Geek of the Week
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Construction is the world’s oldest industry but spends the least amount of money on innovation. When we realized people outside the construction industry, did not typically associated with technology like virtual reality apps and robotics, we started The ConTechCrew. Each week we bring our listeners the latest in ConTech news and interview the minds behind the technological innovations, changing the way we build it.
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JAMES: This time it is life, on a zoom webinar! Yeah, yeah, yeah! End of July, July 30th. This is being recorded on Thursday, July 30th. With me Mr. Josh Bone, what is going on Mr. Bone?
JOSH: Brother, life is good. I’m starting to balance out this whole pandemic thing and just trying to figure it out still, but I think I’ve come a long way off the crying and closing myself in a closet from the kids over the last month or so, I’ve kind of become full circle now.
JAMES: I kind of feel the same way. You settle into your new rhythm and figure out how to do things with the mask on all the time, and you adjust the fun schedule, for sure, but it is good to see you as always, of course, with Josh leading Innovation over there at NECA and also, leading the Electri Foundation, which has been keeping you busy over there. So, we will definitely be talking a lot more about that in just a little bit.
Also with this, the mountain man himself refuses to get a haircut, Mr. Jeff Sample. Good to see you Shagadapalis!
JEFF: It is good to see you and thanks to Brett Young already for getting me. I got to just call that out. He texted me and told me he got some in my hair. Got me to move off–screen earlier. So, I love having you guys on, so Brett, thanks a lot as always screwing with you me. You know, I am having fun out here in the mountains. It is kind of nice that we can still do what we can do. I am grateful for that, being able to get out on the bike last night. I think I sent a couple of pictures to people, but I try not to do too much of that, so it does not get too bad, but yeah.
JAMES: Look at me, I ’m on the bike again! Look at me, I ’m on the bike again!
JEFF: Look at me at the top of the mountain!
JAMES: I know. Again, I will tell you this though Jeff. I never get tired of those. Especially the one you sent me an animation of your whole ride. That was a really cool tech that I had not seen before. We have that for flying. I just did not know they had it for bike riding. Super cool to build and see a video of your ride. It is awesome.
JEFF: It is called Relive if anybody is interested. You can hook it up to your Garmen or others and it tracks you. And what is cool, is you take pictures, and it actually, along the way, just out of your camera and when it builds it, it looks for those and it posts them where they were through the metadata. And I thought that might be cool in construction someday. Just saying, but ultimately, it is super cool cause it rebuilds your ride and you take all those photos with your friends and it creates that cool little deal
JAMES: That is fun. Yeah. And also, with us again from North Georgia, I do not say Atlanta anymore cause it sits North Georgia. Mr. Robert McKinney. What is going on, still with the fantastic hairdo? Loving it!
ROB: You know, some of us avoid the barber, others, embrace the barber. You know, mask on, I have gone, and it has only been me in there. I had to get rid of the boring daddy hair and playing around with it, so, it is kind of like jumping the shark. My daughter loves it. My wife hates it. And I think you guys all know the game I am playing.
JAMES: Yeah, that is awesome. Before we continue, just remember, you can never miss an episode for all you listening and all of our live attendees by having all of them sent straight to your email inbox, just text ConTech to 66866. If you are live here on the show on a zoom webinar, you can just ask questions to the chat panel, but of course, if you want to text it in, you can absolutely text the text line. Of course, if you are listening to this later, you can text the text line too, because we are going to do this every month. We are going to do a webinar with the crew every month. We are not doing the roadshow this year, so we decided that in lieu of every month for one of our episodes, we are going to have a live chat with the crew. Do this live discussion, take topics, have a lot of fun talking about it. That is 979-473-9040. And we are going to have some fun with that, for sure. Again, we really appreciate you being on today and having some fun. So, before we get started with our discussion today, I spoke with Roger Yarrow, CEO of Truelook about their construction cameras. Listen in on it now.
INTERVIEW: And I ’m here today with Roger Yarrow, the General Manager and Chief Operating Officer at Truelook. Roger, thank you for joining us for the show today. What was the original premise behind the founding of Truelook and what got to you where you are doing today with construction cameras and much much more?
ROGER: Well, Truelook started as an entertainment media company when webcams were unique and special. If you had a big event, any kind of sporting event, or anything interesting going on, you would want a webcam on it, and that was a big deal. From there we evolved into the construction–specific industry because there was a very special need in construction to document, see, monitor, and collaborate on a Jobsite. Cameras are everywhere these days. But on the jobsite, there is so much more they can do. We picture a future where cameras are on any worker for safety, they are on every vehicle, and so what we are seeing is, there is a need to make sure you can see on the ground. Make sure everybody is safe, make sure everything is documented, so there is a lot of utility for cameras on the jobsite and we are just at this exciting time period where you can start to see those technologies coming into play now.
JAMES: Let us chit chat. We had a lot of questions come in, and our first topic today is voice assistants and chat. So, I know that all of us, all of the crew, has had a lot of fun with their voice assistants. I bought Alexa the first month it was out. I do not know, maybe two months after it came out, use Siri the first day they released it. We have been working with voice assistants for a while. We have seen construction software companies rolling out voice support, and we have seen some really interesting data on voice assistance and chat in general, not just voice chat, but text chat.
We have seen our friend (and guest on the podcast) Matt Edwards with NYFTY AI, do some really, really NYFTY things with a chat interface to Procore. We have seen some folks like, NoteVault who just had an exit event, they just sold, but NoteVault do a lot around capturing voice and transcribing it. They claim, through their own data, and they have the data to support it, that people tend to provide 10 times as much information when they speak than when they write, which is pretty impressive. If you are looking for more information to report, so you have all these things that we have seen from voice reports, to a voice text interaction, with the applications. So, it is actually voice control the application to, really intelligent voice assistants that can-do things for you. This is a broad question, but I think it is really relevant to talk about with construction because we have seen people coming into the construction space and doing more and more of this.
SmartVid IO, Josh Kanner, they transcribe voice and they index it to the frame in the video where the person was speaking. So, if they are taking video, so there is a lot of cool things around voice. I want to start with Josh, because you now lead innovation at one of the largest subcontractor trade groups in North America, and certainly the labor that is working there, has to do a lot of recording of what they did. They have to do a lot of voice interaction. They have to wear gloves a lot. So, you know, typing on a touch screen is not exactly optimal. And so, there are some good things on voice. I want you to just get us started by talking about what you are seeing with voice interaction, voice transcription with your members, and with the construction community at large.
JOSH: Well, what we have been looking into the most right now is the term chatbot, because so much of this needs to be hands–free and you have got so much information. And one of the things we have been looking at here is how can we measure more at the face of the tools. So much is happening today. One of our research teams told us that 89% of the decisions that a worker makes, a foreman, anyone out in today the field makes today, that we have no visibility into 89% of the decisions we make. We are that far on the industrialization scale away from other industries that have industrialized, that we do not have visibility into 90% basically, of the decisions they make, every single day at the place of work. So, we look at chatbots being something that can help automate this process and capture real–time work, because what I think we can start to do is, if we can start to capture a lot of this information and we can use it in a way that makes sense.
Natural language, right? I think it can help us long-term for the lifecycle of the building, adding a lot of value for the trade contractors, because I think, this is where the Genesis of the digital twin can be. Where we’re thinking about this, and how can it be a form of communication that comes from the design expectations and design intent, as far as inspections and signing off on work, how can we say, hey, listen, we need this information. We are looking right now at these chatbots, we are looking for this data. I am not in there right now. So how can we get this information and fill this out in a simple way, that is hands-free, that it integrates to the workflow, I think that is the beautiful thing about all of these voice assistants. It is such an integrated workflow. You think about people process technology. Man, that that voice assistant is something so simple and easy to integrate into our workflow. So, for us that bridging that gap to the field, I think that is where this voice assistant can help us collect so much data and we can measure performance.
