Baton Rouge: A critical player in industrial construction disruption?


Baton Rouge will likely play a critical role in the current development of a disruptive technology platform that takes aim at productivity woes in the industrial construction space. The goals of the endeavor are bold and specific—a potential 35% reduction in project cost, 50% reduction in schedule duration, and 60% improvement in ROI.

In July, the Construction Industry Institute launched the research phase for the new platform, dubbed Operating System 2.0, near its headquarters at the University of Texas in Austin. ExxonMobil, Shell, Canada-based Suncor Energy, Australia’s BHP and Saudi Arabia-based Sabic have contributed $2 million in support of the research.

UT’s Dr. Stephen Mulva and Carlos Caldas, co-principal investigators in the research, hope to replace traditional industry procedures and standards with a standardized, technology-enabled platform that better accommodates for change and makes projects more financially viable and sustainable. In the process, they’re incorporating technology and big data, supplier interactions and the use of digital contracts and “blockchain.”

Peter Dumont, executive adviser at Premier Resources Group in Houston and one of the principal investors in the platform, says he’s currently in negotiations with a Baton Rouge-area technology company that could play an integral role in the platform’s deployment. Dumont spends much of his time in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast promoting the OS 2.0 platform.

Still, he admits the concept is currently only a “well-informed hypotheses” and needs the research and development to make it a reality. “We’re pushing forward with the research and development to figure out how this new business ecosystem needs to operate, including what it should look like, how companies should come together to deliver an asset, how the supply chain structure will be different, how project funding might be different, etc.,” Dumont says.

John R. Fish, director of project support services at design firm Ford, Bacon & Davis in Baton Rouge, was an early proponent of the effort. Fish serves on CII’s board of advisers and assists with research and technology, and says the OS 2.0 concept has been a longtime coming. The very name of the platform, he adds, denotes a desire to take the construction industry to the next level.

“Over the last 50 years, the construction industry has not had any significant productivity gains at all, while manufacturing has improved by some 200 percent,” Fish says. “We’re just coasting along, doing business like we always have. Some argue that we have even become less productive.”

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