After more than a year of testing construction technology on its mockup jobsite, Oracle Construction & Engineering is planning a major expansion of its Innovation Lab in Deerfield, Ill. Currently consisting of a re-creation of a construction site with some partially erected structural steel, a patch of dirt and a construction trailer, the site will soon feature an expanded testing arena with indoor and outdoor spaces. Going forward, it will also be used to evaluate new technologies related to Oracle’s utility and communication business units. 

“We’ve had over 650 guests at the lab, but many keep coming back,” says Burcin Kaplanoglu, director of innovation for Oracle C&E. Most of the visitors who have tried out the lab have come from the operations side of industry firms, rather than IT, which Kaplanoglu finds encouraging. “It shows we are onto something good and new. We focus a lot on the process and realistic skills to make these technologies work,” he says.

“One problem we face was apparent at both Oracle’s lab and our own jobsites,” says John Jurewicz, technical optimization leader at Walbridge. “We’re not doing a good enough job getting our civil engineers to document what is installed as we install it.” Jurewicz used the Oracle Lab to test new ways to mark up jobsites with RFID tags then verify installations with computer vision. “GPS is just not effective … so we’re learning some ways to make cheap, streamlined point clouds more accurate using global control points.”

 Using the space at the lab, Jurewicz tried out different methods of tracking exactly where a skid steer had been working. He says having a “fake” job site to test out different ideas was a lot easier than running pilots on real jobsites. “We [at Walbridge] don’t own a lot of yellow iron,” he explained.