Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
Nemetschek Group and Reconstruct Discuss Artificial Intelligence in Construction
September 8th, 2021 by Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal interviews Matt Wheelis, VP Build & Construct Division at the Nemetschek Group, and Zak MacRunnels, CEO Reconstruct Inc.
Matt, the Nemetschek Group just recently participated in the Series B financing round of the AI expert, Reconstruct. Why Reconstruct?
Reconstruct has developed advanced technologies to “close the gap” between the planned and actual performance on construction projects. It is very tedious to verify progress in the field, and this was made all the more challenging by the corona-crisis and travel restrictions. Typically, construction managers or their site supervisors walk the jobsite to verify the progress being made. This requires in-depth construction experience to understand the level of completion, compare it to the intended scope of work, and relate it to the schedule. That’s where Reconstruct’s SaaS software can assist, by collating reality capture data – including that collected by off-the-shelf 360-degree photography, drone data, and point clouds captured by laser scanners, comparing it using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drawings and BIM models, and making intelligent assessments of progress.
Zak, you joined Reconstruct in 2018 as CEO. What is the the company’s mission?
Reconstruct®’s vision is to make the built world a better place to live, work, and play. With Reconstruct’s Visual Command Center™, we bring together reality capture, design, and schedule to provide construction and real estate assets remote quality control and automated progress tracking. Our goal is to become the next ‘verb’ in construction industry vocabulary as we aim to become the global digital standard for all real estate assets in the process of construction, inspection, or renovation.
How does Reconstruct add value to the AEC/O industry?
Zak: Reconstruct utilizes computer vision and AI to provide remote quality control and progress tracking in construction and inspection. We have multiple patents for automated detection technology, which uses images to recognize complex building components and relates them to construction progress and schedule. For inspection use cases, Reconstruct leverages its machine learning to track conditions against standards and to identify potential issues in the future. This can be as simple as tracking brand placement and signage at a newly renovated 7-Eleven store or as complex as detecting critical defects in government-owned bridges and facilities.
Matt: We believe Reconstruct’s application of AI and computer vision is best-in-class. They are tackling some of the industry’s biggest challenges, such as the need to combine 2D and 3D design deliverables, reality data captured in the field, and analysis via AI and machine learning. The need for and trend toward digitalization in the AEC/O industry has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matt, why do you consider AI a key technology for the construction industry?
Matt: The AEC/O industry has historically grappled with time and cost overruns, particularly as projects have become larger and more complex. AI holds a key to overcoming these challenges, improving project monitoring and informing risk management. At the core of AI is data – and by using historical information, machine learning can predict future results based on past performance, identify patterns, or perform repetitive tasks and generate new insights in ways never-before imagined. No other emerging technology has the potential to disrupt and transform how we manage across the entire building lifecycle to the extent that AI will. With data playing an increasingly important part of the design, construction, and operation process thanks to BIM, leveraging the power of AI to enhance efficiency even further and meet user demands is the next logical step in the evolution of the AEC/O industry.
Matt, earlier this year, the Nemetschek Group already participated in a Series A financing round for German based Sablono. In the past, Nemetschek was more focused on M&A, rather than start-up and venture investments. Is this a shift in strategy?
Matt: True, our activities in the venturing market have been quite intense in the past months. Reconstruct isn’t the only funding activity for us. In June, we hired Tanja Kufner, an expert in corporate venturing and with strong connections with the world of start-ups and venture capital. And as you say, we also participated in a Series A financing round for Sablono of Germany. The two investments are a perfect fit to our strategy of supporting young companies to shape the future AEC/O market and drive innovation. But, of course, we will continue with M&A, as well as with venture investments. Our strategy with investment funding is tied especially to areas where the Nemetschek Group has long-term strategic interest.
What are your expectations after the – very successful – Series B financing round for Reconstruct?
Zak: It’s exciting to see a major AEC/O-affiliated company such as the Nemetschek Group value the transformational uniqueness of our software-as-a-service. Their investment enables us to deliver our multi-patented automated detection offering that adds significant efficiencies to the workflow delivered by general contractors to owners. This will also facilitate the rapid acquisition of new customers in the enormous market segments of commercial development, tenant improvements, structural inspections, and industrial engineering.
Matt: We expect that Reconstruct will continue and accelerate its growth and innovation path. The company already provides its software to customers ranging in project complexity from 7-Eleven and McDonalds to billion-dollar industrial operations in renewable energy and pharmaceutical manufacturing. We are excited to fuel Reconstruct’s growth through this investment and by connecting them with the open partner ecosystems of our Nemetschek brands. Through these efforts we will drive digitalization, AI, and machine learning within the industry and help establish better standards and results. And, it is a great personal fit, too. I very much enjoy working with the team of professionals and experts at Reconstruct in shaping the world.