Visiting the Future: TAUC's Industrial Grade Innovation Expo Draws Crowds - and Ideas - to Dearborn
The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) held its first-ever Industrial Grade Innovation Conference and Expo (IGI) June 19 - 21, 2018 at the Ford Conference and Event Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
The groundbreaking event brought together owner/clients such as Ford, BP Products North America, Arcelor Mittal, and First Energy to name just a few, along with many TAUC Governing and Regular contractor members, representatives from numerous Building Trades Unions, and a variety of manufacturers and technology providers including DEWALT/Stanley Black & Decker, Procore, and Microsoft.
IGI 2018 was held over three action-packed days, and attendees had an opportunity to physically try new products and services from the 32 exhibitors on hand, such as Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality device; DEWALT's jobsite WiFi and Smart Tools; and Procore's productivity suite of online cloud-based tools. Operating Engineers Local 324 had a Deere Excavator Simulator that attendees could try out, as well as an autonomous Spyder Crane on display.
Keynote presenters Stacy Scopano, Vice President of Innovation for Skanska USA, and Matt Abeles, Co-Founder of BuiltWorlds, kicked things off with an overview of the breadth of new innovation and technology coming to the construction and maintenance industries. Scopano talked about the "Industrial Athlete" and how craft personnel will be able to use technology to enhance their strength capabilities in the field.
Sixteen breakout sessions covered a variety of topics from software and data analytics to how different International Unions are incorporating cutting-edge tech into their respective training curriculums. This training not only enhances the capabilities of their apprentices, but also serves as a way to help recruit younger workers who might not think of construction as a career that would allow them to use high-tech tools and equipment.
The Big Data and Automation panel presentation, moderated by Booz Allen Hamilton, offered a variety of ideas on how our industry can tap into the massive amounts of data being collected and enhance our collective capabilities. "Just-in-time" material delivery was one concept that could be coming to our industry as machine learning and artificial intelligence are more broadly adopted. The panelists also urged attendees to begin creating their own solutions. Josh Bone of Stanley Black and Decker asked the audience, "How many of your companies are taking advantage of the IRS research and development tax incentives?" Only a handful raised their hands, showing just how far there is to go.
IGI 2018 brought together the entire tripartite community - owner/clients, contractors and the trades - and each distinct group took away something different to help their businesses and organizations grow. The event allowed contractors to showcase some of the cutting-edge technology they're employing in the field to meet the needs of their customers, and gave the trades an opportunity to highlight how they're pushing the envelope to stay at the top of their game. It also gave start-ups and established technology companies to create relationships and touch on some of the ways their products and services could have significant impacts on our industry.
TAUC looks forward to this event growing in size and scope, and we hope to see you next year for IGI 2019!