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Shifting the Mindset of the Construction Industry, One Innovation at a Time

An interview with one of ENR’s Top 25 Newsmakers, Deron Brown

Deron Brown, president, discusses construction
documentation shown in PartsLab.

PCL PartsLab, a free Autodesk Revit application, is
helping to improve collaboration amongst design
and construction teams.

It’s a common practice for professionals and organizations across the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry to share solutions to their challenges with others. However, the tools and resources that lead to these solutions are rarely shared with industry.

Deron Brown, president of US Buildings for PCL Construction, is out to change this practice and increase collaboration amongst key influencers. It’s his belief that by working together and sharing solutions to industry-wide challenges, we can collectively help the industry advance. This mindset led to his decision to share a PCL-created solution, PCL PartsLab​, with the industry– for free. PartsLab is an Autodesk application that PCL’s Virtual Construction team created to help teams manage construction documentation quickly and effectively. This decision to make PartsLab available to everyone, including competitors, led to Deron being named one of Engineering News-Record’s (ENR) Top 25 Newsmakers, a recognition that celebrates industry professionals who have gone above and beyond to improve the construction industry and the public.

Q: Why is it important to share the tools PCL is using to solve challenges?

A: At PCL, we know that the challenges we face are experienced industry-wide. Knowing this, we made the decision to share PartsLab with the industry because we knew it could help other contractors and designers streamline their BIM process. We also wanted PartsLab to help improve collaboration amongst key stakeholders, including designers, contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and owners. PartsLab is a free Autodesk app that PCL created to help teams manage construction documentation quickly and effectively.

Q: What role does technology play in the AEC industry?

A: Technology plays a huge role in our industry. Construction continues to move towards the use of models, but the risk is that these models are often not complete. By embracing, testing, and implementing new technologies, we can greatly reduce risk on projects. The use of technology helps make projects safer, increases efficiencies, and improves the quality of work.

Q: The article by ENR mentions your willingness and insight to share PCL PartsLab with the public. Can you explain your motivation behind doing so?

A: The construction industry, like other industries, hasn’t changed at the rate of the tech industry. If we don’t share the insights, solutions, and technologies we develop with others, we aren’t helping to advance the industry and we aren’t driving technology; instead, we’re stalling it. It’s important to me that we lead by example, and inspire others to share and discuss how to solve real industry problems that we all face.

Q: What does it mean to you to be named an ENR Top 25 Newsmaker?

A: It’s an honor to be named an ENR Top 25 Newsmaker, but this recognition is really about leaders helping the industry advance in one way or another. For me it represents PCL’s dedication to propelling the industry forward and advancing technology. Without the persistence of our Virtual Construction team seeking out solutions, and in this case developing PCL PartsLab, I wouldn’t be talking about this.

Q: What changes would you like to see take place in the AEC industry over the next 10 years?

A: There are a few things I’d like to see happen in our industry over the next few years. First, I would like the industry to become attractive to younger generations and I believe making technology assessible and readily available can help do so. When used correctly, technology makes projects safer and improves the quality. I would also like to see more collaboration between design and construction teams as these conversations can help spur change in how contractors work with design partners. I’d also like to see software companies begin focusing on developing tools for collaboration, rather than tools focused on individual workflows.

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