As part of our desire to be “ever forward,” DPR is constantly looking for new technologies to improve the way we build. Building information modeling (BIM), paperless jobsites, laser scanning, 4D sequencing, and total station layout are just a few of the technologies highlighted here.

February 12, 2019

Integrated Approach Leverages Technology for Customers

An ever-increasing stock of technology tools holds promise in the construction industry. It’s tempting to use the latest and greatest “shiny object” immediately, but it takes a strategic approach to get the best results. Leveraging these assets to improve efficiency requires an intentional approach that implements the right technologies on the right projects to maximize predictable outcomes, transparency and bottom-line value.

This value-driven approach led DPR Construction to pilot and then fully implement a new technology integration manager role in each of its five business regions over the last three years. Something akin to curators of emerging technology, these professionals help project teams select and integrate the various applications and technologies for their projects, from preconstruction to closeout.

“DPR is known in the industry for experimenting with and leveraging a lot of technology,” said DPR’s Krupesh Kakkente, whose role includes tech integration nationally. “We realized there is a consequence to innovating without knowing where the value lies.”

To address this, DPR’s integration managers, a troupe of experienced, crossed trained employees, get involved as early as the RFP stage to dive deep into exploring what the customer is truly looking for. Based on this analysis, a tailored solution is devised to deploy the right technologies. The number one objective? “Align our project team’s expectations with the customer’s expectations,” said Kakkente. “DPR’s team of integration managers possess a ‘big picture’ perspective on what different project stakeholders bring to the table and the processes and standards that drive their work.”

An owner discusses the project with the construction team.
Listening to customer needs is a vital first step to properly deploying job site technology.

Start to Finish: Integration in Action

Starting with the earliest planning meetings, a DPR integration manager is at the table to understand what the customer needs and expects, while also taking in to account the project team’s experience and preferences when it comes to working with various applications. Those details inform recommendations for specific applications and technologies that will best deliver value. The goal is to support the full duration of a project and can include document hosting applications to design decision tracking and RFI tracking applications, to name just a few.

After guiding the initial selections, the integration manager works with project teams to ensure team members are up to speed on best practices and procedures at each stage, providing training whenever needed.

“We introduce them to all the apps and connect all the processes together so that they can use them efficiently on jobsites,” Kakkente said. “The overriding goal is transparency and using leading indicators to drive success; that is the real value for the customer.”

A group of people learn about VR technology.
Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies get a lot of attention, but how it will be used on a project is a key question to ask.

Measuring Success – Best Practice Adoption

DPR measures what percentage of the applications and processes used on DPR projects are best practice standards. Those best practices include technologies that have delivered significant returns in terms of adding efficiency to the construction process and increasing predictable outcomes for customers. Currently, DPR’s teams are adopting best practice programs at an average rate of 86 percent on projects companywide, according to Kakkente.

Why 86% best practice adoption rather than 100%? It leaves room for innovation. DPR’s overarching focus on bringing the highest degree of predictability, reliability and efficiency to owners’ projects is balanced with the understanding that innovation also has a significant role to play in a project’s success. Testing and implementing new technologies and approaches are part of the process of continually improving project schedules, cost, value, and quality for customers.

September 28, 2018

Collaborating with Customers to Pilot Innovations that Drive Value

Innovation isn't synonymous with technology. Innovation at DPR Construction can be anything that creates new ways of working more efficiently and delivers value to our customers and projects. Achieving that often takes collaboration with key stakeholders from owners, trade partners, end-users and project team members.

“It seems like for most people innovation has become synonymous with apps and devices, but we believe it’s more about changing how we work,” said DPR’s Tim Gaylord. “We want to focus on how we can do more for customers and be more efficient, whether it’s using technology or simply Lean thinking. Either way, it takes customers and project teams who are willing to try things on their projects and seeing what delivers value.”

That’s exactly what’s underway in Leesburg, VA, where DPR is expanding Inova Loudoun Hospital and using the site as a proving ground for a new way to monitor recent concrete pours with embedded devices.

These devices are embedded into concrete to deliver key measurements.
A DPR team member shows one of the devices that are under pilot.

Traditionally, concrete cylinder samples need to be tested off-site to determine strength. Separate core tests measure moisture content. Doing so involves taking several samples, sending them to a testing facility and waiting for the results. The project team saw an opportunity to see if there’s a more efficient method to measure these aspects in real time.

