Working Smarter: Innovations from the Field
This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 7 edition of the DPR Newsletter.
Being a highly technical builder means embracing new technologies that can make work safer and more productive. Often, these innovations come from technology companies who partner with construction companies, but sometimes they’re homegrown—ideas that come from DPR team members. The latter happened on a DPR project in Texas.
Temporary concrete sleeve innovations straight from the field
Forty-year industry veteran, Scott Baylor, is a construction surveyor in Austin, TX, and a key player in supporting DPR’s self-perform concrete business. Having been involved in preparation and layout of some of the city’s tallest towers, he came up with a simple innovation that is changing the game for DPR’s concrete teams.
To ensure accuracy, teams typically use cylindrical concrete pipe sleeves and a high-powered laser shot from a lower level up through successive levels. But this method has drawbacks.
Traditional sleeves leave behind a sizable hole that necessitates a safety cover or barricade, which then needs to be removed and replaced when in use. Each sleeve also leaves a void to fill, requiring formwork to be installed underneath that would later have to be removed.
Frustrated by these inefficiencies, Baylor hatched an idea for a more affordable, wedge-shaped temporary sleeve with a backfill plug. His project team loved it and started producing the sleeves using a 3D printer, deploying them on the site in conjunction with high-powered lasers.
“The backfill process immediately cut post-pour finishing time out of the schedule,” said Baylor.
Riding on their successful field test, the team shared the ideas in a companywide innovation competition and secured funding from DPR to turn the concept into a reality, affectionately called “Scotty Sleeves” after their inventor. The sleeves are currently being produced in bulk for more field testing so they can be improved and eventually made available for general use.
Cleaning up the drywall finishing process
To increase project success, DPR also embraces construction innovations that come from outside the organization. A recent example of this is known as Canvas.
Canvas is a worker-controlled robotic machine that helps increase safety, save time, decrease costs and increase overall quality. Canvas automates the mudding and sanding portions of the drywall finishing process, which, according to Canvas, captures 99.9% of the dust produced by sanding, improving air quality—and reducing worker exposure to silica—and minimizing cleanup. It also helps make the work safer by both cutting out the heavy lifting of machine sanding, stress injuries from repetitive motion and by reducing the chance of falls by allowing workers to take on elevated work from ground level.
“DPR has been working with us for several years to refine our drywall finishing machine and make it more useful for self-perform drywall crews. As an early adopter, DPR has embraced the technology for its ability to improve safety and quality metrics, with an eye toward increased productivity,” said Canvas’ Jill Lonergan.
“We invest heavily in our thousands of craft workers. We’re excited to partner with Canvas to create a safer work environment for our tradespeople while providing them with a valuable new technology skill,” said DPR’s Jack Poindexter.
A team of DPR craft team members recently completed training and certification on the Canvas system, which they are set to deploy on an upcoming project. One of these craftsmen, Cande Talavera, shared his experience with the process: “I was excited to try the Canvas machine and put my hands on it. It was easy to learn and will limit the hard work tapers have to do.”
Posted on June 27, 2022
Last Updated August 23, 2022