Bricks And Bytes Podcast
May 25, 2023

#38 – Vlad Opanashuk – Transcript

Bricks and Bytes
Bricks and Bytes
#38 - Vlad Opanashuk - Transcript
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Show Notes

Ideas don’t really matter. What matters is the team, and how quickly you can move. If you have a team that the investors believe is capable of building something like that, it doesn’t matter what ideas they come up with. And actually, in fact, what they say is most teams pivot, so they change their ideas after they launch. And after they talk to the customers, they actually understand the reality of the industry, the reality of their customers. I think what they’re looking for is people who can basically move fast. And if you’re already generating traction in the first weeks, then that’s a good indicator that you keep generating traction. What is up everyone? And thanks for tuning in to another episode of the bricks and bites podcast, your go-to for all things construction and property technology.

On today’s episode, we have Vlad Opanashuk, founder and CEO of REDD Consultancy, a design automation and software integration consultancy for the AEC industry. In this episode, we discuss automation and productization in construction, how open source can help construction innovation. and how traditional construction businesses can incorporate technology into existing workflows. If you’re enjoying our podcasts, please subscribe. This helps us get the most amazing guests to give you guys the most informative content on technology in the built world. And shout out to our sponsor, Beta.

If you want to connect with some of the greatest minds in construction tech, including investors, advisors, tier one building contractors, and other innovators, please check them out by going to www.the-beta.com. You are listening to Bricks and Bytes podcast, where we take you on a journey in construction, technology, and business. All right, let’s get this episode started.

So tell us about design automation. First off, what is it? So I think it’s important to, first of all, clear out some of the meanings of the words. Because if you say automation to somebody else, they imagine completely different things. Like you tell one person they imagine one thing, they tell the other person they imagine another thing. Probably when you hear automation, you’re thinking sort of robot factories, all singing and dancing, fancy. But I think automation can apply to automating any process. I think it’s important to make a distinction that construction isn’t automotive industry. I think when people talk about automation in construction, they try and draw parallels between other industries.

Oh, look, the aerospace industry is doing that. Why can’t we do it? The automotive industry is doing this. Why can’t we do it? And I think even in university was when I was in uni, like we had the aerospace and mechanical guys in our department and they were like laughing, oh, civil engineers, sort of the… The problem, the mass is simpler. Like, why is it so behind? And I think construction is different. First of all, it’s huge scale. The scale difference is huge. And second of all, we’re not mass producing buildings in a conventional sense, not yet. I think what we are doing is, as somebody coined, I’m not sure who the originator of the phrase is, mass customization.

And actually, Construction industry is so amazing. Like if you think about it, we are optimizing. So a client comes to us, like if you’re going to buy a car, you’re probably gonna buy a car that’s already been pre-engineered and it’s all been designed and they offer you a package of features. When you’re building a building, most of the time you can, you start completely from scratch. So there’s no, I guess no other big industry like that where you can come in and request really anything. The client comes in and says, well, I want to building on this plot of land. It has to optimize for the site conditions, for the insurance conditions, for local regulation conditions, for the client requirements.

What we are doing really as an industry is amazing. We’re making custom products for every client. This is, I don’t feel like there’s any industry that does the same at the price as we’re doing it, right? Like… Customization, you mostly have industries, jewelry, like cars, aircraft. It’s mass produced. If you want to get a custom product that goes top end straight away, you go to the top end of the market. In buildings, we every client, even the smallest clients, you’re doing loft conversion, extension. This is a very personal thing. And we always cater for the client’s requirements. So when I talk automation, I’m not really talking about… sort of big factories yet. I think we’ll get there eventually, but not yet. I think the two things that we can automate, we can’t really repeat buildings not yet, but we can repeat the design process behind the building or the thinking process and the sort of parts of it, the products. And you’ll see, you see increasingly that we, we see the emergence of building products like balcony system, facade systems, value straight systems. So a lot of the building parts are becoming productized.

