News From Beck Technology's Innovations Lab

This is a guest post written by Eric Fritsche, Head of Beck Technology's Innovations Lab.

ericgamesWhen I think about what Innovations Lab does, I think about the effort it used to require to take a road trip. If you wanted to go on a trip, it meant weeks of planning before you could leave. You would have to go out and find an interstate highway map for every state that you were going to pass through and meticulously highlight the route through each one, including marking every exit you needed to take to make sure we not only reached the destination but did so without running out of gas.

Then, you needed to find a map of the city you were going to so you could navigate the streets and find the hotel. To get music for the trip, you would have to pool all of your CDs (or tapes) and individually pull each song you wanted and spend hours creating your travel “mixtape” to bring on the trip. Looking back, it seems ridiculous the amount of work that we would put in before we even got into the car. When I go on a road trip today, I literally plug my phone into the car, pull up my road trip playlist, type in the destination, and am off driving in under thirty seconds. Not having to worry about how I am going to get somewhere or what I am going to listen to on the way frees up hours of time before a trip to spend doing things that I actually enjoy.

Getting rid of mundane low-value tasks to free up time to do things that you weren’t able to do before is what we strive to achieve in the Innovations Lab. Look at quantity extraction as an example. In a typical workflow, an estimator gets a set of drawings and is tasked with generating quantities for the materials that will go into the project. What the estimator cares about is that the final result is accurate, and not how they came to it. The actual process of drawing shapes to extract quantities offers no value, yet they spend countless hours clicking thousands upon thousands of points on their screen to create them. For us, this seems like the exact type of meticulous task that computers are better suited to perform. To that end, we are currently working with a company called Togal that uses advanced AI to read in a drawing and automatically create the shapes, lines, and counts necessary for quantifying it. Now with the click of a single button, the estimator can skip directly to consuming the quantities and applying costs to their estimate, freeing up their time to provide high-value tasks that benefit their company and their clients instead of endlessly clicking on a PDF.

For more on the Innovations Lab, click here.

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