Wired In: Mani Golparvar

10/4/2016 9:28:20 PM Paul Wood

On Sundays, staff writer Paul Wood spotlights a high-tech difference maker. This week, MANI GOLPARVAR, CEO and co-founder of Reconstruct Inc. At 35, he's an associate professor, Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow and Excellence Faculty Fellow at the University of Illinois's engineering schools.

Reconstruct Inc. is using a variety of visual methods, including drone cameras, to monitor progress and predict problems at the McCormick Place Project in Chicago. The company is also using the technology on the NBA's Sacramento Kings' new downtown arena, the Golden 1 Center.

Photo by: Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette[cr][lf]Mani Golparvar
Photo by: Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette Mani Golparvar

You don't have much of a Persian accent.

I studied at the University of British Columbia and have been here about 10 years.

How is Reconstruct doing with its early funding?

We've received $850,000 of seed round funding, led by Serra Ventures, with Illinois Ventures and other partners. Reconstruct has also participated in the I-Start program at EnterpriseWorks, I-Corps, and the Cozad New Venture Competition.

Have you done much work for the university?

More than 300 projects, so we have a massive amount of data. Some have just extended a few weeks, and some over a year.

And commercially?

We have been using color-coded 3D visual production models on the Sacramento Kings project for a little more a year, and we're still engaged in the McCormick Place Hotel for about eight months. We expect to continue with that project. There's also a project in Wisconsin.

Why drones and smartphones?

In our work, we try to take advantage of all types of visual data on the job site to provide what we call a visual project management system. We use photo logs that contractors, sub-contractors and owners take every day. We take time lapse via fixed cameras every 15 minutes. We take advantage of images captured on drones. They have really automated the process of capture for us. We can send our cameras to various locations and ensure a comprehensive capture. We also take advantage of laser-scanning devices, a new surveying device to map ongoing construction in 3-D. Professional photography services are also used. We can utilize videos from smartphones.

What do you use when drones can't fly?

At McCormick Place, when we go indoors, we don't use drones, we use handheld smartphones. Field engineers and contractors walk around and videotape the locations; the moment the video is uploading to our web-based platform, we automatically map it in 3-D. A space that could be as large as 100,000 square feet could be covered in about five minutes, and within a few hours, we could map that space in 3-D.

What are you trying to achieve?

We have a number of objectives. One is improving transparency. Here, when you're looking at data that is overlaid over a model that we've generated, the CAD model tells you what performance is expected — and you can see the reality. We can identify progress deviations: behind schedule as color-coded in red, on schedule coded in green. Beyond looking at current problems, we also look at locations that are at risk for delays.

They can discuss strategies to tap off delays before they happen on site, to make it a proactive process. It does bring accountability to practice, because now you can track who does what work in a location every day, and also ultimately address scheduling problems that we have.

How big are these problems in the real world?

A study showed 98 percent of mega-projects (over $1 billion) are behind schedule and exhibit cost overruns. The average cost increase is 80 percent. The delay could be as long as 20 months.

Another study show 50 to 60 percent of building projects were delayed and over budget, so this problem is systematic. Our intent is to provide teams with access to actionable data analytics they can use to tap off delays before they happen at their site. With that, you can visualize what is expected to be done, what is expected a week from now or six months from now. In this way you can revise your plan before the problems happen.

Great planning requires great as-built (reality) data, in real time and verifiably, with flexibility for changes.

TECH TIDBITS

... from MANI GOLPARVAR

Wearable electronics? In the work, body-mounted cameras.

Social media? We have a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Book or Kindle? Kindle. A paperless process.

What are you reading right now? Academic papers.