So this is when I talk automation, I think, um, I try and automate the design process. So repeat the same thinking process or automate the production of parts of like creating productizing parts of building. What you’re trying to do is to achieve what other industries have already achieved basically, because we are so in early stages that everyone is doing. their own thing. There’s no clear like automation technique because the industry is super early yet, I think. And so that the industry needs more people like you to, who are trying to automate the process and make it a uniform, uh, for someone else to adopt it and to design out of it and build out of it, I think. Yeah. And Brad, what do you like? Uh, how do you think the industry is about automation? Because before I started speaking to you, I don’t really know any, like honestly, I think you could be the first, at least in like the UK or where we are and the people we’re connected with that does this kind of stuff. So do you think that people are just uneducated or do you reckon they just don’t want to take the risk on doing these things?

No, I don’t think so. I don’t really think I’m the first. I think there’s a lot of progress in that respect. Like it’s just people don’t… call that automation, right? Any modular construction sort of initiative, you could say it’s automation, right? Like you have, I know we’ve been doing it for long actually. Like I started actually opening up the modular construction industry to I haven’t really read much about it before, but in a couple of months prior to this podcast, I started looking into it and I’m realizing actually. We have been moving towards this slowly, slowly but surely. Where I come from, from bridges, if you look at, for example, a suspension bridge, it’s constructed with modules that are lifted on a cable. And we’ve been doing this since post-war times, probably in the 60s, 70s, maybe. The historians will correct me. But we’ve been doing that already. We’ve been assembling parts and actually delivering them and installing them. And the building industry is also doing that, right?

So there we see emergence of modular, volumetric modular, but also of construction products. So like, I think when people speak modular, they think about big volumes of blocks of buildings coming onto site, not necessarily like, even if you buy a pre-engineered balcony system or pre-engineered facade system. that you could say that it’s also modular and automation because you’re going instead of fabricating that thing from scratch on site, you’re actually going to, to a supplier who, who delivers it for you. And I think, um, there’s, there’s even more of that. There’s the vertical factories that are kind of climbing up on, on the cores and, um, producing building as you are the things that done sort of. Bigger offsite facilities like companies like Langerooca doing. They. They have massive pre-casting facilities and they assemble wall modules and ceiling modules and bits of building and put them together. So I think in terms of physical automation, there’s a lot of work. I think in terms of my focus mainly lies in digital automation and automating the design processes and how we design and engineer buildings.

Even then, I think it doesn’t come from. from zero, right? Does the concept of parametric modeling and computational design has existed for decades already? Just sort of trying to pick it up from the individual corporate sort of environments and putting it out into the wild as a business. I think one thing we could discuss is the difference between how innovation is treated. between sort of R&D projects in the company and innovation, how it’s done in startup. And I’ve done a little bit of both so I can kind of share that side of the story. Yeah, let’s come back to that. I think we should move on to the technology incubator and launchpad. So the idea of a construction techie kind of subject. You obviously were involved with one recently and you had some… You had some like good insight from your experience there. So, do you want to share that with us? Yeah. So, recently I took part in a startup accelerator called EF. They’re very early stage startup accelerators. So you might think of startup accelerator as somebody who invests into a team and idea, but EF goes even earlier. So they even call themselves more like title accelerator. They select people either from industry. So people like me who represents construction industry and from tech. So people who’ve studied very techie master’s degrees, done PhDs or work for big tech companies. So they put them in the same room and say, hey, ideate and create a business. That was a very interesting experience because as an engineer, why did you decide to participate

I think the reason I decided to participate is because it’s very fast pace. It is like, It’s like a launch pad for you to launch a scalable, sort of globally important business. It’s the speed and the sort of resources they give you that really attracted me. Because as an engineer, I’ve been working for a while and I’ve been automating and trying to improve the way I work personally. And I felt like a lot of these ideas can be taken out and applied to more people to distribute it widely. I felt like as an employee, I think innovation is encouraged. And a lot of the organizations have been lucky to work for organizations that encourage innovation, but the speed at which they implement innovation is extremely slow. If you go to, to, to start an incubator, they push you to do this process a lot faster, like the, the, the, we’re not talking. months and months for research development just to get approval to do something. You’re talking, come up with an idea in one day, two days, and start calling customers now. You should be calling customers now, asking them questions, and just moving. And then you ask the customers, okay, you start shaping ideas, okay, what do you need to implement? The speed with which you move is just incredible, comparing to trying to do it through industry, through existing corporates. And it’s like they provide, sorry, go on.