“We’re embedding sensors into our concrete pours,” explained DPR’s Louay Ghaziri. “The sensors will provide us with strength and moisture content readings that we normally test. We will compare those numbers to what traditional testing returns to see if similar results make this a more efficient solution moving forward.”

DPR’s crews are working in tandem with architecture partner HDR’s research arm. The idea is that, if the readings are reliable, the sensors will cancel out the need to send samples in for testing, therefore saving time, while also helping determine project sequencing and eliminating rework.

A sensor installed prior to concrete pouring.
The sensors are attached to rebar prior to concrete pours.

“On our project, this could make a big difference when it comes to putting in flooring,” Ghaziri said. “At that stage, it’s vital to know exactly how much moisture is in the concrete. Anything that can bring certainty to schedule on a complex project gives the customer more peace of mind.”

A DPR site in Sacramento will also pilot the sensors soon; testing in different climates helps establish the effectiveness of the tool.

It’s the latest example of DPR finding appropriate places to try new methods. Some have taken off; one solution for managing jobsite progress photos has saved hours of time for DPR and its project partners. The solution was first piloted on jobsites in Arizona, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Washington, DC region. Today, it’s used on more than 100 DPR projects because of feedback from architects and owners that showed it was delivering value.

DPR and its design partners use jobsite progress photos for a variety of reports and verification needs. Customers also like current photos for their own purposes including keeping stakeholders or employees/end-users up to speed on progress. Occasionally, they’re needed to help troubleshoot an issue. No matter the stakeholder, finding photos for their specific uses was a cumbersome process, often taking skilled people off their "normal" job for hours.

Visualization showing the digital model compared to progress.
DPR is using software that allows quick ways to compare progress versus a digital model.

“The old methods meant a project team ended up with thousands of pictures in a shared folder with titles like ‘IMG_541’ and no real context,” Gaylord said.

Stakeholders always disliked how a simple report could turn into a day-long process. DPR team members, as well as its trade, design and customer partners all reported a much better, faster experience when DPR implemented a process and software that integrated existing digital site plans with automatic curation of photos.

“Now, we drop a pin in a room, take a 360-degree photo and all the curation legwork is done for us,” Gaylord said.

The result is more time spent building and collaborating with much less time trying to find "that one photo."

DPR looks for things that deliver value in the form of cost savings, schedule certainty or simply better customer service. While technology can be part of the solution, the true innovation usually ends up ticking one of those boxes.

“If it’s just a shiny object, customers aren’t going to be interested,” Gaylord said. “They want to know, with good reason, what’s in it for them. So, we combine being curious about emerging solutions with an environment where we can test things out and see what works, not only for us, but for the customer and project.”

April 24, 2018

The Benefits of Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality photo
A staff member at VCU uses an Oculus Rift headset to view the design and layout of the renovation. Photo courtesy of Justin Schmidt

Virtual reality (VR) technology is experiencing a resurgence after its initial experiments in the 80’s and 90’s. Since recapturing the public’s attention on a large scale in 2014 when Facebook purchased Oculus VR, virtual reality has evolved into a powerful tool with widespread applications and benefits.

Whether it is during the project pursuit, design development, MEP coordination/installation, safety and site logistics planning, or during the facilities maintenance stage, VR is proving it is far more than a fleeting new technology. DPR recognizes VR as a strategic tool that project teams across the country are increasingly leveraging to:

  • Increase stakeholder engagement
  • Increase communication
  • Resolve project challenges
  • Improve project predictability and outcomes.

To learn more about DPR’s VR initiative, read The Benefits of Virtual Reality authored by Kaushal Diwan, Raymond Huynh and Ocean Van.

Example of a virtual reality model
A virtual reality mockup that allowed hospital staff to experience the final look and feel of the room prior to completion. Photo courtesy of Justin Schmidt

April 14, 2017

Field Review: Laser Scanning for Concrete

At a time when recent reports say the construction industry isn’t changing fast enough, DPR Construction has earned international recognition with an award from Fiatech, an organization whose focus is “innovation that builds the world.”

During Fiatech’s 2017 Technology Conference and Showcase in Orlando, DPR’s Josh DeStefano accepted a Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation (CETI) Award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category on behalf of the entire organization. The CETI award recognizes DPR’s development of a new, quicker method for measuring the flatness of concrete floors in partnership with Rithm, a software developer, and Faro, a maker of 3D imaging devices.

