Yves Frinault, co-founder and CEO of Fieldwire, is a French entrepreneur looking to move the construction industry forward with technology.
Here, Yves discusses how technology can be used in construction today and what the future of the industry looks like with innovation in mind. Read on:
What’s your background and interest in construction?
I attended Stanford and received by M.S. in Construction Management, but my interest in construction started long before that. My family did a bit of residential work in France so I spent summers visiting construction sites and learning from the guys in the field.
How did you become interested in applying technology to the construction industry?
It became apparent at Stanford that the field side of construction was very underserved with technology. Most of the tools being developed only focused on the pre-construction stage of a project (design and planning) and very little was being created for the actual execution.
What pain points or headaches are you trying to fix with Fieldwire?
Our priority is to streamline and help construction companies achieve operational efficiency in the field. Today, 70 percent of the time spent on site goes to coordination and repetitive tasks that could easily be automated with technology. Our goal is to give that time back so craftsmen can get back to doing the work they love.
In what ways do you think the construction industry is behind the times when it comes to technology?
The construction industry is a bit of a paradox, on one hand you see very sophisticated tools that can model entire buildings in 3D, drones and even robots. On the other hand, you see jobsites across the world that still run day-to-day operations with pen and paper, so there’s a clear disparity in the areas where IT spent is going in the industry.
What are the most interesting or innovative ways you’ve seen the construction industry embracing technology?
The most interesting aspect to me is that guys on the field are all embracing technology in some way. You stop by a job site in Europe and all the guys are sharing information on Whatsapp, it might not be the most effective application but they’re still open to using different tools. I think, we as technology providers, need to make sure that our products are as easy to use as consumer applications.
What are some must-have tech tools you think those in construction should embrace?
Mobile technology as a whole will have a very important effect in the industry; similar to what the personal computer did for office workers. With the hardware advancing so quickly and becoming more affordable, it will represent a huge productivity gain for the industry.
There’s two other technologies that have clear use cases in the industry but will take another five to ten years to have a major impact in the industry, drones and augmented reality. Smartphones were around before Apple figured out how to market to the mass market and increase adoption and it’ll take some time for those technologies to reach that stage.
How can those in the construction industry prepare themselves for a more tech-reliant future? What sorts of skills or training should they attain to stay ahead?
I think the first step is to realize that technology can bring a lot of benefits to the industry and be open to change. Not just Fieldwire, but other companies in the tech space are trying to help improve efficiency, safety, affordability and embracing that positive change is important. Today you can get started on a new tool rather quickly, so constantly being inquisitive and trying new solutions that might bring value to your organization is the best way to stay ahead.
What construction industry trends or headlines are you following right now? Why do they interest you?
The main headline I’m following right now is the growing worker shortage in the industry. The industry is estimated to grow to about $15 Trillion in the next 10 years, which means the talent gap will only continue to increase.
Construction companies invest significant time hiring, training and retaining talent. After that journeymen only spend about 30 percent on direct wrench time, optimizing that will be critical to drive profitability in the industry and offset the shortage and that’s where tools like Fieldwire come in.
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