filing cabinet for information about the design and construction process – “as such, businesses like Viewpoint were then mainly dealing with traditional contractors.” However, since around 2010, the UK building information modelling (BIM) adoption programme has expanded horizons (“notwithstanding common perceptions promoted by some American software providers that BIM was all about 3D modelling”), and the promotion of ‘Soft Landings’ approaches to facilities and asset management, has increased awareness of how data can be used and reused throughout the life-cycle of an asset.

BI and best whole life value

The UK government’s latest Industrial Strategy (November 2017 – available here) talked about manufacturing-led approaches to construction, and urged best whole life value approaches to procurement:

  • “five government departments to adopt a presumption in favour of offsite construction by 2019 across suitable capital programmes where this represents best value for money”
  • “work to ensure construction projects … are procured and built based on their whole life value, rather than just initial capital cost” (further endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council’s July 2018 Procuring for Value report which recommends, first, procuring on the basis of whole-life value and performance, and second, measuring and rewarding good asset and supplier performance).

“With this kind of thinking guiding client decisions, it’s about more than a transfer of data to CAFM [computer-aided facilities management] systems,” Coates says. “Now, a growing number of Viewpoint’s customers are asset owner-operators – increasingly dominant in procurement decisions – and they want lifecycle data they can use to manage their estates portfolios.

“Viewpoint’s Team platform is about helping clients ensure continuous performance improvement, it’s about business intelligence (BI). They don’t just want the specifications and 3D geometry of their HVAC units, for example, they also want performance information across their estate so that they can make accurate predictions about their service life, about how that might impact on overall asset costs and liabilities, and about the productivity of people working in a building.”

Launched in the US in 2017, and in the UK in May 2018, Viewpoint Team complements rather than replaces Viewpoint For Projects (VFP), the company’s flagship collaboration platform, Coates says (echoing Viewpoint chief product officer Matt Harris in May 2018). He believes Viewpoint’s long history and credibility in the market will help it improve performance within the industry:

“VFP was the primary workhorse for Tier One and Tier Two companies delivering construction projects. Viewpoint Team takes nothing away from VFP. It is a toolset for the whole team – it is able to surface data about supplier relationships so that the owner-operator, Tier One contractor, Tier Two, etc, can monitor supply chain relationships and protect or ‘future-proof’ their supply chain – identify those that are most resilient, most efficient, most critical to profitability.”

Coates believes Viewpoint’s long history and credibility in the market will help it improve performance within the industry, and says financial institutions are keen to talk about protecting their investments – their ‘products’ – through better use of data.

“Let’s look five years down the road: who is going to have the most influence? It will be those with the money that will insist on what systems need to be in place to manage their data, and to support due diligence by providing a complete ‘service history’ of their assets.”


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Sep 17 2018

GenieBelt expands into US AEC market

GenieBelt logoCopenhagen, Denmark based construction cloud technology vendor GenieBelt is expanding its global footprint and establishing an operation in the United States.

Rusty HamiltonGenieBelt has appointed Rusty Hamilton, – based in Indianapolis, Indiana – as country manager of its new US operation. Hamilton has worked within the construction industry for over 28 years, including several years as president of Catalyst USA, a distributor for Asta Powerproject in the US, an Oracle Gold Partner and a provider of training and implementation for Oracle Primavera Solutions.

Hamilton has worked on project management, estimating, document controls and work scheduling projects. His background includes consultancy, sales and business leadership.  GenieBelt CEO Ulrik Branner says:

Ulrik Branner - Geniebelt CEO“GenieBelt’s mission is to significantly improve our customers’ earnings, by providing them with full data ownership, transparency and real-time communication. We have seen customers from all around the world welcome this approach, but to change a $10 trillion industry takes dedicated, skilled and experienced visionaries. Rusty Hamilton is such a person. So combining the right person with an increasing interest from USA is an opportunity to seize, and it allows us to serve and grow our US customer base even better”.

Hamilton says:

“For a long time, I have been seeking a real change in approach in the construction technology space and I just didn’t find it until I saw Geniebelt. While construction scheduling is incredibly important we could never get everyone involved in the process to deliver a project via the plan. With Geniebelt that all changes and everyone plays their part in the overall plan while having an incredible communication tool to use during execution.

