Last week I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the 2015 AGC IT Conference in Chicago. This was the seventh annual version of the industry leading technology event. The conference consists of a day and a half of amazing presentations and demonstrations of new and cutting edge technology for the construction industry. There were several great presentations at the conference.

A few of the highlights from the first day for me were:

Tech Talks
One of the new additions to the conference was the “Tech Talks” session. These were short 15 minute presentations that focused on technology topics by speakers such as Brent Darnell, Brian Laird, Rawle Sawh, and Michael Faddis.

Tech Talk 1: Avoid Project Collaboration Mistakes (Brent Darnell)

Mr. Darnell started off his Tech Talk with a crowd exercise in communication. He had all of the attendees stand up for a group exercise on communication. He instructed each person to turn to another person and send a “Clap” to them, then that person would turn and do the same, and then again and again. This exercise continued for two one rounds with increasing complexing. The point of all this was how details can be lost in communication.

He then asked the audience “How can technology help solve problems on construction problems?” He pointed out that great IT platforms cannot fix people problems. Mr. Darnell stressed the importance of the human factor in finding solutions to IT related problems. He informed the audience that there were three mistakes to overcome in good communication. The biggest is not “Clearly defining the problem (and the value).

Tech Talk 2: Laser Scanning- Reality of Reality Capture (Brian Laird)

Mr. Laird works for Rick Engineering in the GIS and laser scanning group and most of scanning is for vertical work in California. He asked the audience “What is the value I get out of laser scanning?”. A few of the items of value for construction companies that Mr. Laird pointed out were….

  • Accurate As-Built Conditions: by using laser scanning technology contractors can obtain accurate field As-Built conditions to compare against design documents, example location of ductwork on a project.
  • Real World Data: By scanning the actual physical space, contractors can now add real world data to a model to use for clash detection and redesign.
  • Streamline the virtual spatial coordination process between Owner, A&E Team, and General Contractor.

One concept Mr. laird brought up was “BIM’atite.” What problem are you trying to solve? What is the end goal of BIM use? By this he was inquiring as to what a Owner or Contractor is trying to accomplish with BIM. In Summary, Mr. Laird reminded the audience that: laser scanning helps minimize change during construction, set explicit expectations for projects, software catching up to hardware, and scanning adoption is on the Rise.

Tech Talk 3: Laser Scanning ROI (Rawle Sawh)

Mr. Sawh is a VDC Manager for Gilbane Construction Company. The Gilbane team has been using laser scanning internally for a few years and owns 4 scanner units across the country that they use on project sites. The scanners and the data they generate help remove uncertainty and reduce risk of pre-existing conditions. One of the 7 deadly sins of contracting is accepting poor design documents. The use of new technology helps reduce the risk of uncertainty on renovation projects.

Mr. Sawh explained to the attendees why the Gilbane invested in laser scanning:

  • Obtain better “As-built” conditions of projects.
  • Outsourcing the process was very expensive.
  • The software has become extremely user friendly.

Tech Talk 4: Internet of Things (Michael Faddis)

Michael Faddis is an Architect of Solutions focused on user experience working for Vokal. He builds for the Internet of Things, helps  enable companies use mobile devices and wearable. One interesting thing that Mr. Faddis pointed out is that currently devices outnumber humans. People are using more and more devices that are enabled and connected. The Internet of Everything is here from things such as smart thermostats to smart locks.

Affordable Solutions / Open Forum

This year I had the honor of moderating the popular open discussion technology forum. This is a very interactive 90 minute session that allows attendees to ask questions, seek answers, and share relevant “Affordable Solutions” that benefit their businesses.

I started off the topic discussion with a live demonstration of how the Tello App worked to manage team workflows. Trello is a web based platform that allows teams to stay organized about to do list and project status.

Some of the topics and solutions discussed were discussed were…

Social Media Workflows

Asana : project conversations and tasks in one place.

Buildingportal : collaborative toolset for plans

FieldLens : project communication by photos and tasks

Jobsite Unite : project communication and safety awareness.

Podio : project collaboration and task management.

Trello : project collaboration and tracking of tasks.

Free Apps

CamScanner : scan photo to PDF

Camcard : collects, stores and organizes business cards.

Evernote : note, task and writing management.

Office Lens : add photos, docs, business cards, and contacts to OneNote.

Skitch : send screenshots and photo mark ups to Evernote.

Waze : live crowd source traffic app.


Asta Powerproject : scheduling like suretrack

Fasttrack : scheduling software

Synchro Ltd : 4D scheduling tool.

Gantter : free cloud schedule project management.

FreeCPM : free web based scheduling.

LaborChart : team and project scheduling.

Wrike : task and project management.

Time Sheets

AboutTime : timekeeping app

ExactTime : mobile timekeeping app

Quickbase : form builder that can integrate with Quickbooks

Tsheets :  digital time cards

These were my highlights from day one of the 2015 AGC IT Conference. Stay tuned for details about the rest of day one and day two of the conference including  presentations on Drones (sUAS) and the Rapid Fire Demos.