Construction technology: An interview with Damon Hernandez

Damon Hernandez, president at SIMLAB, and co-founder of IDEAbuilder, a high-tech building company that uses immersive technologies and robotic manufacturing to build structures more efficiently, was a keynote speaker at the CSI National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, where he discussed current trends in construction as it relates to technology and the intersection of traditional CAD (computer-aided design). Here, he shares examples of how modern technology is impacting the future of construction.

What are some of the key ways technology is changing our industry?

When I look at key technological trends, I want to show people the future is what you begin to make right now. The industry is evolving by the number of mobile applications for work-related communication, including for payroll, professional networks, and LinkedIn. The next thing is 5G connectivity and connected job sites, and more smart tools and the productivity applications around those tools. And I see 3D for all types of communication as another trend that will continue to change the industry—for fabrication and assembly.

Why is this such an impactful topic?

Mobile applications put information and potential innovation into every worker’s pocket, so it’s democratizing innovation for job sites. There are hybrid applications that will know where the worker is on the site, what they’re doing, and what tools they’re using, which is where we’re going to see better use of artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, and other technologies to help people better understand data.

Peter Kray is a content strategist with CSI. He can be reached at pkray@csinet.org.

So, this will impact the person who’s on the site?

That’s what I try to target. I mean anybody can be a futurist and talk about jet packs to fly around and paint the wall, but to me that is of no value. What I like to say is, here are the available tools, if you want to include these technologies, then here’s the opportunity, and here’s where they might fall short.

Why is this important to you?

This industry impacts everyone who lives or works in a house or building. I’m super passionate about how technologists and people who care and can contribute, give built environment professionals super-tech powers. You don’t make ingredients, but you do cook. I make ingredients. So, if I can understand what you’re hungry for, then here’s the ingredients I can provide you so you can make better meals.

What are the key challenges and opportunities?

The challenge is marketing departments of technology solutions are usually better than the applications themselves. So, managing realistic expectations of what technology can do, that’s a challenge. Another is how do you beta technology in a work environment, or on a project? That’s hard to do, because you’re trying to stay on schedule, on budget, and if you bring a new piece of technology into the process, it requires some onboarding internally.

Damon Hernandez

So, a lot of it is implementation?

One hundred percent. But that’s just cultural, too. It’s the challenge of getting people to understand the value of the technology, then also being open to it. It’s not why do I need this? It’s more, how do I use this? As built environment professionals get more engaged with those who are developing these tools, they’re going to get better tools. I see some of the more successful applications come from people who were in the industry. There are opportunities for built environment professionals who want to either start their own thing or get involved with people who are integrating solutions. That’s exciting because there’s more opportunity for better communication and collaboration of the data.

 

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