Welcome Joel Hutchines , Vice President of Industrialized Construction at Slate Technologies.
Join us for a conversation about:
1. The acquisition and who Slate Technologies is...
2. The value of data informed decisions.
3. How future of Ai / ML technologies can assist in the adoption of IC.
4. Design for constructibility. Much more than just DFMA.
Joel has orchestrated a career path that sees him as a leader within an emerging approach to the construction industry. With his unique and diverse experience in Carpentry, Construction and Manufacturing Management, Architecture, Digital Fabrication and Business management, Joel blends the traditions of construction with the latest techniques in digital design and fabrication. Delving into the future of the construction industry, adopting automation and the latest technology to explore efficient methods of integrating all stages of the design and construction process.
It is this approach in which Joel formed Studio Workshop’s and Splash Modular's ideology and vision of changing the industry through good design. It is through good design that Joel believes the construction industry can be radically altered, offering a simpler process with great certainty around project costs.
All right welcome everybody to a monday expert interview and what a monday it is going to be we are welcoming back Joel Hutchins vice president of industrialized construction at Slate Technologies. That's right different company Joel has orchestrated a career path that sees him as a leader with an emerging approach to the construction industry with his unique and diverse experience in carpentry construction manufacturing management architecture digital fabrication and business management Joel blends the traditions of construction with the latest techniques in digital design and fabrication delving into the future of the construction industry adopting automation in the latest technology to explore efficient methods of integrating all stages of the design and construction process it is through good design that Joel believes the construction industry can be radically altered offering a simpler process with greater certainty around project cost join us today for this conversation we're going to talk about the acquisition and who slate technology is the value of data informed decisions how the future of ai and ml Technologies can assist in the adoption of industrialized construction.
More than just dfma what are we talking about design for constructability we are able to deliver all of these informative conversations only because we have the most awesome sponsors in the world so carson holmquist in the team at stream logistics we want to thank you they are experts in high stake freight the perfect choice for projects with timelines and a specific delivery sequence shipments with high complexity and unique constraints the new methods of construction need new transportation solutions and they are up for the challenge please reach out to streamlogistics.com and ask for carson he will be more than happy to help you along. Also we need to thank combilift they are the largest global manufacturer of multi-directional forklifts and straddle carriers an acknowledged leader in long load handling solutions offering a free warehouse and site optimization design service just for you more than fifty thousand live units have been sold in over 85 countries since combi lift was established in 1998.
So without further ado let's hop into it let's bring Joel Hutchins into the conversations. Joel, what's up man?
Hey dave how are you yeah i'm doing great how are you doing? I'm great great enjoying enjoying sunny florida here
You know what it is sunny in florida i've spent a lot of time down there super super excited to see that you're down there because we're going to be down there for a few months in the upcoming months so i'm hoping we can hang out with you and some other folks.
So Joel we only have a 30 minute show today we got a lot to cover here why don't you give everybody just a quick overview of who Joel Hutchins is and then let's dive right into who slate Technologies inc is and how you two came to be go for it the floor is yours.
Awesome thank you, so i think i've been on the show before and last time that was with splash modular you touched on that in the intro i sort of come from a background of carpentry building architecture specializing in computational design and digital fabrication that led to founding splash modular where we use the bathroom pod and the idea of the bathroom pod and leveraging computational design and digital fabrication to showcase how we could we could build some cool software that would assist designers in designing for industrialized construction.
Last time i was on we spoke briefly about revere which was the idea of a marketplace for for highly intelligent components or for configurators that would actually help with the adoption of industrialized construction that led to our acquisition and i think last year we haven't come out and we haven't spoken about this yet. We've been in stealth and we've been pretty quiet about it. An opportunity came to to join an amazing team based in silicon valley building some really cool technology. Some really cool software that we love their approach and we saw the vision. Then we loved the team and they had some really cool teams so we joined there and we've been working hard to now bring that to the market.
I hope you're getting close to it and you know it's exciting. You've always kind of been a leader in the space when it comes to looking at design differently whether it's generative parametric and so many other ways and and your vision was a big vision on changing the industry. I remember you know we talked to this going back probably a couple years now right you said we're going to change the industry and i do believe that you aregoing to have a big part in doing that
So all right everybody listen we are live on linkedin youtube facebook twitch and twitter so get your tweets on and if you're not following Joel Hutchins you need to be following Joel i mean come on guy with a hairdo like that in south florida who wouldn't want to follow a guy like Joel unlike my own. So with that said, don't be a stranger to our youtube channel, you can watch this show and many others at your leisure on your time so make sure you go there and subscribe.
