Burton is new think project! CEO

In “an evolutionary step,” think project! announces Gareth Burton as its new CEO, and the AEC software-as-a-service vendor continues to grow revenues.

Thinkproject-logoCloud-based Common Data Environment (CDE) provider think project! has today announced the appointment of Gareth Burton as chief executive officer (CEO). Formerly the CIO of UK contractor Laing O’Rourke and, since January 2018, a non-executive director and member of the board of directors at think project! (post), Burton will assume responsibility for leading the strategic direction of Europe’s largest Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) construction software company.

Thomas BachmaierThomas Bachmaier, right, who has served as CEO since co-founding think project! in 2000 and has grown the Munich, Germany-headquartered company to more than 300 employees, will remain a shareholder and actively involved in the business as a non-executive director and a member of the board of directors. He said:

“After TA Associates took a strategic shareholding in think project! at the end of 2016 [post], we strengthened the management team to support the rapidly growing domestic and international business. On the back of the organisation’s strength, I have decided to transition to a more strategic role in the company. Gareth is the right person to take over as CEO to continue think project!’s geographic expansion in Europe and beyond, and to continue our strong revenue growth while further expanding our product portfolio.”

“… an evolutionary step …”

Gareth Burton (think project! CEO)Burton, right, has strong knowledge of the technology and process automation requirements of construction and software businesses having worked in a number of technology companies, including Motorola and BT, and having held board level IT positions within the oil and gas, mining and construction sectors, serving as CIO of Finastra and Laing O’Rourke, one of the UK’s largest construction companies. Burton will work closely in collaboration with think project!’s management team and board to further scale the business. He said:

“I have been privileged to work with Tom on the think project! board of directors for the past 16 months, and I would like to thank him and the entire organisation for the confidence that they have placed in me. This is an evolutionary step in think project!’s development. I am excited to execute on the company’s ambitious growth strategy that we are committed to delivering in pursuit of our vision to be the global leader in construction intelligence.”

As a non-executive director and member of the board of directors, Bachmaier will contribute on corporate strategy, manage relationships with major customers and work closely with the executive leadership team.

The company says it has had a strong start to date in 2019, with revenue growth in excess of 30% in the first quarter. Furthermore, think project! acquired ceapoint in March 2019 to further strengthen its BIM offering, and has won several major new clients, including City of Munich, Berlin Airport, NEPI Rockcastle Poland, SPIE France and VanOord Windparks Netherlands.

[* Disclosure: I have provided marketing consultancy services to think project!.]

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/05/burton-think-project-ceo/

RIB invests in UK’s Cadline

RIB acquires a stake in the UK AEC software reseller Cadline and plans ten-fold growth of its MTWO cloud platform in 2019.

RIB software logoRIB Software, the Stuttgart, Germany-based provider of enterprise software for the building, construction and real estate industries, has announced an investment in the UK and Holland-based software reseller Cadline to grow the market for RIB’s MTWO software platform. The deal was executed through A2K, a 60% subsidiary of RIB with extensive building and construction knowledge, now actively selling MTWO in Australia/New Zealand.

Mads BordingIn late 2018, RIB’s COO and executive board member Mads Bording told Extranet Evolution (post) about the company’s plans to expand into the UK. And, having partnered with Microsoft to offer an Azure-hosted option for its iTWO software (MTWO), it has ambitious plans to grow its cloud-hosted userbase significantly.

Cadline

Cadline is a well-established reseller of software products to the building and construction market in the UK and Netherlands with over 30 years of experience in the field and over 30,000 users. An Autodesk Platinum partner, the company is based in Staines west of London with six other offices throughout the UK and a wholly-owned subsidiary in Utrecht, Netherlands, and has a turnover of £29 million (c. US$37 million or €33m). RIB says Cadline’s industry knowledge across the MTWO market space will help it to promote MTWO into the target market of building, construction and real estate industries. Cadline has a very strong sales focus with 35 of their 100 employees dedicated to sales. Additional sales staff will be employed specifically as part of a separate, specialised MTWO team (to be created).

Cadline logoAs part of RIB’s rapid MTWO deployment strategy, and utilising A2K’s industry knowledge, Cadline will be able to focus solely on selling the MTWO solution as RIB’s previous 100% acquisition of SaaSplaza, a company dedicated to delivery of solutions on the MTWO platform, will provide the platform for the MTWO delivery without needing to train Cadline staff in SaaS delivery. This strategy will be used for multiple additional acquisitions and investments to ensure the MTWO sales targets are met in the minimum time necessary.

20% investment in Cadline

MTWOCloudThe investment in Cadline is the first deal under RIB’s 60% subsidiary A2K and expands RIB Group’s market knowledge in Europe significantly. As part of the push for MTWO market spread it provides RIB with another highly skilled reseller in the construction space and follows RIB’s previous investments in the area to build up the world’s first vertical cloud for the construction and real estate industries.