“I plan to make Geniebelt part of the tool kit for all construction work in the US. This type of communication tool will move construction forward at a new pace. I am excited to get started showing this product and this approach to my marketplace”.

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Sep 14 2018

Vectorworks underlines its open BIM credentials

Design authoring tool specialist Vectorworks adheres to the Nemetschek-wide policy of ‘Open BIM’, and, in addition to its inbuilt webviewing and cloud services tools, offers some integration to third party ‘common data environments’, CDEs.

Nemetschek Group logo 2015Interoperability remains a major challenge for many construction IT users, with single vendor proprietary file and data formats vying with more open formats shared by multiple vendors. The Nemetschek group fits into the latter category and it has been a long-time proponent of ‘Open BIM’ since at least March 2012 – hardly surprising as the group’s product portfolio includes multiple design authoring applications. Allplan, DDS, Graphisoft, Maxon, Scia and Vectorworks are all established brands in the Nemetschek family, which has expanded in recent years with acquisitions including Bluebeam (October 2014), Solibri (December 2015), and dRofus (December 2016).

Allowing data to be shared across multiple applications is a frequent requirement in multi-disciplinary, multi-company project teams, avoiding the need to re-key information or to engage in sometimes unreliable export/import processes. When the first cloud-based construction collaboration platforms were launched in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the ability to support multiple file formats was vital, leading many of the SaaS vendors also to embrace BuildingSMART and the ‘open BIM’ movement, and to build out their platforms to support IFC and BCF-based functionalities.

While the primary focus within the Nemetschek group has been on design tools, the group and its subsidiaries have also dabbled with collaborative functionality, both in relation to BIM and to wider types of files and data. For example:

Checking in on Vectorworks

Vectorworks logoSeptember 2018 has seen the launch of the 2019 editions of Vectorworks products. Reflecting the suite’s primary focus on design, most of the latest enhancements are aimed at making designers more efficient, by improving 3D and BIM modeling, 2D documentation, and presentation workflows, and by improving usability and product performance, to increase overall productivity.  ‘Enhanced openBIM interoperability’ is also delivered in the 2019 Vectorworks releases.

Vectorworks WebViewI got an update on how the suite manages collaborative workflows from Vectorworks Architect product specialist Luc Lefebvre. We talked about Vectorworks Webview tool – a slick way for designers to share models with clients via a browser-based session (video) – then focused extensively on Vectorworks Cloud Services, which has been part of the company’s offering since at least 2012, but which has expanded over time to incorporate new technologies, to integrate with other cloud services (notably Google Drive and Dropbox – apparently used by some Vectorworks customers as a common data environment, CDE).

Vectorworks Nomad imageThe Cloud Services offerings include a desktop web portal accessed via a standard brower, a Vectorworks Nomad app that allows users to access, view, mark up, share, and sync Vectorworks files across iPhone, iPad, or Android devices, and the Vectorworks Remote App – which lets users connect their mobile devices to their Vectorworks desktop (they can use the app as a navigation palette, or as a remote control for presenting design options).

Lefebvre also highlighted how Vectorworks can link to other Nemetschek solutions, notably Solibri and Bluebeam Studio. The latter capability was released in March 2018 (news release) and provides an online real-time review, mark-up and approval process for digital construction drawings and 3D models. Marked-up PDFs can then be saved back to Vectorworks Cloud Services for easy storage and file management. In Vectorworks Architect, new options allow users to toggle off and on annotations, improve snapping, control background fills, and quickly resize and align multiple PDFs at the same time.

I asked Lefebvre about support for BCF but eventually determined there is currently no ‘live’ connection with BCF-based process workflows in Vectorworks – for example, no notifications to report when an issue has been resolved.  The workflow is file-based (direct import/export) or a BCF web-based service can be used to manage the transfer of data but it still requires an exchange of BCF data. I was referred to a helpful online tutorial on Managing BCF Data for IFC-Based Workflows.

In relation to IFC and collaboration, Lefebvre also talked about Vectorworks’ support for IFC4 and about IFC data mapping, where users can control and filter what objects and IFC data are exported; custom export options and the ability to specify data for sub-objects provide even more granular control.

