Podcast: ACTion in the world of VDC
Imagine a world where the design team, construction team, and their subs work directly from a shared, buildable model. Join Clayton Lyons, Donal Lyons and Xinan Jiang to find out how STO’s Advanced Coordination Team (ACT) is doing just that by leveraging construction technology differently.
The podcast is available for download now on Apple PodcastsGo to https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/action-in-the-world-of-vdc/id1467818603?i=1000447245188, SpotifyGo to https://open.spotify.com/show/6YlP9fhhiaQnNaLuiMlwV6 and PodBeanGo to https://structuretone.podbean.com/e/action-in-the-world-of-vdc/.
Narrator: Welcome to Building Conversations, a construction podcast powered by the STO Building Group. On today’s episode, Alison Smith, a member of STO’s corporate marketing team will be speaking with our Advanced Coordination Team or ACT. They’re a team of virtual design and construction experts who have a unique approach to using BIM and VDC to solve construction problems.
Alison Smith: All right, so let’s get started. I have the pleasure of sitting here in Boston with our ACT team and they’re here with me now. Clayton Lyons, Donal Lyons and Xinan Jiang.
Clayton Lyons: Hi, Alison.
Alison Smith: Clayton, let’s start the conversation with you and how this all began. Virtual design and construction, I think has become more mainstream in the last few years, but you’ve been in this business for decades.
Clayton Lyons: 30 years, yeah.
Alison Smith: How’d you get started in this?
Clayton Lyons: Um, I started when I got discharged from the Marine Corps. I, uh, was accepted into a Local Union 12 plumbers union here in Boston. And I did my apprenticeship, but the biggest thing that got me started was the people that were mentoring me.
Everybody is a product of their mentoring. Uh, everyone we know, and I had some very unique individuals that thought way outside of the box. Uh, taught me engineering is the code practice. So, whatever’s written in the code in order to solve things, it always reverts back to engineering status or techniques. So, a lot of the things that we started to do here was address common problems on job sites. So, the typical process of BIM has been monitoring subcontractors. Uh, what we actually do is we jump in ahead of the purchase of subcontractors and work with the design teams in order to come up with a set of coordinated drawings so that we can actually get going much faster in the process.
Alison Smith: Is that something you learned when you were a tradesman, like to, to work with the team that way or is that something that came to you later when you started doing this on your own?
Clayton Lyons: Well, it came probably when I got into the engineering business. I started working for a mechanical engine—a very large mechanical engineering firm and I was designing and I started to understand what design teams go through. So being a tradesman and being out in the field, working with the tools and everything, um, you didn’t have that respect for the design team or that understanding for the design team. Once I was in that seat, I started to understand that if we all collaborated, we could actually come up with a buildable set of documents and save a lot of time and effort, change orders and everything else that we suffer through right now with all the RFIs and issues that pop up out in the field.
So now by taking that process, getting involved with the architect and the engineers, the minute we get the project allows us to eliminate that whole set up and start looking into more fabrication of process, taking care of the owner, you know, just taking care of the issues, seeing them and figuring out how to resolve them.
Alison Smith: And so, then when you brought Donal and Xinan kind of into the fold, is that the approach that, you know, that you were teaching them as they got started in the business?
Clayton Lyons: Yes. So, the three guys that taught me, that’s who’s teaching them, plus a little bit of my twist. And the three of us, we’re learning every day for the rest of our lives. This is an industry where you don’t start school till the day you’re hired. So, you can go to school to be a financial expert and come out and be a financial expert. Uh, here, you have to learn this business the day you start. There is no school that teaches it or can give that understanding to these guys.
Everything with Donal and Xinan was pretty much baptismal by fire and they learned so much more than anybody in the industry could possibly learn from working with the engineers, the architects and the tradesmen. So, they’re completely interactive with designers and field personnel, plumbers, foremen, pipe-fitter foremen, tin knocker foremen. Um, and that relationship starts from the very beginning to the very end.
Alison Smith: So then Donal, let’s bring you in here. In full transparency, you are Clayton’s son. So, so did he make you get into this or was this something you were interested in anyway?
