Innovation Lessons from Construction
Updated: Feb 10
Today we are celebrating a milestone: It has been 1 year since we launched our company Argyle - our Construction application that puts holograms on your jobsite in Augmented reality. Here are the lessons we learned about construction innovation.
Construction Innovation is Now
It all began with a prototype on an innovative project in downtown Portland: The Fourth and Montgomery Building.
That project was the perfect fit for the idea that sprung up like a wild yeast of some hipster Portland Pale Ale: Quality Assurance in AR.
A BIM-forward team.
An innovative project manager, and
Executives who know QA is the key to reducing rework
Here’s how that project and the team inspired us to scale our prototype and see our futures in construction innovation.
Construction and the Digital Native
Errors on Jobsites are common. Around 30% of construction costs can be attributed to rework.
It’s not only a time and money suck, it’s mentally and emotionally taxing on the workers who--even when getting paid overtime couldn’t be less happy about ripping up their hard work.
When an error happened on 4th and Montgomery project, and with this innovative team, they didn’t point fingers, they asked “how do we prevent the next one?” Everyone would brainstorm.
It was then one of the younger Supers asked “why can’t we just see our models on site in Augmented Reality?”
Enter Argyle: Argyle puts BIM on the jobsite as spatially aligned holograms. This lets you see where concrete embeds are before you pour the concrete around them.
Construction Jobsite Co-Location, Trades and GCs on the Same Team
Kitty corner from the Portland State University (PSU) jobsite, the McDonalds-turned-Job Office was a masterclass in co-location in a busy urban center.
The PSU project was headed up by innovative Project Manager, Jeff Slinger. His was a team that studied their jobsite movements like football playbooks.
Everyone on site was encouraged to question, innovate, and participate.
So it was that Argyle was warmly welcomed, handed a conference room, told the wi-fi password, and got to work in the 90s McDonalds/Job Office.
Construction Experience Gaps
Our first lesson in the experience gap came when I was told the wi-fi password. It was the name of this character:
Do you know who the Hamburglar is--much less how to spell it? It's why they had to put up the sign.
The Hamburglar spelling error was observed only in the younger half of the team members who were denied McDonald’s side characters in their youth and given spellcheck from birth.
Such is the wisdom of co-location. The colocation office helped smooth the gaps in experience. It was one big happy family meal, where trade partners and project managers could mingle and quickly get answers.
Co-location isn’t enough alone, it also requires a culture shift, a belief that we are all in this together.
Construction Innovations at All Ages and from the Bottom Up
Addressing the experience gap requires patience, creativity, and innovation.
Colocation was an innovation. Augmented Reality BIM QA was an innovation.
But innovations aren’t just reserved for the young or the project managers in charge. The coolest innovations come from the bottom up.
I remember one of the innovations on 4th and Montgomery was as simple as improving ergonomics. A self-described “old guy,” attached a Sharpie to a golf club to prevent constant bending to mark the floor.
He knocked out his work in record time and, per the culture of 4th and Montgomery- was celebrated for it.
More than 40% of the current construction workforce is likely to retire by 2031.
Training in AR, a Natural Fit for 3D
One of the barriers to participating in construction, for me at least, has to be the plan sets.
A former lawyer, I was trained to read contracts; I understand the plans form the legal documents, but I still struggle to wrap my head around translating the 2D squiggles into 3D shapes in my head.
Argyle allows all experience levels to understand the build in real space. No translation or imagination required.
To test this I was handed my own software and told to do a QA checklist on a site I’d never before visited.
Playing the role of the project intern, I put the device on my head. With BIM overlaid as holograms on site. With Argyle, I was amazed how easily I could identify errors.
I even found the initial placement error that precipitated the AR on site idea.
Here I can be heard rubbing it in with the Project Engineer, Erik. With a click of “Fail” the error gets sent to someone who knows more about what they’re doing.
Thank you FMB Project for giving our team a chance to help you change the industry. Thanks especially to the team at Andersen, Jeff for warmly welcoming us to the project and Erik for seeing our vision and building on it. Thank you ASI for the concrete model. Thank you SRG for letting us test the architectural model before we even knew what to do with that many gigs of data. We now can eat your architecture model for breakfast and give you AR for lunch.
Argyle will be launching its public Beta January 2021. Quality Assurance on the Jobsite.
To get updates on the launch subscribe to our newsletter.
Argyle updates its blog with news on Construction QA, Augmented Reality in AEC, and Argyle Product updates around 3 times a month. SUBSCRIBE to be the first to get special product offers, news about Argyle releases, and short stories about construction.