The conversation confirmed that, in some areas (integration with Solibri and Bluebeam, for example), Vectorworks is being increasingly integrated with other Nemetschek products, with IFC, PDF and other open standards a powerful driver for greater interoperability. But it also seemed the subsidiary remains mainly focused on design (no harm in that, of course!). Consequently, wider team collaboration via web-based collaborative ‘common data environments’ is provided mainly by third party (ie: non-Nemetschek) solutions, ranging from generic cloud file-sharing tools like Dropbox and Google Drive to integrations with platforms such as Asite.

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Sep 10 2018

PCS: collaboration in central Europe

Living and working in the UK, it is easy to forget that different geographical architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) technology markets move at different paces, and that, even in an increasingly connected and globalised market, some solutions can remain quite localised. For example, the concept of cloud-based construction collaboration has been around for some 20 years in the UK and US, and similar products have developed in parallel in Australasia, Scandinavia, central Europe, India, southern Africa and southeast Asia. It has taken 10-15 years for market leaders to emerge, and for some merger and acquisition activity to start to consolidate markets, but there is still a wide continuum ranging from sophisticated markets adopting BIM and undergoing wider digital transformation, to other markets which have yet to relax their reliance upon paper-based communications.

Sometimes the time lag is due to the availability of a reliable telecommunications infrastructure with the capacity to connect all project team participants. Sometimes it is down to someone preparing to innovate and move away from ingrained industry practices reliant on email and spreadsheets. Sometimes it can relate to economic cycles and industry cultures – are markets at a crisis point, for example, where company survival demands innovation or a cultural change from how things have traditionally been done?


PCS LogoDemirhan SenelIn August 2018 I spoke to the founders of a relatively recent arrival in the AEC software market whose formative experiences were gained in the Middle East and CIS regions. Project Control System (PCS) was formally established in Malta in 2016, but the startup’s founders, Demirhan Senel (right) and Ondrej Piska, met some years earlier.

Ondrej PiskaBoth men have solid construction experience from projects across different regions including the EU, Turkey, Middle East, CIS and the Balkans. During their construction careers, they have used software collaboration tools including those provided by the major players in the industry – but felt they were all missing something and that they could develop something better.

Initial work focused on developing a PC-based construction management and control application, before they switched to developing a cloud-based toolset fit for use on mobile devices. The initial application was trialled by a Baku, Azerbaijan-based main contractor, and then with contractors in Dubai and Turkey, and, having established there is a growing demand for construction IT tools in these markets, PCS has been working to expand both its toolset and to broaden the company’s marketing reach.

The PCS project management platform comprises a series of modules covering key activities including: document and drawing control and document workflows, photo management, procurement, contracts, cost control, supervision of labour and of plant/machinery, and scheduling. The solution is targeted at main contractors and construction managers working on small and medium-range projects (typically from  €1m up to €150m, with programmes ranging from two months up to three years).

Pricing is competitive compared to more established solutions, Piska says, quoting between €500 and €700 per month for a €10m project, depending upon the range of modules selected by the customer, but with unlimited users and unlimited storage. The platform’s plant management module has already been extensively used by customers – one used it to supervise over 3,000 items, another managed more than 300 trucks, cranes and other equipment items.

PCS is setting up a head office in Vienna, Austria and plans a September 2018 relaunch from its new base. Piska – responsible for sales and marketing– feels that the location will also help the startup manage interest from new prospects in countries such as Germany, Italy and Hungary. CTO Senel, meanwhile, is responsible for application development and maintenance, with responsive mobile applications (iOS and Android) in the pipeline for early 2019.

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Sep 06 2018

Spark exits Viewpoint UK

Former 4Projects, now Viewpoint, VP EMEA Steve Spark leaves Trimble’s UK construction collaboration Software-as-a-Service technology business, with a former Sage executive joining the Newcastle firm.

Steve SparkViewpoint EMEA commercial director Steve Spark is leaving the now-Trimble-owned construction collaboration Software-as-a-Service technology company to become CRO at a haulage and logistics software company based in his native north-east of England.