Donal Lyons: Uh, it came about in a funny way, um, starting back in high school, I had a mid-grade for biology class and I wasn’t doing too well. And my mom and dad decided that for my vacation, I was going to spend that vacation going to work with my dad. And, going into the office, he showed me what he was doing and programs he was using, and he put me under a kind of a tutelage of one of the people working in his group at the time. And I just started liking it right off the bat and learning from them and their group, and it, it was a really cool experience and though I don’t have my formal education and that I came out and worked my summers and kept learning and learning. And then when I got out of college, I had an opportunity to come here and work for him again and I jumped at it.
Alison Smith: So, what, um, what did you get your formal education in?
Donal Lyons: Political science and government. So, you know, not really applicable in what I’m doing, but you know, my dad and my mom had told me going to college, you know, study something that you’re interested in. But as my dad had said, when you come out, this’ll be an option for you as well, but go out there and, and I took that opportunity to do it in college.
Alison Smith: Did you kind of have in the back of your mind that you thought you’d end up here anyway or, or were you just open?
Donal Lyons: I certainly explored different options, but I landed back that this is exactly what I wanted to do with my career. No day is the same as the last, at least from my experience, and I do not regret that at all.
Alison Smith: And I would imagine you are kind of getting into this right when it was becoming more of the mainstream, you know, when BIM became kind of the big buzzword. Was that right around when you were getting into this?
Donal Lyons: Yeah, absolutely. It was getting from 2D drafting to 3D coordination and it was becoming adopted more mainstream and it was becoming almost a necessity for any project. So, I really caught it on the upswing. It was pretty interesting.
Alison Smith: Xinan, how about you? You came into it similar timing when it was becoming the new thing, but I think you came at it from a different angle than these guys.
Xinan Jiang: Yeah. First of all, I’m not related with those two, but we work as a family. I came like pure like academic BIM background. Um, I did a research with my professor while I was pursuing my master’s degree in civil engineering when it just started getting hot about BIM. And we wrote about like 80 to 100 pages of thesis about BIM and everything. So, it was a hot topic. I was able to land a job, but I was really hesitant of taking any job related to BIM because, while I was doing that, I kind of had a feeling there’s a missing link.
Because in the academic world, they told you with this model and a software you can build a building without no really having a construction knowledge. So, I’m feeling there’s something missing in between. And I don’t think I would have handled that job, like when I was started looking for jobs, although I got a lot of job offers related to BIM. So, until I met Clayton, he said how he did BIM, linked those field experiences and your modeling skills together. And then we did a lot of pre-coordination stuff and then kind of linked them together, so I was like, “This is missing link.” And that’s how I got into it, and I started working with him seven years ago and it’s being working well.
Alison Smith: So then maybe you can describe for us over this last seven years plus, what it is that your team does. What is does the ACT team do?
Xinan Jiang: So, we’ve tried to get involved with the design team really early and then, with that, we try to come up with the pre-coordinated design so when the subs get them, they can start installation and fabrication. That’s what we call pre-coordination of what we do.
And then if we get involved during the coordination process, during the construction, instead of doing the clash detection only, we try to come up with the solutions on any of the issues onsite and work with the subs and design team closely. And then interactive coordination and stuff just doing are purely doing the clash detection and also if there’s any issues that come up last minute onsite from the design team or the owner, they call us and then we work with them to come up with a solution instead of like waiting for an RFI or, you know, any design pending approvals. And then this what we call a reactive coordination.
So those are the main three services we provide.
Alison Smith: So, are you saying that you guys can be involved with using a model to help before the construction starts?
Xinan Jiang: Yup.
Alison Smith: And then like solve problems while the construction is happening, and then even addressing more stuff after?
Xinan Jiang: Yes, we solve the problems before the construction actually starts. And then when the subs get the drawings, those drawings are already coordinated so they don’t need to RFI any issues they spot on the drawing. So, there’s no change orders needed if it’s already working out.
So that’s when we try to get involved early, but there are some projects we couldn’t get involved early in design phase because of the timing. So, we came in and we provide the best solutions for all trades. And sometimes we’ll work with design teams saying just shorten the process and provide a solution, so they can start moving forward with the project.