All right Joel slate Technologies inc why don't you tell us a little bit about what slate Technologies inc is about and what they currently do.
Yeah so let me start with sort of addressing i guess the vision that they had initially when we joined them and when we were brought on board we spoke they spoke a lot about the digital assistant. You know, that's been been here at the forefront today that the idea of the digital assistant and the idea of that the power of data in and around the decision was what excited me.
So as that evolves what slate technology is now is it's a persona based software. We're building persona based software that is in and around keeping projects on time and on budget and helping the the little decisions that go along with that. So i guess the best analogy here that i've heard is the waze app. You sort of put in where you want to go from a to b and then there's a bunch of data or a bunch of influencing data factors that come into that that um will disrupt or that can change how you're going to get from a to b.
So yeah yeah but i mean that's it right it's a virtual assistant just like google maps and google assist and all these other things but you're saying it's a virtual assistant designed to take the guesswork out of construction and help deliver dramatically better projects. So are you telling me i can start talking to my computer and it's going to design for me i mean is this what we're at without giving away the farm.
Well i think that in and around where slate has drive this it's at the backbone of the schedule so the schedule of the project is is at the backbone here so we have a dynamic scheduling tool that we've been building we have a lot in there that the main reason we've built that foundation is so that you can impact on that change, but then we've got a beautiful engine that we've built on the back end, which can take the multiple data layers from from multiple influencing factors. And yes part of that is it it can see a computer vision it can read contracts it can look at specifications.
Yes in the future you will be able to speak to it and engage with it potentially but the idea that this assistant now can look at data from multiple multiple areas and then quantify that back helping you to provide change opportunities and keep you on time and on budget. So take that while that back is when i talk about persona based yes there's an opportunity here that different personas whether it's a project manager whether it's a portfolio level from an organization whether it comes back to the guys on site and and there's the simple the mobile phone and how they interact with it. That's what we're building we're building these assistants that that can help bring the full project or keep the full project on time and on budget and on schedule.
All right so a bill a virtual building assistant that can read contracts read plans help you make better decisions inform decisions probably correct you when you're doing something manually wrong i'm assuming that's part of this right?
So we talked about all that what what is what is the you know the the value of all this data and having these decisions you know done this way versus how we've been doing it yeah this is the power of artificial intelligence and and the date the dark data that sits out there in the construction industry. We sort of we hide away from change but there's so many influencing factors that can be for the better and that those little impacts of those decisions or the data that's available and quantified can help guide anybody so you get you touch on whether that's on site and doing something wrong and it's a safety issue.
Yes, potentially we can make that and bring that to the forefront but you can also look at you know things simple things like weather and i think that we'll probably go further down this rabbit hole in terms of the the the data that's available and then what we can actually do with it but the simple impact of you know a storm. Or to using the waze analogy again road work or an incident in real time that happens that can then affect how you make that decision on what the outcome might be.
So not only are you looking at it, it's not just looking at providing change opportunities, it's actually looking at the impact of those those opportunities and what's happening as well so you're constantly playing between the past present and the future or what is the impact of before during and after a decision and i think that that is the power here that we don't hear too many people speaking about that. But you know this is these are the things in the industry especially in industrialized construction there's plenty of use cases there in in what that the impact of the decision right now can have on the full project.
Yeah for sure, so basically this this virtual assistant so to speak is analyzing past present and future to help make the best decisions for the current process that you're in during the project or the design or what have you is that correct?
Yeah that's the best i guess the best way thanks for the elevator pitch there you did a better job than i did but yes that's exactly right.
So that's pretty darn impressive and then so you build this database of all of this information good bad and ugly, right? And then what you're telling me is this is going to help with best practices so i avoid you know making the same mistake that maybe i made 15 years ago on another project.