Spark joined 4Projects (as it then was) in December 2005, and has been a key member of the management team over the last decade, working with CEO Richard Vertigan to help grow the UK-based business and to negotiate its acquisition by US construction ERP specialist Viewpoint in February 2013. After Vertigan stepped back from the business in September 2013, Spark became interim MD, helping the business through a number of key transitions including expansion of the business’s sales and development teams, relocation from its Sunderland base to new offices in central Newcastle, and rebranding of the core solution from 4Projects to (eventually) Viewpoint For Projects. When I talked through the 4Projects changes with him and Viewpoint VP Matt Harris, they were planning to grow the 4Projects product footprint across the EMEA region, and to add new Viewpoint products, including mobile solutions.

In April 2014 Viewpoint received a US$230m investment from Bain Capital, and started to spread its wings. Alun Baker joined 4Projects as its new MD, as the business continued its profitable growth, buoyed by increased UK owner/operator adoption of its services to support building information modelling (BIM). And before the end of the year, Baker and Spark – as commercial director for EMEA and global SVP Sales – were briefing on the company’s acquisition of MCS and its Priority1 mobile data capture and reporting solution, later rebranded as Field View.

Viewpoint - a Trimble companyThe following summer (July 2015), Viewpoint announced a new CEO, Manolis Kotzabasakis. He instigated some changes, creating a functional, rather than regional, reporting structure across the Viewpoint group, as a result of which Baker left the UK business in 2016, with Spark now leading the UK operation, taking responsibility for collaboration and Field View sales in the US and in Australasia, and continuing to capitalise upon the UK adoption of BIM. And he has remained in this role through this year’s US$1.2bn acquisition of Viewpoint by Trimble (announced in April 2018).

“A fantastic business in a fantastic industry”

Always passionate and enthusiastic about the construction industry and about the SaaS collaboration sector in particular, Spark assures me his decision to leave Viewpoint has nothing to do with the Trimble deal (which completed in July 2018 – news release).

“Viewpoint is a fantastic business in a fantastic industry. It has been an outstanding journey with 4Projects and then Viewpoint, and I have learnt so much.  We have developed an amazing team and customer base – passionate people that want to help the AEC sector improve and help deliver better projects and assets.

“I will miss construction tech, and leave feeling the job is half done. While adoption of collaborative solutions is far greater than it was back in 2005 – and that’s great to see – it’s still only really the beginning. Over the next ten years or so, I expect  we will see a move toward true ‘integrated data’  flows connecting the AEC tech stack and supply chain in ways that we have only dreamed of to this point.”

Spark leaves Viewpoint on 7 September and will be succeeded by former Sage executive Steve Attwell.  Spark says: “He is a fellow north easterner, with a fantastic wealth of experience that I think will help take Viewpoint to the next level.”

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Sep 03 2018

Open BIM with IFCWebServer

A German research project,, is attracting users interested in using the IFC format as a basis for open BIM collaboration.

In March 2009, I wrote about the University of Eindhoven-based open-source project, then still at a relatively early stage of development. Since then, as international BIM initiatives have developed, the concept of web-based model servers has become more widespread, and I was recently contacted by Ali Ismail, a scientific researcher at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, who, since 2011 has been developing a free-to-use BIM model server and viewing platform supporting the IFC format:

Ali Ismail“Unlike BIMserver, which is basically built for developers, IFCWebServer is initially targeting end users who would like to work with IFC models without hassle,” Ismail says.

While some of the design authoring software vendors would encourage teams to collaborate by everyone using just their proprietary model formats, IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) helps solve the problem of data interoperability when data needs to be shared between different software applications (and versions). While proprietary applications may import and export IFC models, their support for the format is not always reliable – hence the development of model serving tools supporting IFC.

IFCWebServer screengrabIFCWebServer provides a free model hosting platform and a browser-based BIM viewing tool ( built using Web GL technology. Once uploaded and processed server-side by the core platform, IFC models can be viewed, shared, validated, searched, filtered and interrogated to produce custom reports. “Moreover, semantic information inside IFC models (object properties) can be modified or extended with extra user-defined information inside the online BIM viewer,” says Ismail. “I have sometimes called it a ‘BIM annotator’ instead.”

Users can create a free account and upload their own models. Alternatively, there is also a demo account with access to a large collection of IFC test models.

