We are constantly striving to provide new and innovative services to deliver the best project outcomes for our clients. Five years ago when Raghi Iyengar decided to found Manufacton, a software company that would bring the best of manufacturing to construction, approached Consigli to help develop a software system specifically catered to support pre-fabrication and offsite construction, we saw it as a perfect fit to work with him and his team as Consigli was still developing our approach to prefab. Fast forward to today, we have seen Raghi and his team grow to 50 people and provide services across the industry.
Manufacton’s advanced cloud-based software helps companies manage construction materials, offsite production, and onsite installation across their entire business–with expert support to keep them running. By working out of Consigli’s headquarters five years ago, Raghi was able to hear directly from teams what they needed, specifically on projects that had pre-fabrication and modular building components. It was also a unique opportunity for us at Consigli to see what happens behind the scenes in software development.
To celebrate his work with us, I sat down with Raghi to talk about the origin of our partnership with his team, hear his insights into future trends, and what he has enjoyed about working with the larger Consigli team for the last five years.
Q: Can you tell us how the partnership between Consigli and Manufacton came to be?
Raghi: I have been in the construction technology business for over 30 years. Earlier in this decade, I started to see construction companies looking to take their construction offsite. They were evaluating opportunities to do more prefab, kitting and even volumetric modules. In essence, the construction industry was trying to emulate manufacturing. I met Matthew Consigli to hear his perspective on how this could impact the future of construction. He confirmed noticing these trends as well and was thinking of ways in which Consigli could spearhead this movement. He invited me to work in Consigli’s headquarters in Milford, so that I could be fully immersed in the industry and gain perspectives from project executives, as well as visit job sites to meet with subcontractors to hear first-hand about the needs and potential roadblocks.
Q: Did having a desk at Consigli help shape Manufacton’s business?
R: The opportunity to have Consigli as an incubator has been amazing. The best part of working in Consigli’s office was having direct access to the team and being able to collaborate with project executives, VDC engineers and general superintendents. Consigli team members would stop by to ask what we were working on and talk through pre-fabrication and industry ideas. It was really helpful to get their perspective and insights as we were developing the software — especially in learning about the risks with transition to offsite construction. They also introduced us to innovative subcontractors. We would brainstorm together what pre-fabrication and manufacturing would even look like in construction, and I believe these collaborative moments helped shape Manufacton to what it is today.
Q: What innovations in AEC are you driving with Manufacton?
R: When we started talking to superintendents about taking more of the construction offsite, it became clear that their biggest concern was losing visibility and control of the construction supply chain. A superintendent summarized it very well. He said “I walk my job site at least a couple of times a day to make sure everything is running smoothly. I would not be happy if I was told that I needed to stay in the trailer and walk my job site only once every 2 weeks. But that is what happens when you take work offsite. You cannot drive over to all the remote factories, but you need to ensure you have visibility and control of which subcontractor is building what prefab components in which factory, when are they supposed to be produced and delivered to the job site, and how far along they are in the process. I do not want any surprises about when things are supposed to show up at my job site.” Everyone on the project has access to Manufacton in the cloud, and gets visibility into current status. Coordinated BIM/VDC models are automatically color-coded to show which prefab assemblies or modules are in detailing, manufacturing, delivery or installation. They can fliter the model to show what has been installed in the past month, what is scheduled to be delivered in the next month and so on.
Subcontractors and modular builders leverage Manufacton to optimize their factory production as they push to do more prefab. Some of them are even verticalizing their business to become design-manufacturing-construction companies. Their biggest frustration before Manufacton was that their factory was a “black box” and their own design and field teams did not have visibility into their factory production.
Q: Can you describe a Consigli project that utilized Manufacton’s technology?
R: The team for the 50 Rogers Street project brought in Manufacton because they decided early during the planning phase that they were going to use pre-fabrication. The project is a mixed-use building in Cambridge with hardly any lay-down or areas to build. The prefabrication components of the building were coming from different areas: steel from Canada, bathroom pods from a factory in Florida, and the infinity wall system from Pennsylvania. Traditionally, teams would have to call the different manufacturers to get status updates as well as keep track of lengthy project briefings. In this case, however, the team utilized Manufacton to track all of these moving parts during the entire process. The software provides a color-coded, digital model of the building so that teams can quickly scan the model to see what part of the building is in the detailing, manufacturing, delivery, or installing phases.
Q: What have you enjoyed the most in working with Consigli?
R: The culture. Consigli is an incredibly innovative company filled with people that do not accept the status quo. Teams ask questions, are always open to ideas, and are very supportive. Consigli has been a partner to us since our beginning and has helped us shape our thinking and validated what we were discovering along the way. I hope we keep growing together for many years to come.
Manufacton’s willingness to be part of the Consigli team proved to be an invaluable partnership for both companies. As we look to the future, by continuing to push further into prefabrication, Raghi and the larger Manufacton’s team’s responsiveness and insights will continue to produce rich outcomes for both companies to better serve clients.