I mean that's a simple way to say this yes yeah the lessons learnt side is a beautiful thing from an organization yeah you know when you talk about larger gcs and we're working with some large gcs around the world now is is the lessons learned from an organization. So one project manager makes a decision on one site here and the same guy does it two months later on another site because there's no share of that data or knowledge of the impacts of what that decision was. So that's right that's that's another example of how this is hugely beneficial, but yes even the database or the it's more the system and how we're able to take data from from multiple layers and multiple areas and then what that engine can do from introspecting that the potential benefits of it.
Yeah and what does this system run on? Does this work with existing you know autodesk, autocad, revit like. Are you allowed to share that?
Yeah so keep it high level here ahead of the launch but we we're definitely we can interact with all the other platforms we're not well not all all other platforms with a myriad of other platforms we're working hard to to to make sure that we can we're not we're here as a virtual assistant or we're here as a tool here to not disrupt and take away from all of that. We know that the industry here needs help to just do to make those better decisions so that's the beauty of our system, it's very smart as i said it can do a lot of things like computer vision and the likes but we can also look at other data sources that rather than those physical data sources and using that system to other apis and other systems.
So yeah importing if that's importing a schedule from another approach from another platform yes and then if that's looking at yeah the deep real on-site data that we can get from computer vision or from forms even so enabling people to to build databases and as well as our system generally when you do launch.
I definitely want to do a demo on our show so let's get that on the calendar because i think that would be super interesting to a lot of people we got people from poland and around the world watching right now which is great.
All right Joel so we started talking back in the day because we're talking about the kid apart right we were talking about dfma generative parametric design you know having all this information as almost open source in the cloud so if you're part of the the database of information you can pull these kits apart that you were working on in a previous life. So with that you know how how important is what you're doing now and how does this pull over into the industrialized construction world. You know when i look at your when i look at your title, i'm assuming that you know this this all is part of why you brought what you've been working on together with slate Technologies so you could really take it to the next level.
So can you share a little bit about that?
Yeah so with splash we we developed and patented the idea of a customizable digital product and what that was was we wanted to automate the design process so that we could productize our process but secondly what we could do is launch a configurator and if you use this analogy here of the virtual assistant the configurator was our i guess old school way of doing that we wanted - to give the designer the opportunity to be restricted within the design of within the realm of what's achievable. But then we could automate the design on the process so we could be highly efficient but we were also getting data to the designer as early as we possibly could but then we were almost early in in the industry in terms of that problem, solving a problem that i don't think people had really associated. A huge value to i think that it's evolving over time but then taking that to the next level.
The idea of a virtual assistant that can look at much more than just taking a standard approach or a standardized kit of parts and and restricting the designer it can actually understand more of what's happening and then offer suggestions so the biggest thing with industrialized construction. And i'm seeing the more I talk to the gcs and i'm really out there sort of i guess out of being a component supplier in the industry now and more into understanding some of the shortcomings it's it's about what opportunities are there for industrialized construction how do you then integrate that industrialized construction and then how do you manage and how those lessons learned, then passed on.
So what i've been working on here is really the idea that our tool can do that so if we're offering suggestions from opportunity or suggestions and opportunities to introduce industrialized construction we're quantifying the full potential benefits of that including things like cost of rework of redesign or integration with other parts and we can offer suggestions. So projects that might have been lost for a bathroom pod because they were assumed to be too late in the project schedule now the quantified benefits can be brought forward and actually that suggestion can be made. And if it does require reworking design so be it we know that the system is helping us to quantify that so the tool now and there's some really cool things that i'll touch on.
I guess that we've developed within that is our revit plugin that we've built is now becoming much more of a design virtual assistant and we can actually understand geometry and offer suggestions but at that level to the designer on on some methodologies that weren't thought of whether that's bathroom pods, whether it's panelized wall systems. Yeah whatever that is it can actually quantify look at the geometry understand that apply it back and then make those suggestions on what that is it can look at a project and say you've got 500 bathrooms in this project and you've got six different types this is perfect for modular bathroom pods. Here's some of what you would like us if we've worked with a bathroom pod supplier that had the cdp or the script it can actually generate the design, give all of that input from that. But then yeah really that's the benefit here is the opportunity to to get fully quantified data around the benefits of industrialized construction, what opportunities exist and then helping you to actually implement them that's the biggest thing. And then you know think about that value from from a larger gc on an organizational level.
Now understanding those opportunities and and that the lessons learned as well you can see this project manager used it on this project and here yeah so there's a lot of things that we can do.
