Construction is one of history’s oldest trades, and it remains one of the most old-fashioned. Working to make the most of tight profit margins, contractors traditionally have had few investment dollars to explore new technology.
Through the creation of Dysruptek, Haskell is changing that dynamic.
Innovation is in Haskell’s DNA. Under the leadership of founder Preston Haskell, the company became a pioneer of the design-build delivery method shortly after it was founded. Design-build integrates architecture, engineering and construction teams to work as a cohesive unit, and its advent changed how projects are delivered.
Growing from those innovative roots, Dysruptek was formed as the venture arm dedicated to scouting, piloting and investing in emerging technologies disrupting the industry, as well as capitalizing on the innovations and intellectual capital of Haskell’s diverse employee base.
Dysruptek addresses the problems of safety, efficiency and overall lack of digitization of construction projects that hinder the industry. In recent years, a plethora of funding for startups developing technologies to solve for industry needs has been unleashed. Dysruptek is dedicated to identifying the best solutions and applying them across Haskell’s extensive project base to build a safer and more sustainable future.
These emerging solutions can be used to solve industry challenges if properly harnessed to achieve design, engineering and construction-specific tasks. This dedicated focus on innovation allows Haskell to continue to deliver excellence across all projects.
Dysruptek is guided by three principles: Invest, Invent and Innovate.
Haskell has committed to investing in, utilizing and acquiring companies with impactful solutions that lead to competitive advantage in the market. It wants to adopt technologies, such as wireless sensors, smart wearables, robotics, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, and apply them to project design and construction. The goal is to find ways to present customers with up-to-the-moment data, solve design problems before construction begins, and increase worker safety and efficiency.
This is achieved by identifying strategic investments that show potential early on to address the needs of those in the architecture, engineering and construction units. Dysruptek is charged with finding new and better ways to build and create.
“We invest directly and indirectly in technologies that impact our business and the way we deliver our projects and the way our customers operate their facilities,” said Cutler Knupp, Dysruptek director of Strategy and Technology Investments.
Dysruptek uses the construction site and factory floor as laboratories, working with corporations, academia and institutional partners to find and invest in companies creating new uses for the latest innovations. For example, drones are used to map construction sites and do high-elevation work inspections, and robots are deployed to reach spaces that workers cannot access and automation of progress tracking. Machine learning and AI for visual inspection and productivity metrics. Virtual reality and augmented reality technology allowing seamless integration of the design to the field for visual feedback.
Dysruptek also optimizes intellectual capital. Every Haskell employee, no matter the job title or description, is encouraged to share ideas and solutions.
Knupp explained the approach saying, “No one works in a small box. How can Haskell do ‘X’ better?”
Through this inclusive environment, innovation and new ways of thinking are encouraged. Workers in all departments become invested in the company, which builds morale, company identity and loyalty. New ideas become potential new revenue sources. Dysruptek has launched Brightidea, a collaboration tool that serves as a platform for cooperation and innovation.
Using Brightidea, individual employees or teams submit ideas. Peers and executive sponsors vote on the ideas with the most potential, and over two or three months the idea is honed and a business plan is created. After ideas are culled, the most promising are presented to executive leadership. Cash purses and other recognition are awarded to the ideas that become viable concepts.
Bringing Ideas to Fruition
Dysruptek’s R&D center is based in Atlanta. It is there that solutions are found to answer specific customer needs. This goes beyond site construction. Production lines are developed using 3-D drafting and modeling tools. Technicians look for design flaws that could impair production. If for example, a production line has a mechanical issue that could cause it to cease operation for several weeks until it can be reassembled, Haskell engineers and designers find ways to prevent such problems or resolve the issue in a more efficient manner resulting in less downtime.
Dysruptek creates customer-specific protocols and designs, giving Haskell an unparalleled advantage over the competition. By committing to the Dysruptek mission, Haskell isn’t pulling outdated components and practices off the shelf. Rather, it is developing products and solutions that address today’s commercial needs and beyond.
“Haskell and Dysruptek are committed to driving the future of this industry.” Knupp said.