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Last August, Oracle Construction and Engineering opened an Innovation Lab in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield designed to accelerate the company’s efforts to help the construction industry explore the latest technologies and drive the type of digital transformation that only sounds futuristic.
Instead, some of it is on display right now at the 15,000-square-foot mock construction site. There might be a doublewide construction trailer off to the side for the foreman, but this jobsite also features connected devices, autonomous vehicles, drones, augmented reality, visualization and artificial intelligence tools.
Naturally, the lab includes Oracle software products – in fact, the lab is located on the campus of the former headquarters of Textura. Oracle bought the provider of construction contracts and payment management cloud service for $663 million in 2016.
The tech giant originally began its expansion into the construction industry with the acquisition of Primavera in 2008. Primavera provides Project Portfolio Management solutions to the engineering and construction industries, as well as many other “mission-critical operational applications” to several other industries. In December 2017, Oracle paid $1.2 billion for Aconex, a cloud-based solution to managed team collaboration for construction projects.
However, Oracle is eager to discover other ways to build relationships with its contractor and engineer customers and wanted to further highlight how everyone can experiment with technology.
“Companies reach out to us all the time with their solutions and want to integrate with our products,” says Burcin Kaplanoglu, an executive director and innovation officer at Oracle. “But we are seeking to build real partnerships. So, it’s not like we want to just give people our API’s to connect. We want to provide solutions that our customers want to use and not what a technology company just wants them to buy."
As a result, Oracle has recruited other technology providers that participate at the Innovation Lab:
• Assemble Systems, an Autodesk company, provides a SaaS solution that enables construction professionals to condition, query and connect BIM data to key workflows across bid management, estimating, scheduling, site management and finance.
• Bosch is empowering more productivity on the job site through connected tools and asset solutions.
• DAQRI allows workers to link digital content to the real world to accelerate productivity, communication and key business processes.
• HERE, the Open Location Platform company, enables people, businesses and cities to harness the power of location. By making sense of the world through the lens of location, HERE empowers its customers to achieve better outcomes.
• Jovix, a material readiness application developed by Atlas RFID for the construction market, keeps crews productive with accurate and real-time information about material availability relative to the construction plan and schedule.
• Reconstruct provides a 3D timeline that tracks visual progress, labor productivity, and predictive analytics that empower executives and their project teams to take actions to stay on time and on budget.
• Triax’s platform connects the construction jobsite and provides real-time visibility into workers, safety, equipment and asset management.
In addition, the Innovation Lab will feature a demonstration of Oracle Live Experience Cloud, showcasing engagement for cross-worksite experiences.
Of course, Kaplanoglu knows none of these demonstration would be possible unless Oracle had a construction site to play with.
The current lab, however, is just the company’s initial plan to showcase construction technology. With much of the lab located outside, the company wants to renovate the inside of the 18,000-square-foot building, too.
The second and final portion calls for repurposing the building to become a model construction site all its own. With a height of 40 feet, that should give drones plenty of room to fly. The plan also calls for the outside construction site to be encased in a multistory hangar with a viewing platform.
Oracle is currently working with Deerfield officials who have to approve the changes. If Oracle does get the OK, the plan is to the have the site open by this fall.
With the added room, Kaplanoglu expects more vendors to take part in showcasing additional technological solutions.
“Advances in technology are reshaping the industry landscape at an accelerating pace,” he says. “We’ve built walls essentially the same way for a hundred years.”
Kaplanoglu also believes these advances will bring some needed interest and generate some real excitement to the construction industry and help attract the next generation of contractors.
“Technology will not replace people, but it will support them,” he explained “Everyone can sleep well at night knowing that work can be done better.”