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.)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/08/collaboration-and-bim-news-updates/

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. Update (14 November 2018) – I am told “Kreo Design allows you to design a 3D model in minutes, linking architectural, structural and MEP design. You can get dynamic schedules, material take offs, and reports in real time. You can then choose to export your model into Revit or continue to Kreo Plan to get your 4D and 5D BIM.”

Marketing

Kreo is at an early stage in its sales and marketing, with several contractors among 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 [Update (8 November 2018)Read this BIM+ article]. 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.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/08/kreo-pushing-cloud-based-ai-and-bim/

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)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/08/rehau-to-offer-geniebelt-portal/

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.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/08/catching-up-with-kahua/

Aug 10 2018

Wiseworking: bespoke cloud workflows

Eschewing the ‘one-size-fits-all, but configurable’ approach of some SaaS vendors, WiseWorking has opted to create cloud-based mobile solutions which are partially customised to meet the exact business process needs of its customers.

WiseWorking logoIn August 2014, I met Justin Williams, visiting London from Australia, to talk about Wiseworking, a Melbourne-based customer-focused construction app developer avoiding a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. For various reasons the resulting post never got published, but when Williams returned to London in May 2018, we met up again so that I could catch up on developments.

Back story

Wiseworking was established by Williams (an experienced project manager with 15 years in construction and operations, including seven years at Probuild Construction) in Melbourne in 2011. Like other industry people who have become software developers (the UK’s Aphex founders are recent examples), he was frustrated with the adequacy of existing solutions, particularly on mobile devices (he talked of having a “sausage finger philosophy” that guides his thinking on the efficiency and ease-of-use of the user interface).

He adopted a mobile-first approach to the platform, and then started by quizzing potential customers about business challenges they needed to overcome, rather than asking what functionality they wanted. This led Wiseworking to research, build and test a series of cloud-based applications – initially deployed across six client organisations – to identify the key requirements for various construction and post-construction activities, including quality assurance, quality reporting, progress monitoring and operational health and safety.

Wiseworking used HTML5 approaches to be as device-agnostic as possible, then created a web back-end to support the customer’s reporting, document and data management needs. It is not a single ‘one-size-fits-all’ application; instead, it is more of a consultative approach, building on what generally works out as an 80% fit and then moulding the remaining 20% of the required capability so that the whole application exactly meets the needs of the customer organisation.

Often the requirements start small, but, as a trusted advisor, Wiseworking is often appointed to add further capabilities – sometimes adapting existing Wiseworking functionality, other times adding new bespoke tools (we talked about supporting particular activities such as a user’s ‘Safety Walk’ or a bespoke Site Diary). Williams sees this as a model to grow a consultancy services and technology business, deploying mobile applications to support role-based working in customer organisations. Some of Wiseworking’s accounts started out as modest projects (Au$40,000), but have since more than quadrupled in size as the customer has added further requirements, making it a rewarding sale for the consultant involved.

2018 update

Still growing organically (but considering an investment round “in the next year or so”), WiseWorking is now turning over around Au$2m, growing revenues 100% year-on-year, Williams said. The business has moved to larger offices, appointed an experienced CIO, and now employs eight full-time staff plus a network of contractors across Australia and the Philippines. It has over 20 customers, including two of the top three contractors in Australia, with individual company user bases numbered in the 1000s, plus extensive use down contractors’ supply chains. Williams is now looking to expand WiseWorking’s customer network outside Australia, with south-east Asia, the Middle East and the UK among his first target regions.

WiseWorking productsAs might be expected, Williams sees Oracle’s Aconex as the largest and most mature competitor in Australasia, followed by Procore (post)* and Zutec ( but “Viewpoint less so”), but says WiseWorking’s independence has helped, along with its willingness to really get to know the customer. He summed up the company’s philosophy as “a bespoke approach with a generic mindset” – initial projects may start with, say, defects management tools, but as customer relationships mature, he says WiseWorking expands its reach, applying other areas of its product portfolio such as site diaries or post-construction operation and maintenance solutions. Document management (mainly focused on correspondence and document control), commissioning management and procurement modules have also been developed – “it’s a highly modular approach – we can ‘burst up’ or ‘burst down’ very quickly as our customers’ needs change from month to month.”

Solutions are typically licensed on either a per-project basis (with unlimited users) or via an enterprise license (allowing unlimited users and projects) – approaches which encourage collaboration down the supply chain, Williams said.