As I say, is this reflective of the incubator in that they just want to like have the highest scaling companies. So they make a return or is this like, uh, reflective of how a sharp start up should, should maybe run their, uh, operation. I think, I think it’s a little bit of both. I would say, because, um, I mean, is if you look, go into venture capitalists. Right? Their idea is they invest like a big chunk of money into a lot of firms that are promising. Right? And they will invest, as I say, 100 million into 100 companies. They know that half of them will probably fail and 40% will return, but it will return maybe even the return of like to zero. Right? Like you break even, it’s not good. Doubling is not good for them because they have to cover up all of the other ones and they still have to make a big return because they are taking money from big institutions and other investors with quite a high promise of return and to justify on high risk because it’s high risk high return. So they need to have at least one or two companies in a portfolio to return like 10x of the amount of investment even more, like even bigger, 100x obviously. So if you’re not talking 10x improvement in your startup ideas on their investment, then it’s not worth talking to them.

And they are really very much looking for a unicorn, right? Like they’re not looking for like a 10 million exit, 20 million exit. They’re looking at like IPO at a billion. That’s their goal, right? And if you think about it, starting from two guys at a laptop, Yeah, a billion. You got to scale with geometric progression. You got to get like 10 clients in the first months and then you have to double every month probably and you get to like improve or you know a certain person as long as it’s geometric, as long as you add a certain percentage every month then like the mass will work out but you’re going to be growing fast and that’s the pressure from them for sure. But it’s, it is useful as well for you. You’ve got to be extremely confident in your own capability as well to be able to say like, yeah, what I have in my mind and what I’m going to build now will get, will reach that $1 billion valuation. Like that, that’s very bold in itself to be able to think and claim that in front of these people. Yeah, yeah, it’s, it is, but it’s funny though, because I think there’s actually a very healthy attitude towards ideas. And I think the first day we have interacted, I was accepted in our program, we had a kickoff weekend. They said, ideas don’t really matter.

We don’t care about what idea you come up with. What matters is the team, right? And how quickly you can move. And if you have a team that the investors believe is capable of building something like that. It doesn’t matter what ideas they come up with. And actually, in fact, what they say is most teams pivot. So they change their ideas after they launch. And after they talk to the customers, they actually understand the reality of the industry or the reality of their customers. I think what they’re looking for is people who can basically move fast. And if you’re already generating traction in the first weeks, then it’s a good indicator that you keep generating traction. What is interesting that I’ve heard a few months ago is that these people who build these unicorns, multiple billion dollar companies, they usually don’t have technical background. So there was a study done apparently that 20 people who built multiple times multi-billion dollar businesses, none of them had technical background. All of them had commercial background, which basically means that if someone is put into accelerator and they are very like like slow thinkers not in a negative way so thinkers but People who like think through the ideas they they usually lose because It’s commercial application what I think matters Because ideas everyone can have an idea right but how you can execute how quickly you can learn how quickly you can pivot, how quickly you can change everything. Absolutely, absolutely, Marian.

I think I agree with that statement. It’s not necessarily, I don’t think it’s meant to discourage technical people. I think if you’re, even if you’re a CTO, if you’re a very technical person, you still have to have a laser sharp commercial focus. And I agree, it’s the kind of contrast between academia and startups. But in academia, have a very, very narrow problem. you’re trying to solve and you got like time to really go through it and do it diligently. I think with startup, you need to be like extremely fast at generating clients. I think if one takeaway from this whole startup accelerator thing is no matter if you’re building a unicorn, no matter if you’re building like a bootstrapped company or even an open source kind of platform, it doesn’t matter. Like you have to focus on the customer, what they want. It’s not about your idea. If you can have a brilliant idea. that nobody really wants. It’s about going and talking to people. If you can go talk to people, really understand their problem and listen. I think that’s what I learned for myself.

After this accelerator, it doesn’t matter what I do. I think the key should be to find clients, ask them questions and cater for their needs. If you’re building a business, open source, like if you’re not even making money, if you’re building a product for somebody, then you should focus on your client, first of all. And that’s why people like that succeed from your statement, Martin. I think it’s because they have that focus. Sorry, Martin. I didn’t invent any of this. That was from All In Podcast. Well, it’s like, you know, any startup manual or whatever you want to call it, it’s all about customer development. speaking to people, getting out of the building and whatnot. So it makes complete sense. Vlad, did you get any insight whilst there in construction particularly and what people are looking for there or was it focused on other industries? Was it construction accelerator or is it not? No, it’s a general one. It’s a general one. It’s everything from like… eSports to marketing to whatever like this is a very colorful group of people I really enjoyed like talking to people and how the in different industries different construction is I guess it’s It’s perceived very much in in VC circles as a difficult industry was like slow sale cycles I think you hear or difficult industry slow sale cycles I think that’s a repeatable a repeatable claim and I think even especially now with the downturn it’s a bit more difficult to raise I think with construction.

