Exclusive interview: Microsoft, Trimble to build Construction Cloud
By Andy Brown and Jenny LescohierNovember 03, 2021
Trimble and Microsoft have announced a strategic partnership to accelerate the digital transformation of construction by building the Trimble Construction Cloud powered by Microsoft Azure.
By leveraging the Microsoft cloud, the two companies will collaborate to develop, build and deliver industry cloud platforms and solutions that connect people, technology, tasks, data, processes and industry lifecycles.
Speaking to International Construction, Bryn Fosburgh, senior vice president, Trimble Navigation, said the new Construction Cloud would put everything in one place and provide integrated workflows rather than files being handed off between processes.
“It is not only connecting data points, but also connecting the workflow from A to Z and the stakeholders from A to Z,” he said.
“Today, we’re seeing more and more connectivity within a certain task. Now we can broaden that across workflows – from estimate to design to earthworks. That’s where we’ve had discontinuity in the handoff. This cloud solution will help in that process.”
Fosburgh added, “We’re really wanting to create an industry platform with a set of point solutions across the different industries we represent. In construction you have estimating, earthmoving, project management, and so on.
“What the cloud has given us is kind of a palette – like an artists’ palette with all of the paint on there – and we can now intermingle those colors, those solutions, for a more integrated workflow.”
This partnership expands Trimble and Microsoft’s existing relationship to combine the Microsoft cloud with Trimble’s construction solutions and industry knowledge. The two companies have already worked together on the Hololens, which is an ergonomic, untethered self-contained holographic device with enterprise-ready applications to increase user accuracy and output.
Trimble’s construction solutions include on-machine and field technology, modeling and collaboration software, project and resource management, and all underlying analytics.
One of the key practical benefits of the Construction Cloud, according to Fosburgh, will be the ability to reduce the amount of rework that takes place. “No matter what you’re building, you always have rework, which costs us productivity, quality, and impacts us from a sustainability perspective, as it creates waste,” he says.
“Platforms like this not only improve productivity, it gives you greater transparency, improves quality, safety – both in human, material and data terms – and sustainability. These parameters are key in this digital transformation. This relationship, platform and cloud environment helps enable that.”
In a previous interview with CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365, Fosburgh talked about what a digital transformation using construction technology can mean for the industry.
“Construction sites are similar to a factory in that repeatable processes can be easily automated. Very soon you might have one or two people using remote control to operate three or four different machines in a very repeatable process. Technology will really give us the tools to significantly increase productivity,” he said.
“This is particularly important considering the shortage of skilled workers entering the construction industry today. Without automating some of today’s construction tasks, there simply aren’t enough people to get the work done without creating a backlog of construction projects.”
He added, “The construction industry has traditionally been slow in utilizing or adopting technology to improve productivity. The industry has primarily utilized scale: bigger trucks, more people or more machines to improve productivity... However, the use of technology-based tools can improve task productivity. The connected construction site combines task productivity with process integration along the construction continuum.”
Trimble Construction Cloud will be available in 2022.