JAMES: I am really glad that our listener texted this in because as voice assistants are getting better and more intuitive, I am using them a lot more. I mean, it is just that simple. I use Siri all the time to respond to text messages. I use Siri all the time to control the phone, open applications, send messages, send notifications. It does allow me to have hands-free computing. The combination of Siri with CarPlay too Josh has been a really nice innovation. So, you are starting to see safety. And you think about where else do we need operators of equipment to be safe. Hmm, construction, right? There is a case to be made for integrating these voice assistants in with the vehicles that they are in, so that they can find out what their next task is, the next step is, voice control. There are some really great examples out there. Jeff, I know you spent a lot of time with subcontractors as well, working on this. What are your thoughts and what have you seen over at e-Sub in the area of voice control and voice assistants?
JEFF: I think you hit it before that… Somebody in the field, when they go to write something down or text something or type it into a computer, they always begin to start editing yourself. You think about it yourself. If you are not a great typist, the first thing you are going to say is, I am not going to give it all that data. And so, we at the crew always like to go into Uber, Amazon, Alexa. I want to tell her to do nine things and Siri to do nine things and shortcut into other things to start. But really, on this little sucker, every time you go to use the keyboard, there is a little voice function there. And if you just click the voice function, it works, and it starts to learn you. That is the beauty of these algorithms is they are learning your speech patterns so that they get better and better. And so, it is funny and when I demo e-Sub, I actually show that talk to text feature.
And it has learned me over time. It learns to use change order, it learn to use these searchable terms that I would love to then be able to have bots and other things that scrape looking for those important things like, observations are observations, but we want to get to the issues, right Josh? It is that getting to the issue fast. So, something that scrapes all day looking for those things and brings those to your attention would be super cool, but even me, I am a tech optimist, but I am always a little bit behind the curve when it comes to those like, I went and got the Google home and I would just ask it for the weather and those kinds of things, and then I started building routines in it.
JEFF: Because I want to hear my weather, I want to have my podcast, I want to know my news. And the next thing you know, I was like, wait a minute. Think about a coordination meeting or something you do on a regular… You walk into the trailer and just telling Alexa or Google that you’re here and you want to start that and have it bring up the things you need and play the things you need, or provide access to the things you wanted. And that makes things go really, really quick. We need to do more with less, and that is there, but I am the guy that you always got to start with. So, if you haven’t played around with this function on your phone, whenever you hit the keyboard, there’s a microphone in the bottom left, click it, and you can just talk to it and it’ll create the text. It is not going to be perfect, but over time it is actually going to learn you. And it is pretty cool. So for me, there’s so much use. The NYFTY AI thing, dude, I think that’s awesome because like part of the problem is getting information as a trade to your general contractor when they want it and remembering to track it. Sure, if that thing just hits me and I want to say it, great.
JAMES: Yeah, it is interesting. NYFTY is a good example. It is not really voice right; it is text. I saw a lot of poser technology when chatbots first came out that really angered me as a software developer, only because they were literally stepping back in time to the very first line of code I wrote in 1991 when I got my hands on a very, very old, TRS 80. And AI just started writing GW basic code, and that’s essentially what they created was a text terminal interface, where you would, and I’m going to say nine out of ten chatbots I worked with initially, we’re functionally an anti-text terminal interface, that you would type in your name and then it would just give you a menu of options. And it would say, hey, you want to one, two, three or four? And I do one. Okay. Do you want to one, two, three, four, literally. That is the kind of interface I wrote in 1991 in GW basic, it was garbage because it takes you forever to work through all the menus. It is really slow. What you are seeing with modern natural language processing is just being able to have a conversation.
And Josh, you mentioned the words natural language, which reminded me, of our friends at Dado, you know, Jake is really, really big on natural language. He used Amazon Alexa search, a natural language search engine to bring natural language into search. And so, I think when you talk about voice assistants, I almost feel like, we just need to expand that conversation to natural language. Whether you are typing or talking, can you talk to a machine like you can a human? And what you are seeing with Dado is amazing search results, because it brings in context in the sentence. Google is not a natural language search engine. Ask Jeeves was. And so, Josh, when you said natural language, I think you kind of keyed in on that.
JOSH: One of the things I want to say is FieldVox is no longer around, but one day I told you guys, hey, we are getting on a podcast that, an automated attendant just called me. And it was AI, I found out later on who it was, they just set me up because I was looking at some technology, they got my information and they just sent me a, hey, are you ready for your daily report? And it was FieldVox, and again they are not around, but they would ask me a series of questions and I would just answer. And they said you could time this on the way home so that it calls you on your ride home. So, it is still fresh in your mind. And as you are driving home, you fill out your daily report, just talking to an AI, asking you questions, and then it sends you the daily report and you approve. It was a fascinating idea.
JAMES: Yeah. What is really great about that, and it is similar to NYFTY cause NYFTY will text you too, is it is prompted voice, right? So, you are not having to remember to call in. It is calling you and saying, hey, time for the report. Let us go!
JOSH: Are you ready? It asks, are you ready? I will call you back in 15. Would you like me to call you back in 15 minutes? Really cool.
JAMES: It is really cool, and look, people do not like filling reports out. It is just a thing. People just do not like filling out reports. And so, we have got to help them get better at that. Rob McKinney. I know you spent a lot of years in the field and you spend a lot of years in dealing with safety too. You have got to have an opinion here around how safety and voice and texts and natural language interact.
ROB: I think it would be amazing for safety to be able to, again, what Jeff’s talking about, say, okay, Google or hey Siri, and start a safety observation, a safety citation, a toolbox talk. There are lots of ways that you could do it easily. It is interesting. If you think about it, Brett, just put something in the chat, asking Josh, is the number of untracked decisions a problem of tracking decisions or not planning the work, resulting in too many last-minute decisions. And I would wager we are all on the same page. We all know how work is planned in our industry, so yes, at least to lots of last-minute decisions, but what if we use this technology faster, better upfront? Cause we all know it. I make jokes about; we print out these amazing tapestries, we call schedules that hang on the wall, at the beginning of a job, and then act like it is all going to happen, but things change.
So why not use this technology in a way like Jeff, that you were talking about. What if that project manager or superintendent can walk into their office or trailer, and ask for what are all the open issues. For me, it would be what are the open safety issues that need to be corrected? What are the open RFI’s? When you start meetings and having a cycle like that, that would be amazing to really go back as James, to your original point, when I was doing safety, it was mind numbing, to write up all this paper and then it moved to Excel, and then we had triplicate forms and digital forms. We had all these open issues, documented everywhere to try and show oh, we are doing our job. Yeah, we are doing our job at finding stuff. We are not doing anything to close it. Because nothing was managing it.
ROB: But what if you had something so easy to say, do I have any open safety hazards I need to correct. Are there any injured employees that need to go back to work?
JOSH: Let us be honest though guys. You talk about what Brett’s question is here, is the number of on–track decisions a problem of tracking decisions or not planning the work. Okay. Let us plan the work. Are you are going to tell somebody how to bend conduit? Are you going to tell them how to cut? Are you going to tell them what we do not know today? We do not know what is the safest, we do not know what’s the benchmark of productivity. We are not industrialized enough to know that this is the best workflow. This is how you handle the material. I think we are going to try to figure some of those things out in time. Have you guys seen DeepHow?
JOSH: DeepHow, you take it and you just put on your phone, and you go with your phone and you document a process and it keeps a time, and it takes it and breaks it all down every single action.
So, what we want to try to do is start to take some of the best foremen, some of the best general foreman, some of the best superintendents, those that do the task really, really well, look at how they do a very specific task so that we can start to plan this out. Today, let us be honest, the schedule says underground. It does not say you got to go back and look at the shop drawings and understand what you are installing and how was it prefabbed or is it stick by stick and how are you going to do it? Well, what we get to do is we have got to look at not only the hard time and cost but what is the safest, what reduces the most weight. There is a lot of intangible things there. So, we are looking at DeepHow and hopefully, we can take that and use that process.
ROB: Yep. There you go.
JAMES: Yeah. D E E P H O W.com.
ROB: We are really interested in how we can use that to document very, very detailed types of work and set benchmarks.