Alison Smith: So how is the approach you guys take different from say a normal, traditional BIM process where the architect has their model and the subs have theirs and you have yours? How is your process different?
Clayton Lyons: What most BIM processes are, is they put a guy in there that understands how to clash detect with the software, which is typically Navisworks, the subs then begin drawing. And then, this individual manages that model, brings it together, does clash detection, projects it up onto the screen with the subs, points out that that has hits or clashes with system to system—and then next week, they do it again and hope that some of that is resolved. They leave it up to the subcontractors to go back and do that.
Um, the process that we’re doing when we’re doing a typical BIM presence, we’re not brought on during the design phase, is we do the same thing pretty much. And once there’s a clash, we just tell them to keep moving. We manipulate it, get back to that individual sub that afternoon, they incorporate it and we’re doing it right off the bat. We’re signing off weeks ahead of the regular process.
Alison Smith: I see. So rather than just detect clashes, you guys help solve them fix them, move on.
Xinan Jiang: And as also a good point, because I think the world is trying to, when you’re in school with BIM, it’s like you know the software, which is called Navisworks and you know how to model it in Revit, and then you can use BIM.
Alison Smith: You’re a BIM person
Xinan Jiang: Yeah, you’re a BIM person, but we just have a PM who will come up like next, uh, next couple of weeks. And then he said like, he asks us how much time do I need for the training for now is work. I said two hours. So maximum, like that’s what it is. So, using the software is not the key. You put the regular coordination into 3D representation and that’s about it.
Alison Smith: So, the problem solving is really where your field experience and knowledge of the fittings and all that stuff comes in.
Clayton Lyons: Right, these guys, they know how to build a building. Donal, Xinan understand HVAC systems, heating pipe systems, plumbing systems and their codes and the engineering backgrounds. It’s a lot for uh, people of this age to know. And like I said, everything is a baptismal by fire. These guys are working sometimes on 10 different kinds of buildings per year, where a typical process a guy’s on one building for three years. So, Donald or Xinan could be working on a hospital, a lab, a hotel and an art museum all at the same time and totally understanding the system requirements for those specific buildings.
Alison Smith: So, given that, can you guys walk us through maybe an example from a project, like how your process helps solve problems?
Xinan Jiang: So we built a 27-floor tower for one of our healthcare clients. It was a skewed shape of building, it was really hard for the coordination to start with. So actually, that project, the design team requested to bring us on board early. They had a meeting with us really early, even before they finalized the design and we did the pre-coordination with them and we spotted some issues. So, before the subs came on board, we were able to come up with a fully pre-coordinated drawing.
So, within a week we were able to sign off two floors and then they started fabrication and installation almost right when they were on board. They’re, the change orders we were able to avoid like millions of dollars, and then, uh, we eliminated a lot of RFIs too because those problems were already solved before, um, you know, the drawings had been released. So, that’s a successful project and even uh, the owner said to us without you guys, this building wouldn’t be up right now.
Alison Smith: Plus, you helped with all that problem-solving alone plus all the time that you just saved and the money that you just saved, it just seems like a no brainer.
Xinan Jiang: Yeah.
Clayton Lyons: They maintained a 100% design intent.
Alison Smith: I’m glad you bring that up because I know one of the issues that I hear about in the whole VDC realm is, you know, each project partner kind of wants to manage their own model and keep their information to themselves. So if part of your guys’ approach is to get in early on the design, Donal, do you ever have issues with design partners or other project partners not wanting to play that game?
Donal Lyons: Absolutely. I mean there are a lot of examples where, where we face pushback from the design side in terms of releasing models. I mean, in that phase of a project it’s, it’s their intellectual property and often on BIM-process projects that they’ve been involved with before with other teams, I think they’ve experienced a lot of kickback and negative reactions. You know, their models are simply designed intent. They’re not meant to be coordinated to, they’re not meant to show 110% accuracy.