All right hold the press so i really want to understand this right. So i could be drawing out my design in revit or whatever the software may be if i have your plug-in that's watching what i'm doing it can then go and analyze what i've been drawing and saying, "Hey those are perfect for bath pods you should consider that for your project". Or, "hey if you take this wall and you make it two inches smaller on this side it's perfect for modules or panels or is it right is that what i'm hearing?
Yeah exactly this helps me think it doesn't take away the design process it actually helps me be smarter about my design process and and helps me think about the opportunities that while i'm designing or have design that i could use to build it better yeah exactly. So yeah that's the closed loop on the design and my focus has always been on getting it earlier getting the data to the designers earlier to help nationalize construction adoption.
But yes we've got a lot of intelligence on the project schedule and what we're doing here ic and non-ic or mmc whatever we want to call it, but that we've got all of that data there now and now we can bring it forward as well and help the designers be influenced or influence the designers to making better decisions based on adoption of methodologies which you know even to the future state there as you're putting in project details and it's geographical it's timing. You know why are you building that wall this way in the middle of winter here with this here is now a decision or here's an opportunity to actually leverage industrialized construction which will save you this this.
Yeah i mean that i mean that is just so i mean that's super cool and this is all going to be cloud-based so you're a lot of telescope.
Yeah it's all cloud-based and then subscription based i guess i'm going to assume yeah there'll be a bit more come out with that with the product release in terms of how how that will all be approached i think from the industrialized construction side i've still been working with clients to to actually develop those cdps and then deploy it in the system. But we're also starting to work on i guess the database of industrialized construction opportunities. So we're starting to talk with both the gc level and the component suppliers and understanding what the offering is and getting them to use the system so that it can do all of this.
That's incredible, so we talk about AI you know quite a bit on the show what is ml technologies explain that for people that may not know that terminology so the artificial intelligence and machine learning i think that's the biggest thing we see a bit of AI, which you know with the generative design that the other artificial intelligence where it can generate a design for you and i think you know touching on even that that's some of this decision. All the data and the power of data in a decision something like Akistar shows that it's it's taking data around town planning and opportunities and a myriad of data sources and then optimizing design opportunities for it that's exactly what that artificial intelligence system or that or decision assistant is essentially doing.
But then taking that and the machine learning that's this engine that we talk about that we've developed and we're continually developing where that artificial intelligence machine learning that deep learning that it's doing is actually ensuring that it it it's introspecting or quantifying those data solute the data availability to make the best opportunities and systems. So that's where that machine learning really this system is evolving and getting a lot smarter and at an organizational level. That's what's missing in a lot of this stuff is you don't get to look at an organization and and all learn from from past decisions and past opportunities and that have been made.
Right and what about slate Technologies? Is this just something that's going to launch here in the united states or is this a global initiative that can actually be launched global?
So weather we built this we're already working with with clients in the UK the US and yeah we're rolling this out and taking on really as we're rolling this out we're trying to do our best to sort of to build this product that we can just take to market and let it evolve. But we're really still holding hands of those people as we're rolling this out and getting that feedback and ensuring that we're we're creating the best product here and that goes to those third-party integrations as well. So that goes to you know if people are using other tools and other systems, we're still looking at integrating with those to provide the best opportunities
Henry showed up, hey Henry Mickelberg! What's happening, I saw henry actually had a had a question. So let me just go down to that real quick too and then i'll scroll through some others he wrote let's see totally get the concept the construction industry needs. But how do you manage the juxtaposition between global data and competitive advantage for individual tier ones?
I guess that's a deep question, so i'm going to keep it high level, but this is at an organizational level and this is when you're setting up users at an organizational level where they're benefiting from from their own learning from their own data sources and and the opportunities there I think.
In terms of competitive advantage long term, would you like to be a driver that's driving with your 2d map or would you like to be the driver that's leveraging Waze?
I think that the competitive advantage we need to be less worried about that and start to move the industry forward as a whole and i think we need to start to adopting tools start adopting tools like this, being less worried about you know my data my this that you know this is what's held us almost back with some of the adoption of of of bim and cloud bim and files. That's why we're still passing around 2d drawings rather than you know leveraging some of the available tools that we can have to better it.
