After 6 months, it’s time to talk a bit more about what we’re up to at KatalystDI (“KDI”).
KDI is optimizing construction by deeply integrating supply chains into the planning, design, and execution processes.
Our future view is shaped by the great strides being made in generative design, offsite production, DfMA, and technology-enabled management platforms.
We see a time in the near future where user-defined parameters generate configurable designs using predefined components. It’s an immersive and totalizing experience like Minecraft.
Components are packaged for off-site manufacturing in specialty facilities designed and managed to “manufacture” infrastructure. Deliveries are done with autonomous vehicles and scheduled to minimize impacts on society. Checking of installation and accuracy happen on the fly through automatic point cloud scanning carried out by a fleet of drones or other camera/vision systems.
Yes, this is aspirational and may feel lifetimes away but we believe it’s inevitable and will happen much faster than anyone realizes.
These technologies are here and in use across other industries today; it’s simply about packaging and application to construction at scale.
This future isn’t about replacing people but rather optimizing people to be more productive - freeing up time to solve the hard and specialized problems we all see on job sites.
Fundamental Changes for a More Integrated Supply Chain
As we set out to build KDI, we kept asking ourselves, “What fundamental changes would enable this future?”
While there are lots of possible approaches, we kept coming back to an integrated supply chain.
It’s not only foundational to offsite production but a real issue that improves the industry as it exists today. Additionally, it’s been something I’ve been working on from various angles since 2014.
At that time, I worked at Tesla and was the Project Director for Gigafactory 1 in Reno. As I prepared to present one of the first purchases on that job for structural steel to the executive team, I was certain I had all my facts straight. I knew the costs, quantities, and had extensive historical data on what a structural steel package should cost.
Elon had one question: what should this cost? I reiterated my historical comps and explained how we had negotiated a great deal on a $/ton basis.
He was not happy.
The right answer involved what it took to extract iron ore, limestone, and coal. The amount of energy per ton it took to convert these to steel in a blast furnace and the cost of that energy. The minutes of labor involved in various post mill processes.
These were questions I could not answer but I knew moving forward I better understand to an extent not “normal” in construction. There was real value in that.
I needed to know and understand my supply chain.
In a way, he was making a point: do better and go deeper. It was clear to me at that moment why Elon was Elon. It was also clear that this mindset could apply to all of construction.
By understanding and visualizing the construction supply chain behind large jobs, better decisions can be made and better value created.
It isn’t enough to manufacture or shift work offsite. Instead what’s needed is a mental framework to think like a manufacturer; and to us, that means defining and understanding the supply chain that will define this future view.
Building Better Technology for a More Advanced Future
As we continue to explore this more and more, our excitement continues to grow.
This brings us back to who we are:
First, KDI is a technology company.
We’ve been asked if we are engineers, manufacturers, or general contractors. The answer is no. We’re building technology to improve the way that they all interface and interact.
Second, we are focused on the supply chain.
Not generative design, not project management, just the construction supply chain. It’s a big enough challenge and we think people are doing great work in those other related areas.
Finally, we are integrating the supply chain into the traditional construction processes.
We aren’t looking to redefine the roles that exist within the current construction marketplace, but rather enhance people's ability to perform their roles at a higher level, more efficiently, and at a scale required to meet the demands of our world.
Our technology provides the capability to encode traditional design and organize it around the supply chain through three core components:
- Product & Package Library: Defines projects and programs as repeatable products, components, and commodities, and manages those elements in a library or catalog.
- Integrated Supply Chain: Links supply chain data to a library through automated data pipelines and workflows.
- Actionable Intelligence: Finds signals in the data and integrates it into the right construction processes at the right time to drive more effective design, planning, and execution.
KDI helps Owners and Contractors organize, visualize, and manage their projects through the lens of a supply chain and creates the automated data integrations and workflows to do this efficiently.
Integration has two focuses here:
- Our first integration focus is on defining and aggregating data sources in a more streamlined manner. The construction supply chain is disaggregated. While there are certainly big players, they are not the norm. It's the thousands of smaller, independent companies that really define this space.
- With that in place, our second integration focus is on connecting the data and intelligence created from that supply chain into design, planning, and execution activities. This means providing automated and real-time intelligence to inform those processes.
With Owners, we collaborate to create the encoding structure that ties their projects to the supply chain, breaking projects down into systems, packages, and products and then through parts, commodities, and components. This enables creation of the library or catalog of repeatable elements that enables their programs. From there, we work to integrate these Owner-defined supply chains into the platform to provide real-time, bidirectional data flow and ultimately package this data as intelligence.
With Contractors, our engagements are similar but usually done as part of a single project. Creating this data structure allows Contractors to plan and implement effective offsite production strategies and address common resource and supply chain issues that impact projects today.
Gearing up for 2022 and Beyond
KDI looks forward to helping the industry build better through our narrow but deep focus on supply chain integration and management.
We have a services team that has led project management and procurement for some of the largest data center, semiconductor, and energy projects in the world. This team helps with implementation, setup, and support of our platform to ensure our customers get the best value out of it that they can.
We’d love to hear about what you’re working on and explore where we can help. 2022 is going to be an exceptional year. Reach out and join the journey!
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