RIB has acquired 20% of the shares via its 60% subsidiary A2K at a total cost of £2.4 million (c. US$3.1m or €2.8m). As part of the agreement, Cadline will invest more than £0.95m (c. US$1.23m or €1.1m) of its own funds to promote the spread of the MTWO technology over the next three years. Together, RIB, A2K and Cadline are targeting to win 10,000 MTWO users by 2020 in a short-term manner and 100,000 MTWO users in the mid-term.

Richard Robertson, Cadline’s business development director, says:

“We are excited to work together with A2K and the RIB team to continue to rapidly grow current solution sales and additionally to deliver one of the most advanced and future oriented cloud/AI based enterprise ERP solution to the real estate and construction industries in an age that requires construction leaders to develop and expand a mindset for digitisation. We believe that with MTWO technology we can provide our customers with a solution, which is easy to implement and use to push the digitization and transformation of a whole industry.”

Paul Laycock, global CEO of A2K and chief global advisor to the RIB Partner Investment Program, says:

“A2K’s investment in Cadline supported by RIB will enable us to expand our market position into Europe. Through the bundling of competencies with the RIB SaaSplaza team, rapid market penetration is made possible. MTWO is targeting to win 2 Million USERS worldwide in the midterm and is today one of the most advanced cloud-based enterprise solutions in the AEC and EPC Industry. We will continue to focus on executing our announced investment strategy and integrate MSP partners in other areas of the world to offer the MTWO platform to more construction and real estate companies to offer access to our iTWO Technology to at least 80% of the global market.”

This investment follows RIB’s previous investments in ICS located in the U.S., A2K headquartered in Australia, SaaSplaza located in the Netherlands and Levtech headquartered in India and UAE. The MTWO initiative with Microsoft aims to build up the world’s first vertical cloud for the construction and real estate industries.

RIB cloud growth

RIB Group grew 26% in 2018, boosted by its SaaS operations (post), and in a follow-up announcement and trading update for Q1 of 2019, RIB said group revenues grew by 47.6% to €46.5m; recurring revenues (ARR) grew 67.8% to €25.5m, with cloud revenues up 190.5% to €12.2 million (previous year: €4.2 million). The number of MTWO/iTWO 4.0 platform users grows by 181.6% to 8,447 users. This, RIB said, “exceeded our expectations”, continuing:

“For 2019, we plan to increase the total number of users from 3,000 in 2018 to 30,000 in 2019, to reach 100,000 in 2020, as already announced. The users will be acquired partly through new customer acquisition and partly through the migration of 500,000 existing users from other software applications within our Group.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/rib-invests-cadline/

Colin Smith joins PlanRadar board

BIW founder and SaaS business leader Colin Smith joins the board of Austria’s PlanRadar.

Planradar logoAEC software-as-a-Service pioneer Colin Smith has been appointed to the board of the Vienna, Austria-based SaaS vendor PlanRadar. The web-based application provides construction documentation, defect and task management capabilities and is now expanding internationally, opening a UK office in London.

PlanRadarThe PlanRadar platform works on smartphone and tablet (iOS, Android and Windows) and allows construction workers to automate the entire documentation process with interactive blueprints and floorplans, claiming to save an average of seven working hours per week in admin time and averting errors. The company says over 3,500 customers already use PlanRadar worldwide to manage construction projects and real estate processes. In the last 12 months, PlanRadar says it has increased sales by 300 per cent and expanded its workforce to 57 employees.

Ibrahim Imam, MD and co-founder of PlanRadar says:

Ibrahim Imam“Risks around bottlenecks in the supply of construction materials and tradespeople can be mitigated with platforms like PlanRadar; digitised processes can raise their efficiency potential against the competition, improve quality control and deliver 900 per cent ROI. In light of our rapid growth in the past year and the positive international business outlook for 2019, we have moved our head office to a much larger facility in central Vienna to support the increased demand.”

As part of its European growth, PlanRadar is boosting its board with industry heavyweight Colin Smith, founder of the UK ConTech pioneer BIW Technologies, later CEO of the merged BIW/Conject business and then CEO of the European arm of construction payment management provider Textura before it was acquired by Oracle in 2016. Smith is also chair of Newcastle-based NBS (which launched its first SaaS application, NBS Chorus, in August 2018). He says:

Colin Smith“There’s a lot of interest in ConTech right now, but it doesn’t just mean modular housing and 3D printing. It means simple but effective innovation across the entire supply-chain. PlanRadar has developed an intuitive platform that has revolutionised how Europe manages the documentation and communication process of the asset lifecycle. Now it’s time for the UK to benefit”

“It’s exciting to join the company during such a fierce expansion process with ambitious growth plans in place. I get asked to work with a lot of ConTech businesses, but PlanRadar has technology that can be rapidly adopted – it just works. I’m really looking forward to seeing the impact this platform is going to have on the UK’s construction sector and the difference it will make.”

