With output expected to reach $15.2 trillion by 2030, the global construction industry is a global engine for economic growth and recovery from the pandemic. Still, it faces some major challenges, particularly in terms of worker productivity and safety.
After successfully exiting several high-profile tech companies he had built, tech entrepreneur David Redmond turned his attention to addressing the challenges faced by construction and other heavy industries such as manufacturing and infrastructure.
“The industry worked hard and made improvements, but there had to be a way for technology to support workers, unions, customers and contractors all in one,” he says.
In 2018 he launched 36Zero, a labor optimization platform with wearable technology that monitors employee movements, access control and site usage, resulting in an 11% productivity improvement. The platform also gives heavy industry workers a 360-degree approach to life and work, with a reported 12% improvement in user health.
Redmond, 42, started his post-graduate career in sales, working for an SME with 3D visual store planning, where he pitched a £6 million deal to Ikea in Sweden. From there, he joined the unified communications company Fabric Technologies as head of trade. As a shareholder and then a member of the leadership team, Redmond and his 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 started his first company, Fuse Technologies, a unified communications provider which Ergos subsequently acquired.
The idea that heavy industry should embrace a digital solution with benefits that would apply to all arose from a discovery process with leading UK homebuilder 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 deliver the data needed to understand the movements of all workers in any location, at any time. This system improves access control, time management, resource management and workplace safety. It ensures workers are protected through compliance-based zone access, live worker location, rapid evacuations, and real-time predictive safety AI. 36Zero’s focus on wellness includes personalized health reporting.
The data collected can be anonymized and aggregated for reporting by the site manager, while an employee’s personalized health data is only available privately through their app.
All employees can be seen in real time. Any incidents can be verified and all employees can return to work once resolved. The two hours that 1,000 workers previously spent maybe two hours in a staging area with no productivity has been reduced to 30 minutes.
Crucially, the system ensures that all employees are safe in the event of an emergency. Doctors recently praised 36Zero for helping a female worker avoid a near-heart attack when it warned her for an immediate medical examination as it reported a disturbing number of health stats.
“Global owners and governments in charge of major construction projects realize that they can only achieve true ‘optimized labor’ if workers are fully considered,” said Redmond. “Issues that heavy industries currently face include global labor shortages, skills gaps, workforce retention and a slow adoption of digital transformation, although the latter is changing. At approximately 45%, labor is the largest expense in the industry, coupled with tight margins. The annual death rate is also 1% to 2%.”
36Zero has worked with a number of leading names in 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 is expected to have 450,000 active users and an expected ARR of £88 million (annual recurring revenue). It recently completed a £11.5m equity and debt financing round, with a follow-up round to support greater market adoption and scale-up of Middle East operations across the region.
According to Redmond, the future of 36Zero is simple. “It’s people’s work,” he says. “It always has been and always will be.” He also sees future opportunities within health technology to enhance 36Zero’s wearable health technology offerings.
He adds, “Insurtech provides further opportunities to substantiate premiums and claims through historical, real-time and future forecasting analytics on risk profiling and performance within heavy industrial workplaces based on a wide range of health, compliance and environmental data sets.”