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3D Printing Reforming Construction Industry

By Ron Klyn, CIO, Universal Forest Products

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Ron Klyn, CIO, Universal Forest Products

Mobile Technologies are Boosting Construction Site Efficiency

Mobile technologies help in two primary areas:
1) improving customer service
2) faster problem resolution.

We find it extremely valuable to our customers to be able to look at drawings, engineering designs, 3D images at the job site when they need it. And this need is the strongest whenever a construction site problem is uncovered. Problems can quickly be diagnosed and resolved when our reps can review 3D drawings on site using laptops or tablets.

We also review designs and bids with our customers using 3D images that let us walk them through the various design decisions we have made in our quotations to them. This speeds the sales process up and insures higher quality (i.e. get it right the first time).

Expectations from technology providers for the enterprise

Consumerization of IT, growth in data consumption and storage are driving IT costs up. In our business, its critical to invest in IT in ways that drive costs out of the business. Solutions from providers that allow us to manage the growth and cost creep but not restrict the growth of consumerization of IT are top on our list. We are also focused on cloud based solutions that allow us to drive down TCO but at the same time allow us to provide access to our applications from many devices and locations throughout the world.

Things that keep me awake at night

Implementing cloud based architecture to deliver applications is critical to driving down costs, improving service and increasing reliability. However, cloud based architectures are not without their problems. The largest issue is really delivering consistent, smooth application performance to all of our locations. Many technologies exist today to help us with this mission. But none seem to do it perfectly all the time. We make gains each year on this problem, but look forward to more advances from our technology partners in the areas of delivering 3D modeling capabilities, video and rich UI’s across the network.

Tech trends having significant impact on enterprise business environment

Cloud based technologies are having a dramatic impact on our business. Server virtualization, automated provisioning of resources and virtualizing the desktop are all contributing positively towards flattening or lowering the cost curve in IT.

Ecommerce is another trend that will have an impact on our business. Overtime we see as much as 20-30% of our sales volume moving through the Ecommerce business channel. We look forward to partnering with our business segment leaders to exploit this sales channel to the fullest to drive top line growth and to reduce operating costs.

Vision of future IT-enabled construction projects

Our vision is real time data is available to all our construction partners from quote to shipment. We envision customers knowing when orders are scheduled to be built, when they are built and when they will ship in real time. We also envision access to our quote to order process. Here customers can see orders are in various phases such as Estimating, Design and final ready for Quotation. 

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