The reality is, is we understand that, and we go into the projects like that and we, we talk to those design teams and work with them to create an atmosphere of trust and explaining to them that we’re more concerned about the CD set, the construction documents. That’s what we work off of. That’s what we own in a project. It’s not going to be based off of the model that they hand over to us. Once we’ve worked on a project with them then it becomes a lot easier. Like we’ve worked with a lot of great design teams where we’ve established a really good working partnership and that’s how we go into a project as we’re partners with you.
Alison Smith: Yeah. And keep like you were saying their design intent, you guys are trying to make it real. And so same, same team, same goal.
Donal Lyons: That’s it.
Alison Smith: Uh, well so Clayton, what about the subs? Do you ever have issues with them, you know, pushing back on the process?
Clayton Lyons: Uh, in the beginning, few years back maybe. Now, subs are very used to us, uh, with their peers. They’re tradesmen, we’re tradesmen and we share the same language. That’s one of the biggest things is sharing the same language. We’re understanding the design talk, but we’re also understanding the installation talk. They’re two different languages all together.
We’ve been in a couple of situations where we’ve actually gone out laid pipe and hung stuff with the trades just to make sure because of rough layout in some scenarios, but it also gives us the ability to stay current because fittings and things like that are changing just as much as software is.
Alison Smith: Yeah. So, you guys are kind of like the translators in the middle that bring it all together. So, speaking of that, what if you’re on a job where you’re not, we’re not the only construction management firms, like there’s another GC onsite or something. How do you guys coordinate with them if maybe they don’t approach VDC the same way you do?
Clayton Lyons: Donal just did a perfect scenario on that.
Donal Lyons: Yeah, I mean we’ve found ourselves in situations like that before where the contract is that we have the interior fit-out aspect of the project and the other contractor has the core and shell. And the reality is we have the same client, we have the same goal in building the project and a lot of the aspects of a core and shell project affect what we’re able to do in the interior fit-out portion of, of our contract. So, we are partners with them as well.
And so, we’ve had a project where we had a high-profile type client where we were building out a headquarters and we had another contractor doing the core and shell and they were doing beam penetrations in this very, very tight space in a ceiling and up front, we were able to work with them, share information, share our resources with them to ensure that by the time their portion of the contract was met, that we were able to perform our end of the contract. So we’re not going in as competitors. We have to work as a team and collaborate with them to make sure that we can do the best job that we can.
Alison Smith: And does it matter or is it any kind of sort of issue that the way you guys approached the modeling and the virtual construction part of it may be different than the way they do or is it easy to bring those together or do you not even have to bring them together?
Donal Lyons: We work with them to find the best practice and so we show them what we’re doing, they show us with they’re doing um, complete transparency in the entire process because it benefits none of us to work against each other. So, it’s one of those things where at this particular project that I have laid out, for example, we ended up sharing our FTP site and, and model sharing and everything like that and exchange of files and everything we were working on. So, it just comes down to what the best practice is.
Clayton Lyons: I’m going to interject on that for a second. Donal’s been a little modest here. That particular contractor was doing the shell and core and, because they hadn’t had the subs on board yet and they understood what we were doing, they asked their up and coming subcontractors work, plumbing, HVHC and everything in order to produce those beam penetrations for fabrication. So, Donal was in there actually on their request, doing the pre-coordination process before that general contractor had subcontractors on board.
Alison Smith: Wow. So, it helped them be more efficient and save time.
Clayton Lyons: Yeah. And our client was very happy.
Donal Lyons: But them being more efficient, them saving more time, makes us more efficient and makes us save time. So again, it all boils down to what the end result is. And that’s, that’s a project that’s built on time, on schedule and on budget.
Alison Smith: That’s a good segue because I was just—I think you guys have kind of touched on it a little already, but what are the benefits to doing it the way that you do it versus sort of that traditional way where we were talking about where it’s just like clash detection and all that stuff. What are the benefits of doing it this way?
Xinan Jiang: So I think benefits of a project that’s the only two aspects untill the end. One is money. The other one is time. So when there’s a delay of time for the coordination process, it’s like either there’s a conflict no one can provide a solution or there’s a RFI we’re waiting for the design team to answer. So, we eliminated the RFIs to start with so there’s less RFIs and then even if there is RFI, sometimes we’ll work with the subcontractor. And then all we need to do is send a confirming RFI to the design team. They turn around like usually really short time and say this is good. So that saves us the time.