So something that we've been working on data security is very important to us and and the like but yeah this system will grow and benefit for all in the long term, so i'd just push you to adopt it rather than not.
So very cool we got Matteo thanks for that Henry Mateo Boxie
What's up fellas, hello Dave and Joel, excited to hear what Joel will cover today listening from Mardi gras field streets of Louisiana. It is Mardi gras we should have showed up with some beads. Joel yeah we should have got a drink yeah Mardi gras in Louisiana.
Sounds fun, look at this we got Carson Holmquist from stream logistics. Carson by the way is one of our sponsors today, Joel they are using well you would appreciate this they're using technology for transportation. I mean everything from tracking trucks the loads drones they're doing it all and they control the transportation not only from the factory but through the entire set and staging using really cool tracking and technology for what they do.
Yeah we should talk right because that's exactly if you usually you show what the the potential of a decision in and around like staging for for a box right there's right whether there's traffic there's all these other impacts there that one decision to delay a set for one reason could impact and you could have another. So yeah that's a big part of it, isn't it something we've been working very heavily on is the logistics and the transport side.
Yeah, well perfect so there you go carson this is why we do what we do to connect really smart people. So Carson and Joel you guys are the quintessential overachievers as i say on the show i'm trying to catch up but i can't keep up either so i don't know why i even try.
All right we got Kristoff hey what's happening christoph from Poland, good to see you my friend. Looking forward to seeing you at world of modular and hopefully uh we'll be over to poland here in september. We were just talking about our trip to poland doing doing a dave cooper live maybe over there depending on obviously world events but hopefully we're gonna we're gonna pray that that's going in the right direction.
Love it love it love it, let me go down hey you know this guy Mark Barenaked Willy i'm sure he pops up on your radar every once in a while.
Yeah Steve Schrader is joining us today as well so just get a couple more shout outs here. So good to see you Steve carol says Joel is a machine so you got a you got a bit of a fan club out here Joel i love it carol's doing some good stuff over there in new zealand with volumetric modular. So it's exciting to see him evolve as well.
Yeah so here we go we got kristoff again love it we're involved in some ai design tools in europe but it's very early stage great to hear that i think that is a future. So Joel i mean he's kristoff's another person you should talk to they're not only doing you know modulars they're they're in the ship industry they have several factories through poland and europe and they're really on the cutting edge of a lot of the things they do so they might be a really good connection for you and what you guys are doing. So I suggest you guys talk.
That's pretty cool, hey Michael bruce 3d imaging that's right you want to know if your foundation's leveling straight this is a guy to do it very interesting today we used some aspects of this in autodesk inventor for design changes.
Good to see you Michael, thanks for joining us today. All right let me get chris says, "What is revit plugin name we may use is it available to test?"
Yes so revit plugin was was revealed, but we renamed it dba design virtual assistant let's chat for sure we could you i can give you give you it and you can you can adopt it and have a play and yeah well let's have a look at what some other opportunities that we could use use it for.
Awesome thanks for that Chris Glenn Donahue thanks for joining us Matteo, the under 25 club that owns a manufacturing facility the only guys that i know that are doing it and are building out of it he has a question.
"Do you incorporate the availability and regionality of materials?"
Yes, so the best way to i guess touch on this is our schedule is based up of chunks of work those chunks of work we're calling recipes or work packages and though we go down right the way down to a task level on that that task level is made up of equipment material and machinery. Essentially, that makes up that block so yeah we're going right the way down to that material level and yes when we start to look at geographic locations that's a perfect perfect example as this evolves of a use case where the impact of a decision or an opportunity can be generated off of availability of material at such time and even at a future date or potentially maybe even start to look at you know aggregation and movement of supply and materials.
So yeah i think that yeah that's a a good use case that we're definitely working towards outstanding i love it that was a great question so appreciate that very much.
I'm gonna put this up here, I have a feeling you know this guy Steve Burroughs. He's never without a sarcastic remark, but they're always intelligent on Slate. "When will quartz be launched ?"
Hey matey, so yeah let me let me touch on that. I guess unpack it onyx was onyx ai was our original company name we then rebranded into Slate Technologies we haven't really come out and told anybody much about what we're doing i think Richard Hoffman a vp here has spoken at a few events but we've kept it pretty quiet and yeah next few weeks Steve, we're coming out this month march and we are well next month.
