Tag: <span>BIM</span>

Wrapping down Projects Chicago Conference

By Jim Lichtenwalte, BuiltWorlds

Much to the fanfare of coffee-lovers everywhere, Starbucks will open a massive, 45,000 square-foot roastery in downtown Chicago next year. Formerly Crate & Barrel, it will be the largest Starbucks location in the world, and feature a staggering assortment of coffee, teas, and food.

And right around the corner from where that store is currently under construction, BuiltWorlds hosted its Chicago Projects Conference last month. In Loyola University’s Corboy Law Center, looking out at some of downtown Chicago’s most impressive structures, attendees learned how new construction technologies are changing job sites around the world, and revolutionizing the industry into something smarter, safer, and more interconnected.

Three of Chicago’s most exciting projects–the massive new Starbucks on Michigan Avenue, the renovation of the old Chicago Post Office, and the construction the 774,000 square-foot office space at 110 North Carpenter in the West Loop–were used as case studies illustrating just how far technology is pushing the built industry. The seven panels spanning the day-long conference covered, in great detail, the technology solutions currently in play in the AEC industry that are changing the way we build.

The conference opened with a keynote address by Sean Conlon, the president and co-founder of Conlon & Co. and the host of CNBC’s “The Deed Chicago.” A successful real estate developer and entrepreneur, Conlon walked the audience through his beginnings in Ireland, his journey to Chicago, and the successes and failures he’s had along the way. Conlon encouraged attendees to be bold and push forward.

“Pioneers often get shot in the back with arrows, not pilgrims,” he said.

Many innovative and technologically-driven practices are being used on large scale projects right here in Chicago. When designing the 110 North Carpenter office building (which now houses McDonald’s new corporate headquarters), Gensler utilized analytics and imaging software to create nearly 70 iterations of how to use the building site optimally and create a public space, before deciding on the design that was eventually chosen. The building is also now home to cutting-edge smart building technology in its lobby. Using a combination of key cards, turnstiles, and a 12-car elevator group, KONE created a more intelligent way to funnel people from the building’s entrance and to their offices.

“We wanted to see what we could do to help people get to their destination,” said Dan Brooks, KONE’s director of corporate sales.

In just about every office in America, a building’s occupants swipe their key cards to be admitted to the elevator bank, and then wait for their elevator along with a mishmash of other people destined for a variety of floors. The system KONE installed has the occupants of 110 North Carpenter equipped with smart key cards with data about their floor number. When swiping at the building’s turnstiles, users are assigned to an elevator with a group of people going to nearby floors. Brooks compared this change like moving from a bus to a taxi.

Similarly, ManufactOn and Skender are also two companies utilizing technology to change the industry. In their presentation, Tim Swanson, Skender’s chief design officer, Kevin Bredeson, Skender’s chief technology officer, and Raghi Iyengar, ManufactOn’s founder and chief executive officer, announced a formal, continuing partnership. ManufactOn is a platform that helps companies plan, track, and manage prefabricated projects. Moving forward, Skender will be using ManufactOn software to create modular construction projects. The three men see modular projects as a smarter way to build cities that is safer and uses less resources.

“About half the world’s resources we pull out of the ground we for buildings, and half the energy we use goes into buildings,” Swanson said. “Maybe there is a different way to do it. Maybe there is an alternative future, one does that doesn’t necessarily have to look like ‘Ready Player One.’”

Other panels examined the way technology is making construction sites safer places to work. Aiden Dalley, the product marketing manager of ViewpointDavid de Yarza, the CEO of Builderbox, Inc., and Daniel J. Klancnik, the director of project solutions Leopardo, detailed how interconnected technologies are making job sites safer and safer with each passing day. Using 360 cameras, job sites can be scanned and examined by superintendents for any safety issues.

“You now have the ability to make everybody on the jobsite with a cellphone a safety inspector,” De Yarza noted.

John Cahalan, the director of strategy at XOi, and Mark Schlander, vice president at GuardHat, Inc., discuss how their companies’ wearable products track workers’ locations, enable easier communications, and alert workers of dangerous conditions.

“Everyday 14 workers don’t come home from work,” Schlander said. “We make the invisible visible.”

The conference was capped off by the announcement of BuiltWorlds’ Project Technology Challenge winner, which was chosen by an experienced group of judges. Bobby Goodman, the co-founder of Truss announced Colas’ solar panel roadway as the winner of the competition. The project will line the existing surface area of roads with thin solar panels to produce more sustainable energy.

Moving forward, there is a lot to be excited about in the construction industry. If leaders keep pushing forward and striving for innovation as Conlon encouraged in the keynote, the built industry will certainly continue to become a safer, smarter place and yield amazing results.

Note: This first appeared on BuiltWorld’s website and can be viewed here.

Collaboration Between Industry Leaders Can Help Bridge the BIM Gap

By Dennis Stejskal & Walter Davis.

Over the last 20 years, technology has played a key role in how information transfers through every phase of a building’s construction. As mobile technology continues to increase access to real-time feedback from the jobsite, it has become vitally important to have a comprehensive process for seamlessly connecting building information silos.