But yeah, I guess it’s a bit stigmatized now in VC circles but it’s not impossible to raise through it and I think you can see the emergence of construction specific accelerators that are coming up. You had Alice. here talking about her accelerator in the US. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, and I think it’s really important. Exactly. And there are loads of, there are now emerging a bunch of VCs specifically for construction. And I think that’s, they’re recognizing that actually construction is such a complex industry that it does require investors to understand the industry. And I think it’s an exciting space to build because there are people now who are willing to look into it. And it’s a massive industry. It’s the biggest industry in the world. It’s like the single industry. It’s like something like a big chunk to 10, 15%. I can’t remember exactly what the global GDP is construction. And it’s also like a huge proportion of the carbon emission as well. So the… to not invest in construction is just to miss out on like a massive slice of pie in the industry. And there’s a huge, I think people still recognize there’s a lot of transformation to be done. But you have to be very convincing because it’s an industry that’s very heavily linked to reality. Like if you think about unicorns and great startups, you think of Google, right? What they sell? They sell advertisement.

Yeah, it’s advertising, yeah. successful fintech, what’s fintech? Fintech is all digital. Most banks or especially the new startups, there’s zero physical, right? So where the startups really excelled is in environments, there’s zero physical assets involved or very limited or like a very limited sort of clear cut between physical and digital. And I think if you’re building construction, if you’re trying to completely isolate yourself from the physical, you’re probably doing something wrong. Not everything is software in this world, right? I had this dream, maybe when COVID started, that everything is going to be digital soon, very soon. But it’s not happening. There’s so much opportunity in the physical, tangible world. So, yes, you’re completely correct, I think. If you’re doing software in construction, you’re a subset of a particular… industry, like if you’re doing software, for example, for structural engineering, right? Like structural engineering is a subset of like it’s a consultancy to construction and then you’re doing software for a subset of a subset of an industry. So it’s a small proportion, right? Like it’s a very small proportion of what software is doing. That is a very good point because what we’re doing mostly in construction, like people when people develop software, is usually B2B business when they do, even if they do start up. But what I’m waiting for is B2C solutions. So if someone non-technical can download the software, pay subscription, whatever it is, and then say or write or indicate to the software that they want this building and they can put the parameters that will be built within, designed within parameters, within planning permission rules, within the area. and it will be technically compliant with the engineering, engineering racks, fire racks, other regulations. That’s what is like an end state to me for development of software in construction.

What do you think? Interesting point. I think it’s probably like I dream of that as well, but I think it’s probably a bit utopian, right? Because what are we selling in construction? Especially like as an engineer, I felt like what are we actually selling? Are we selling designs? I don’t think we’re selling designs. We’re mostly selling risks. The person who goes to you with their construction projects, they come up to you and say, hey, Martin, can you design a building for me? Because I’m running a bakery shop and I don’t know anything about buildings. Why do I care about putting all the parameters in? Like I want a nice bakery that doesn’t burn down if something goes whoops, right? And they want to put a liability on you to make sure that that that building is and they put trust in you. Well, it’s not saleability, but trust in you that the building won’t burn down and they put trust on the contractor to that they’ll actually deliver the project and as specified and it won’t fall down. And I think as much as we want to think that we sell designs and trade goods, engineering, design and construction, actually a lot of it is trading risk. And I think a lot of the limitations in construction and in construction technology. Even things like BIM adoption, I think it’s all about people not really recognizing that that we are trading risk like BIM’s not being made contractual in a lot of places because it’s very difficult to ensure.