And also, when there’s a hit on the site, instead of waiting for the ductwork guy to resolve the situation, which when he move it, he made hit others, we are trained to draw all trades. So, when we’re working on as a hit, we draw all trades, come up with a better one. So typically, when they go with traditional BIM, they sit on one hit for three, four months. Donal actually resolved the one, one clash or one hit within two days.
Alison Smith: And I would imagine the efficiencies that your process brings in, they save the money that’s related to the time, but I would think even through like fabrication and estimating and everything that it saves on ordering, you know, materials that you didn’t end up needing or, or things like that.
Xinan Jiang: Yeah, like uh, the fabrication is a big thing for us when we have that work with us all the time, they come up with a habit when they got our drawing, they know it’s going to work and they start fabrication with our drawing and then we’re like, “No, you cannot start fabricating until you resubmit it to the design team.” But that’s the level of trust they have with us…
Alison Smith: They know.
Xinan Jinag: Yeah, they know it’s going to work. And just think about, typically you have to wait like a month or two to coordinate, like let’s say big projects for a couple of floors in order for you to release any of the fabrication but, in those cases we’ve pre-coordinated, they know it’s going to work and they start fabrication right away. So those are the time-saving as well.
Alison Smith: So, you bring up a good point too about really big projects versus other kinds. Are there kind of, are there types of projects that are more suitable for your process? In other words, like does what you guys do apply to everything? Would everyone want to use it on their project or is it more appropriate for certain types of projects?
Donal Lyons: It definitely has it’s stronger impacts on specific projects, especially with, you know, we focus and we’ve talked about mainly coordinating mechanical systems because we know that mechanical portions of a project, you either make or break a project. Um, 70% of cost overruns and schedule delays are attributed to MEP related issues in coordination. So, when we come in and start focusing on the MEP aspects, there are some projects that don’t require a high level of, of focus on MEP.
A hotel project for instance, once you’ve coordinated one floor, you’ve essentially coordinated them all. But you look at labs and you look at healthcare facilities, they require knowledge of code, which is absolutely important, and different kinds of MEP systems that have either long-lead items or are much more complicated and take a lot longer to coordinate. So, there are projects like that that we managed to take on when we apply our process.
Clayton Lyons: A lot of TI work is, they jump into a building and they demo right away and then they have to install right away. So, the processes isn’t too intuitive on something like that, it’s not, you know, we’d probably holding it up more than helping
Alison Smith: You don’t need it really.
Clayton Lyons: No, you know, um, especially in office space. You start getting into maybe renovating a complex lab or converting into a hospital space, um, then you’re going to need to get in there and do some reconnaissance work. And then pre-coordinate.
Alison Smith: When you have those kinds of projects, I know you’ve mentioned before, you’ve mentioned already like, you know, using tools like Navisworks and then just the software itself. What are some of the other tools you use to kind of do that reconnaissance and assessment?
Clayton Lyons: Laser scanning.
Donal Lyons: Laser scanning. Laser scanning has been around for a while, but it’s incredibly effective in allowing us to 100% accurately identify a space that we’re going to be coordinating in without having to send more people out there to take measurements and stuff like that. The cost of labor has now been significantly reduced because of using laser scanning.
And it allows us to be accurate from a centralized location. We can work on a project down in Philadelphia from here with 110% accuracy because of tools like laser scanning. So we use that a lot.
Alison Smith: And I know you just said it’s been around a while, but it seems like in the last couple of years it’s even progressed further. What used to be those like really big machines and just, you know, put them down and just the right place. And now there’s guys walking around with little…
Clayton Lyons: Hand scanners, dot product, stuff like that. When the trades come on board, we keep an active set of documents. As they carry these hand scanners with them in weekly scan instead of red-lining and then they send that scan to us and we make sure that they’re installing in the place that they’re signed off to install.
Alison Smith: Yeah, you’re kind of monitoring. That’s amazing. So now that you guys, you’ve worked, like you said you’ve worked with some major healthcare clients and big high-profile projects and I know you have a lot of repeat clients. What are they saying about this process when they work with you versus when they say they work with other firms?
