With production expected to reach $15.2 trillion by 2030, the global construction industry is a global engine of economic growth and recovery from the pandemic. Still, it faces some major challenges, particularly in terms of productivity and job security.
After successfully exiting several high-profile technology companies he had built, technology entrepreneur David Redmond turned his attention to the challenges of construction and other heavy industries such as manufacturing and infrastructure.
“The sector was working hard and making improvements, but there had to be a way for the technology to support workers, unions, customers and contractors all rolled into one,” he says.
In 2018, he launched 36Zero, a wearable technology work optimization platform that monitors worker movement, access control, and site usage, resulting in an 11% increase in productivity. The platform also offers heavy industry workers a 360-degree approach to life and work, with a reported 12% improvement in user health.
Redmond, 42, started his post-university career in sales where he worked for a 3D visual business planning SME where he proposed a £6million deal to Ikea of Sweden. From there he moved to the unified communications company Fabric Technologies as Head of Trading. As a shareholder and then a member of the executive team, Redmond and its partners made a successful exit. His next role was as Chief Commercial Officer at a private equity backed ailing cloud-based IT and telecom infrastructure provider as part of a turnaround project. After another successful exit, he founded his first company, Fuse Technologies, a unified communications provider that Ergos later acquired.
The idea that heavy industry needed to embrace a digital solution with benefits that would apply to all arose from a discovery process with leading UK construction company Berkeley Group, which helped fund the initial development of the 36Zero concept with Redmond.
The platform uses a heavy industry workplace optimization tool with the Budy360 wearable device to provide the data needed to understand the movements of all workers at any location at any time. This system improves access control, time management, resource management and workplace safety. It ensures employees are protected with compliance-based zone access, live employee location, rapid evacuations and real-time predictive security AI. 36Zero’s focus on wellbeing includes personalized health reports.
The data collected can be anonymized and aggregated for reporting by the site manager, while a worker’s personalized health data is only available privately via their app.
All employees are visible in real time. All incidents can be reviewed and all employees can return to work after resolution. The two hours that 1,000 workers might previously have stood at a zero-productivity assembly point for two hours are reduced to 30 minutes.
Crucially, the system ensures that all workers are safe in the event of an emergency. Doctors recently praised 36Zero for helping a female worker avoid a near-heart attack when it urged her to get an immediate medical exam, as it reported a worrying number of health metrics.
“Global owners and governments tasked with major construction projects are realizing that they can only achieve true ‘optimized work’ when workers are fully considered,” says Redmond. “The problems currently facing heavy industry include global labor shortages, skills gaps, staff retention and a slow adoption of digital transformation, although the latter is changing. At around 45%, labor costs are the industry’s largest single cost, combined with tight margins. The annual mortality rate is also 1% to 2%.”
36Zero has worked with some of the leading names on UK construction infrastructure projects including Heathrow Airport, HS2, Berkeley Group, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska and Canary Wharf Contractors as well as projects in the Middle East.
The company has 450,000 active users and a projected annual recurring revenue of £88m ARR. The company recently completed a £11.5 million equity and debt financing round, with a follow-up round designed to support increased market acceptance and expansion of operations in the Middle East across the region.
According to Redmond, the future of 36Zero is simple. “It’s a people business,” he says. “It always has been and always will be.” He also sees future opportunities within healthcare technology to expand 36Zero’s wearable healthcare technology offerings.
He adds, “Insurtech offers further opportunities to substantiate awards and claims through historical, real-time and forward-looking analysis of risk profiling and performance in heavy industry workplaces based on a variety of health, compliance and environmental datasets.”