What the hell is BIM? Yeah, yeah, like BIM, like if you try and read it about how to correctly implement BIM contractually, it’s a difficult topic, right? Not all the software is actually catering for the commercial side, right? Like we have singing dancing software That’s that’s that’s doing 3d modeling But but like where does the what does the limit of liability lie? Where how does it how does it tie into your construction contract? I think these topics are very boring right like they’re not exciting to think about no one was the reality of it That’s the reality of it. I because one of the ideas I looked at through construction it’s Larry was like well like some to do with BIM, right? Like better creation tools for BIM because everybody’s complaining about Revit and but nobody really does anything about it. And I realized actually the problem is not Revit, the problem is that BIM hasn’t seen the adoption. And I think you mentioned one of the podcasts Owen that like if you especially go down down to the residential scale, nobody really uses it. They’re still tied to the drawings. And that’s because a drawing is a very, as a contractual document, very easy to defend your design through adoring. Whereas BIM is more difficult. It’s not impossible, but if I was looking into that space again, I would focus on the contractual side of it rather than on the actual 3D fancy stuff. But again with BIM, even if it sounds like building information modeling, this is still like technology from early 2000s really. It’s nothing… cutting-edge technology. I think what we are waiting for now is the intersection between what we have currently, which is BIM, and some machine learning applied to BIM so that there is no need for a human to do the BIM stuff because this takes a lot of time, it’s completely complex and that’s what people are paying for, quite hefty fees. It needs to be game-changing. Game-changing is good. Yes. It can’t just be a slight improvement, which is actually very challenging.

Yeah. I think on topic of AI, I’ll probably sound very controversial, but I think at the moment in construction is probably a bit of a fad because in order to build something that can, can really work in construction is well, AI, first of all, for, for it to work, it needs a lot of data. It needs big data to train it on. In construction, we don’t really have. So, ChadGPT has been, oh, ChadGPT is going to design building. ChadGPT can design building for you. ChadGPT is a language model. It can help you communicate with a client, right? And have a nice conversation with them about their requirements. If you want to apply AI in construction, that there are a few players already that are doing it. Like, NPLAN has been around for five years as a startup. They, what they’ve done, they’re doing… they’re really doing AI in construction and they’re, they’ve collected programs from people that are collecting schedules of, of works and extracting, um, data from it and training their AI. If, if somebody is thinking of building AI focused building business now in construction, they need to start thinking, not about how, what the features of it are, but think step back, how can I collect enough data to train it? And I think the, the. the best positioned companies now are big contractors and big development firms and bigger architecture. If the big scale firms, if they can start thinking about it, they need to start thinking about what kind of data can we collect or as an industry actually. I encourage us as an industry to think about, okay, how do we collect data to start building AI models?

What data is important and what we can use from it? At the moment, as you’re a structural engineer, you probably know Martin, like you go to do a retrofit on the building, everybody talks about retrofit, let’s do retrofits. You go to a building, nobody knows where the drawings are for that building, like they have a cupboard somewhere. I was working on the building actually, massive building, it was a public project and it was thousands and thousands of square meters and we asked them, oh do you have the drawings for it? I was like, yeah we had the… the cupboard for the drawings since like 1970s, but nobody knows what a cupboard is anymore. They didn’t lose a drawing, they lost the cupboard with the drawings. So if you’re just talking about like retrofits and all the buildings which I think should become, especially in the UK, will become majority of projects. We need to get our act together about collecting that information and putting it into centralized place or like at least getting, let’s get our information and get our data together. Okay, cool. So, Vlad, tell us a little bit about REDD. R-E-D-D. Yeah, REDD is a company, it’s a consultancy. People like to say it’s a startup. It’s not really a startup because it’s not building anything scalable yet. REDD is combining the idea of engineering and software. So we are marrying the conventional engineering with digital world. It’s an idea that I developed to implement technology. So we’re not going, we’re standing between a busy project manager of like a contractor for a firm or design firm or a manufacturing firm who don’t really have time to, they wanna innovate, right? But they don’t necessarily have time or resources to find the ways to implement innovations. And between the technical, tech companies that are very laser focused on their particular product.

