Recently, acelab and the American Institute of Architect’s New York and Brooklyn chapters co-hosted Innovations in Product Sourcing. This event brought building industry design, specification and manufacturing experts together to discuss how we can tackle a longstanding area of frustration: How can we spend less time discovering, comparing and ultimately spec’ing building products? There must be a better way than spending hours on end poring through websites, spreadsheets or even brochures to get the product information you need! Below is a recap of what we learned, along with acelab’s solution to transform this process.
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We started with an industry overview from renown industry consultant and advisor Tim McManus, leveraging his extensive experience with McKinsey, industry leaders and governments. Tim's themes included 4 particularly relevant to our challenge:
- The construction industry is enormous, representing of 13% global GDP.
- It is also extremely fragmented, with over U.S. 700 companies and 80% comprised of 10 or fewer workers. This is part of the reason most antiquated product sourcing techniques aren't working for either architects or manufacturers.
- Construction industry productivity is flat since WWII, while most other U.S. industries up are 5-15x. Add to this the challenge that few young adults are entering the industry.
- Construction uses technology/digital solutions less than any other industry except perhaps farming and hunting. McKinsey determined the #1 lever to improve productivity is the application of technology / digital solutions.
Our expert panel (Aaron Pine / Construction Specifications, Inc; Kimberly Kelly / Gensler; Jonah Kaplan / Workshop APD; and Matt Samson / Samson and Partners consulting and advisory) then discussed their different tips and workarounds to navigate the challenging products of discovering the right products, comparing them, and getting them into the spec.
Finally, acelab founders Vardhan Mehta and Dries Carmeliet shared the following short demo and an offer to architects and manufacturers to join our free pilot program.