50 Innovators of the Year 2022
Industrialization is familiar when we think about the manufactured products in our homes—from refrigerators to pencils. They are made in factories, and products of the same type are essentially the same. A particular model of Whirlpool fridge may have a few different options—black, stainless steel, or white; doors open on the right or left—but otherwise, all instances of that model are the same. We know that manufacturing hundreds, thousands, or millions of identical products leads to greater efficiencies for the manufacturer and, ultimately, lower consumer prices. We also know that manufacturers of these products tend to automate some processes, reducing the human labor needed to create the products.
The industrialization of construction processes has the potential to improve productivity and profit margins, attract the talent needed to innovate, and achieve decarbonization.
A fundamental change in culture and practices in the construction sector are necessary for industrialized construction to become a reality. Project Frog is one of the most innovative firms to fulfill your industrialized construction requirements. Project Frog is the pioneer of Industrialized Construction with over 15 years of experience. Since 2006, Project Frog’s deep industry experience and a team of architects, engineers, supply chain managers, and field experts have eliminated the chaos of design and construction. Project Frog overcomes challenges in the built environment by leveraging its proprietary kit-of-parts technology, platform development, optimized building components, material sourcing, and vast network of manufacturers. Project Frog offers a holistic approach to productizing buildings from design to occupancy.
In conversation with Mike Eggers, Chief Product Officer-KitConnect at Project Frog
Q. Why was Project Frog started, and where does it stand today?
The Frog in Project Frog stands for Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth. Project Frog’s mission is to address the significant issue of how to replace aging infrastructure as the need for more sustainable buildings grows along with the population. The traditional construction process can’t meet this demand as it is fraught with inconsistencies and external forces that result in project delays and cost overruns.
Project Frog recognized that the building process begins with design. By adopting a productized approach, designers needed a way to get from BIM to Fabrication. Building information modeling offers data-rich 3D models, but they aren’t designed the same way they would be built, let alone manufactured. KitConnect addresses this issue and helps maintain consistency and model integrity while altering the mindset from the building to seeing it as a product.
From design to occupancy, Project Frog has solved many of the growing challenges in the construction industry like labor shortages, material waste, supply chain disruption, project overruns, and rising costs.
Q. What is your definition of the culture of a successful innovative organization?
A successful innovative organization has the power to think forward and wide to develop solutions that create a fundamental shift in the way people think, work, and live. It also comes down to support from colleagues and leadership to challenge the status quo, move forward, and identify new ways of working more efficiently.
Q. How do you kick start innovation if there are plenty of ideas, but the regular work still prevails over innovation?
Kick-starting innovation begins with a cultural shift. As pioneers of industrialized construction, Project Frog’s culture revolves around optimizing the construction industry. Industrialized construction goes beyond prefabrication, offsite, and modular construction by leveraging industrial engineering principles to optimize the entire building process from design to completion. We continuously seek to ensure the best project outcomes by elevating the process through technology, networks, repeatability, and scale.
Culture plays an integral part in innovation at Project Frog. It begins with people’s ability to see a broader perspective, think differently, and be willing to act.
Shed light on your solutions.
Project Frog has maintained its status in the construction industry offering consulting services and building products to owners seeking to scale their construction initiatives. Project Frog’s focus on innovation and elevating the built environment resulted in the creation of two other divisions, LANTANA and KitConnect.
As Project Frog sought to optimize the construction process, they chose to elevate the built environment through air, light, sound, and energy. LANTANA was born to provide an ultra-efficient lighting experience for Project Frog education buildings. LANTANA has since evolved beyond Project Frog and has become one of the preferred lighting solutions in Data Centers and is lighting the way through multiple commercial interiors.
The development of the KitConnect software platform started from a need to provide a workflow between building information modeling (BIM) and manufacturing. KitConnect facilitates repeatability in design and offers a platform to host and manage Kits-of-parts. These kits are part of the prefabrication process, allowing builders to be more flexible in assembly and gain efficiency during manufacturing and construction.
Q. What are the most critical issues and challenges to overcome when starting with innovation?
One of the most critical issues with investing in innovative methodologies is understanding the return. If the advancement is not worth the cost or causes other problems, it’s time to reconsider other options. Sometimes personal passion for a project makes it hard for one to abandon their idea because it’s something they believed in and have invested time or money. But just because an idea didn’t become a reality doesn’t mean it wasn’t good or there isn’t another way to achieve the goal. It just takes some persistence and varying perspectives to possibly find another way to reach success.
Another challenge often found during innovation is articulation. Often we have excellent solutions but getting another to understand the vision and invest in moving it forward is a big obstacle.
Q. What kind of industries do you cater to?
Industrialized construction and/or KitConnect cater to those with repeatable designs or those considering a productized approach to buildings.
It takes fewer workers to complete the same work because of productivity and efficiency gains in the factory and onsite. More precise and predictable schedules and shifting the critical path often result in 50% faster completion and occupancy than traditional construction. Industrialized construction offers the potential to minimize labor, materials, and waste while accelerating the project deadline.
According to McGraw Hill, 41% of 800 AEC professionals surveyed realized a 6% decrease in the budget because of offsite construction practices. Highly dense urban areas, regions with short build seasons, and remote sites pose unique issues for traditional construction like transportation of materials, constricted sites, and crew accessibility. Industrialized construction is particularly suited for these projects as most construction occurs in the factory.
Guiding Project Frog’s innovation to transform the construction industry
Mike Eggers is the Chief Product Officer-KitConnect at Project Frog. He is a licensed architect in California with over 15 years of experience with highly detailed and complex construction projects. He also brings knowledge in program management and product development while working with cross-functional hardware and software engineering teams to plan, execute, and deploy integrated hardware, software, and operations solutions at scale.