In this episode of the AEC Business podcast, host Aarni Heiskanen interviews Zachi Flatto, CEO and co-founder of Skyline Cockpit. The startup offers a tower crane teleoperation, AI monitoring, and autonomous driving system. Zachi discusses the background of Skyline Cockpit, how they make construction safer and more efficient, and what technologies they use.
A ground-breaking change in crane operation
Zachi Flatto, the CEO and co-founder of Skyline Cockpit, is leading a startup that specializes in providing advanced technology solutions for tower crane operations. The company’s main objective is to eliminate the need for crane operators to climb 100 meters every morning and spend long hours operating the crane from such heights. Zachi firmly believes that in 2023, this traditional practice is no longer necessary.
Skyline Cockpit is a spin-off of Skyline, Israel’s largest tower crane company, which owns approximately 250 tower cranes and operates hundreds more for major general contractors in the country.
On the ground, but with a better vision
The startup aims to revolutionize the construction industry by incorporating cutting-edge technologies from other domains, such as defense and automotive.
By combining automation, teleoperation, and robotics technologies, Skyline Cockpit’s system includes multiple cameras and sensors that provide a panoramic view of the construction site, covering blind spots that operators on higher levels cannot see. Additionally, the company utilizes augmented reality to enhance the operator’s experience and improve safety by displaying the crane’s radius and other relevant information.
Enhanced productivity and safety
Zachi highlights several benefits of Skyline Cockpit’s technology. Firstly, it significantly reduces labor costs by requiring fewer operators for multiple crane jobs. For example, on a five-crane job, three operators would be sufficient. Secondly, the system offers potential savings in terms of time and efficiency and improved safety due to enhanced visibility and monitoring capabilities.
The average age of crane operators globally is nearly 60 years old. Zachi suggests that the lack of young people entering the profession is not due to the salary, as crane operators earn well. Instead, the physically demanding nature of the job is the primary deterrent. Young individuals are not interested in the daily climb, long hours in confined spaces, and challenging work environments.
The speakers explore the possibility of reinventing the profession to make it more appealing to younger generations. Zachi suggests transforming crane operation into a “techie” profession, where individuals familiar with technology, such as video game players, can easily adapt to operating cranes. This approach would create opportunities for younger people to enter a well-paying profession with a stable job market. By doing so, the industry can address the issue of an aging workforce and attract new talent to the field of crane operation.
The business model
Regarding the pricing and business model, Skyline Cockpit plans to collaborate with distributors, including its parent company Skyline, a rental tower crane company. The startup’s model is similar to that of a tower crane original equipment manufacturer (OEM), where distributors sell or rent out cranes equipped with Skyline Cockpit’s technology.
“Currently, we’re building our distribution channel. So if there are in the audience any potential distributors, or tower crane companies, you’re more than welcome to connect us. We’re doing that specifically here right now in Europe. We’re about to start in the Nordics pretty soon,” Zachi concludes.
You can best contact Zachi on LinkedIn.
Watch the interview here or listen on your favorite podcast platform.