Bulletin

Richard Harpham of Katerra: Silicon and Sawdust

Richard Harpham, Vice President Software Products at Katerra, gave this presentation titled Silicon and Sawdust – Deconstructing Construction at NXT BLD 2019. He talks about how Katerra operates and Apollo, a software platform and suite of applications designed to support building projects and teams from beginning to end.

“…we’re thinking about these six things: cost, schedule, materials, labor, performance, and location. We feel that if we can have the data on those six things, always available, within every element of the building then we’re able to make much better, earlier, faster decisions. Because if we know about this information for everything that’s in our supply chain then we can do a lot better,” Harpham says. “That’s what led us to create this thing called Katerra Apollo.”

Katerra was looking for technologies that could support its vision, but, as Harpham puts it, “it wasn’t configurable the way we needed it, couldn’t really customize it, or it was just not moving at the pace that our company was.”

“Earlier, persistent, actionable data…it kind of underlies everything we do with the software and how we think about what type of contextual tool is needed at every part of that process,” Harpham says. “It means we have to think a lot harder about cost and schedule.”

“To me, estimation is professional guessing. And they’re very good at it. It’s very good but really, it’s making up a horrible gap that we have in our process. And BIM’s not really solving that,” Harpham points out.

The Apollo part starts at 29:55 in this video provided by AEC Magazine.

About the author

Aarni Heiskanen

Aarni Heiskanen, Construction Innovation Agent, is hailed as a Top 100 influencer in construction. Aarni has been a pioneer in computer-aided design, he has co-founded a business software company, and worked as a certified management consultant. At present, he runs AE Partners, a construction industry communication firm. Aarni holds a master's degree in architecture.

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