With REDD, what I do is I go to customers and I say, well, I will help you put together a workflow, put together a set of tools, or if there are tools missing in that suite of products, we’ll make them so we do some custom development as well for our clients. And we develop tailored solutions to our clients. in order to help them innovate. Like engineer or like developer or who can be the client? So the ideal clients are people who run engineering departments, who have engineering departments mostly, and it could be from anything from like an engineering firm like yourself, Martian, or our main focus is on construction product manufacturers. So people who… deliver products like facade systems, we worked for facade manufacturer, balustrade systems and even scaffolding systems, things like things that are repeatable, more repeatable. There’s things that you can scale. And what we do is for a facade client, we developed, we looked into the beauty of the business is that both I and my co founder are structural collaborators that we work with and people work with are engineers as well as software developers. So we understand the design, the hard side of it, of the business and the software side of the business. So for example, for the facade job, what we did is we looked at the production or they’re producing the design process for building, sorry, for their product. We build a model, like mathematical model, that can predict cost of the product at the quote stage. So you can type a few numbers, you get an instant sort of quote or price and then later on that ties into a design process and the engineering department doesn’t have to produce a new design for every new job that they’re doing. You basically outsourced R&D department for companies. You could put it bluntly like that.

That’s right. We have the components to And we take learning from different people and from across the industry, and the clients we work with and we put in it to the next client. So instead we’re taking the R&D department of one company and we are actually turning into an industry and R&D department. That’s the idea. Yeah, because the video that you shared on LinkedIn… So anyone who is listening can look it up on your profile, the building size there. So that’s, I think it was reinforced concrete building and you put the number of stories, spacing between the grid lines, et cetera, et cetera, and gives you the cost of, approximate cost of the building and some other parameters. Yeah, so that’s like, I’m just thinking actually, what is… Is this for a client as in like investor or is it for more like engineer because What would that be built for? The download is very simple. It’s a demo of our capabilities, first of all, and a test of our capabilities together. There are a lot of these building sizes and solutions for quick approximate methods. There are loads like… One that comes to mind was test fit. I can’t remember the names, but you’ll find configurators for buildings everywhere. I think what I’ve done in this particular example is tie it all together, is that there’s some actual structural engineering calculations that go behind that too. So it doesn’t just give you…

So for example, if you… an architect is probably more for architects and developers. If you are, for example, trying to do a building development and you want to put a few blocks together, it’s called massing. This is to create a more informative massing process. But the distinctive feature of this particular one that I’ve built is that it actually does some sizing of elements quickly in the background and it will give you an answer that probably 80% of your engineers work. You still need to obviously work through it. So it doesn’t give you the answers only based on some ratios like length to height, blah, blah, blah. It just gives some… It provides some calculations. It’s more clever than that. Yeah, it provides calculation. It has a costing model attached to it, which is attached to the quantities and it’s tied into the IC carbon database to give you some CO2 lower bound values for CO2 embedded. embedded carbon in the building. So that’s it’s it’s it’s a demo. I think we’ll probably release it as a part of it or some some some smaller version of it as a free software. And I want to as much as development as we will as I can, I want to put out as open sources open software, because I think okay, yeah, that’s that’s the way to do it. So tell me what is the what is a major obstacle for I imagine you are in my dreamland. So you have this software and now you put this software next step to the construction stage. So just instead of the sizes of the sections, it will give you also reinforcement, provide you with fabrication drawings, etc. What is the main obstacle and why is it not possible to do? Why is it not possible to do straight away using extraction?

I think it’s… exactly the sort of the liability side of it is you still need an engineer, right? So you still need an engineer to package it up and send it to the contractor and the contractor need to probably redo their fabrication drawings because they don’t want to, well, because the engineer doesn’t want to be responsible for fabrication drawings. Right? So it’s that side of it, right? Like you can give it to a client, right? And let’s say this tool is developed. You give it to a client and the client will click a few buttons now. and it will generate everything from your reinforcement drawings to fabrication drawings and then it’s sent to fabrication. Imagine even like, go further, dream bigger Martin, you don’t need fabrication drawings, it’s all done. Like you click a button and the factory somewhere in China starts or like in India and it delivers it and it automatically ships it to the port, loads it on a ship and it drives to the site and like Croydon somewhere. And it’s installed right like it’s just it’s just all automated right like who’s done to blame It’s probably that’s probably the obstacle like it’s it’s it’s not How do we how do we start like living in this world? Which is automated like who do we blame if the car like it is it’s the same question that you ask it with for Self-driving cars. Who do you blame if that runs over like a child? It’s the same thing. Who do you blame? It’s automatically designed like Do you blame Ladd who’s designed this clever software or do you design somebody who signed off that drawing? Good question. Yeah, but I think the one thing that we should agree on is that in every industry we’re going to… Owen, you have to help me with this word, productization. Yeah, that’s good. Okay, yeah. So we need to, in construction, it will happen sooner or later, that we will be operating on products. So the question is like, what’s the… how deep the product is, what’s the range of this product. Is it just like a simple model and then someone else takes on this model and just builds much, much more better model and more detailed design? Because sooner or later it has to happen. I think we can’t be working like we’re working now. There’s five different consultants or seven different consultants working on one thing and they’re having countless hours of meetings, discussing things. making mistakes, amending for another countless hours. It just doesn’t make any sense. I think you’re right about productization.