Sorry had a bit ahead of myself, but coming out march and we'll be releasing the product and starting to to show everybody what we've built.
Yeah in march, so we'll look forward to seeing that perfect. Good to see you Steve thank you so much.
Hey Simon Waldron from Australia, he's somebody from your hometown they're looking forward to seeing Slate Technologies in Australia.
Outstanding, I mean there's a lot of people here this guy hey Paul Cardis you want to talk about cool technology. Do you know paul by chance? All right hard hats with vision goggles on them where it's two-way communication they can in four languages it can record. It's voice activated so you can you can record and do education through it or they can come into your heart helmet and help you fix whatever problem you're working on live on location while it's happening in four different languages.
So that's cool stuff. Let's talk Paul, yeah this that sounds exciting I think our system could leverage some of that that technology to gathering some veterans and quantifying it back that's right you want to see that watch my best of ibs we did an interview at the show and paul's going to work with me we're going to live stream shows from it.
How cool was that?
Yeah we're going we're going to work on it. I love it i wouldn't have to do anything but just walk around and say go live and probably scare everybody. That could be scary some of the stuff you might see yeah that's right that's right.
Hey we got Roger Krulak, what's happening?
Hey Joel, super exciting when do we get to see the real deal? He says can't wait to see it it's coming up soon and then we'll end it here with Colby Swanson the Swanson i just saw Colby in san francisco a couple days ago.
Hey dave and Joel, great to see you two again again together.
Yes yes we we kind of fell off for a while there we were we were like tied to the hip with shows and what you were doing for a while and life gets busy. That's what happens yeah we've been flat out. But yeah i'm glad i'mback here we'll be out and about and we'll be speaking a bit more about it now so wait yeah as i said we've been been a bit stealth we've been we've been back back at house building. But yeah we're getting ready i know and you're going to see it here on Dave Cooper live, right Joel? You're going to talk to them you're going to talk to your team and you're going to say hey can we launch this with dave cooper that's what i want i want to be the first to showcase what you're doing in the offside industry, it's what we love.
All right i keep saying last one one more Bob Bender this is no stranger to to factories and builds what's happening bob is target market primarily commercial. When it gets to a single family home would look forward to learning more we're talking to a gentleman right here that has eight manufacturing facilities. Bob is a leader in this industry so bob i feel blessed that you tuned in today.
Thank you, yeah cheers bob!
Yeah we are single-family home we're already working with a client on the single family at home there and i think the convergence of the single-family home and the logistics around the management of the manufacturing is it's really important to showcase where that multi-criteria decision assistant can help.
So yeah let's chat because yeah we're already working on that and i think the the use case is it's a prime one for the the complexities behind every decision to make that work.
Yeah super fun, well listen Joel I appreciate it we got another big show Wednesday from shanghai. We're gonna have stack modular on the show and we're gonna be talking about their process they're gonna be showing walking us through some footage of the inside of their factory overseas in shanghai so this is going to be a great conversation. We're going to see how they do it they build all over the world canada and the u.s and they do a lot of high-rise modular buildings. So you definitely don't want to miss monday's show if you want to see how they're doing it overseas in shanghai. We're going to be the first ones hopefully here to show that how cool is that Joel?
Mr. Dave Cooper worldwide i know it i know it we're hey listen word's getting out man. We've got good stuff to say you know it's not us saying it it's all the people like yourself Joel that are building it better and that's what we're all about promoting people in our industry that have new ideas and great ideas. Whether some people like them or not it doesn't matter as long as you're trying to make it better, that's what matters to me. And we're going to keep driving it forward.
So Joel, I appreciate you joining us today!
Awesome, thanks Dave i appreciate you having us on.
Absolutely, yeah looking forward to the next next steps and rolling this out and and bringing you along with it.
Don't go anywhere, we'll comeback to you after the outro.
All right everybody listen that's a wrap for today's product spotlight. We appreciate each and every one of you our expert interview we appreciate each and every one of you that jumped in today to have this conversation Joel Hutchins has really been making a lot of strides in this space. We look forward to sharing everything that they're doing. Make sure you tune in this wednesday for our product spotlight we are going to be going live like i said from shanghai. And if you are not subscribed to our youtube channel now would be a really good time to go do it. Show your support, we appreciate each and every one of you and we'll see you wednesday.