Josh DeStefano accepts the Fiatech CETI award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category. Photo courtesy of Ken Frye

You can have a floor that passes the current standards, but still have constructability issues in the field. Today’s ASTM E1155 standards mention a basic assumption that you can’t measure every square inch of the concrete deck for flatness.

Now you can.

Over the past year and a half, on multiple projects, DPR has pioneered the measurement of concrete flatness with 3D laser scanning technology as an improvement over traditional methods of measuring. When DPR self-performs fundamental scopes of work, our own highly skilled craftspeople offer greater control, delivering the highest quality results for our customers.

With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. Photo courtesy of Ivy Nguyen

“We can–while the concrete is still wet–make a difference on the quality that is delivered to the owner of a building,” said DeStefano. “What once took a few days can now take minutes.”

Using traditional methods, concrete is poured and then measured, with a day or more of wait time to get the results back. At that point, the concrete is already dry, resulting in a lagging indicator of the quality of the concrete—and concrete quality is especially important for technical projects where precision flatness is paramount to successful installation of sensitive medical instruments and manufacturing equipment with precise calibration requirements. DPR has gotten this process of gathering results and getting feedback to the work crews down to minutes.

“That’s what’s beautiful about the laser scanning for floor flatness. We took something that was experimental, we brought it to our jobsites and tested it, and figured out a way to implement it into our workflow, staying true to our core value of ever forward,” said DeStefano.

Data can be used to create a “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. This data can be used to create a high precision contour map, color coded elevation or “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations.

This enhanced information can help with better installation of equipment, proactive quality control and the ability to identify potential challenges before they become an issue. It can create an increasingly agile feedback loop of the BIM virtual environment, informing what happens on the field and back again.

“Ever forward is not just about keeping up, it’s about paving the way,” said DeStefano.

June 27, 2016

DPR Survives the Big One! Six-Story Steel-Frame Building Withstands Earthquake Simulation

On the world’s largest outdoor shake table at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), DPR erected the tallest cold-formed, steel-frame structure ever to be tested on a shake table. As engineers, scientists, earthquake experts and media watched, the six-story building withstood a simulation of 150 percent of 1994’s 6.7-magnitude Northridge, California earthquake, shaking and rocking, but remaining structurally intact and safe.

“What we are doing is the equivalent of giving the building an EKG to see how it performs after an earthquake and a post-earthquake fire,” said principal investigator and UC San Diego structural engineering professor Tara Hutchinson.

The project is part of a $1.5 million three-week series of tests, analyzing how cold-formed steel structural systems perform in multi-story buildings located in high seismic hazard zones. Prior to this test, the largest building ever studied was a two-story residential structure in 2013. The structure experienced accelerations of 3.0 to 3.5 G’s at the upper levels, putting a tremendous amount of demand on the “light-gauge” structural frame. Lighter than a concrete, or hot-rolled structural steel building of the same height, the cold-form, light-gauge panelized structure is strong and flexible, thus able to move with the shaking instead of against it.

“The introduction of light-gauge structural systems in areas of high seismic hazard offers owners a superior option over traditional wood framing construction from economic, quality, safety, sustainability and overall building performance standpoints,” said DPR’s Zach Murphy, who is part of DPR’s cold-form steel prefab operations team. “We believe the results of these tests and future projects will continue to prove that this is the better way to build and create higher quality, safer structures in a cost-effective manner.”

In 2015, DPR constructed the MonteCedro senior-living community in Altadena, California, using prefabricated light-gauge panels. While the direct costs were close to wood-frame construction, additional savings were realized through faster schedule, better fire resistance and higher quality framing. DPR also recently built student housing at Otis College in Los Angeles using cold-formed structural framing.

Full video of this week’s shake test can be viewed below:

Scott Reasoner (DPR), Steve Helland (DPR), Tara Hutchinson (UCSD), James Atwood (DPR) and Kelly Holcomb (Sureboard) celebrate the performance of the prefabricated light-gauge structure in San Diego, California.

October 12, 2015

From Paper to Paperless: Maximizing a Project’s Efficiency in the Digital Age

With the responsibilities of each construction professional growing daily, kick off your next project with everyone on the same (digital) page. Maximize your team’s efficiency in design and construction through the use of paperless jobsites—a topic of discussion at a recent Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter event.