On Smith’s appointment, Imam said:

“With over three decades of experience at the leading-edge of construction technology and a respected industry figure, we are delighted to welcome Colin to the Board. It’s a testament to the exciting vision we have for the business. I look forward to working with him to help PlanRadar in the next phase of its growth.”

(I worked with Smith at BIW from 2000 to 2009; pwcom.co.uk later provided consultancy services to Conject and Textura.)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/colin-smith-planradar/

KAPIO: PAYG project management

Danish construction technology firm, Optimise International, has launched a “pay-as-you-go” SaaS project controls application, Kapio Cloud.

Kapio logoFor less than the price of a cup of coffee, Copenhagen, Denmark-based construction technology developer, Optimise International, has introduced a cloud-based “pay-as-you-go” project controls application, Kapio Cloud, offered at a daily cost per user of  €1.99. And contract commitments can be as short as 24 hours.

Software licensing evolution

This marks a further shift in how software can be licensed and used. Conventional software was typically purchased and installed on the user’s hardware, with the purchaser paying a one-off perpetual license fee to the software provider to use the software, usually calculated according to how many ‘users’ or ‘seats’ were needed. The license then allowed unfettered use of the software for as long as it was needed. An additional software maintenance agreement might also be agreed whereby the vendor provided helpdesk support, bug fixes and routine updates to the software.

The advent of Software-as-a-Service around 20 years ago began to change this model. Instead of making an upfront investment in the software, purchasers could pay, say, a monthly fee to use the software (quarterly or annual subscription plans are other common options). Broadly, two licensing approaches were applied. The SaaS solution could either be: licensed ‘per user per month‘ (an adaptation of the conventional on-premise ‘per seat’ models), or licensed ‘per-project‘. This meant no restriction on the number of users or volume of usage, for the duration of the project, with the price negotiated to suit the project, its team and their information requirements.

The second model was common in the UK SaaS construction collaboration market, where SaaS solutions were typically deployed to support multi-company teams working on single construction projects. The subscription might be paid by the client, by a main contractor or a lead consultant, with end-user licences granted ‘free’ to all authorised partners working on the project.

As the AEC SaaS market matured, clients and other businesses began to standardise on their chosen SaaS platforms, and ‘enterprise licenses‘ could be negotiated. For example, a contractor might decide that all of its clients’ projects might be managed on a single platform, and would negotiate a deal with the SaaS vendor so that its software could be used on multiple projects, usually for a duration of, say, three, four or five years. Such deals meant the software vendor secured predictable subscription revenues for several years, while the purchaser spread the cost over the same period.

Kapio opts for Pay-As-You-Go

According to a BIMplus report, Kapio feels ‘per-project’ licensing can be “prohibitive” for smaller, specialist trades, meaning they miss out on the benefits of granular data collection, transparency and slower information flows – increasing project management risk, cutting productivity and reducing profitability.

Steve Arnold (Kapio)Kapio Cloud challenges this model. Making use of cloud technology and with high levels of security encryption, construction teams can access Kapio Cloud for a daily charge of €1.99 (£1.72) per user. Being able to use the reporting and document control functionality on an unlimited number of projects adds the opportunity for further cost savings to both large and small firms. CEO Steve Arnold (right) says:

“The software enables construction teams to make the transformation to digital without costly upfront fees and additional support charges – these are all included in our daily subscription price. The contract commitment can be as little as 24 hours.”

Kapio background

Kaspar Lorenzen (Kapio)As with many SaaS startups (see Aphex, PCS and HammerTech, for example), Kapio was developed out of frustration with laborious, inefficient construction processes. Company co-founders Philip Wright, a contracts manager, and Kasper Lorenzen (right), a site manager, were working on a large public transport project for a northern European city in 2015/16.

The project consisted of 21 sites, with 21 transit stations under construction by multi-lingual teams. This led to language issues when filling out reports, while the contract language was in English, and maintaining accurate communication between teams was an issue. Moreover, daily reports required for quality, safety, progress, measurement, compliance, etc, were reliant upon paper-based processes, with data summarised in multiple formats (Word, Excel, PDF), and prone to error from re-keying of data. Inputting data this way was also time-consuming. Because processes were analog, it was difficult for management teams to identify problems or trends; by the time data was available, it was a week out of date, so management became reactive to issues rather than proactive.

Kapio dashboardKapio Cloud, which combines document control, reporting and dashboards, is the result of Wright and Lorenzen’s work to digitalise those processes. Lorenzen left the construction industry to develop the platform in 2016, while Wright and other industry investors provided seed funding to develop the platform. Steve Arnold, who has a background in technology start-ups in Poland, joined the business soon after.

The application, currently available in 20 languages, is now in use on more than 20 projects in Europe, Asia and South America, worth an estimated €35bn (£30bn).

[Disclosure: I provided some consultancy services to Kapio in early 2017.]

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/kapio-payg-project-management/

Plangrid BIM launched

The first major Autodesk integration since the company’s acquisition of PlanGrid adds BIM functionality to the mobile platform.