In the most recent version of the AGC Outlook and Hiring Report, contractors revealed their plans to increase productivity by adopting mobile technology to generate daily field reports (67%), enable field access to data in their ERP system (63%), as well as track employee time (59%).

Additionally, 49% of contractors expect the amount of work they perform involving Building Information Modeling (BIM) will either expand or remain consistent in 2018 compared to the prior year. These are all examples of much-needed integration between different systems in the construction process.

Despite this fact, much of the data-sharing process between construction disciplines remains disconnected or dependent on outdated import/export functionality. Seamless integration can eliminate this problem and create some key benefits.

For example, it becomes easy to click on a design object in a building information model, pull relevant information into an estimate, and then click on that same object within the estimate to return to the 2D and 3D source estimators. This provides insight into the impact of design changes through effortless access to the source data. Similarly, mobile technology can deliver jobsite data directly to financial and operations systems.

To achieve true integration, industry leaders must collaborate and work together to tear down software technology silos, so that direct links between specialized software tools can be built. This will allow for a bidirectional flow of project information that will be vital to the success of construction projects. The breaking of these siloed systems is imperative to improving efficiency, reducing costs, and modernizing the industry in a new era of technology.

Note: This article first published on BuiltWorld’s blog and can be viewed here.

Drone Photogrammetry Test: Are Automated 3D Roof Measurements Accurate Enough?

By Dan Ciprari, CEO and Co-founder, Pointivo Inc.

Roofing is one of the earliest construction segments to begin adopting the use of UAS technology for gathering measurements.

The use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has grown tremendously in just a few years. Consulting firm PwC noted in its 2016 PwC Global Report that the global market for business services using this technology is valued at more than $127 billion. The report notes that the largest single application is infrastructure, valued at $45.2 billion. As the use of UAS continues to advance, construction companies stand to benefit the most, as these solutions offer improved safety, lower costs, and better workflow integration to convert data into actionable insights.

Roofing is among the earliest construction segments to utilize UAS technology. When roof measurement reports based on aerial imagery first appeared approximately 10 years ago, the precision and reliability of aerial-based measurements were still unclear. The debate about accuracy continues, even while UAS-generated measurements have shown they can be much faster and eliminate the potential for injury during manual measurement.

Haag Engineering, a forensic and engineering consulting firm, recently completed an independent accuracy study to validate the precision of UAV-based roofing measurement workflows. These processes use intelligence algorithms to automatically extract roof geometry and measurements from unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery. The results were then compared to manual measurements.

How Haag Engineering conducted the test

Experienced field surveyors independently measured 13 roofs using traditional survey methods, while independent pilots flew autonomous Kespry UAVs over these roofs to capture images and generate 3D models.

The Kespry UAV was part of a proprietary UAS platform, which included autonomous UAV flight and the capture of high-resolution imagery, as well as 3D processing in the cloud. Once the 3D data was generated, it was then transferred to a 3D intelligence platform where computer vision and machine learning algorithms detected the roof structure, classified edge types, and extracted accurate geometry and measurements for the entire roof, and then generated a detailed CAD model.

These automated measurements–which included lengths for each roof edge, area and pitch for each roof plane– were then compared with the manually collected measurements. Automated measurements were rounded to the nearest millimeter and manual measurements rounded to the nearly ¼ inch, even though measurement to the nearest inch is a typical industry practice.

The roofs

Roof pitches ranged from flat to 12:12 and individual roof areas spanned approximately 10 to 62 squares.  The test included 17 buildings, totaling approximately 535 squares (one roofing square equals 100 square feet). Four of the roofs were too unsafe to measure and were verified through conventional reporting. All sloped roofs were asphalt composition shingles, the most popular type of sloped roofing in the U.S. Flat roofs were modified bitumen. All properties were located in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.

Average variations fall well within industry benchmarks

When comparing roof area (See Figure 1), the Haag Engineering study found that for the 13 roofs that were measured, variations between the manual and automatic measurements ranged from +1.2 percent to -2.7 percent per individual roof. The average difference of 0.6 percent was within the industry goals of +/- 2 percent.  When comparing differences in absolute values, the average variation was 1.1 percent, still comfortably within the +/- 2 percent range.

Automated measurements were highly accurate on edge lengths when compared to manual measurements, and were thus shown as providing highly accurate area results.

It should be noted that these tests used GPS data gathered from sensors on the drone itself to provide scaling data. In the future, accuracy can be improved further by utilizing more precise scaling methods like ground control points (GCP’s) or RTK GPS when the need is required.

Detailed Results

The greatest roof area difference was 95 square feet (2.7 percent of the roof area) while the smallest was just 3 square feet (0.2 percent).  The roof with the greatest difference—#6—was covered by overhanging tree branches along its front edge.

Roof #9 contained a flat roof section that measured approximately 17 squares and was partially overhung by the adjacent sloped roof. However, the automated computed area for this flat roof section was still within 1 percent of the manually-calculated area.


