In 2016, JBKnowledge launched ConTech Roadshow. The 2019 six-city show came to PHCPPros’ backyard of Chicago, on October 16 at the Hyatt Lodge. Designed to bring together construction industry professionals at the local level, the one-day event allows attendees to “geek out” with educational sessions, networking opportunities, and demonstrations of the latest technology including wearables, sensors, drones and more.
“This roadshow really brings it down to the local level. There’s ton of national technology conferences but really no one is going out to the local shows and local venues and talking to local folks that can’t go and leave town for four days and get technology driven education driven all the way into the construction business,” said James Benham, CEO of JB Knowledge. “Chicago is a big town that’s big into construction and that’s why we were super excited to bring the roadshow here in 2019.”
Helping to bring The ConTech Roadshow to Chicago were the 2019 title partners Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and PeerAssist, which provides construction companies with a mobile app for handling out-of-scope work and automating the process of field work orders.
Each city of the tour features a local panel of construction technology experts. The Chicago stop’s local features were Darren Roos, of Bernards, on Gamification; Travis Voss, of Mechanical Incorporated, on augmented reality (AR); and Tauhira Ali, of Milwaukee Tool, on artificial intelligence (AI).
The gamification, augmented reality and artificial intelligence session explored conversations of adoption and strategizing ways to get people buy into tech. Speakers suggested that gaming can be used as training and a way to get employees to buy into new technologies. The conversation also went beyond (AR) to virtual reality and mixed reality which is the technology that powers hololense and Trimble Connect. It was expressed that mixed reality is the highest form of technology on the construction market right now, but is only being used in a limited way due to issues with equipment battery life and jobsite Wi-Fi offerings. etc. Trimble Connect is a MR product.
Another session looked at connected jobsites, address the big question, “what do we do with all of the data?” Speakers talked about reality capture offerings, such as 3-D scanners and 360-degree cameras. They also talked about how robots, including vacuums, lawn mowers and drones, are actually mapping spaces and storing that data. The session considered how big data will ultimately inform modular design and prefabrication as the future of construction. Speakers urged attendees to consider viewing this design not as an opportunity to reduce labor, but to optimize labor. It was suggested that augmenting the construction workforce will not replace humans but provide humans with processes, tools and technology that will allow them to work more and longer.
One of the afternoon sessions touched on the intersection of BIM, manufacturing and construction. A major conversation of the session was paperless versus digital. Speakers warned that digital systems can be inefficient if used incorrectly, such as simply scanning files as PDFs. For the process to be optimized, all construction professionals on project should be able to access and manipulate digital files. Speakers also talked about best practices for using BIM. It was suggested that, when used well, good BIM technology allows for real time communication and will ultimately become what a risk assessment and RFIs look like in the future.
The final session of the day addressed having a marathon outlook when it comes to IT and software. Speakers emphasized that IT is about both people and processes. Attendees were encouraged to suggest that their companies train IT outside the construction industry in order to encourage innovation. It was added that innovation can not be looked as a goal but instead and an unending opportunity to improve. It was also suggested that innovation should not be overdone or underdone. To aid in innovation that is unique to a company’s services and expertise, speakers encouraged attendees to have their company’s design their own software.
Between each session, attendees had 25-minute lightening rounds with vendors. Vendors showcased the latest tech-driven tools and software throughout the day Representatives included Milwaukee Tool, FARO Technologies, AUTODESK, Revizto, LINQ, Plexxis, DeWalt, and more.
Attendees of Chicago stop also had the opportunity to receive Construction Financial Management Association continuing professional education (CPE) credits.
Construction technology is a year-round experience for those who listen to the JB Knowledge "ConTech Crew" podcast. On the weekly show, four construction technologists – James Benham, Josh Bone, Jeff Sample and Rob McKinney – discuss news and current trends within the industries. A special guest is also featured on each episode. Tune in at http://thecontechcrew.com/