I think I alluded to it at the start. My dream is that actually to build a robotic fabrication yard at some point in my life, probably once we automate the design side of it, we’ll move on to the actual production side. Because if we get the soft side done, the hard side done, Maybe in 10 years time, Vlad, you’ll see fabricating like pre-built beams or columns or slabs for building, right? Like shipping them all around the world. That’s probably what’s going to happen in a couple of years time. And I agree. I think it solves the liability problem as well because you see a lot of the products, right? The suppliers and the manufacturers of these construction products, they refine their product, right? And they eliminate the flaws. previous generation so actually become safer and and better products and I way the way I see it is that that everybody will be responsible for their product and there should be a compatible way of putting them together alright like if you’re a beam or a slab system manufacturer then you’re a balcony system manufacturer facade system manufacturer you you don’t you can then assemble them if they’re all compatible you can then assemble them into into into buildings like we are basically Basically, I want to see the world of LEGO, but full scale, but everybody can have a particular block that they specialize in building. That would be amazing. And that also solves the problem of modular, where you don’t want to live in a box. You don’t have to manufacture a box. You can customize any building you like. But as long as you have reasonably sized and thought through components. and you can assemble anything you like. And so you can have anything from a residential home to a massive airport assembled from bits. And I think that’s where we’re heading and more and more people specialize and more and more people actually start mass producing bits or blocks of buildings. And I want to be the enabler of that future. Okay, just one more question before we move on.

Don’t you think there is a little bit of obstacle of material engineering? currently that we can’t move on with some further next level methods of fabrication because of the materials that we’ve been using for decades like steel, concrete, timber and this hasn’t moved on much and that’s why we cannot do much more in terms of construction. I think… Yeah, it’s a valid point. Somebody has mentioned that there’s an argument that construction has really innovated really since the invention of pre-stressed concrete, because we haven’t really invented any new way of building. But I disagree, there are a lot of advancements now in material. I think the problem there is the price points of various materials. And it’s more of a global issue, right? So what materials are we missing? We’re missing materials that we can build amazing things with steel and one thing. Sometimes you look on the Zeno or whatever, the architectural magazine, you look at things that we can build now, this looks alien compared to like 50 years ago. But I think what we really lacking materials is sustainability and… I think there’s a huge improvement in that. There’s low carbon concretes, there’s timber, people talking about reusing plastic and things like that. And I’ve even seen sort of either hemp-based or some sort of plant-based replacement for carbon fiber. So you just put like, it looks like you put straw into… into plastic and it works like the composites you see. It looks very strange because they showed it in the car. It looks like a farm version of a supercar because it looks like natural materials are used in there but it’s actually as strong as carbon and things like that. It’s incredible what the material science is. I think it’ll take time until it gets to a price point where it can compete and it might not even get to that point but I think we definitely need to get to a point where we less material that we can. Like if you look at the average beam or an average slab, you can probably cut 70% of concrete out of it. If you consider that concrete is the most ubiquitous building material, like we need to get to a point where if you can actually design efficient, like optimized buildings, then you can cut the carbon by 50% automatically.

It’s just… It’s expensive, I guess, is risky. But I think that’s where productizing, building components comes in. Because if you’re a beam manufacturer, for example, a beam component manufacturer, like there’s a startup called Minimas, you should check it out, or maybe even invite them to speak here. And Andy. Andy, yeah, yeah. He’s been doing like reductions of 50% on standard beam product. Just doing something like that is a huge step. So he doesn’t use any innovative materials. It’s just putting the materials that we have into a product that he will be able to certify. So we need to, I think that if we really want to innovate is the legislation and certification process needs to speed up because it will take him probably five years or so to get to a point where he can actually manufacture these on scale. maybe less stock time, but like regulation, something we haven’t, haven’t even covered yet. Haven’t even covered. And I think this is, this isn’t really important to really move innovation. Well, let’s, uh, let’s try and get one more question in before we go to, um, off topic stuff. So you mentioned earlier about like, um, design automation in companies versus in startups.