PlanGrid-full-color-logoPlanGrid, the mobile construction technology business acquired by Autodesk in November 2018, has launched PlanGrid BIM, a product integration with Autodesk Revit that enables users to immediately access Building Information Modelling (BIM) data, in either 2D or 3D, directly within PlanGrid on their mobile devices.

Autodesk says construction teams and facilities managers now can drill down into rich data in an easy-to-use 2D interface or 3D environment, empowering the field to build with greater accuracy, avoid rework and make decisions faster and with more confidence. Jim Lynch, vice president and general manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions, says:

Plangrid website screengrab“BIM has transformed the way architects and engineers design, and Revit is the industry standard during pre-construction. PlanGrid’s integration of Revit empowers its users to take full advantage of BIM beyond pre-construction with a wealth of data immediately at their fingertips. This joint initiative, the first of many following our acquisition of PlanGrid, will help Autodesk fulfill our mission to deliver a comprehensive, integrated platform that seamlessly connects the office, the trailer and the field.”

Plangrid BIM

Architects and engineers who design construction projects using BIM create 3D models to act as a virtual representation of how complicated work should be installed and building assets should interact. Models are embedded with rich property data such as the height of a counter, material type of a wall or manufacturer details of a lighting fixture. But when these models are sent out to the field, they’re “flattened down” into PDFs, and the data is lost to the teams doing the physical work of building or maintaining facilities. This loss of data, coupled with a lack of 3D visualisation in the field, can lead to critical errors, lost time and rework.

PlanGrid BIM empowers construction and facilities teams to make better decisions in real-time, using the most comprehensive data available and a seamless transition between 2D and 3D. With PlanGrid BIM, Autodesk says users can see BIM data properties within familiar 2D drawings, or tap into 3D to better visualize assets within the surrounding environment — all from within PlanGrid’s software. Encompassing three core elements, PlanGrid’s new BIM functionality includes:

  • BIM-enabled Sheets: Users can tap objects to access BIM data properties, such as an object’s dimensions, material type or manufacturer details, all within the familiar 2D environment.
  • 3D BIM Viewer: With a simple tap, users can instantly transition into a 3D view of a specific object, even if offline. Includes features such as zoom and snap tools for taking measurements between model objects. Currently in open beta.
  • Revit Integration: Sheets are published directly from Revit into PlanGrid, guaranteeing 100% accuracy of BIM data, as well as sheet titles and numbers; drawings continue to include PlanGrid features such as automatic callout detection and hyperlinking.

Mobile-first BIM

Tracy YoungTracy Young, head of PlanGrid at Autodesk, says:

“We know field workers and facilities teams need mobile solutions that can be used on the job site, which is why we built PlanGrid’s software with a mobile-first approach right from the start. We saw immediate adoption, and now more than 1.5 million projects around the world are using our technology. We’re now bringing our mobile-first approach to BIM, empowering teams to build right the first time. With PlanGrid BIM, we are not only helping contractors work more efficiently, we’re also enabling architects to maintain their design intent and owners to reduce lifecycle costs. We’re delivering on our commitment to building powerful and easy-to-use software for the field, and developing an integrated workflow with Autodesk products. We’re changing the industry, again.”

Autodesk says PlanGrid BIM is available to all PlanGrid users on iOS and web, with functionality in Android and Windows to follow in the future. Features to be added in the future include integration with other design and project review software such as Autodesk Navisworks, two-way synch to update the master BIM model with data from the field, and the ability to generate tasks, RFIs and punchlists from model data.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/plangrid-bim-launched/

Holobuilder releases JobWalk Planner

HoloBuilder releases JobWalk Planner for 360° construction documentation planning to improve office-to-site communication

HoloBuilder LogoHoloBuilder, the California, US-based provider of 360° reality capture solutions for construction sites, has added a “JobWalk Planner” feature to its reality capture solution for improved office-to-site communication. JobWalk Planner enables off-site stakeholders to pre-plan construction documentation sequences for their teams. By placing markers onto floor plans in the HoloBuilder Web Editor and sending notifications to their teams, managers can easily plan and communicate locations that have to be captured in 360°.

The improved office-to-field communication workflow accelerates and improves the required briefing of on-site teams about documentation requirements before they start documenting the construction site’s progress with HoloBuilder’s mobile JobWalk App and their 360° camera. The planning feature was built based on customer feedback to facilitate team management and planning of job walks to ensure a perfectly executed site documentation that leaves no room for error or forgotten site images. Matthew R. Calzon, principal designer at Hazen and Sawyer, says:

“The new JobWalk Planner is a pivotal feature. It allows our project managers across the country to efficiently identify the capture points prior to a site visit. As a result, our design engineers can quickly understand the intent for a seamless and complete workflow.”

Efficient reality capture

HoloBuilder JobWalk PlannerTraditionally, the communication of documentation locations across different team members has been performed via onsite instruction meetings or by using different software for marking up capture locations on the floor plan before uploading it to the HoloBuilder platform. By eliminating these efforts, construction teams can further increase their efficiency and reduce time spent on the planning of construction documentation.