JAMES: That is an interesting solution Josh, and I have never been exposed to DeepHow, so, I am going to spend some time looking at this, and you out there in listener-land, if you guys can check that out. I did have an interesting question that came in through Q & A here on the webinar. Do you feel COVID changes are driving chatbots are similar at a pace faster than originally considered? I am going to say, I believe that all digital solutions are being driven faster than previous pace. So that would also apply to chatbots. It is any method of getting off of handwriting on paper, which we all know is still very prevalent in report writing and documentation. So, any methodology that allows them to move to digital, to reduce physical contact, to reduce having to be around other people and touch physical things, has certainly accelerated. And from the construction tech companies, I have spoken to, their sales lines have been lighting up if they have to deal with digital products. So, I would say they have. Jeff, what are your thoughts on this one?
JEFF: Oh, I think it is absolute, and in fact, I was looking at a bunch of technology reviews from MIT recently on just that and it is emptying call centers. The pandemic has just done that. We cannot, I mean, call centers are one of the worst things you could possibly have where you are back to back to back and you are talking into a phone, like it is just not possible, so they are emptying them out and it is just not realistic to be able to fire up all those people at home and work remote, giving the strains and the inability that they just were not prepared. And instead of trying to get prepared and all the money that is going to take, and the fact that it is probably on its way out, chatbots swooped in and are really taking over. And I think there is this again, there is this like misnomer that chatbots are a bad thing, that they do not understand what humans are. When you call, and you want to call your doctor and get an appointment, you just want the appointment. It is really not about talking to the person on the other end of the phone and having a connection with him or her, and then getting to your doctor. You just want your appointment. So, if you went right through and got to the automated AI, got you to it, or the chatbot if you are doing it online, which would be even better, and you just got your appointment, you are happy.
JEFF: So, it is really the means. It is the ends, not the means. And I think we get caught up in that sometimes. And it is just, it baffles me that that is where we are. And I wanted to throw this in. If you guys have not used shortcuts on your iPhones yet, to start your day when you show up somewhere, none of the applications that exist out there have to have that built–in. As long as it is an IOS app, you can create the shortcut to create your routine. So, like you can hit the jobsite and start a bunch of your apps with a single shortcut with your voice and get your day started. So, to James’s point earlier, none of us like filling out documentation. So, if that stuff can be launched and put in front of you, you are much better off to try and do it.
JEFF: But from a COVID perspective, there is not anything tech that has not pushed forward. If you are talking remote work, if you are taking this platform, I mean, zoom has seen that a thousand percent increase I am sure at this point.
JAMES: Yeah. And then it will dip when everybody went, oh crap, it is not secure. It is going through China. There is some crazy stuff there. By the way, Teams are not lying down and giving up. They are expanding all their multi–video channels and they are doing some really cool stuff with Microsoft Teams. In the interest of time, next topic. Great, great discussion. I am going to bite off a really big topic here.
This is from Johannes from Sweden. Yes. We have listeners in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, we have got this great group of listeners over there. So. Johannes, you asked a really good question. You can often see one–off successful projects in the industry where tech and BIM have made a huge impact on productivity, quality, and safety. He said I am part of the project like that right now, but how can we scale this success to others in the industry in an easier manner? How do other industries scale successful knowledge, or is it a hard-coded culture thing in our industry that will take a long time to change, or can projects implement some kind of project philosophy? He said, James, you have talked about EOS often. Is there something that like EOS for construction projects, greetings Johannes from Sweden. Johannes, thank you for texting this in before the webinar and for the episode. I am going to start again with Josh in particular, since you have your role at Electri, and you have this. I have a lot of thoughts around this.
You know, I could talk for two hours about EOS without even stopping because of the impact it has had, of having an operating system, having a scalable replicable operating system to run JBKnowledge for our 223 people that we have onboard right now, has made a huge impact to have EOS. I said, potentially, and this was in our show notes before, maybe Lean Construction Institute, maybe The Construction Institute, OS 2.0 efforts. There are multiple efforts to try to quantify and systematize, construction processes into a replicable, a successful playbook that you can run every time. And this pains me to bring this up, but this is why Nick Saban is always a contender because he has a documented, scalable, repeatable process that he can see slot new defensive and offensive coordinators in, new players in every year, and still have success. So, Josh, I would love to hear your thoughts around an operating system for construction.
JOSH: Yeah. So, what brings us all together? What brings us all together is the contract. And I think the smart contracts, and I think we have to go back. Who has the ultimate power in setting this up from defining this from the inception of, we need this job, we need this project to happen, we need to put people in a hospital, we need more beds, whatever it is, it all starts at the contract. And Amanda Comunale said it with you and Tauhira last week. Every job’s a prototype right now. If the contracts could have more consistency around what the expectations are so much of unfortunately what we’re doing today, is a contractual obligation where most people fail on BIM, is that you do it to meet a contractual obligation, not for the fact that they’re doing it to drive offsite construction, not to do it in a way that is actually going to be constructible.
Hey, we did our coordination. Well, that is not at all how you are actually going to build it if you are just doing it for coordination. And that is not how you are actually going to build it. That is not doing any good for us if you are just trying to meet a contractual obligation. We have got to actually get skin in the game. Too often, we are out there doing certain things to meet a contractual obligation that does not really have us aligned. And I think that is something that we have to start looking at is, we have got to take some of these projects and transfer some of that knowledge from a company level. You got to think every company has an A team, a B team, a C team, and a D team. You can work for a great contractor and you can work with them, and I will talk to a plumber out in the field and I ’m like, oh man I love working with contractor X. They are awesome.
You talked to them three years later. No, they suck. They are terrible. You know, they killed us on this job. We lost tons of money. Oh, you told me, you loved them! They have lost it. I said, no, it is the problem is, you got probably their B team or their C team, or maybe even their D team on that job. You cannot maintain at that level. So, the only place we can start is, is aligning ourselves in the contracts. That is the only place that I can see… We have got to be realistic about our expectations. We cannot just mandate BIM, because BIM does not need to be done on every single job. It does not need to happen on every job. It is not practical.
JAMES: Says BIM2theBone. I mean, BIM2theBone says it. Yeah.
JOSH: It is not. BIM is not effective on every job. If we can get better at it, maybe we can do more jobs with it, but it all starts with a contract in my mind. And it has to come down from the owner, setting expectations and not setting us, pitting us against each other, contractually to go into our silos and get ready for litigation at some point.
JAMES: So, at City of College Station, my brief six years there. That is the maximum term you can serve at City College Station. And it was frustrating, cause I said six years is not enough to learn about municipal operations. I kept telling them. We make short–sighted decisions and one of them is how municipalities who are pretty prolific facility owners and builders, right. And how they make contract decisions. And I had to fight a long battle to get us off of hard bid and on to CM at Risk. And we went to CMAR for a $36 million City Hall and a $28 million Police station. And they came in under budget and there was far less drama, far less trauma. But I tell you what, it was interesting. Existing contractors in town tried to threaten to sue me and the city because they were old school, hard bid, low bid contractors, who made it up on a prolific amount of change orders. And they knew CMAR was going to be the end of their game. And so, you have like two side, two warring sides. The cities do not see how it could possibly save them money over a hard bid. And there is a lot of old school contractors that have made their stake on this. Rob, I see you nodding your head.
ROB: I have seen a few boats named change order for a reason.
ROB: I know a lot of mountain cabins and a lot of beachfront property that was purchased after big booms.
ROB: Before you go, Josh, I think there is something to that there, James, and it has a little bit to do, I mean, you got to go pass that right. Voters, and we see this over and over. If you have got a $10 million project, they are going to vote it through. What we do not hear about is the change order that makes it from a $10 million project to a $28 million project. And that is a trick to get some of that through. Like there is a little bit of Dinkin and Duncan that those guys are doing there. We know they are doing it. And, so, it is that transparency, Josh, like, good old Nathan, you know, what is in it for me? Well, I want to get this bill passed, but if I tell you how much it is really going to cost, you are not going to do it, but you are not going to leave a building halfway up. You are going to approve the change orders to get that done, right?