While BIM is not (yet) nationally mandated in Australia, Williams is already looking at opportunities to improve the sharing of BIM-related data, getting involved with the “BIM-MEPAUS” standards-setting initiative focused on mechanical, electrical and plumbing services from design through to  operation of a building.

* When I wrote about Procore’s Australian expansion, I mentioned the US business had appointed construction SaaS veteran Milton Walters to lead its APAC marketing. Walters is now CEO at Hammer Technologies (HammerTech)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/08/wiseworking/

Aug 07 2018

AEC IT and SaaS spend growing?

US research hints at growing investments by construction businesses in ICT, with strong interests in mobile and cloud-based technologies.

Almost since I first encountered what we now describe as cloud-based computing in the construction sector (in 1998), I have been monitoring trends in its adoption and use. In the early 2000s, for example, construction businesses under-invested in IT, and there was widespread reluctance in many construction organisations to let commercial software providers manage their data on their behalf.

SaaS tipping pointBut, over time, this reluctance has reduced. Web-savvy IT managers and directors in many construction businesses realised that their core business was about undertaking construction projects, not running expensive and constantly expanding IT infrastructures. Moreover, they were able to transfer the risks and responsibilities of securely managing data and applications to outside organisations for whom this was their core business (in some of my industry talks, I use a graphic, right, which suggests the tipping point came around 2012). Simultaneously, some businesses in the traditional construction software sector began to switch from providing feature-heavy, on-premise applications with huge up-front license fees to delivering software that could be accessed remotely via browsers and mobile apps on a pay-as-you-go subscription basis.

AEC SME research

These trends continue to influence construction software buying habits. A research snapshot undertaken in late 2017 in the US by Software Connect looked at the current technology and software uses—as well as future plans of 158 construction industry professionals from small to midsize (SMB) businesses in North America. The key findings published in January 2018 included:

  • Expect drones to be commonplace. 26% of SMB construction professionals are already using or plan to use by 2020.
  • Expect larger tech budgets. 81% of respondents plan to spend more on technology over the coming year compared to last.
  • Project tracking, estimating, and job costing are the most commonly required software functions.
  • Software ease-of-use is king. Cited as the most important factor when purchasing new software, even over software functionality and cost.
  • Construction software buyers are more willing to review cloud-hosted software. 5% more than all other industries.

Research by Gartner in 2012 suggested construction businesses spent, on average, about 1.2% of revenues on IT (making the construction industry one of the lowest spenders of all industries). And several reports on digital transformation (see the Mckinsey Global Institute 2015 and 2016 reports on the US and Europe, for example) show construction lagging just about every other industry sector. So it is gratifying to see signs that some construction businesses are planning to spend more on IT – the Software Connect survey found around a third (32%) of US SME construction businesses planning to spend more on IT.

Increased ICT expenditure

Construction is forecast to be a $14 trillion [c. £11 trillion] global industry by 2025. If the global construction sector raises its ICT spend to the level – c. 2.5% – of many manufacturing sectors (perhaps encouraged by exhortations towards greater standardisation and increased use of offsite manufacture techniques to deliver built assets), then total construction industry spend on ICT might be around $350 billion [c. £270 billion] by 2025.

Of course, not all this spend will relate to construction-specific applications. Many businesses already invest heavily in datacentres, internal hardware and the desktop, laptop, tablets and mobile devices used by their employees. Back-office applications and standard office tools, plus expenditure on telecommunications and IT support, will also eat into ICT budgets. But new ICT investments will also need to be made in training and in integration with legacy systems – the Software Connect survey identified three main obstacles:

  • Insufficient commitment of resources
  • Field-based resistance to large-scale implementation
  • Incompatibility with legacy systems

The survey’s commentary cites 2016 research by the UK’s BRE Academy which identified a digital skills gap in construction (I wrote about this research in March 2016 in relation to a construction skills research project, SkillsPlanner, on which I was then working). And I repeatedly remind conference audiences that the UK BIM programme is just part of a much wider reform initiative which is far more about changing industry cultures, people and processes (90%) than about implementing new technologies (10%).

Cloud-hosted software

Software Connect Mobile useSoftware Connect asked its survey respondents if they’re “open to reviewing cloud/hosted software” and found “construction businesses are especially open to cloud-hosted software (typically 5% more likely than other industries).” Openness was around the 87% mark, while 58% of SMB construction professionals said their business at least “sometimes” relied on mobile or tablet-based applications.