Advanced users and developers can write extensions and scripts to undertake more detailed tasks including conversion of IFC to COBie (example) or checking LOD (level of definition) specifications or model quality. Unlike BIMserver, IFCWebServer is not yet written completely on open-source code, but open source extensions are available via Github.

Ismail is hoping to develop a large community of users and developers focused on IFC model support, and is keen to talk to other researchers and construction software developers. His interests also extend to the use of graph databases and linked data concepts  for solving complex problems like model topology analysis and comparison of information models. He will be talking about “advanced analysis and information management of BIM models based on IFC standard using graph databases” at the 12th European Conference on Product & Process Modelling conference ( in Copenhagen on 12-14th September 2018.

(Note: I recently attended a guest lecture by Prof Jakob Beetz of the University Aachen at Imperial College’s Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation in London, where he talked about managing heterogeneous information using Big Open BIM and linked data. The CSEI is hosting an industry showcase day on 7 September 2018 – more details here.)

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Aug 28 2018

Collaboration and BIM – news updates

Recent BIM and collaboration vendor news from Kubus in the Netherlands, and NBS and Script&Go in the UK.

Kubus expands BIMcollab ecosystem

In July 2018, Netherlands-based software developer Kubus announced the launch of a software development kit (SDK) to enable easy, seamless integration of BIM software using BCF (BIM Collaboration Format) and BIMcollab, the company’s own cloud-based issue management ecosystem. The SDK will let third party developers rapidly integrate their BIM tools with BIMcollab tools for model viewing (via free IFC viewer, BIMcollab ZOOM – video below), and BIM manager plugins for cost estimating, planning and other tasks. Kubus CEO Erik Pijnenburg said “We got more requests for integration then we could handle. With this strategic step we open up the platform for third parties to integrate their tools.”

This SDK followed the June 2018 launch of BIMcollab 5, providing project management improvements and enhancing the user interface to make it easier to collaborate on issues in large construction projects. The key enhancements include settings to support project-specific way of working and communication, the ability to mark issues as favourites, and support for GDPR. BIMcollab’s ecosystem now supports over 30,000 users worldwide.

Update (14 September 2018) – Kubus has released an on-premise version of BIMcollab, allowing users to install the software on their own servers (office or datacentre) – useful where project, company or country policy demands data be held locally.

NBS Chorus

RIBA Enterprises’ NBS is actively involved in software projects. The UK-based business has developed widely-used specification information resources, and a range of software tools including the National BIM Library, the NBS BIM Toolkit and the NBS Online Viewer, and has promoted the annual National BIM Survey which has tracked UK BIM adoption since 2012 (the 2018 edition included data on common data environments, CDEs). Its latest software development – its first cloud-based platform – incorporates specification and BIM standards.

NBS Chorus is a collaborative specification platform supporting global design and construction, aimed at professionals needing to produce high quality specifications efficiently. As it’s an online service, users always have the latest software and global content (including standards and classifications), improving collaboration and minimising risk. Mott MacDonald, Ryder Architecture and IBI Group are among the early users who helped develop the product, configured to support design businesses in the UK and Canada (with support for US and Australian practices and standards to follow). NBS is planning a series of UK events to launch the service, in London (25 September), Manchester (2 October), Newcastle (4 October) and Edinburgh (10 October). More details here.

Script&Go Site Diary case study

France-based software developer Script&Go has been targeting the UK since January 2018 and has expanded its collateral by producing a COMIT case study on use of its Site Diary application by UK contractor Costain. This application was initially developed from about 2012 through the EU-funded MobiCloud project, which aimed to create a European corporate Appstore and Platform-as-a-Service.

COMIT logo(Note: The next COMIT community day is on 13 September at SAP’s offices in Feltham, Middlesex, while the 2019 annual conference is on 12-13 June at Bentley Systems offices in London.)

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Aug 24 2018

Kreo pushing cloud-based AI and BIM

An Anglo-Russian SaaS startup, Kreo is looking to revolutionise BIM-based design and construction through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Kreo logoLondon-based startup Kreo has developed a cloud-based software platform to support building information modelling (BIM) during design and construction. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it aims to transform construction project collaboration, quantity take-off, cost estimating, scheduling and bidding processes – improving the quality of project planning and reducing bidding costs.