JAMES: So, let us talk about operating systems though for a second. Who has the playbooks for this? Cause that is at the end of the day like I always wanted to improve my business, but when I found the book traction and then got on board with EOS, it gave me a playbook to follow and I was able to follow it. And when you look at, how do we replicate success. So certainly, the contract, Josh, and I will absolutely agree with you. If the contracts are screwed up, if everybody is pitted against each other, it does not matter how good your playbook is if the rules for the field suck. If you had crappy NCAA rules, then Nick Saban would have a tough time winning, no matter what, because you have a crappy rule book. Jeff?
JOSH: And James, let me say this. You can have hard bid. You can have hard bid on your awnings. Put that out there, hard bid your awnings. But if you are doing a data center, do not do hard bid on your electrical systems. That is 60% of the project cost. Let us be realistic. Every job is different, and you can do some hard bid on some of the jobs. You can do some IPD, you can do some CM at Risk. You can do a mix of all of these things.
JAMES: Yeah. Jeff.
JEFF: Well, I got two for you, cause I am an outsource person and I believe in learning from other people. And there are two groups that… We have had both of these folks at least come around and talk to us. We had Tannis on, you know like Trillium advisory group is trying to build a structure for companies across the board and teach them how to use the data all the way through, and how to effectively implement BIM and VDC and learn from it. I mean, there are other big ones out there that do it too Josh. We had a gentleman come up to us in Seattle, named, Steffen Waite, and he started something called Simple 5D. It is a platform in which you can start to utilize his services to help each other out. I think there are ways for you to go out and learn this from other people and learn how to do it effectively. It is hard to learn something new and be effective at the same time. I think that is continually a problem we see in the industry is, is how do I do this, and get better at this, while still performing.
JOSH: You know, there is measured mile, Jeff. There are measured mile. That is a formula that we could use. The problem is most people do not do their own cost coding. They do not have enough visibility in their business. So, if they if are not doing cost coding, they are not doing measured mile. If we could all at least be talking the same language, helping us understand if, if you could get measured mile set up as some type of a standard process so that everybody will speak in the same language, it would be the Rosetta stone. So, a general contractor, when someone claimed that it was something that we could all understand how they were impacted and they could look at it and it made sense to them, the owner made sense. So, if there was a claim and there a problem that came about, then listen, it would be so much easier if we had a common language that we were using, with some like the IQ formula or any of those kinds of things.
JAMES: You know, on that note, I want to do a software parallel because certainly, I exist in the construction world. I also exist in the software world cause we build software every day. Both custom software and product. And in custom software, it is interesting Josh because I can adopt whatever process I want. At the end of the day, my client has a process for how they build their software. And this is really kind of what the same thing builders have the problem with. You can do whatever you want inside your construction company if you are a subcontractor, but your GC is going to have their way of doing it. And then the owner’s going to have their way. And ultimately the owner is going to dictate the rules of the field at the end of the day. And so, to try and get to Johannes question, cause he did ask about EOS.
We use EOS to run our business, in every way, shape, and form. We have weekly Level 10 meetings.
We have quarterly planning meetings. We have our Vision Traction Organizer. We have rocks and scorecards and one-year goals and, one-year plan, three-year picture, 10-year target, and we have gotten better and better and better and better at it. And every year we try to really improve how we execute EOS. We do have a playbook and we know–how… So, I can tell you this. Even outside of construction. If you put a construction company on EOS and I’ve put several of our clients on EOS, it has a materially positive impact on how that construction company operates, because one of the fundamental tenants of EOS, is documenting your processes, using a three–step process documenter, and then repeating those documenting processes. What does it matter? It does not matter what industry you are in. If you set a clear vision, clearly communicate to everybody, have really good meetings that are not a waste of time and boring, and they have a goal, if you have really good meetings, you fix your meetings and you have really good planning documents, and then you document your processes and execute them consistently, I guarantee you are going to have more success in that business.
So, just to answer your question, Johannes, that is a sure thing. The question is, when you document those processes and improve them, what process are you using? Are you going to Lean Construction Institute and learn about pull planning? Is that going to be one of your documented processes? And then are you going to use EOS, so you can get that adopted and rolled out. You almost have to combo; you have to have a process for building, and you have to have a process for running your business. And those are separate things. I think it is important to acknowledge that there are the building projects themselves, and then there is the business of building. And so, in EOS, we call that working in your business and then working on your business. And those are two separate things. So, Johannes, you have to have both of those going on. Rob, I know you want to comment here.
ROB: You know, something I have find fascinating… and I think plays into this, look at what is happened over the past few months outside of our industry in a whole different industry that we all participate in.
Look at the fast–food industry, think about how they work, and we can use two big examples, right? Because two very big names have amazing playbooks. McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, I have been watching my little hometown down in Georgia in Atlanta, watching how they work in a franchise model would be something very interesting in our industry. Because let us think about it. I love Construction, I love our contractors, but every contractor is, it is their way or the highway. I know what I am doing. That is how I am going to run my business. And you see a lot of success, but you also do not see tremendous success from some people, but when you are in a franchise model, every Chick-fil-A, you have probably ever gone to, has had basically the same experience, right?
JAMES: My pleasure.
ROB: The quality of food. The taste. Well, what did they say? Everything they say – my pleasure. Because there is the playbook and I have watched how they train, and it does not matter how many bodies go through the Chick-fil-A five miles from me, it is always the same experience. But what is interesting that I have really noticed James, the last four weeks between McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, I do not know how they are doing it in Texas, but I would wager you are seeing the same thing over here. The playbook has changed for Chick-fil-A even more dramatically. They have set up this whole caravan of tents.
ROB: For the outside workers. I thought I wanted to stop the other day because the general manager was running the window and I want to be like, hey, I just two minutes, I am very curious. Are your profits up or down? That is what I wanted to know because that line has not stopped. They can wrap it around there 20 cars deep and five minutes later you are out. But their workers are under those new awnings. They have got on the sleeves. They have adjusted all these protocols to keep those workers happy. I do not see anyone sitting there, hey, welcome to Chick-fil-A. They are all happy. They are all in misters, so they have taken that playbook and they are even better.
JAMES: Chick-fil-A, you have to study other industries if you want to improve your own. You have to, and I am sure Josh you have done a lot of the same thing in studying other industries, as you have tried to apply it to the electrical construction business. I love studying Chick-fil-A because its customer service is fanatical. They were the first to the game with masks in my town. They were the first ones with masks on. I guarantee you; they have the lowest COVID transmission rates. They were the first ones to shut their dining rooms down. They were the first ones with masks. They were the first ones in tents. They are the first one is with misters and their sales, they have been kicking everyone else in the rear end. I mean, they have been just shredding the other places because people still want to eat that chicken. They got to have that chicken man.
And they are delivering, but they do it by having a very consistent training program, having a very consistent operating manual, and now mind you, McDonald’s is a franchise. Chick-fil-A is not. Chick-fil-A is corporate–owned. And so, Chick-fil-A has a lot more control over all of those locations. So, I would say if you are going to model a construction company after one of these two, I would model it after Chick-fil-A cause construction companies are multi-site, corporate–owned and that’s Chick-fil-A.
ROB: Look at how they select their owners in those locations, too. It is not about who can put the most money in a bank account, set it off to the side, it is who is going to invest in that community, and be a part of that community and run that business to recruit the type of talent that they recruit.
JEFF: I am giving up construction tech and I am going for Chick-fil-A right.
JOSH: Brett Young is saying, the most powerful innovation is about the business model, not software or hardware. They use technology. They integrate technology to make them better, but it is all about people and processes.
JAMES: Yeah. And we did that with EOS. We built our own EOS software, cause there was no EOS software when we got started on it. And it is not really about our EOS software. Like it is not about that. We give it away by the way. We now give it away as a free product. It is called Smart Enterprise. And it is available for anybody to use free EOS. It is not about the product; it is about the process. It is just a better way of running meetings, a better way of planning. And so, I agree with you completely, Brett. I have spent a lot more time focusing on business models and processes than I have around the exact soft for products, but software products help enforce those models. And so, to be clear, our EOS implementation went way better.