This is a useful update on research undertaken by Capterra in 2015 which showed SaaS tool adoption had grown to almost half, with a “pretty big explosion” anticipated as more people adopted mobile working.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/08/aec-it-and-saas-spend-growing/

Aug 03 2018

Sherlayer CDE – an update

Sherlayer logoJust over three years ago, I noted Belfast, Northern Ireland-based Sherlayer was about to launch as a Software-as-a-Service, browser-based collaboration platform for construction. Their name cropped up again in conversation with another technology vendor this week so I took a fresh look at the Sherlayer website.

Sherlayer is a product developed by Sherwood Systems, a Sage reseller and IT systems provider (it also has an office in Dublin; in September 2015, the company also launched a 3D PDF conversion service, Sher3D, but this appears to be no longer available).

The core offering is a “dynamic drawing, document and audit management” solution for the construction industry, offered as a complete solution (“One product, one price – … no set-up fees, no cancellation fees, switching fees, or complicated modules. Once you agree a price you get the full package”), and claims to be “up to 60% less expensive” than its competitors.

Pricing-wise, the Sherlayer product is offered via three different licensing approaches – per project, per user (minimum three users, at £14 per user per calendar month, with “bespoke pricing available for 20+ users”) or per company. The latter two models both allow unlimited projects and users. A two-month free trial offer is also available.

BIM CDE

Sherlayer dashboardIn 2015, Sherlayer was described as “BIM Level 2-compliant”; the product features are aimed at managing both BIM and non-BIM projects, and Sherlayer is positioned as a common data environment (CDE) that will help an organisation achieve BIM Level 2. It supports 3D model viewing in the browser, and provides various communication channels including instant messaging, push notifications, screen-sharing and video-conferencing. All data, including conference audio, is securely stored and cannot be deleted, ensuring auditability. Other features include a document upload system that helps ensure BS1192:2007-compliant file naming and numbering, and the ability for users to check files out of the platform to work on them. BIM support apparently also includes approval processes, 3D IFC federated models, and COBie data.

The business appears focused on small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMEs) – which comprise the bulk of construction industry firms – and, as well as some of the high-end solutions such as Aconex, Asite, Autodesk BIM360, Bentley ProjectWise, GroupBC and Viewpoint For Projects, would therefore appear to be competing with rivals such as BuilderStorm (July 2017 post).

Sherlayer’s website offers some case studies upon request but otherwise provides no details about current customers or projects where the solution is being used, nor metrics on numbers of projects, users, etc.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/08/sherlayer-cde-an-update/

Jul 10 2018

Finalcad expands into civils

French SaaS construction solution developer Finalcad is expanding internationally, and reaching beyond conventional building projects into civil engineering projects.

Finalcad logo 2018French SaaS construction project management solution provider Finalcad has been expanding internationally, its marketing director Aurélien Blaha told me this week. Moreover, almost exactly three years since the business first began to reach outside of its native France market, Finalcad has also expanded the reach of its application beyond a focus on conventional buildings to cover linear civil engineering projects – in particular, roads and rail schemes.

International growth

Aurélien Blaha“We now have a roughly 50:50 split between Europe and southeast Asia,” Blaha said. Singapore was the French company’s first overseas office, and now has 15-20 people, and the company has just opened a Japan office in Tokyo. “We are dealing with the international arms of several major contractors, predominantly based in Japan, Korea and China [examples include Shimizu, Fujita, Takenaka and Kajima], and they are very open to new technologies to help them monitor their projects across the region. Asia is growing very fast for us.” In June 2018, the company opened a hosting facility in Tokyo to serve its southeast Asian customers; it also has hosting facilities in the US and in Frankfurt, Germany.

In mainland Europe, France and the UK remain strong markets for the firm, which identified the digital transformation opportunities arising from BIM adoption in the UK in 2016, when it then exhibited at the Ecobuild show in London. “Other strong markets for us include Belgium, Switzerland, and – in particular – Spain, where we have opened an office in Madrid. We already had some projects in Spanish-speaking Latin America, and are now seeing strong interest in Spain itself. The market there is quite dynamic.”

Civil engineering expansion

Finalcad has also expanded beyond its original focus on buildings to cover infrastructure projects, and in particular to provide progress monitoring tools and workflows to infrastructure project teams. This covers both new-build assets and refurbishment of existing assets – “around 80% of Finalcad usage on roads, for example, relates to small capital value projects relating to existing roads; some of our users refer to Finalcad as a ‘WhatsApp for Roads’,” says Blaha. The company recently announced deals with French infrastructure group RATP, the roadworks business unit of Eiffage Group, and the Trans-Sumatra Toll Road mega-project of Indonesian contractor PT PP.