Clayton Lyons: We’ve had very positive feedback from all of our clients so far. They’re saving money, they’re keeping their original design. The ability for our team to communicate with the contractors, the subcontractors is a big deal and the client has seen us, witnessed it with us and they’d like that somehow wrap that up and put it out in their RFPs from this point. And they understand that it’s difficult to get everybody to do that because there’s not a team out there like this. And like I said, we handle very complex projects and come up with some very unusual resolve.
Alison Smith: So, getting back to the technologies, how about all the influx recently in the last year or two of virtual reality, augmented reality, your favorite, your favorite topic.
Clayton Lyons: I’m going to let these guys take that one!
Alison Smith: Well, no first I want to hear from you and then we can, they can talk about it too, but I know you have a pretty strong stance on that. How do you think those tools fit into our field?
Clayton Lyons: First of all, I love new technology and we research it and we go to a lot of different places to find it, but we’re only going to get the technology that actually helps us be more productive and faster and more accurate at building a building, which is what we do.
A lot of this stuff is a huge marketing ploy and a lot of software manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon because now a new market opened up in the construction industry. So, we’ve got goggles and I love goggles and I think in the architectural world, uh, goggles are great to work with the client. Walking around on a jobsite with anything without a 100% unobstructed view—OSHA—is dangerous. And I don’t like to see it on our jobs because I, I can just see a guy walking off the edge of the building or just tripping and, you know, getting hurt.
But what makes us build the building accurately, faster and be able to transfer that knowledge to the field so it can be done that way. That’s, uh, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for what is actually viable, what’s actually going to help everyone involved, right down to the installer,
Alison Smith: Xinan or Donal. Maybe in addition to what Clayton was saying, where do you see what you guys do going next?
Donal Lyons: It’s kind of tough to make that prediction because the landscape of technology, it’s so quickly changing. You know, there’s this notion of technology where just because it’s technology it makes things easier, but we have to remember that the parameters of a project don’t change or haven’t changed. You know, we still have to work within the same schedule parameters. They’re giving us more time to perform projects. And matter of fact, often we’re seeing that accelerated scheduling has grown significantly because of that notion of technology is making building faster. And that’s true in some ways, but if you adopt the technology it has to replace an existing process in those parameters. And when you throw in new technology, new technology, new processes without replacing less effective ones, you’re just, you’re filling a glass until it spills over. And so that’s why we stick to things like laser scanning where we have a direct return on using technology like that.You have to see it immediately to, to be able to use it.
And so, where technology is going, I really could not tell you. I don’t have a crystal ball, but it seems like the whole machine learning thing is really what’s driving a lot of the technology that’s coming out and we’ll see what happens in the future. I think, you know, you were talking about, Clayton, the laser laying out of systems and stuff like that on a jobsite. Um, I think over time in the next few years we’ll see more stuff like that start coming out. But we have to be very careful about the technology that we adopt because it’s changing so fast that by the time we adopt it, it’s, there really won’t be a return on us using it.
Alison Smith: Well, and this industry, the construction industry has a reputation of being like really slow too game when it comes with innovation and advancement. And, um, Clayton, you said it earlier that one thing that’s been moving the needle lately is that all these app developers and software developers who were not in our industry have realized this is ripe. You know, this, this industry needs help. And so now all of a sudden there’s a ton.
Do you think that’s a fair reputation or how, I guess, how do you see our industry interacting with technology going forward?
Clayton Lyons: Fabrication is the next step. Faster fabrication. Uh, pre-coordination creates more fabrication because of the time that it’s done in.
Now to work on more maybe robotic fabrication or getting into uh, there’s unitized fabrication, but unitized, the industry has to catch up. And what I mean by that is when we talk about unitized fabrication is fittings, hangers, things have to change in order to be able to do that kind of accurate fabrication. So, a little bit more a 3D printing on hang on materials, stuff like that. And working with some of these manufacturers on customizing certain fittings, certain elements of the building to be built that we can get exactly what we need to make it work.
