A new web-based, structural-engineering BIM collaboration platform is providing its developers with a few surprises about how the product is being used, with more small projects loaded than expected.
The Combine, an Atlanta-based software firm, developed Konstru in partnership with engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti’s technology incubator TTWiiN, which supplied the industry expertise. After a beta launch this spring, Combine co-founder and partner K.P. Reddy says, “What we’re really learning is that, although we expected it would solve a lot of complicated, hard problems, it’s being used for a lot of simple problems a lot of the market is dealing with. We thought adoption would be on the biggest, most complicated projects, but we’ve seen plenty of smaller and midsize [projects], like schools and office buildings.”
The Combine provides seed-stage expertise to develop and commercialize new technologies. It launched Konstru as a new “portfolio company” through the partnership with Thornton Tomasetti. In the first half of 2017, the team plans to spin off five companies, each of which will seek Series A investor funding. Konstru was the first.
Reddy says Konstru is a web-based platform that lets engineers collaborate via browser while letting them continue to use the tools they are accustomed to, such as Microsoft Excel, Autodesk Revit, Trimble’s Tekla, Bentley’s RAM Structural System, Grasshopper, and CSI’s ETABS and SAP2000. “Konstru is neutral. We’re the glue in the middle,” says Reddy.
Serving smaller firms and projects is a good market to land in “because those companies are largely ignored,” Reddy adds. “Small firms get priced out.”
Konstru is competing with Autodesk’s BIM 360 portfolio of real-time design collaboration tools and especially BIM 360 Glue, which is seeing increased adoption, says Sarah Hodges, director of the construction business line for Autodesk. The industry is “waking up to this notion” of digitizing construction, she says.
Ricardo Khan, Sr. Director of Project Solutions at Mortenson Construction, says his team investigated Konstru and predicts Konstru “will be competing with Autodesk BIM 360 platform, specifically around [Autodesk’s] Glue application and the services Autodesk is building around BIM 360." Konstru is optimized for structural engineers and contractors especially with distributed teams. "It is always interesting to see new solutions emerge on the market to drive competition,” Khan says.
A 2016 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Group found that 63% of construction businesses that use or are planning to use cloud-based platforms are doing so to improve access to information from any location, although many respondents noted that technical advances with 4D and 5D modeling tools, among others, are outpacing improvements in collaboration and communications.