The business was incorporated in September 2017 by founder and CEO Magomed Galaev, a Russian-born businessman and private investor with six years’ investment banking experience at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, followed by three years as CEO of the Russia Platinum Group. A small executive team in Kreo’s central London office covers sales, marketing and HR; software development and support work is mainly undertaken by a team of around 25 based in Minsk, Belorussia, but UK-based technical support staff are currently being recruited.

Kreo products

Kreo currently offers two products: Kreo View and Kreo Plan, with Kreo Design coming soon (early September 2018):

  • Kreo View screengrabKreo View allows users to upload a Revit model (Kreo offers a Revit plugin – other BIM authoring tools may be added if there sufficient customer demand), then share that model and collaborate and communicate with other team members online. Videos show collision (clash) detection, the viewing of model attributes, a clip-box function to isolate smaller sections of large models, and model ‘teleport’ and ‘walk-through’ capabilities. While a free trial is offered, the core product is priced at £20 per user per month, with no limits on storage. Data is currently hosted by Amazon Web Services in London, and user interactions are encrypted for security.

  • Kreo Plan is described as “AI-powered 5D BIM construction software“: a single, cloud-based integrated platform for construction cost estimating, scheduling and bidding. It enables users to take-off quantities, estimate costs, produce Gantt charts and 4D models, run scenarios, optimise cost and duration, and price bids. No price information is given for this product (prospective customer are urged to seek a custom quote).
  • The website provides no information about Kreo Design (I hope to get a demonstration in London in September). When I enquired about the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the product, I was told Kreo would automate error detection, with users able to either let the system fix the errors automatically or to generate a report detailing the errors for manual updating.


Kreo is at an early stage in its sales and marketing, with French engineering firm Artelia (which has a London office) one of its early adopters, according to sales director Giada Ligato. She told me Kreo would also be exhibiting at Digital Construction Week at London’s ExCEL, 17-18 October 2018. Meanwhile, the company’s website features a blog and resources including a guide to BIM classification systems (out of which Kreo has opted for Uniclass), a report “The State of Construction Bidding, Tendering and Pricing,” and a white paper about unleashing the potential of 4D and 5D BIM – seemingly emphasising the capabilities built into the Kreo Plan toolset.

While Kreo has launched into one of Europe’s biggest and more sophisticated BIM markets, as far as I could see its products are not being described as common data environments (CDEs), and there is no mention of compliance with UK BIM Level 2, etc. Perhaps this is a toolset that is intended to be used for detailed design and construction tasks in parallel with a CDE, with the CDE capturing associated workflows and aggregating deliverables for eventual handover to the client? Or maybe the business is just opting to talk about BIM without lapsing into industry jargon – though AI is a buzzphrase/abbreviation that I’ve heard and written about more in the past year than in the previous ten.

Update (11am, 24 August 2018) – If you are interested in the growth of AI in construction, read this April 2018 article from McKinsey: Artificial intelligence: Construction technology’s next frontier.

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Aug 23 2018

Rehau to offer GenieBelt portal

Construction products manufacturer Rehau is offering its customers a digital portal powered by the GenieBelt workforce management and reporting application.

GenieBelt logoCopenhagen, Denmark-based GenieBelt‘s SaaS real-time workforce management and reporting application has been adopted by Germany-based international polymer building materials specialist Rehau – a major manufacturer of doors, windows, and other construction products – to provide customers with a project management portal (news release).

The new portal is the result of collaboration between GenieBelt and Unlimited X, the innovation lab of the Rehau Group. GenieBelt says the tool will empower the real-time monitoring of the status of a construction project and facilitate connections between all the subcontractors and stakeholders with the push of a button from any device. GenieBelt CEO Ulrik Branner says:

Ulrik Branner - Geniebelt CEO“We have the innovative real-time project communication and collaboration software, Rehau has a lot of know-how and experience in the construction industry. Both companies want to set a new market standard for communication and collaboration on construction projects. We can see the enormous potential in improving the way projects are managed day-to-day to eliminate time waste, miscommunications and delays.

“Rehau is a major global player with 20,000 employees in more than 170 locations across 6 continents. At GenieBelt, we work every day to transform the way we communicate and collaborate in construction and working with Rehau will significantly boost that.”