Alison Smith: Maybe like outside of their normal fabrication process or something like that out of the 3D printer or, yeah.
Clayton Lyons: Right, get out of the catalog. So whatever’s in the catalog sometimes just doesn’t work. And there’s ways of 3D laser printing to get a fitting or whatnot to make it work.
Metal printing that we were told doesn’t exist—in this industry it doesn’t, but in the military it does. So that’s something that the three of us are looking at to kind of get into and see what we can utilize it for. So, there’s a lot of things that we’re looking into technology wise. It’s not all software. I think software is great, but lot of good foremen out there do not want to be flying through a model, nor do I want to pay them to be flying through a model when they should be laying out and being able to look up in the ceiling and know what’s going up there. So it’s like what Xinan and Donal said…
Alison Smith: It’s like the combination of both.
Clayton Lyons: Yeah, it’s, there’s toys and it’s great for nice marketable images, but does it work?
Xinan Jiang: Yeah, I do agree that construction industry is a little bit delayed on the technology side, only because the technology won’t help you to know how to pitch a pipe and everything. It’s like, it’s knowledge. So where the technology goes, a lot of good things will help us. And then also I think there will be a phase down the line of, uh, everybody will be calmed down on the technology saying, okay, we’ll only, we’ll pick and choose what will help us to make it go faster. But eventually your knowledge and then how to build a build is the key.
Alison Smith: So you don’t see like a fleet of robots building a giant building.
Xinan Jinag: I mean…
Donal Lyons: Uh, no…
Clayton Lyons: Not right away. We’ve, we’ve looked at some of the fab-wall robots so far and they’re struggling. Um, and it does amazing things, but it just doesn’t really,
Alison Smith: You need that human element. Yeah.
Clayton Lyons: Right. Yeah, it doesn’t have it yet. Job layout is a big one I’d like to see technology go down. Where our information is in the building wirelessly, everywhere. And I’m talking for layout. That would be something that could be eliminating tape measures. We’re getting there.
Alison Smith: I was going to say, it seems like we’re heading in that direction with the Internet of Things and the smart buildings and sensors being installed in you everywhere in every new building.
Clayton Lyons: I’d say we have a large list, but I mean the realistic list is the one which just gets us the build a building correctly. Yeah. I don’t think robots is going to be that solution. Robots are going to be a huge expense. They’re going to break down. They’re going to have to be fixed. So, I mean with we’re…
Alison Smith: Still need people. So far, jobs are safe.
Clayton Lyons: It sounds like we’re going to be adding people more than anything, if you know, potentially. There’s maintenance and everything else. So you know, when, when I see it working, then I’ll, I’ll be happy with it. But I’m not a robotics major, so I’m going to stick with what works for my guys out in the field now, you know,
Xinan Jiang: Yeah but this robotics thing that we’ve been talking about, it like, even for 3D printing for fabrication, there are lot of aspects involved and not just “print it out.”
Because you have to have the safety inspection and everything. So when those technologies come in I think is a good picture, you think, okay, this is going to work, print out the fitting to the right size and everything. But there’ll will be other aspects like safety involved of who’s going to be responsible if there’s a leak for the fitting and joint and then, you know, so one side will say, okay, this is the supplier and then the other that will be the printer. So, I think it’s just a lot of aspects involved in, in is of just saying we can build a building like a SimCity, you know?
Clayton Lyons: Yeah, I do like saying what these guys have learned in that short, short amount of time is pretty impressive. Um, and I probably apologize for…
Xinan Jiang: No pressure, Clayton.
Clayton Lyons: On how forced it was in there, but um, no, I think, I think…
Alison Smith: It’s a unique, unique skillset.
Clayton Lyons: Yes.
Alison Smith: Well thank you. Thank you, guys, all for joining us.
Donal Lyons: Thank you.
Xinan Jiang: Thank you.
Alison Smith: Good luck!
Narrator: As women continue to make strides in the AEC industry, have we forgotten about tradeswomen and the role they continue to play in breaking down gender barriers in construction? Tune in next month for an inside look at the production of Hard Hatted Woman, the first feature-length, documentary film about women in the trades. Thanks for listening to Building Conversations.