When we think of tech-driven industries, construction probably isn’t the first that comes to mind. But as technology continues to advance, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, just about every industry is set to be transformed, and leading industry figures are keen to discover and leverage the benefits of both established and emerging technological capabilities.
Shalom Bellaish, today’s guest, is the Co-Founder and Chief of Construction and Business Innovation with Constru.ai, a construction technology platform that we’ll be discussing in detail throughout the article.
Before Constru launched, Bellaish spent more than twenty-five years working in construction industry engineering and project management, which included a role as Chief Engineer and VP of Construction at a major Israeli construction company.
Constru represents a melding of tech and construction expertise, and the platform’s advances could even point to the future of the construction industry as a whole.
But first, a more in-depth explanation of what Constru has been working on.
What is Constru.ai?
The key technology that Constru is harnessing is known as computer vision. Under the hood, computer vision is complex and varied, splintering off into various specializations. But in practice, it allows for sophisticated interpretation of visual information. This interpretation previously had to be done manually by human workers.
“Not only can this technology automate manual tasks, but it can also do it with significantly higher accuracy, enabling never before seen jobsite analytics and insights. We take that data, combine it with AI, and deliver a platform that you can think of as a ‘jobsite brain,’ or a GPS for a project.”
Bellaish explained that this application of computer vision allows the team to identify discrepancies, track material quantities, and potentially provide guidance on both schedule and process changes that can optimize the project.
The core of this innovative approach is conducting business more intelligently. That can mean reducing timelines, improving planning, and avoiding mistakes, which can be especially costly in construction as compared to other industries.
So what does this look like in action, and why is visual information so important in construction? Well, for context, a great deal of construction testing is visual, e.g. progress tracking for a given project.
“Computer vision offers the greatest opportunity to replace manual processes. With computer vision, we can collect huge amounts of data from construction sites and use Big Data tools to improve efficiency and performance.”
This is compared to a much slower and often less accurate process where workers would gauge progress and other visual information by sight.
Using the Constru platform to handle these tasks means that team members can focus their attention elsewhere and refer to Constru as a resource that guides day-to-day operations.
But how long did it take for Constru to develop its underlying technologies to a level where they were ready for real-world applications?
Bellaish stressed that computer vision and AI technologies can’t simply be developed over the course of a few months and immediately be deployed. Since these systems rely heavily on data input, it takes time for these systems to “learn” and improve.
If the team had been starting from scratch, then it would have taken significantly longer for the platform to develop, but Bellaish and the team had access to many years’ worth of construction projects and the data associated with those projects.
“We have been developing our core technology for over five years, and more importantly, have acquired data from countless construction projects. That’s not something you can just go out and buy. That being said, our technology is improving every day and our focus is to continue leading the industry in this category.”
Constru is already an extremely useful platform, but it stands to improve even further as it’s used for more and more projects. Each of those projects translates to large amounts of data that can be used to refine the Constru platform.
Bridging the gap
As for how Bellaish became a co-founder of Constru, he said that it grew from a collaboration between tech and construction experts.
“During my MBA studies, I met my co-founders, who had a tech background. They immediately opened my mind to the potential for technology to eliminate many of the cons of the construction industry.”
This has definitely proven to be the case thus far, but all of these improvements are made possible by the knowledge and expertise that Bellaish brings to the table.
Currently, Bellaish’s role with Constru is essentially to bridge the gap between cutting-edge technology and typical construction operations. With his years of experience in the industry prior to Constru, Bellaish is well-suited to handle all this and more, which leads to a great deal of variety in his day-to-day work.
“On some days I might be doing a deep dive into our operational processes, while on others I might be refining the product roadmap or jumping onto a sales call. It’s rare for two days to be exactly the same, which is extremely exciting for me.”
Another way in which Bellaish’s industry experience comes into play is how the platform is designed around customer norms.
Understanding customer needs
Bellaish’s extensive real-world construction industry experience has proven absolutely crucial to the entire operation.
The technologies in use are certainly impressive, but their effectiveness depends on their being informed by experience in and knowledge of the industry.
We’ve already touched on how computer vision can help engineers and construction teams avoid mistakes. That’s an obvious benefit for any business, but it becomes even more beneficial when we consider that the margins in construction tend to be very thin.
Every decision needs to be spot-on to avoid unnecessary expenses and delays. Bellaish told us that his ability to understand customers on an intricate level has proven to be extremely useful for developing Constru.
“My experience enables me to not only understand the customer’s needs but also their thought process. How do they consume data? How do they make decisions? What factors are they considering in their day to day? Simply building a tech platform is not enough, it needs to speak the customer’s language. For Constru, this is critical to success.”
Without this customer-centric context, the platform might have been built around ideal construction scenarios and customer interactions.
Even in complex construction operations, the customer is always right, and the systems in use need to be able to adapt to customer wants and needs.
In addition, the platform itself needs to be easy to use, and it needs to communicate effectively with the customer.
Without these elements, the overall customer experience starts to degrade. Since Constru is supposed to be about reducing stress and offering optimizations, customer experience is a key component of the platform.
The customer shouldn’t be subjected to the complexity of the systems that make Constru possible. From their perspective, it should be seamless.
Thankfully, Bellaish has been able to provide real-world insights as to how customers think and operate, which allows the team to design with the customers in mind. The result is a platform that just works. Yes, it’s actually complex behind the scenes, but customers instead get to focus on results.
The future of Constru
It’s clear that Constru is already performing well, offering unique innovations to a massive industry that still relies on many manual processes by leveraging cutting-edge technologies.
Constru has both the construction expertise and the tech expertise to identify areas of impact and execute innovations that capitalize on those areas, and as we talked about earlier, the platform continues to gain valuable data that further improves its processes.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that Constru’s outlook is incredibly positive. Here’s what Bellaish had to say about the future of the platform.
“The future is very bright. At its core, Constru is a computer vision and data platform for the construction industry. While today we are mainly gathering insights and recommending actions to the customer, we see a future where our platform can fully automate many decisions across the construction process.”
That’s a projection that sounds likely based on what we’ve seen so far, and Constru is certainly poised to continue being an industry leader in data-driven construction technology.
Importantly, it’s not just construction clients who stand to benefit from Constru’s innovations. Optimized construction could also mean better buildings and reduced environmental impact down the line.
But even now, Constru is a clear leader in this space, and it will be interesting to see what the company does next.