Finalcad on tabletRail projects are another area where Finalcad is being deployed – again to cover both new works and repairs to existing track and stations. Using the Finalcad Live mobile app (available on iOS and Android) on GPS-enabled mobile devices, users can capture details including geolocation data. French state-owned public transport operator RATP (which also operates some transport routes in London) is a customer in this sector.

The energy sector, including nuclear, is another area where Finalcad customers are expanding use of the platform, though the business hasn’t yet developed toolsets to support some types of linear or distributed energy infrastructure (for example, power distribution grids or offshore wind farms). And in south America, Finalcad also has some natural resources clients, including a mining customer operating in Peru.

From field to enterprise

This expansion into support for infrastructure is partly a reflection of the demand by customers for field-based tools, says Blaha.

“Many of our customers are general contractors, and 85% of their users want information in the field. They also want to collaborate with their subcontractors, and most of these are highly mobile small-to-medium-sized businesses. It makes sense for them to have information readily available on a mobile platform.”

Finalcad’s business model was initially solely based on per-project licensing – “This encourages adoption and use of the application down the supply chain,” – and the company now has over 200,000 direct users of the solution, with another 800,000 included in email distribution of reports and notifications from the platform. However, as adoption has extended across multiple projects, customers are now able to purchase the solution via enterprise agreements (Eiffage is a recent example).

Blaha says enterprise adoption has also grown in parallel with digital transformation of the whole design-to-construction process. “Digital maturity has evolved,” he says. “Users initially wanted to collaborate on design information – now they want to see how design information is being applied in the field, and gather as-built data. We are also having more conversations with senior executives about how they can reuse data across their businesses too.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/07/finalcad-expands-into-civils/

Jul 02 2018

Concord and T-Con

In June 2017, US-based Concord Project Technologies launched its cloud-based collaboration platform T-CON aimed at EPCs and owners in the energy and petrochemical markets.

Concord logoI was recently asked about a collaboration business called Concord, and had to confess I had not heard of them. My contact referred me to Concord Project Technologies, a Palo Alto, California, US-based business that was founded by Olfa Hamdi in early 2017. According to its website it specialises in project information integration implementation of advanced work packaging (AWP) for construction projects. Its core platform, T-CON, is described as “a powerful, cloud-based, API-friendly Digital Platform purpose-built for complex capital projects,” and its target market appears to be owners and engineering, procurement and construction contractors (EPCs) working in the energy and petrochemical sectors.

Originally from Tunisia, Hamdi studied in France (at the Ecole Centrale de Lille) and then did a construction engineering and project management masters at the University of Texas in Austin, graduating in 2013. During this masters, she wrote a thesis on Advanced Work Packaging, and in 2013, she founded the Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) Institute to further define a disciplined approach to capital project management. In 2014, she met ‘agile IT’ specialist Khalil Aissaoui (now Concord Project Technologies’ CTO). After identifying strong overlaps between construction and software project management, Hamdi asked Aissaoui to help her create a platform for construction project delivery. 

In the meantime, in 2015, Hamdi assembled a team of experienced capital projects experts, technologists, data scientists, and researchers. They reviewed software programs currently used by capital project managers (including for collaboration, data management, engineering, and analytics), compared these to solutions in the information technology space, and looked at application of agile concepts and methods in various industries. They perceived there was a technology gap in the capital projects market and started to develop T-CON using  a global team of developers located in Tunisia, France, Brazil, Bulgaria and India.

T-CON

According to the company’s website, T-CON (launched in June 2017) is a cloud-based platform that supports collaboration between stakeholders involved in capital project supply chains, “from project initiation and planning through field execution, to decommissioning and start-up and ultimately project closure.” It enables AWP techniques, and supports the creation, development and assurance of “non-engineering semantic information created to support the design and field implementation work defined in the various work packages.”

The platform is described as “people-centered,” facilitating seamless flows of information using innovative algorithms, big data, and artificial intelligence to create connections between essential project components and key people, even when they speak different technical languages and subscribe to different contracting backgrounds. The company claims: “No more interoperability issues. No more communication silos.”