Key beneficiaries of this feature will be the headquarters and managers who work across multiple projects. These stakeholders will see a tremendous improvement in data quality, standardisation, and scalability when rolling out best practices around progress documentation to many sites at the same time. Mostafa Akbari, CEO and founder of HoloBuilder says:

“Ensuring high data quality for our customers is of key importance to everything we do at HoloBuilder. After pre-planning hundreds of JobWalks with our customers, we decided to build an easy and efficient tool that helps the planning of reality captures before the team heads on site to enable higher data quality for our customers. Especially when the person who wants to consume the data will not be the person who captures it, the communication between the two turned out to be tricky in the past. With the JobWalk Planner, the office-to-field communication between superintendents, engineers, designers and all other managers with their teams in the field becomes much easier. Managers can easily ensure that their teams will never miss an important image again. Thus, everybody is on the same page, knows what matters and can capture smart, not hard!”

Holobuilder began to expand into Europe in early 2018 (post), and has been developing artificial intelligence capabilities in its platform (post).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/holobuilder-releases-jobwalk-planner/

PlanGrid tech targets Brexit delays

Brexit uncertainty continues to plague UK construction, and PlanGrid believes its mobile technologies can help site-based teams manage Brexit-related supply chain delays. 

Plangrid logoUS-based construction productivity software provider PlanGrid was acquired by Autodesk in November 2018, having spent a year establishing its UK operation (in October 2018, Extranet Evolution interviewed Plangrid president of mobile field operations Bill Smith in London).

The company says firms in the UK are currently facing the second longest delays for deliveries since March 2015. Construction industry professionals cite the availability of resources as their biggest concern for the next 12 months. While political uncertainty continues to impact the availability of materials, Plangrid says digital tools are supporting firms through improved workflow management, supplier relationships and productivity on-site.

Using Plangrid to manage materials

Construction firms face delivery times that in February 2019 grew by the greatest margin since the previous August. Many construction businesses are stockpiling materials ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU, with sales in the construction products manufacturing sector rising in Q4 2018 by 27% for heavy-side materials and 50% for light side materials. Meanwhile, businesses are facing the impact of stockpiling in other sectors, as manufacturers buy materials in advance.

Rob Elvidge, PlanGrid’s managing director – EMEA, says:

“Construction firms have faced supply chain uncertainty for many months now, and unfortunately this is already impacting jobs in progress. Currently, as well as shortages in materials we’re seeing challenges for firms in securing transportation and warehouse storage, hindering efforts to buy supplies in advance. It’s unclear when these supply chain issues will be resolved.”

Plangrid laptop-taskPlanGrid believes digital construction tools can help. As well as enabling businesses to plan when materials will be needed, on-site digital tools can collect information about progress on jobs in real-time and deliver site-labour and materials reports to support timely purchases. In the event of delays to a project, digital platforms can also enable contractors to provide ongoing updates to both clients and subcontractors (echoing points made by Envision’s Adrian Smith – see previous post).

Construction firms can draw on digital tools to create more collaborative relationships with suppliers. By linking supplier portals and purchase order systems to individual jobs, construction businesses can authorise payments more quickly, as well as ensuring prompt payment for supplies. Businesses can also help to make deliveries as quick and hassle-free as possible by highlighting delivery locations on digital site-maps, along with any instructions for the supplier.
cost of errors = 21%

Avoid costly errors

To ease the impact of shortages, it’s vital for firms to make the best use of the materials that they have. Mistakes remain a critical issue for UK construction firms, with 68% of industry professionals citing rework as the biggest source of unnecessary time for their business. (On 9 April 2019, the London Constructing Excellence Club heard from Tom Barton, chief executive of the Get It Right Initiative, that errors add around 21% to construction costs – costing the UK industry around £22 billion a year. Read more about GIRI’s Strategy for Change here.)*

Rework can also result in wasted materials, which can cause extensive delays and losses. Digital collaboration tools can help to ensure that the whole team is working from the latest plans, with responsibilities clearly assigned. Elvidge says:

“Although supply chain uncertainty may continue, firms can help to place themselves in the strongest position possible by using digital construction tools. Access to real-time information on jobs can support workflow management and planning in the procurement team. Fostering close relationships with suppliers, through prompt payments and easy collaboration, can help to secure materials when they are in short supply. And critically, using digital mobile technology on-site can reduce the amount of rework on a project. With materials already scarce and increasing in price, ensuring projects are built right the first time is becoming even more essential for protecting profit margins.”

[* Disclosure: I have provided copywriting services to GIRI.]

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/plangrid-brexit-delays/

Envision: building construction transparency

Envision is winning new infrastructure customers, and its data-centric approach fits with data-driven visions of the future of the industry currently known as construction.