So can you just add to that? Yeah, I think we’ve covered it somewhat. I think a lot of the innovation now, especially in engineering firms and others, like even manufacturers and contractors, everybody has… Well, we started from a point where it was sort of project-based. Hey Vlad, can you just try something new here? And I think it’s driven by keen individuals who just don’t like, who are fed up with doing things the way they’ve been doing it before. And so this is sort of project based innovation. It’s great because it’s solving a particular point, but it’s difficult because you have to squeeze it into with the resources that you have for that project. And then you have overworked individuals who are just feeling like they’re just doing more work on top of their day job. Some innovative companies are starting to put together R&D sort of initiatives and putting money. towards developing new solutions, which is great. But I think the internal R&D departments don’t always have the mentality of a startup, which is, who’s the client, what are we doing for them? And the startup is like ultimate high speed innovation on steroids. You pump a lot of money into building a startup that’s hyper focused on the client. And I think as… what we can learn from the startup world. And I think a lot of the bigger companies now should learn from the startup worlds and think first of all, how can we take the individuals? There are a lot of very, very talented individuals in companies who are willing to put work and who have skills to put towards innovation. How can we take them and enable them inside those companies or otherwise to actually deliver that? that innovation in the companies and it’s a huge opportunity for corporations as well. Take your innovation out of project, take your innovation out of R&D, think can you productize the innovation that’s inside the company or if you can’t productize it, can we as an industry, can we start thinking about innovation in a sort of startup mentality? There should be more of it. Or even fund some of the startups to… Exactly. There’s a huge gap now. We have people, we have ideas, and I think we have a need, clear need. It’s just enabling.

So if there is anything in engineering that you’ve touched on in your professional career that you don’t agree with or agree on the way things are being done currently? Rectangular concrete sections. Big blocks big blocks man. I just you’re thinking about that I was and I was an HS2 and we were working HS2 and doing a bit of design and then we were core pouring and there was One of the things that were pouring we were designing to be poured was like a two and a half or three meter deep pod or something like that. It’s just immense volume of concrete I’m like Surely surely we can do better The worst thing is that if you know how it works, then you know how much is wasted. Yeah, it’s about pushing something innovative through the bureaucratic process there. Let’s stop building squares, please. Let’s start doing better engineering or enabling better engineering. design an efficient thing, they’ll be like, yes, I’ll work for bread. You can start actually realizing that stuff. What keeps you curious? What keeps me curious? I don’t know, I just like seeing things built in real life. That’s always inspiring. You just want to see things come up. You spin something around on the screen. and you then see it in real life, that keeps me motivated. Not necessarily curious, but motivated. And I think the curiosity comes from then actually the fact of how can we, like, well, how does this work? Oh, how does this work? How can I actually make it happen? And I think the curiosity comes from that drive to actually see things done. And then you start finding, if you have a problem, I think it was software development and things like that, you find a problem and you just… you spend day and night trying to figure out and finding and you will find a way to do it. And I think that’s been the driver and the curiosity and general drive. Very nice. Interesting, very interesting.

So I have this curiosity on commercial way. I don’t know how to put it like on a commercial level, I would say, trying to push things through. Engineering wise, what you say, I could resonate with it. But a few years back now, it’s more… making sure that we do the right thing and pushing boundaries in the commercial world of engineering. Definitely, definitely, Martin. I think if we can find people like yourself with keen technical people, like there are so many people who are willing to give up their day job to do something fun, I think if we can find these really wonderful nerds, combine them with wonderful commercial nerds, I think things will happen. things will happen and we’ll see a bright future. Excellent. All right, Vlad, so where can people find out more about you? You can visit, join, add me on LinkedIn, I’ll accept your request, Vlad Opanisuk. Go to our website, redd.works, check out what we do. I’ll be updating the website and putting some more of our projects up there. Yeah, just stay tuned there. Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the Bricks and Bytes Podcast. If you are enjoying the show, please feel free to rate, subscribe, and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. We really appreciate it, and we’ll catch you in the next episode.

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