And I think lean construction and pull planning. If you have a software that supports pull planning and lean construction and is built around that process, it is going to be a better implementation of the process because the software helps enforce the process. I have always been really reticent for people that want to acquire software so that they can adopt that software process. I am like, you know, you really should work on adopting the process and then using the software to enforce it because the software’s not a very good trainer. Chick-fil-A does not have a ridiculously good learning management system. They have ridiculously good teachers, you know. So just, keep that in mind. That is one of their really big success points on there. And there are talks out there. We got to talk about OS, the new construction OS 2.0. Josh, you want to make a side mention on that?
JOSH: Yeah. So, Jeff and I attended an event. So, I spoke at Curt, The Construction Users Roundtable.
It is made up of a group of large owners. It is Intel, it is Microsoft it is Owens Corning, Proctor & Gamble, Duke Energy. TVA – Tennessee Valley Authority. It is made up of large owners. And they did a massive study recently with Prairie dog and in their study, they found that there is 40% waste in just the transactions. I mean, think about this. We talk about process. And the question was just asked, how do you make it better on every job. Through this process, think about what happens today. James, you are a mechanical contractor. You are ready, and you are going to go to work. You go to your local distributor and you buy a stick of cast iron pipe. You may bring that into your shop. It may sit there for two weeks. You then take it and you attach it to something else and you create a prefabricated component. Then it maybe sits in your yard for a week longer. And then you deliver it to the jobsite. And it is tagged, and they locate it and it sits on that jobsite for a week, and then it is installed. Then somebody signs off on the approval that it has been installed. So, okay, now we can invoice the GC who invoices the owner, the owner invoices the GC, the GC pays when paid. Think about that. And all of those invoices, just the out of sheer waste in how many people have to touch that, how many hands have to touch that?
And that is one of the first things they are targeting. They are looking very closely at blockchain. If you look at the operating system 2.0, Rob Fisher from Curt, who is their Director of innovation, he shared their presentation with me from Prairie dog. And the first thing they are really looking at is just the handling of money, and how can we cut out this process. Because if you look at it, I mean, I could start showing screenshots here, but how complex the jobs have gotten from 1990 to now and how different the, how many different banks are involved and all the different subcontractors because the buildings have gotten more complicated. Everybody says it takes more time. Look at it. A VAV versus a VRF system. And, look at now all the different electrical components of the building that are so much more complicated. That is what they are trying to do. As an owner’s group, they are trying to bring awareness and education in saying, listen, there is a lot of low hanging fruit where there is a lot of waste.
This operating system 2.0, along with their smart contracts, is trying to fundamentally change. And what I love so much about it, they talk about that trust tax, right trust tax. And I refer to it as shared gain, shared pains contracts. I love the idea that you are not going to commoditize me. How do I look at and get involved early to look at how I am going to save you over the lifecycle of the building? That is what it is also taken to consideration because so much of the cost is not operating, maintaining that building, it is got a much bigger view as what they are doing with operating system 2.0 and their smart contracts. I am really, really excited about what Curt is doing.
JAMES: Yeah. And they are trying to drive this. 41% of total installed cost and they break it down. They have a graph there on their website where it is 1% foreign exchange, 1% at rework, 1% interoperability, 2% crime–fraud counterfeiting, 2% PO RFP and bidding. I mean, it is just little things add up, right, Josh? I mean, this is like the essence of lean. That is why two–second lean is about making two–second lean improvements. Cause little, two–second slowdowns add up to minutes to hours to hundreds of hours a year, right? It is really amazing. And a little 1% here. 1% there adds up to 41% and you got a narrow margin business. There is a reason it is a narrow margin. You can really blow the margins open, which would be amazing, right?
JOSH: Yeah. It can reduce risk and increase margins.
JEFF: Well, yeah, it can reduce risk, increase margins, and make for happier, more informed owners. I think one of the things we found out in that Josh, was just how off we were on understanding owner’s positions from the different owner perspectives. We were sitting in a room in Dallas, with the Dork-A-Thon and having all these discussions and at the end, that is what prompted the meeting was, hey, who are we missing? And it was like, well, there is not a single owner in here. We had some architects represented who were, they were not practicing at the time, but at least they had the input. We did not have any former owners practicing construction at this point. And when we sat down and there was a lot, I mean, I think I’ve, I have talked about this in the COVID times, like what someone is doing with a facility, really has an impact on what they are willing to do when it comes to saying schedule. Like if they are not making a drug because the facility’s not done, then they might be interested in overtime and other things to get that thing going because it is wasted space that is not generating income. If it’s possibly something that’s not going to be filled with people right now because of where we are, there might be an interest in, not pushing so hard, but I said that recently to somebody, like about the stadiums going up, and I was corrected very quickly on, well, but if I do not have my CEO, you know, my occupancy, for two years, I cannot host the Superbowl. So, I got to get this thing open no matter what anyway.
JEFF: So, what is in it for me, and the operating system itself should be able to open up those things so that in these types of times we can make better decisions because we are all informed and all on the same platform. The other final thing, and I spoke at Curt two years ago. Shared risk, shared reward, shared pain, share gains, whatever you want to carry, shared risk shared reward. All of us coming together. We either do this as an industry. Like, if you are a trade contractor, if you are a general contractor, if you do not get on the bus, they are going to force you on or off the bus. And it feels a decision you make yourself feels a heck of a lot better than when someone forces you too.
JEFF: I say get involved now and help them beat those guys, you know, Peter DuMont is on next week. They are so open to information. That was what we found. We were like, would you guys like to talk to us? And they were like, yes, let us talk! And it was amazing how open and, you know, they gave us the presentation, Josh. They were like, hey, take it, talk about it. Let us do this.
JOSH: There is this a lot of lack of trust Jeff with the owners right now. That was this kind of smack in the face. We thought we did not trust each other internally, well, we burned that bridge with the owner so many times that there is a significant lack of trust in the owners and all of us at this point.
JAMES: We could keep talking about this, but before we resume, I just want to continue the second half of the conversation with Roger Yarrow, CEO of Truelook about their construction cameras.
INTERVIEW: And I ’m back with Roger Yarrow. General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of Truelook. One of the really important things when you are dealing with any type of imaging. You have to have great world–class integrations. I believe you integrated with Procore, Autodesk, Plangrid, like these major project management platforms. You are integrated out of the gate, correct?
ROGER: Yeah, absolutely. All of our customers use some kind of software to manage their day to day and they just want to be integrated. They want everything in one spot. They do not want to have to log into multiple tools. We make all that easy for them. We give them all their data from their camera and that is right in the platform they use every day. And that way, everybody involved in the project, can see what is going on as well. It is not a secret.
JAMES: And speaking of setup. Can you walk me through how easy it is to setup Truelook cameras and use them?
ROGER: Yeah, absolutely. Basically, our cameras come completely turnkey, ready to go right out of the box. When powered up, the system will come online automatically and connect via cellular, so you will just see the camera right then and there when it is plugged in. We make all your current jobs and past jobs, all available there on your dashboard and everything is easy to hook up. We also offer a full-service installation. If you do not have power, we have solar options for every situation as well. This is what makes our system accessible to all users. We back it up with a lifetime hardware warranty and a money–back guarantee. And then we also give you free forever cloud storage so you can come back years later and access your data anytime all at no additional cost.
JAMES: Wow. So how do project managers and other teams in the organization, how do they actually use them? So, the setup is easy. They are done with the setup, they installed, they are recording data, and maybe they’ve integrated with Procore, maybe they’ve integrated with Plangrid, but using your portal, how do they get in and actually use and look at these?
ROGER: Sure, so a project manager will log in and they will be able to see their camera. And the best part about that is they can manage multiple sites at once. It is going to be a really valuable tool for them. They are going to be able to check–in, know what is happening, and spot problems before they happen. It is great for them to co-ordinate what is happening on the site, direct others, and basically keep an eye on the heartbeat of their job.
JAMES: Roger, if people want more information on your product, where can they go to get it?
ROGER: Just head on over to truelook.com. and we will take care of you from there!
