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Suffolk unveils lab of innovation

Smart Labs are described as a physical manifestation of its “build smart” approach

The data wall provides predictive analytics and operational performance indicators
The data wall provides predictive analytics and operational performance indicators

Boston-based construction company Suffolk has unveiled the first of several Smart Labs in New York City as it bids to revolutionise and disrupt the construction industry.


The company plans to use the labs to identify, test and scale new technologies with a view to transforming the construction experience.


A second Smart Lab is scheduled to open in San Francisco later this month with four more labs soon destined for Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa and at the company headquarters in Boston later this year.


While other industries have already been transformed by advanced technologies, construction productivity and innovation has lagged behind. According to Suffolk this inspired it to integrate its “build smart” approach to the construction process, empowering project teams to explore innovative ways of leveraging new tools and technologies to provide value for their clients.


The company describes its labs as a “physical manifestation” of this build smart approach, and will enable project teams to sit side by side with clients and partners to provide a collaborative project planning, design and construction experience that adds value for all stakeholders involved.


“The momentum from our build smart approach is unmistakable as we redefine what it means to be a builder and, more importantly, provide significant value and a positive project experience for clients, architects and trade partners,” said Chris Mayer, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Suffolk.


“We believe our Smart Labs are on the front lines of an industry disruption that will change the way buildings are designed and built, and we are excited to reinforce a culture of invention and curiosity – both in our own people and within the industry.”


Smart Labs will be equipped with tools and the latest interactive technologies including:


Data wall: provides predictive analytics and operational performance indicators to effectively measure critical areas of its business;


Huddlewall: facilitates Lean pull planning meetings, provides closer collaboration and helps integrate 3D, 4D and 5D models, resulting in maximum project efficiency and optimised performance;


Virtual reality cave: showcases the future of construction by immersing users in sophisticated virtual models. It allows clients to virtually “step foot inside” their building before it is built and allows architects and project teams to identify and address logistical challenges before construction begins;


Jobsite feeds: live streaming and time lapse of existing projects, and side-by-side comparisons of the current construction phase.


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