Haag Engineering’s final report summed up the results well: “The automated solution proved reliable for the 13 roofs sampled, as the total area computed 99.4% accurate on average.” These results have proved the UAS can be a viable option to capture accurate roof measurements from the safety of the ground.

Furthermore, UAS enabled much faster measurement than manual means, and much safer. In fact, the original intent of the study was to measure 17 roofs, but 4 of the 17 were too slick and/or steep to reliably measure manually, without better weather and/or a rope and harness. These roofs were easily measurable by UAS.

As UAS technology continues to advance and 3D intelligence platforms become a mainstream solution, construction firms will find an increasing number of uses. Improved accuracy, enhanced safety, lower costs and improved analytics of UAS-generated data will make these solutions increasingly attractive in a wider range of applications.


Note: This article first appeared on the SPAR 3D website and can be viewed here.

Four Key Technologies that Your Roofing Business Should Be Using Every Day 

Roofing is an industry that is slow to adapt to change and technologies, and Antis Roofing strives to be a leader in incorporating new technologies that can advance the industry.

By Charles Antis, Antis Roofing.  

In the modern age where efficiency and precision take precedence, technological advances are paramount to keep not just businesses relevant, but the industries that they serve. Technology is not just software or innovative apps that bring the world to the fingertips of the consumer. It is also using services and software solutions to increase the productivity of a company and its employees. To its detriment, roofing is a very traditional industry and as such, many roofing companies are slow to adopt new technology.

Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) is at the forefront of researching, developing and engaging those in the roofing community to find innovative technology solutions to be used within the roofing industry. The organization encourages contractors to embrace technology to scale their business. In the spirit of RT3, Antis Roofing & Waterproofing aims to use current and future technologies to stay on the forefront of these improvements, incorporating new technologies into best practices and attracting and retaining the next generation of roofing professionals.

  • Aerial Imaging – Aerial imaging advancements are the new movers and shakers in the roofing tech business. With aerial imaging capture, property measurement reports are created to assist roofers in their build by providing 3D detailed diagrams of a project. By using property measurement reports and aerial imaging to their advantage, residential and commercial roofing contractors can increase sales closing rates, improve production planning, increase profitability through time savings, obtain more precise material ordering, and have a better understanding of the risks involved with each roof layout. As this technology progresses, it is likely that the imaging quality will only improve, allowing roofers more visibility into the task at hand. It is also likely that larger aerial imaging firms will not be the only ones able to produce such high-resolution images, as drone technology will bring the power of sight to roofing companies both small and large./li>
  • CRM Technology – In any service industry, customers are key; however, when businesses begin to scale, keeping track of those customers is another matter. Enter Customer Relationship Managers (CRM), a software system designed specifically to track and manage customers. Breaking down the entire process from initial calls to completion, CRM is a way to log each customer interaction. Using CRM, roofing companies can see how many jobs they have, monitor job progress, the costs associated with each job, and the number of customers being serviced. Essentially, CRM streamlines the business in such a way that it saves time for roofing companies while also reducing the margin of error, as there are fewer forgotten follow-ups, fewer jobs not completed on time, fewer payments left uncollected and a stronger ability to track the functionality of each job.
  • Mobile Technology – In today’s world, people are constantly attached to their mobile devices, using it as a source of entertainment, learning, and business. The mobile space for roofing companies is not immune to this phenomenon. Mobile technology allows contractors to connect instantly with roofers in the field, ensuring the best and most time-sensitive decisions can be made by the foreman, thus reducing the margin of error which can cost a business significantly. The use of this on-the-go technology can also help attract and retain new customers, which makes it a vital new technology in the roofing business. Many clients want to see what a finished project will look like, as well as the different options they have for materials, design, and cost along the way. By using mobile tablets on the job site, customers can make fast decisions by showing them all their options on the spot. While Antis primarily uses work order information and documentation, including photos, to plan builds with our commercial clients, mobile tablets are worth a mention as they permeate the residential roofing market in its current state.
  • Building Information Modeling – Building Information Modeling (BIM) uses computer programming to create a digital representation of a physical building, before a roofer begins to work on the project. The digital programming allows the owner or building manager to make reliable decisions during the construction process by providing cost and timing information, ensuring projects stay on target for completion. Once the structure is completed, these BIM programs can provide timely notices and schedules for maintenance and repair, as well as budget projections for costs to maintain the facility. This tool is essential for roofers as they partner with other contractors in the erection of a new structure.

As the above technologies continue to advance, improving effectiveness and efficiency in the roofing industry, Antis Roofing & Waterproofing will stay on the forefront of these improvements, incorporating new technologies into best practices. Moreover, by hiring the best minds, retaining quality employees and forging relationships with vanguards like RT3, Antis hopes to inspire the future of roofing technology. As history has shown, those closest to the field are apt to make the most change!

Charles Antis is founder and CEO of Antis Roofing and Waterproofing and a RoofersCoffeeShop.com Influencer. This blog first appeared on RoofersCoffeShop’s blog and can be viewed here.