Envision logoEnvision is expanding its reach into civil engineering projects, and even reaching outside its Australasian heartland. The Brisbane, Australia-based field construction data platform is now being used extensively on road, rail and tunnel projects, says co-founder and head of engineering Adrian Smith, while Australian customers have taken the technology to their projects in places including Papua New Guinea and even Mongolia.

Launched in 2010 (see May 2011 post), Envision set out to simplify construction management, adopting a mobile-first Software-as-a-Service approach, integrating mobile devices with 3D, scheduling and time management tools, and applying lean thinking. The Australian engineering and infrastructure contractor Downer Group was an early adopter, and the former Leighton group, CIMIC, soon followed (see January 2016 post), using Envision on major liquid natural gas facilities and other natural resources projects.

However, the business has also won enterprise customers involved in a string of major road and rail infrastructure projects, particularly in eastern Australia, Smith said, and has been marketing itself as a field-based construction delivery platform, connecting project leaders with real-time insights and providing “unparalleled visibility of project performance”:

“Envision was used by CPB Contractors to help deliver Stage 2 of the Gold Coast light rail project, a vital part of the infrastructure for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and helped reassure the client on progress and cost projections. It is being used on a four-year, Au$400m project to add a second runway at Brisbane Airport, and on the Sydney and Melbourne Metro projects. And in Papua New Guinea, Clough is deploying Envision on a power station at Port Moresby – field data can be quickly gathered on site, and relayed back to Clough’s experts in earned value management (EVM), saving costly manpower resources.”

In an Envision case study about Port Moresby power station, Clough operations manager Geoff Scott says: “The technology allows us to run with leaner project teams. We now have improved quality and frequency of communications.”

Envision: data not document management

Envision marketing chief Kirk Kulbe, formerly at design giants Bentley, Intergraph and Autodesk (on left in photo below, with Adrian Smith) underlined that the platform is not about document management:

Envision's Kirk Kulbe and Adrian Smith

“The core strength of platforms such as Aconex is document management, or latterly building information modelling, BIM, and related communications. We don’t compete with systems like Aconex and ProCore – we complement them. We are all about the data, giving a clear line of sight on what is happening in the field, so that teams have real-time or next day reports on whether the project is on course in terms of progress and cost. Envision captures data close to the user, in place, in time, and about the people doing the work. This kind of operational data is distinct from that captured in building information models.”

However, Envision can also be used to track design progress. The Melbourne Metro project had been using Envision to track the progress of design, and the associated earned value of design deliverables, Smith said.

Having  recently written an Envision blog post – “The ‘good oil’ on construction data” – Smith expanded on the theme, saying Envision is more about project controls.

“Design information is great when you are visualising what will be constructed, but once you are working on a live project, you also need a dashboard showing live information about how construction is progressing. Too often, tools like [Hexagon’s] Ecosys or [ARES’s] Prism are used to collate end-of-month data. We provide data immediately or, at the latest, next day – showing exactly what was achieved yesterday. We record both physical progress and labour, plant and material resource quantities and costs; so we can calculate daily progress and daily cost, and use EVM to show the daily value achieved.”

Envision construction dataBy capturing and centralising data in a consistent way, Envision “de-risks” projects, avoiding common problems arising from over-reliance on spreadsheets, with different professionals compiling different data in different ways. In his blog post, Smith highlights research showing that over 90% of spreadsheets contained errors and 23% contained serious errors. Being data-driven avoids reliance on anecdotes or gut feel; objectively gathered data provides a sounder basis for decision-making, he says.

Productivity and transparency

Compared to other industries, productivity in construction across most developed economies has effectively flat-lined for the past 25 years, hampered by an often-adversarial culture, disjointed procurement processes, fragmented project team and industry structures, low levels of investment in technology and R&D, and other issues. Mark Farmer’s 2016 report on the UK construction sector, “Modernise or Die”, highlights these and other symptoms of a broken industry model, and the Australian market shares many of the same challenges.

Smith feels data-driven decision-making can be used to help alleviate some of these issues: “The name Envision suggests transparency,” he says, “and by providing a consistent dashboard to all stakeholders, you can help to create a more collaborative culture.”

The Farmer Report provided additional momentum to ongoing efforts to improve UK construction, as I wrote in August 2018 (Don’t just digitise. Rethink construction). Short-term adversarial business models are being rejected in favour of longer-term business relationships founded on collaborative processes and behaviours; government is shifting from lowest price tendering to demanding best whole life value; and, rather than seeking bespoke project solutions, industry clients are looking at greater standardisation and increased use of offsite manufacturing techniques.

Digital Built Britain diagramIn July 2018, the Construction Leadership Council published its “Procuring for Value” report, advocating procurement based on delivery of best whole-life value and performance, with a strong focus on measuring and rewarding good asset and supplier performance. Related initiatives such as Digital Built Britain and the ICE’s Project 13 also urge digital transformation of the industry currently known as construction, and some of the UK industry’s largest customers are increasingly looking for suppliers who can work digitally. The industry has to move beyond document and file-based thinking and make data the new normal, but it will not just be about digital thinking – it will be about rethinking construction as a whole.

