comSpark Podcast - Andrew Burg, VP of Operations and Technology Solutions, Messer Construction Co.
comSpark Thought Leader
Andrew Burg, VP of Operations and Technology Solutions
Messer Construction Company
To listen to the podcast click here!
Hello and welcome to the comSpark podcast where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders. To learn more visit comSpark.tech
Brandon Hubbard: We're here today with Andrew Burg with Messer Construction. He is the Vice President of Operations - Technology Solutions. Where is Messer located Andrew?
Andrew Burg: We're headquartered here in Cincinnati with nine regional offices across the United States.
BH: Great. And how many employees do you have?
AB: A little over a thousand. That's a big footprint. My name is Brandon Hubbard with RDI and I'm also a member of the comSpark executive host committee. And I will be your guest moderator today. So, Andrew, if you're ready, let's get started. Andrew, when people think about construction companies and construction in general, that's not necessarily technology being the next thought in that train. So, what are some of the industry trends that you're seeing that is forcing your vertical to be more technologically advanced?
AB: Well, it's a fact to your comment of the construction industry not being thought of as technical and in fact it's been, you know, in the dark ages for so long. We've seen manufacturing surpass quite a bit.
Their ability to use technology to improve their production and the construction industry has been way behind. We're finally starting to catch up with those and I'd say a lot of the consumer grade type of technology is what's helping us get there. IPads are a common device that we find on our project fields for our project teams for field data collection and you know, drones and a UAV are also consumer grade type things that are starting to figure out what can we do with these tools to help improve our processes. Another one being augmented reality. We have a lens which we've been experimenting with and trying to figure out how do we, it's not just a game, but how do we take the model, the 3D model of the building and use that on the lens so that we can actually see what we're going to build out the field.
We're seeing a lot more of that. We're seeing a lot of focus on the data and one of the things that my group has been focused on is how do we take design and construction data from the architects and the construction as we collect it as we build and structure in a way that we can actually get handed over to our customers and they can use it in their facility management software. We found that it can take up to a year to, to enter the data that we turn over. They, you know, working on avenues like that to streamline and be more productive as really what's impacting the construction industry these days.
BH: And do you find that the buildings that you are building, are they becoming more smart or technologically connected?
AB: Yes, we do see a lot what would be called smart buildings. We haven't gotten so much into where we are embedding sensors in a concrete just, but we know that's out there. But one of the things that, again, my group is focused on with that data is the model. The 3D model is becoming more and more smart. It's actually latent and with a lot of information about the project, about the building, the materials that are in the building, handing that over to our customers so that they can use it. And it connects with their facility management system. Xavier University is one of the customers that we work really closely with and we integrated there our model, our 3D models with their FM systems and it has a bi-directional link to it. So, what happened there is with a flick of a virtual switch, imported 30,000 fields of data connected it to their FM software and now it's bi-directional. So, if they maintain things in their software, it will update the model. So now that model is even more intelligent and they can use that for building information from a facility management standpoint and get a lot more information. It's all available on an IPad. So, this was the first of its kind in an industry. I think that's where we're going to continue to see the trend. We even see the hollow lens or something like that, being able to be a part of the smart building where, you know, the facility engineer can go out with the hollow lens or a helmet and recognize a barcode on a pump and that would automatically generate what the last preventive maintenance or work order was on the piece of equipment or what's coming due, what some spare parts are and let the facility manager connect to all the things that are in a filing cabinet or somewhere else in their in their office. And then add more sensors and more smart building. Yes, definitely headed that direction.
BH: So, with everything coming online, like you mentioned, from the barcodes on the pumps to the light switches themselves to the HVAC systems is, is there a reasonable measure of security that has crossed your mind or from across your team?
AB: Well certainly there's, I would say two factors to look at it from a security standpoint. There's one for us and protecting the construction company and how, how we work, but then there's the connection to our customers and helping them with their security. So, Xavier is one that is very tight and secure. So how we actually work with them is a lot different than how we might be working with other ones in the sensitivity of their data. They also don't want certain things about their campus to be able to be out, you know, there are certain sensitive information in that regard. We do a lot of healthcare work, so healthcare has a lot of sensitive information too. So being conscious about what we do and how we do it and protect the data for our customers and their security as well. We do government work to and there's a lot of requirements around the government work and how we leverage data in that aspect too.
BH: So yeah, you don't want to be the Fitbit not giving away military anymore, right? IT sounds like your day to day building and innovating these smart buildings. So, I have to ask, do you automate your home the same way or what does your home network look like?
AB: Oh yeah. I, I'm not really in the IT space per se. I don't, you know, the WAN and all that stuff and I can try and understand some of that lingo, but being in, I'm not, I'm not a very sophisticated computer user at home, but I have gotten into the smart home and the Z Wave and getting outlets connected to a hub and garage doors on a hub. So, I've gotten a little bit overboard with that and can control my entire home with my phone and sometimes can freak out the family. But um, I actually started that, you know, just because of it's sometimes difficult to get the TV in the DVD or Blu Ray and everything to turn on and the right sequence. So, started figuring that out so the wife and kids can just ask Alexa, turn on, let's watch a blu ray and it'll just happen for them.
BH: So, making, making life easier and he's exactly right until the smart home takes over.
AB: But I haven't gotten to the fridge or the washing machine. I think I'll draw the line there or the door locks.
BH: Right, exactly. Got to take one step at a time. Well, Andrew, I have to thank you for your time on behalf of comSpark. Is there anything that you want our listeners to know about yourself or Messer in these closing moments?
AB: Well innovation is important for us. It's the way we're looking forward and recognize that it's the way we will be around in the future. And uh, it's been a great opportunity to lead this region and get, you know, Messer to help elevate the industry.
BH: While I know that Greater Cincinnati region definitely appreciates that. I know Messer has always been a big contributor to not only the economy but the community in general. So again, we thank you for your time and this is Brandon Hubbard with RDI and Andrew Burg with Messer. To learn more about us, visit comSpark.tech, and good-bye until next time.