JAMES: And we are going to jump back into the weeds on technology. So, I wanted to kind of balance this first session. We are going to be back in a month, all four of us together again. We can jump into the… Yeah, I want to spend some time between both. So, let us jump into the weeds on two things. 360 and laser. Laser. All I asked for is sharks with freaking lasers on their foreheads. Are they mutant sea bass? So, we had two questions. We had a very specific question. How do you manage colossal files, like laser scan data, using something better than a removable drive that people mail around? Here is an interesting logistical question, but it is a really good practical question because we are collecting terabytes of data per project now. Not gigabytes. Terabytes of data per project. Because videos, photo 360’s, we are going to talk about 360 cameras because we had some questions on that too. We are going to get to 360s as part two of this Laser scans are massive.
Josh you are probably the most experienced in this area. Jeff and I have probably a good bit of experience on the IT side, having to deal with storage, cloud computing, local storage, etcetera. And Rob, you are the king of having to take photos on the jobsite and use mobile apps. So, we all have some different angles on this. I am going to start out on this and just say, some solutions have a really good hybrid approach. And this is the challenge. If you just know something like Dropbox or One Drive, it is going to be hard. First off, and I am an office 365 guy. I freaking hate One Drive because it sync sucks. Okay. Its sync sucks and it cannot manage large files. Dropbox, and I have tested all of them, has probably the best sync for big files. That being said, a solution like Ignite, that actually ships a device to your local concrete construction jobsite, puts it in the jobsite trailer and allows all the devices locally to sync up with that local drive and then it syncs to the cloud, so you have local sync for all your devices in cloud sync, that works so much better for big files.
Citrix ShareFile has a very similar type of solution they have offered for years, with local plus offsite sync. If you are still storing and shipping drives, there are much better solutions to that. So, because this is IT related, I am going to toss it to Jeff next, our iron man of IT, to kind of see how you solve this as IT director of a construction company, and then we will go to Josh on how you dealt with lasers and Rob, and how you dealt with photos in 360. So, Jeff!
JEFF: Well, you are absolutely right. It is about what you are doing, and you want to talk about hating One Drive? I am a huge Microsoft fan, but I actually almost got shut down from my service provider last month because of a glitch on a four gig file, albeit a PowerPoint file, but a four gig file that I didn’t realize was continually trying to sync in the background. It almost put me up over 1.2 terabytes for the month of data usage from Comcast. So that was an interesting one to see happen. And, as the files get larger, the problems get bigger. And so, something I want you to hear, is there is not a one size fits all to solving your problems. You can solve a lot of your problems with basic sharing and basic file access for your employees. And that is, I mean, if you really look at it is like 90% of your employees, you can get them covered, right? 80, 20 rule, let us say 80% of your employees, you get covered. Use One Drive. Funny, I would normally say use Dropbox for business, but Nick Espinosa scared me on that one yesterday and I need to dig deeper. There is something about it I do not know yet.
JAMES: Nickels scare you on everything though. Like, I mean, to me to be fair. You won’t want to use anything, but Palo Alto networks and, you are like…
JEFF: Could I have a Palo Alto headset now? Put it on my head and walk around with it. Everything I am connected to has Palo in.
JAMES: Yeah. And Brett brings a good point up here. If you process data in the field or on the device, you do not need to move the data. He referenced Treehousehacker.com. And look, you are seeing more of this and this is the whole premise of Apple, right Jeff, because Dropbox, there are security issues with everything. Everything has security issues. IOS put their stake in the sand, and they said, we are going to put a machine learning chip ride on the device, and we are going to process everything on your phone. And we are even going to send it to our servers.
JEFF: Well wasn’t it Google who did that first by bringing the algorithm down for the ability to do language searches and it does not have to have an internet connection, and they took that from like four gigs down to a couple of megs so that it could be stored on the phone. And so, I think they are pushing each other, which we have always discussed is awesome. Because yeah, the ability you know, get respect for perspective, right? A couple of years ago, you would not talk to your phone. Now you get mad when you talk to her and she is like, I am having problems with your connection. You are like, really? Just answer my question.
JAMES: You can’t process my speech locally, what is wrong with you?
JEFF: What is wrong with you?
JAMES: Well, that was probably because the iPhone originally, you could make a voice call. You could say call Jeff Sample. And it would do it without being connected. And then they rolled Siri out and then all of a sudden, they took the local processing for those off, and you had to have a cloud connection, which was really frustrating because sometimes you have a really slow connection somewhere. You are on the beach; I am up here at Lake Michigan right now; the internet connectivity sucks about 150 yards that way at the beach. And, but it is great right here, but 150 yards is terrible. And so, I cannot do voice dialing. It is tough. I want to pause, go to Josh, and talk about laser scan files specifically. When we talk about laser scan files, what has been or strategy around storing, distributing, sharing those?
JOSH: First, let me say, there is an art to the scanning process. You better know what you are doing when you go into it from day one. If you do not have that setup, you are going to create way more points and get a lot more accuracy than you probably need, or go to the other extreme, it depends on how your device is set up. It is not getting the accuracy that you need. So, it all starts with a scan and there really is an art to it. Knowing how to get the right location of your scanner, how to set it up a process that you are not capturing a lot of noise and getting at the right time of the day. There can be so much that you do initially in the initial scan that makes life much, much, much, much easier. So, it does start with scanning. I would highly recommend doing your companies and looking at changing some different settings. You need to play around with this for yourself and make sure that you are meeting the expectations. You can also bring it in and clean it up so you can use your physical dongle to move information locally. You need a good computer, but you can take it into your laser scanning software solution.
And whether it is Leica, whether it is FARO or Trimble you go to RealWorks and Trimble. You go to your FARO scene; you go to Leica Cloudworks or Cyclone. You can clean up a lot there. There is a lot of cleanups that you can do. I have now worked with a couple of different laser scan companies, and they have shared files with me in a couple of different ways. Jason is one that I have worked with in the past. I have used Resilio. They have handed some large files; they are all through us with laser scanning. And I found that worked out pretty well. Of course, they knew what they were doing. They were cleaning things up. So, it really starts with the laser scan and how you set up your process to reduce noise. I know a lot of people are moving their laser scans up higher now and they walk under it. So, they have a tripod that is tall enough that they can physically move around. There are some great ideas that people are doing to get it right out of the gate.
JAMES: That is awesome. Before I continue our discussion. It has been a great one so far. I want to remind you all that you are listening to JBKnowledge Podcast Network.
JOSH: Rob, what are you doing? Pictures. Photos?
ROB: It originally was all about your local storage. Remember when we had eight–gigabyte phones? 16–gigabyte phones. Now, James, you have got 256 probably.
JAMES: Oh no. 512 baby.
ROB: Oh yeah. It evolves quickly, right? Originally it was on the device. More now it is to the storage provider, which I do not think any of the storage providers that are offering the 360 photos have limits. I do not think it is a storage issue with 360 photos. I think it is more of the processing time from what I hear from people out in the field right now of how long it takes to walk a site and either take multiple 360 photos or 360 videos. It is the processing time to get it locally from the site, up into the provider in the cloud to share it with the whole team. So, I do not think it is the storage.
JAMES: Let us talk about this for a second. These topics converge because we had a question from Trevor Bagot, Trevor, thank you for joining us today. Thank you for sending this in beforehand too. Our thoughts on 360 cameras and multiple platforms available for jobsite documentation as in, we are a complete verification, people in the office do virtually visit the jobsite. Now there is a bunch of software’s out there that do this, that also solve the file sync issue. So, keep in mind, you do not have to store the raw data and sync the folder. If you can get the laser scan, your 360, and if you listen to us, you know, we love 360 cameras because they really shorten the time for doing inspections and walkthroughs. And with tools like StructionSite, you can just leave video walk on, and do a video walk in minutes and have the entire jobsite documented. So, there is a lot of really good solutions like StructionSite, like Reconstruct.
Reconstruct is taking lasers and 360’s and static images, and they are combining all of them. SmartVid is taking a lot of this data too. So, there are these solutions out there that are taking all of the different types of data input. But if you are talking about, and he mentioned construction verification, then if you are talking about laser-based construction verification, we are talking about what? Clear Edge?
