JE Dunn Speaks, Autodesk Listens: Construction Software Leaps Forward

August 17, 2018 Sarah Hodges

Mobile technology has become an essential component in the expanding adoption of construction software. Jobsite data collection is crucial to collecting timely information on a device that can be safely carried and used. However, the current market options are limited in their ability to combine job captured data with broader project & enterprise data.  

General Contractor JE Dunn Construction saw the importance of mobile construction technology years ago, long before it was widely accepted in the industry. The company recently worked with Autodesk to expand mobile uses of their technology to generate an easy to use interface that contributes data to a complete solution. In doing so, the construction company is enabling drastically better project insights and better decision making.  


Forward thinkers like JE Dunn understand that the use of mobile technology is growing rapidly in the construction industry. 


Pushing the Envelope at Autodesk

Long before it became commonly appreciated, JE Dunn understood the value of integrated data and saw Autodesk as a potentially valuable partner in advancing its data strategy.

Together, the two companies’ teams accomplished several major projects that are setting new industry standards, some of which include:

  • Integrating JE Dunn’s innovative Lens estimating solution into the Forge platform.
  • Integrating data from multiple data sources including ERP and various apps to create a single source of truth collaboration solution called simply Dunn Dashboard.
  • Working with safety officers to identify key safety needs and use technology to manage the risk.
  • Bringing BIM 360 Field checklists and issues to the iPhone, improving adoption of checklists by providing broad access with an app.


The Importance of Integrated Data


Working with Autodesk, JE Dunn integrated the data coming from multiple point solutions.


Fully integrated data solutions, with sources including their ERP, and all of their enterprise apps, including BIM 360 and others, create a single source of truth.

“Apps by their nature are independent, and they hold buckets of data. They don’t drive better decision making. They give you access to info, but if it’s not connected, it’s not valuable.” - John Jacobs, CIO, JE Dunn Construction

Working with the Autodesk team, JE Dunn integrated the data coming from multiple point solutions, and created the Dunn Dashboard. The Dunn Dashboard provides a single view of all of the company’s construction related data, integrated via the BIM 360 platform.


Better Construction Software: Quality and Safety

Recognizing that quality and construction safety are two of the industry’s most critical issues, JE Dunn and Autodesk worked together to develop groundbreaking capabilities.

It takes a significant amount of data collection and evaluation to manage safe, quality work. Mike Clippinger, JE Dunn Construction National Quality Director, believes “traditional data collection tools have made adequate data collection difficult, and trending from such data even more so.”  We work in a dangerous environment where we need to safely complete work, while also managing complex installations. Working with Autodesk, JE Dunn has been able to improve their processes so that they can achieve even higher levels of safety and quality on their projects.

JE Dunn and the Autodesk team worked directly with safety officers in the field to identify specific safety needs, and to develop technologies to support them within the BIM 360 platform.

The primary need? Mobile technology, with simple functionality, that gives workers access to information and data capture via a device they’re already carrying.


The Big Move to Mobile


The ability to access BIM 360 Field on mobile devices improved safety and efficiency.


Arming field workers with mobile access to BIM 360 Field was a huge need for safety reasons, and JE Dunn knew it would also yield efficiency and effectiveness in delivering their quality program. Not only would it give workers the information they need in the palms of their hands, but also it would allow them to capture data at the point that it’s created–on the job.

Autodesk, pushing for quality control in construction, was developing a new version of its quality and safety workflows on the iPhone, but it was not yet released. JE Dunn insisted that getting BIM 360 Field into the hands of field workers on their iPhones was urgent. The Autodesk team adjusted priorities, and agreed to port key features of the in-market version of BIM 360 Field to the iPhone.

“Being able to do your job on a device that’s the right size and that’s safe and efficient is huge,” says Jacobs. “So we pushed hard for that capability.”

Two months later, BIM 360 Field checklists and issues became available to the JE Dunn team on iPhones, and Autodesk released it to the wider public shortly thereafter, where it has been well received.

“It says a lot about both companies that we saw this need and changed the product to meet it,” says Jacobs. “It says that JE Dunn understands the problems that are facing our industry, and can articulate them in a manner to drive the design of the technology. And it says that Autodesk in turn is willing to listen and adjust their priorities based on that feedback. They put their money where their mouth is.”

When contractors and construction software providers work together, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.


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