Attendees gained an inside look into this practice through the eyes of an architect, general contractor, and subcontractor. Some of the lessons learned and trends discussed included:

  • It’s not just for millennials. Many seasoned construction professionals are embracing the shift, with teams sharing 100% digital project files and using iPads in the field. During the submittal approval process, we see an average savings of ten days/each submittal approval. During construction, tech-savvy subcontractors gain real-time communication with the jobsite. The result is seamless communication, improving the ability to manage change and meet schedule milestones more efficiently.
  • It’s vital to select the necessary processes and supporting tools before starting a project. Bluebeam Studio, PlanGrid and Box are just a few digital tools used to collaborate. The means and methods of consistent file structure are equally as important as the tools themselves.
  • “Human interaction still prevails,” said William Santiago with HKS Architects, Inc. By blending human interaction with real-time technology, we’re able to bring the industry forward, together.

Joining William and me on the panel were Kali Bonnell with DPR Construction, and RayC Southern with Baker Concrete. HKS and DPR worked together on the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute (a paperless jobsite), and Baker worked with DPR on the FIU Academic Health Science Building 4.

Photo courtesy of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter

July 30, 2015

18 Years of BIM

The industry has evolved in the last 25 years since DPR was founded. Building information modeling (BIM), however, has been a part of DPR since the early days of the company. As a long-established leader in virtual design and construction (VDC) and BIM, we know that it's not just the technology alone, but the smart use of technology that can help the right project team deliver predictable results and improve project efficiency.

We used an early version of BIM in 1997 on a project in the Bay Area for basic site logistics, visualization and construction sequencing to identify time/space conflicts.

Ten years later, DPR achieved a major breakthrough on Sutter Health’s Camino Medical Group Mountain View campus, which completed in 2007. Camino was the first DPR project to use a combination of BIM, integrated project delivery (IPD) and lean methodology.

On the Camino project, the team's strategic use of BIM on the 250,000-sq.-ft. outpatient medical center resulted in an estimated cost and time savings of at least $9 million and six months over the traditional CM-at-risk approach. Since then, the benefits and services of BIM have continued to evolve.

Now, almost ten years after the start of the Camino project and 18 years since we first started using it, we use BIM on 85% of our projects before work even begins in the field.

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years. Here's the last one

Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.

June 29, 2015

The Evolution of Projects, Processes and the Profession

How has the construction industry changed in the last 25 years?

Technology is only part of the answer.

In 1990, “The FedEx pick-up deadline and fax machines were the drivers of the day," says Martin Fischer, director of Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE).

"Even a single computer on a jobsite was a big deal,” he continues.

How have innovations and pressures added to project complexity? How has project delivery shifted? What's the difference in the workforce? Learn the answers to these questions and more in the cover story of the latest DPR Review.

Check out the differences in technology from 1990 (pictured left) versus today (pictured right):

February 10, 2015

BIM-Enabled Virtual Reality at VA Hospital Renovation

At a renovation project within a working hospital at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS), DPR is using Oculus Rift goggles to let end users virtually walk through BIM mockups. The team broke ground on this beta technology, which was originally created for the video games industry.

Using the goggles, end users (doctors and nurses, in this case) can explore the finished space and give feedback before construction begins. Given the portability of the system, the team can set up user feedback sessions easily and quickly, which is essential given the hospital staff's limited availability as well as space constraints.

How has the team's use of this technology benefitted the project?

  • Creating an immersive virtual mockup using Oculus Rift cost just a fraction—less than 15%—of what was originally budgeted for a physical mockup.
  • Virtual walk-throughs yielded more than 35 suggested changes (including added storage space and moving equipment).

Get the full story here.

Photo Credit: Mollie Shackleford

January 19, 2015

A Bird’s Eye View: Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Data Collection

On more than 15 DPR projects nationwide, project teams are reaping the benefits of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or "drones").

Teams are using this technology for data collection. UAVs fly across project jobsites and take up to thousands of pictures. The pictures are then stitched into a large mosaic image, which project teams can use as a map to communicate and collaborate.

Pictured above: The team building the Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advanced Practice and Simulation at the University of San Diego uses their images and video to communicate project updates.

Learn more here: Experience a "Day in the Life" of DPR project teams that use UAVs.

Want to learn even more about UAVs in general? Here's a recent Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) about the phenomenon.