I mean, Josh, we are talking about like Kelly Cones territory there. If I remember correctly.
JOSH: Yep. That is correct.
JAMES: I think the last study I looked at from them said that like 50% of steel was installed outside of tolerance or something. It was some insane number, you know.
JEFF: You sit with him and those steel ones scare you with them. If you watch Kelly, a great watch and a great listen and a great resource, but yeah, those are s little bit nuts.
JAMES: You know, Josh, I mean, for me, the one that is really brought this together in the most interesting way has been reconstructed. But I welcome your input on because this is remote construction progress monitoring. It is 2D, 3D R map. That is what they call it. And they bring together all of these different data inputs into one unified 4D model. So, it is really fascinating. You can generate floor plans from 360 video. You can combine interior and exterior images. You can measure the sub–inch accuracy on 360 images. You can align images and videos to 2D floor plans in construction drawings. There is a lot of interesting stuff. If you are looking at it for like verification, I think Clear Edge is one of the best, but Josh, what are your thoughts here?
JOSH: Yeah, Clear Edge is a great solution. Skur is one of the others. Skur is another one that is a platform that is doing some really interesting things on pulling it together in workflows. And then again, I mean, you think about Reconstruct. It is got your drone tie-ins, so much is happening there. You got all these solutions. There are so many different ways you can use it with the workflow standpoints and using that laser scan and using that drone footage and photographs and using it in so many more ways. I mean, at one point in time, it was just, hey, we were using it to staying right in FARO, staying right in some of these other tools. But now there is a lot of easier workflow solutions and we can look at productivity, we can look at progress, we can look at accuracy. I love what Clear Edge is doing.
JAMES: Yeah. And they bought BIM Trace, 2017. They have this thing called Verity photo. It is a field focus construction verification tool that aligns photos of the site with the 3d coordinated model in Navis.
So, you do have some really cool stuff there.
JOSH: Yeah FARO has something new too James. It is skipping my brain right now, but FARO has a workflow now that is similar to Clear Edge and Skur and what they are doing. So, they do have that workflow now, right inside of FARO.
JAMES: Yeah. So, you got to look at… Clear Edge just made a bunch of acquisitions. They bought Pericept out of College Station. They collaborated with Verity GeoSLAM, then Clear Edge got acquired by Topcon, and then they announced a partnership with Rithm, and then they have their Verity hair on, integration for real–time mobile mapping in construction verification.
Then they launched Verity photo. So, there has been a lot of action over there. So, I would definitely for Travis and anybody else that has questions around this, look at Clear Edge, but on 360, these worlds are colliding because the 360 cameras are getting so high revs and they are so cheap. They are $200 or $300, and they are really high resolution. They get down to centimeter accuracy Josh, that the laser in the photo worlds are colliding, and people are starting to use both of them. I think personally because of the cost difference between photo and laser, that photo, as the resolution goes up, will drive laser to a more and more niched utilization, if that makes sense, because there are so many things now you can do with photos and 360 that you used to only be able to do with lasers. And so, I think there is an interesting play there. Rob, you have been following the app market for a long time, You have tried a bunch of these 360 mobile apps. You got to be impressed with what is going on there. Huh?
ROB: That is very amazing what they are doing. I think when I want to know from Trevor to dive into his question more is, if he is asking, do we think 360 photos are a good option for remote monitoring of jobsites? Yes. Are you asking about using 360 photos for jobsite documentation for work completely? That is a slippery slope because yeah, you can take one 360 photo in a room instead of six traditional photos, but a human still has to go look at it and verify then it is there. Now, what I am really getting at, a couple of weeks back, I had a discussion with somebody about using this technology to verify work that is installed on–site versus Josh it is installed on–site, exactly in the right place. That is two very different things. And the technology right now, I think let us just know that yes, you installed some duct onsite. You install drywall. There are not many things that actually show you yes, it is installed precisely, in the right place for that digital twin.
And so, I am curious what Trevor’s really looking for when we say work complete. Well, there is a lot of ways to verify work complete, if it is in the right place, if it’s being commissioned, that’s where ICTracker has some things going on. There are a few other things that use BIM versus StructionSite. That is the pure 360 where a human for right now is still having to verify yes, that is installed and is correct. I would be curious. What’s what is the definition he is looking for work complete verification? I think they are still two very different worlds.
ROB: Yeah. Buildit is the FARO solution. They have got their As–Built, but their Buildit is what their verification for QA QC checking.
JEFF: Well, and when you are talking about these Rob, you are talking about looking down the road to Trevor’s question. You got to look down the road to pick which one you are going to do because it is all about where they are headed. You have got certain ones that are headed for just that jobsite capture, replay type deal that James has talked about for a while. And then there is these ones like StructionSite, what do they call their new one? Oh, I had it a second ago, but they are basically doing AI on your percent completes as you build forward. So if that is where you are headed, if you are in that trade and you are looking for progress monitoring, but true percent complete through SmartTrack, they have got SmartTrack running, well then they are the one to hitch your wagon too like, it really matters what you want to do in the end and where you want to go, because I think a lot of them came in and looked like the same thing to us, but if you really look at it, it is not.
They are divergent, and they are going to head in different directions. That is why I think most of them are going to make it. You can never say all, because all will never really happen, but most will make it. And in fact, some of them will be scooped up and brought into other things as we have started to see happen already. Just a totally different subject. And it looks like Trevor put it in. Documentation would be a for sure thing. I understand a human would need to verify it. The accuracy would be a different story. We would still have our onsite QA; QC team verify accuracy. So, it sounds like he is talking about, staying close to your job, but staying socially distant.
JEFF: Which by the way, 360s are totally great for, and James, you hit this before, like I will tell you what. A laser scanner scared me the first time I saw it and I still like to pause for a second before I walk up to it, but I’ll like to throw my 360 camera around in circles and spin it to see what… so barrier of entry there too – if you are not doing one, start there and you may end up feeling really cool about a laser later on.
JAMES: Yeah. You are still going to be a little careful with your camera, but yeah, although I am not going to do twirling with my 360 camera. Let us go ahead and move on to another topic. Cause we had some really good other ones asked. And I am going to go ahead and talk about let us go ahead and broach the subject. There was an open letter about Revit and saw it, and look, the architecture newspaper, sorry, archpaper.com reported on this, three days ago. The title “Leading architecture firms pen open letter to Autodesk over rising costs, sluggish development” Yeah. And so, this is our final topic of the day. I thought we would wrap with this, and Autodesk, interestingly, because this was a bunch of firms, signed onto this.
JEFF: 22 million worth in recurring revenue is what it came down to, is what that group represented.
JAMES: Yeah. So, it was a group of 25, largely United Kingdom, headquartered architecture firms, Grimshaw, Zaha, Hadid, who we definitely recognize. Wilkinson Eyre, Rogers, Stirk, Harbour & Partners. So, they all signed onto this. Autodesk responded. They replied publicly to the open letter. BIM to the bone. This is all about BIM. This is all about Revit. What are your thoughts on this?
ROB: Listen, I am of the mindset that the fact that it is still an on-premises software is shocking to me. The fact that it cannot take advantage of unlimited cores from a multithreaded standpoint, I am shocked in 2020 that we are there. I mean, Revit was built on older technology. And I know they are offloading several things to the cloud and to the online platforms in what they are doing. But I agree. Revit is the tool that our industry is building on. It is the standard. And it is what I tell my electrical contractors to use, but when I look at the amount of content that is in there, that is usable for trade contractor, I know Autodesk does not want to touch the content, they are letting other people do that. I love them as a company, but I do agree that there is a lot of frustrating things. Those of us that have been working with Revit and that use it on jobs, we have just come to learn workarounds. Plain and simple.
We have learned how to do workarounds and there are certain ways some people were better than others and we share ideas, and if you’re not on Twitter, and you’re not paying attention to Aaron Maller and some of these others that are out there, you’re not doing yourself a true service, but you’ll hear from them. Some of the best Revit minds out there in the industry are very frustrated. And it is time for it to be cloud–based. We are paying SAS models, what everyone feels like they are doing now, but are we truly using a SAS tool in Revit and I am just being honest. So, I know a lot of us are very frustrated and, there is a lot left to be desired with it.