However, the technology is seemingly not deployed off-the-shelf:

“The T-CON™ team has developed an integrated roadmap for digital transformation and cloud migration, purpose-built for your capital project organization and supporting more communication and collaboration between your IT and project teams.” 

Concord says it helps established capital projects organisations “build their cloud migration protocols for in-house project delivery capabilities by designing and implementing their transition to the Capital Projects Cloud using a proprietary operating system supporting a custom-built knowledge architecture and powered by a big-data infrastructure.” (phew!)

While the company clearly has some core technological capabilities – T-CON, an ‘integrated Collaboration Standard’ (iCS), and a real-time field productivity and safety monitoring system (TRT) – each implementation is bespoke to the customer organisation, with Concord forming an ‘Entreprise Transformation & Innovation Alliance (ETIA)’ to manage the process.

Advanced work packaging

For me, mention of AWP immediately summons Bentley Systems to mind. At successive annual Year in Infrastructure conferences, it has promoted its advanced work packaging capabilities, delivered primarlily through its ConstructSim work package server and planner products and through its ProjectWise design integration and worksite products. I also recall some discussion of AWP in presentations from Fiatech at COMIT events that I’ve attended – and some of the same people have been involved in conversations about “lean construction” and detailed work planning and interface management (see my recent posts on VisiLean and Aphex, for example).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/07/concord-and-t-con/

Jun 20 2018

Bentley goes 4D, buys Synchro

Bentley has acquired Synchro to add 4D BIM capabilties to its product portfolio, ‘broadening’ its ProjectWise offerings.

Synchro logoThe US’s Bentley Systems has today (20 June 2018) announced the acquisition of 40-strong UK-based 4D BIM pioneer Synchro Software (for an undisclosed amount). The deal, according to Bentley, “broadens Bentley’s ProjectWise construction offerings.”

Bentley logo 2017Bentley’s portfolio already included ConstructSim, a 4D construction modelling application used in project delivery of industrial plants. Synchro takes the 4D capability wider. Synchro has been deployed to support construction planning, scheduling, and project management strategies across a wider variety of projects, with clients including London’s Crossrail. According to Bentley, Synchro “incorporates other construction variables (human, materials, equipment, falseworks, and space) for safe, reliable, and predictable project delivery performance.” End users will be able to compare construction strategy alternatives—even in early stages of design and bid processes—and to evaluate the feasibility and efficiency of different scenarios.

Bentley says it will incorporate Synchro’s 4D construction modelling through the ProjectWise CDE (it refers to a ‘connected data environment’, rather than the more widely – at least in the UK – common data environment; in October 2017, ProjectWise appeared past the tipping point in its transition from on-premise to being the cloud-based centre of an ‘ecosystem’ of cloud services). As a result, it claims infrastructure project delivery will benefit from “unprecedented digital workflow advancements”. Steve Jolley, Bentley’s VP for construction, says: “for infrastructure projects, integrating Synchro’s 4D construction modelling completes the reach of our ProjectWise CDE.

Crossrail’s Malcolm Taylor says:

“Using 4D models to plan helped speed up the project teams’ understanding of what we needed to do and when. They could also tease out conflicts that were not normally apparent from regular Gantt charts and drawings. Using the 4D model for construction progress also manages payment expectations as it allows teams to readily agree on what’s completed and accepted—as well as producing an excellent as-built record for the future maintainer.”

Bentley Systems’ CEO Greg Bentley describes Synchro as “leading the adoption of 4D construction modelling” for significant projects worldwide. He says extending digital workflows and superseding disconnected planning and scheduling will offer “enormous and immediate” benefits.

My reaction

TomDengenis - CEO of SynchroI have followed Synchro’s development from the mid 2000s, when CEO Tom Dengenis, right, left SaaS construction collaboration technology developer Asite to lead Synchro as it grew and raised funds in 2007. I met Dengenis at another software vendor’s event in 2017, and earlier this month I noted Synchro’s tie-up with Denmark’s GenieBelt (I am not sure how that will survive the Bentley deal).

The deal will immediately excite industry watchers who welcomed the acquisition (announced in December 2017, completed three months ago, in March 2018) of SaaS collaboration technology vendor Aconex by Oracle, provider of the Primavera scheduling toolset and Textura construction payment management platform. We now have at least two major AEC software vendors with strong 4D capabilities alongside design authoring, while Trimble (after its April 2018 deal to buy Viewpoint) and RIB also seek to play in the 5D cost control space.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/06/bentley-goes-4d-buys-synchro/

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