According to the GenieBelt news release, for Rehau, this is an opportunity to offer a new digital product to customers. Stefan Thomas (CDO of Rehau and MD of Unlimited X) says:

“It is our mission to excite our end customers through new digital solutions. Together with GenieBelt, we have adapted the software to perfectly suit our customers’ needs and to offer them additional value to our existing products. We are happy to work with GenieBelt to transform the construction industry.”

In March 2018, GenieBelt announced a deal with housing provider HusCompagniet whereby its platform would be used to digitally connect construction suppliers across 2,000 house building projects in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

In the UK, the Rehau project portal is being introduced to interested parties at an event “Mastering the Art of Digital Construction” at the Building Centre (home to the ‘RehauHub’) at 26 Store Street, London WC1 on 30 August 2018, from 6pm to 8pm.

(PS: Extranet Evolution is listed in GenieBelt’s Top 20 construction news sites you have to bookmark)

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Aug 22 2018

Catching up with Kahua

Kahua’s US expansion has seen it win a major deal with Balfour Beatty’s US arm, securing business from a customer that used Constructware – originally developed by Kahua’s founders.

Kahua logoIn July 2015, I wrote about Alpharetta, Georgia, US-based Platform-as-a-Service business Kahua, co-founded in 2009 by former Constructware executives Scott Unger and Brian Moore. Established in 1994, Constructware was – alongside eBuilder – one of the earliest players in the SaaS construction collaboration market, eventually being bought by Autodesk in February 2006.

Originally called Integrated Lifecycle Solutions (2010 post), Kahua (the name derives from the Hawaiian word for “platform”) also focused on collaboration, but instead of hosting data on behalf of its customers, it developed a platform (incorporating collaboration, workflow, reporting, search and mobility components) that customers could use to build their own applications customised to their own processes.

Kahua kstoreBy the end of 2013, 48 third-party applications had been developed on the Kahua platform. The following year, Kahua released integrated mobile document management apps and was expanding its online store, kStore. And in July 2015, with over 500 customers and having just raised $US7m in Series A funding, it was investing in product development and sales and marketing, targeting building owners and large construction companies. An announcement about the US Clark Construction group’s adoption of Kahua’s PaaS system followed in August 2015.

Fast-forward three years, and Kahua now claims over 2,500 customers ranging from the largest owners and general contractors to small subcontractors. There are now over 50 apps in Kahua’s public kStore and over 600 private applications that have been developed by customers or certified Kahua Partners. Its mainly US-based partners are divided into solutions providers, integration partners, development partners and technology partners (the latter includes firms such as Microsoft, Sage and DocuSign, plus some AEC sector specialists such as PlanGrid – synchronisation between the two solutions was announced in March 2017 – and Bluebeam). In June 2018, Kahua also formally entered into the US FedRAMP compliance process (news release), a vital step for cloud services providers that are interested in expanding into US government markets.

Balfour Beatty US deal

Interestingly, the business more recently announced another major US construction contractor deal that built on the customer’s attachment to the old Constructware solution. Against some stiff competition – including Procore, CMiC and Autodesk – it has added Balfour Beatty‘s Dallas, Texas-based US business to the Kahua network. Well-known also as a major UK contractor (the UK business has a relationship with Reading-based SaaS collaboration vendor GroupBC – see post), the US arm is focused on buildings, heavy civil engineering and development, and is ranked 14th in ENR’s Top Contractors List with $4.6bn in revenues.

Balfour Beatty’s US arm is a Constructware legacy customer and began a selection process in around 2014, but did not pursue this vigorously until late 2017 when I understand Autodesk finally announced end of life for Constructware (rumours of this had been circulating as early as 2009 – see post – and were rekindled in 2015 when ‘project Alexandria’, later Autodesk BIM 360, was launched).

Under the agreement, Balfour Beatty will standardise on Kahua to manage projects throughout its US operations. Kahua says: “The Kahua Network, delivered as an Application Platform as a Service, will connect Balfour Beatty with its customers and supply chains, allowing applications, business processes and information to be shared across organizations to more effectively manage the entire lifecycle of their capital assets.”

Update (20 September 2018) – Kahua has announced an agreement with Prologis, the global leader in logistics real estate, whereby Prologis will manage projects across its global portfolio on the Kahua Network.

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