JAMES: In the letter then they said most practices think the platform is not meeting current industry requirements. Autodesk has tabled a variety of initiatives for the next generation of tools or a place where it, but failed to prioritize investment, failed to communicate the roadmap for delivery, cost increases on existing software portfolios continue, but little value is added. I mean, they got very specific with Autodesk on their frustrations around computing, the future, the application itself, pricing of the software. This is a very well organized and well thought out set of arguments that are pretty hard to argue with. And, it was interesting because Autodesk basically conceded that.
JOSH: They did. I mean, if you go back and look at where we are guys in Revit and sharing files, we have really just gotten there where the workflows are easier to work in the same file. And just the last three versions, just the last three or four versions that it has been made it easy for us to share. And then they have changed the way that they have used it. Collaboration for Revit. Gone. I mean, it was there and then it was gone. Now it is a new workflow then it is just evolved so many times and it is frustrating.
JEFF: I want to come from the other angle though. There is a couple of words that I have been using pre-show that I cannot use right now that I want to use. I think this was a bad move on their part. I think what Andrew did with replying to it was good and conceding that there are problems. There are problems with every software. This did not need to be a public lambasting of them. This could have been private. This group of people has enough money, enough talent, and enough things to go after, to really help improve the product to come together with people like Aaron and, Miles Davis and others, other people like that who are truly progressive, but you are talking…
JOSH: Jeff, they have been doing it for years. They have been there for years now.
JEFF: They are talking to architectural groups that won’t listen to other people either though, and yeah, you can call them out on the platform, put your money where your mouth is and go somewhere else, double down and try.
JAMES: Yeah but they have such a huge investment in Autodesk tooling. And I guarantee you they are on customer councils. I guarantee you that they have regular visits with their Exec’s, I guarantee you that they go to AU. I guarantee you; they brought all this up.
JEFF: I have seen them there.
JOSH: They spent a fortune on consulting. They have Jeff. I can tell you for a fact that they have invested a massive amount beyond just the software to get their teams up to speed and learning.
JAMES: Yeah, sometimes when you have exhausted all options and I certainly learned this in politics. Sometimes when you exhaust all options, a public letter is the only route you can go because it applies public pressure and shines and shines light on a dark corner. And so, there are a lot of ways. I am sure they have voiced frustrations over the years and that I imagine they felt cornered into doing this because nobody has a desire to wage a public war. Although, if y’all did not see…
JEFF: Brett brings it up. Autodesk’s biggest motivator. Their stock is going up.
JEFF: So, people are still using it. People are still investing. And I am not saying that the product does not have problems. Like I sit and listen to Aaron all the time on Twitter and I actually ask him questions about what he is struggling with and what they are trying to do to get around it. And yeah, I do want the platform to change a little bit and to evolve. There are all those things, Josh, that are wrong with it too, but for me, it was just, I did not like how it was and you guys can argue with me there, but I am not going to change my option on it. It is true. I am not.
JAMES: That is funny
JEFF: I think there’s options for you to go other ways, try other things, do other stuff, but also, you are talking about the architectural world, right? This is a group that is really hard to get to change and to make moves that we have wanted them to make. So, talk to people, trying to sell them new tools to cut down on the processes that they need to do so they can have that time, and they back away from those and treat those guys like they’re trying to take their lunch from them.
JOSH: So, James, when they reach out to Kara – make sure they give them Jeff’s email, and let them reach out to Jeff and say all the things that they have done to try and make things right.
JEFF: I am not saying they have been … I ’m just saying you are not agreeing with me …
JOSH: They will tell you the story and then we will see if you change your tune after you listen to those things.
JAMES: Yeah. It is okay. I like the point–counterpoint. Because it is what it is. I mean, there is probably all situations. There is there are two, really three sides. One side, the other side, and what actually happened somewhere in the middle. And that is tough. Speaking of public feuds. And, Brett, thank you for bringing up the Autodesk letter. And Jeff had found it and we were going to talk about that one. So, the last one, did anybody read Arman Gukasyan’s posts on LinkedIn? Did y’all see it? This just happened. I do not know what to think, but he just waged, he just opened the Gatling guns on Christian Proux and, I do not know what to think. Y’all need to go check this out. Just go look at his LinkedIn feed. He said that he kind of, he did not, he basically penned an open letter about his frustrations with a competitor of theirs, out of Canada, that has, he made some claims about, and it got ugly really fast. And I mean, this, this went downhill quickly. So, this is maybe in the area of a little ConTech gossip, although it is really not gossip when it is literally out in the open and they are having a feud on LinkedIn.
JEFF: They are having a feud, but can we talk about something too, by the way, that LinkedIn is going to, their algorithm, the way it is working right now? It is going to push that to the forefront because it is actually really truly engaged. There is not a lot of links. So, this thing is going to get way repetitive. Like it is going to be in everybody’s feed because it was right at the top of my feed when you said that James, I flipped over and I am like, oh, the algorithm’s going to make this thing crazy.
JAMES: Yeah. Yeah, you got to check it because they basically, they tagged each other in their responses. So Christian and Arman, and this was a post from one day ago, he says we usually do not pay attention on actions of BIM Track and specifically their practices. And I am not going to read the whole thing because this is his words. You just need to go read, this is a feud between Arman Gukasyan at Revizto, and BIM Track. Pretty interesting forum to have this type of dispute. It is all about issue tracking, comparison documents, marketing literature.
JEFF: I will say one thing though on this, cause it happened to me recently with something. Be honest in what you guys are doing and taking someone else down never helps anybody. In this already low digitization environment that we are in, in construction. the last thing we need to be doing is beating up on each other. Fighting for market space, and this came from something Sasha and I talked about. Fighting for market space is fair. But stay fair, stay honest, go for what you do well. Stay in that respect and stay out of the trash, talking of one another as much as you can, because it really does not help anybody.
JEFF: And also realize that like, we all need the industry to continue to be profitable so that we can profit from them and with them and alongside them. So, I word all of them. Somebody put the sword away.
JAMES: Yeah. This, well, at least publicly, because this creates a lot of noise with your customers on social media. It can be tough. That is really the time we have here. We do need to wrap up and I appreciate our attendees live on the web. We are going to do this every month for the next few months this year. I know we could not do the roadshow, but we are going to be with you live and answer your questions. The questions we did not get to, we are going to kick to next month. I will just give everybody a couple of minutes for our closeout thoughts and comments. Josh?
JOSH: Yeah, I enjoy doing this everyone. I hope the listeners enjoyed this. I think a lot of times it is just; it is good to have a discussion and go away from the norm. So, I personally like this, and I hope the listeners like it as well.
JAMES: Awesome. Jeff?
JEFF: I want to say, thanks for doing this. And for everybody showing up and asking questions and being a part of this, and I know there is some we did not get to on data mapping and a couple of other things that I actually have resources for. So, I am already dying for the next one. I appreciate all you guys and I miss every single one of you. I wish we could be seeing you but seeing you here as a great place to see you. Rob?
ROB: Good conversation. It is good to see you guys and talk. And everybody just remember, this is a weird year, think about things you can do to improve yourself, your companies or really take a look at the processes because, James we have talked for years about, oh, I do not have time to slow down. Well, now you do. So how will you come out of this and be better going forward? So. Really take time and everybody stays well.
JAMES: And to everybody out there, thank you for tuning in today to geek out with us, to hang out on this episode of the ConTechCrew Podcast. That has been episode 229, our interview with each other, our discussion with the crew. To read all of our news stories, learn more about apps, workflows, and hardware, subscribe to our firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to the podcast. Text ConTech to 66866 A big, thanks to Jim Greenlee, our Podcast Producer. Kara Dalton-Arro, our Creative Producer. To listen to this show, go to the show website https://www.thecontechcrew.com
This is the ConTechCrew signing out until next time, enjoy the ride, and geek out!