Data-centric project delivery practices, such as those encouraged by Envision, have to form part of the future of the sector. Smith has set out some guiding principles for improving data maturity, including:

  • Capture [data] electronically close in person, place and time
  • Align how the project performance is to be measured with the financial system
  • Use reference codes/identifiers/geolocation for resources (people, equipment, materials, companies) to allow easy cross-referencing
  • Express data in self-describing formats where possible
  • Exchange data in neutral file formats – avoid proprietary file formats
  • Agree a “source of truth” for core data like budgets, people, equipment, …
  • Convert data into information and drive decision making.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/envision-building-construction-transparency/

AEC Delta Mobility: open source ‘differencing’

AEC Delta Mobility consortium backed by UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to tackle AEC data exchange using open source approach.

The UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has backed an industry-wide consortium aiming to improve manufacture involvement and flows of data between architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) project partners. The group includes BuroHappold, 3D Repo, Speckle Works, UCL Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management and Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group, with external support from HOK, Atkins and Arup.

The £1m Innovate UK-funded project (one of an £18m tranche of projects announced in February 2019; another funded project looks at use of AI – 21 February 2019 post) aims to increase construction productivity, performance and quality. The consortium is aiming to address two industrial issues in project entitled “AEC Delta Mobility”. First, it wants engage better with manufacturers in the early design stages and increase pre-manufactured value of built assets; second, it aims to increase construction project productivity by over 15%.

AEC Delta Mobility aims for open ‘differencing’ standard

The team will be focused on the inefficient processes whereby software users exchange large files and 3D models to communicate design changes – called ‘deltas’ – between designers, integrators and fabricators.

The notion of exchanging just the differences between files is not new. I blogged about the idea in February 2007 (it had been something that BIW Technologies experimented with c. 2003-04); in October 2009 (post), Graphisoft’s Archicad 13 incorporated ‘differencing’ technologies into its BIM server component; and I returned to the topic in April 2014 in connection with an ECM solution called M-Files (post). However, making such an approach ‘open’ is a significant step forward.

AEC Delta

Dr Al Fisher, technical director and head of computational development at BuroHappold, said:

“As a result of this new standard, users will be able to live-stream individual changes with collaborators, instead of sharing large files over and over again, using their own choice of any application conformant with the newly proposed AEC Delta Mobility specification.”

Commenting on the project, 3D Repo founder and CEO, Dr Jozef Dobos, said:

“While open standards such as IFC and BCF paved the way for collaboration, they are neither suitable for infrastructure and manufacturing, nor scalable to large construction projects. IFC [a popular open file format in building information modelling, BIM] can take several hours and enormous amounts of memory to process, making the current workflows extremely inefficient.”

The project will take 18 months and will see the newly proposed AEC Delta specification tested on live construction projects in the UK with project partners BuroHappold, Rhomberg, HOK and Atkins.

Tony Kearns, COO at Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group (UK & Ireland), said:

“The ongoing development and utilisation of BIM on major projects has seen a significant step forward in recent years, however, the design and management of data from multiple sources is cumbersome and inefficient. By streamlining the transfer of data to one open source will provide efficiencies in the design and construction phases whilst increasing confidence that the design is the most relevant and shared by all stakeholders.”

AEC Delta Mobility (Github site) will aim to iron out the data exchange processes at the earliest possible stages of the design phase by streamlining the data workflow so that everyone involved, from consultants to manufacturers, can access the same common data and with consistent versions of the truth.

The UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is committing £170 million – matched by £250 million from industry – to modernise construction processes and techniques (more information on the UKRI “Transforming Construction” website).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/aec-delta-mobility-open-source-aec-differencing/

HammerTech raises Au$10m (US$7.1m)

HammerTech raises Au$10m (US$7.11m) to fund expansion into the US, and accelerate its product development and sales and marketing.

Hammertech logoHammerTech, the Melbourne, Australia-based mobile provider of health, safety and quality software for the construction industry, has announced completion of a Au$10 million (US$7.11m – £5.4m or €6.33m) Series A financing. The funding was led by Santa Monica-based Arrowroot Capital, a leading growth equity firm specialising in B2B software.

The investment will allow HammerTech to accelerate its product roadmap, grow the sales and marketing teams and support continued expansion into the United States. As part of the transaction, Chuck Haling and Matt Klein, from Arrowroot Capital, will be joining the board.

Milton Walters, CEO of HammerTech, said:

Milton Walters“It’s an exciting time for HammerTech and we are thrilled to have gained support and investment from Arrowroot. Within five years of being founded, we’ve worked tirelessly to introduce an advanced software platform to construction that empowers operational excellence. With Arrowroot’s experience and partnership we’re looking forward to enhancing our product capabilities, growing our global footprint, and increasing collaboration on job sites.”

Matthew Safaii, Arrowroot Capital’s Founder and Managing Partner said:

“HammerTech has positioned itself to be the go-to health, safety and quality software for the construction industry. Their mobile-first platform drives operation efficiencies, keeps workers safer and improves quality across all aspects of the construction process. We are excited to partner with the HammerTech team to help scale their platform around the globe.”

HammerTech: the company

HammerTech homepageBased in the Melbourne district of Richmond, Australia’s SaaS technology provider HammerTech has been attracting interest from several major international contractors, and – in its first major foray outside Australia – has opened US offices in Los Angeles and Seattle. Extranet Evolution talked to CEO Milton Walters about the company, its platform philosophy and its growth plans.

HammerTech’s subscription-based platform is available on all devices and is designed to meet the demands of companies seeking to better manage their operations and HSEQ obligations. HammerTech customers typically see results in valuable time saved and increased safety and quality measures.

Milton Walters

Milton Walters is an Australian construction software industry veteran. After entering the sector in 2006 at Aconex, he has worked with other leading ConTech players including Textura and Procore during the last 12 years.

These experiences have left Walters with an abiding respect for some of the people he has dealt with – he talks with affection about Aconex’s Leigh Jasper and Rob Phillpot, Textura Europe’s Colin Smith (now chairman of Newcastle, UK-based NBS), and Procore’s  Bassem Hamdy, for example. “Thanks to these fabulous people, I have had a ten-plus-year preparation in construction technology for the role I am in now. They really helped shape my thinking.”

HammerTech history

HammerTech was established in about 2013 by a close-knit group of five friends: Ben Leach, Lucas McDonald, Bradley Tabone, James Harris and Andrew Hogben. Two had Australian construction industry experience (Leach was at Baulderstone and APP, working on facilities for the Australian Grand Prix; McDonald was also at APP and at Westpac). Two came from the tech sector as product developers (Tabone was at National Australia Bank; he and now CTO Harris also both worked at ExpressIV online), while Hogben, having just sold a recruitment business, was the “fifth Beatle” providing some finance and sales experience.

Hammertech screengrabAs with some other construction technology founders, frustration with over-reliance on Excel spreadsheets to manage safety and quality inspired the development of the SaaS-based HammerTech platform. “It’s been developed for safety by people within safety,” said Walters, “it’s not been developed as a spin-off of document management, for example. We don’t start with forms – our starting point is how do we increase operational efficiency and reduce risk, which ensures the correct focus.”

With APP’s Australian GP as the first client project, the business was initially funded by its founders, family and friends, and by one ‘angel’ investor. To date it has required no significant additional investment, says Walters, though it did secure a AU$700,000 Australian federal government accelerator grant in late 2017. Partly as a consequence of this grant, Walters joined the company in April 2018 (“so far it’s been the most enjoyable 12 months I’ve had in my career”). He says HammerTech now employs around 30 people, but, with the new funding, was planning to grow to around 60 people by the end of 2019. Growth to date had largely been sustained by generated revenues, not by investments or funding rounds.

HammerTech started 2018 with around 35 key accounts, but has since grown to around 100 commercial customers (“and we may double again this year”). As well as APP, early successes included adoption by Australia’s LendLease, Mirvac, and one of the country’s oldest Tier One contracting firms, Hutchinson, contracted with the company in late 2018, Walters said. He also related how the company’s focus on delivering its promised functionality has helped build customer trust.

US expansion

“HammerTech expanded into the US in 2017 after receiving some enquiries in response to a LinkedIn post. Brad Tabone and Andy Hogben went over to the US, and we soon had some trial accounts. Then a Top 10 – and innovative – general contractor, DPR, signed a national agreement with us in America in December 2018, and that’s been a massive shot in the arm for us. We will be on 700 DPR projects in about 12 months, now have half a dozen people based in the US,  and are recruiting aggressively in the first half of 2019 as the business expands.”

Walters also highlighted a billion dollar project for LendLease in Los Angeles, Oceanwide Plaza, as another major endorsement: “At LendLease’s safety summit in New Jersey we had safety supervisors rapt at what we were doing”. And adoption by major international contracting corporations could also see HammerTech expand into the UK and into southeast Asia, he says.

In the past year, HammerTech has increased its foothold in the Australia and North America markets and has doubled its client base. It now has tens of thousands of users on the platform and is being used on billions of dollars worth of construction projects globally.

Former Procore director of demand generation Chere Lucett joined HammerTech in 2018 and says:

Chere Lucett“We are responding to growing regulatory requirements. Operational safety is going to be the next frontier in the US construction technology market. The industry lags behind manufacturing, but you can’t improve project management efficiency without also improving safety and quality, and we are well placed to manage that data.”

Echoing Walters’ earlier point about focusing on operations rather than paperwork, she says the HammerTech platform has been designed to track personnel, equipment and issues, providing a centralised safety and quality dashboard, helping with online orientations, developing safety plans and then supporting proactive risk management. The solution provides 16 integrated modules that make it possible to have everything in one place, allowing customers to replace paper, Excel, and individual apps.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2019/04/hammertech-raises-10m/

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