The construction industry still lags behind when it comes to adopting digital technologies, resulting in opportunities to build new solutions. One company we believe is ready to make an impact is SiteTrace, which has created a material procurement platform enabling trade contractors to order products without the errors and omissions that cause jobsite delays.
The Nuts & Bolts
Problem: Construction contractors today are tackling digital transformation, but gaps still exist. One area change has been slow is among trade contractors, which specialize in specific fields such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical and so on. Many of these contractors still rely on legacy software and handshakes in order to ensure the correct material reaches the jobsite. These largely manual processes contribute to material procurement issues which are responsible for 75% of costly jobsite delays.
At a time when the construction industry is still recovering from pandemic challenges, pressure is mounting to decrease costs and increase predictability when it comes to complex construction projects. That’s especially true for projects where material acquisition, subassembly and logistics account for a large portion of the cost and risk, which is the case for mechanical trades (i.e. HVAC, piping, plumbing, refrigeration, etc.). Although companies such as PlanGrid have digitized many aspects of construction, management of materials among subcontractors and different trades has remained largely static, especially when it comes to procurement. Like everyone else today, trade contractors should expect an “Amazon-esque” experience when it comes to accessing products and materials.
Solution: At its core, SiteTrace’s material procurement platform is designed to speed up the process of getting quotes and ordering materials, such as sheet metal products. SiteTrace’s solution allows contractors to procure material with greater speed and accuracy than traditional methods. In particular, guardrails ensure there is no missing and unclear information in orders, while a focus on job site accessibility means users can submit orders even with poor data coverage.
More broadly, SiteTrace’s platform aims to help contractors keep their jobs on track and make the right decisions for procurement and labor by eliminating order errors, material re-ordering, and admin overhead. It does this by helping to ensure the right material arrives at the site at the right time.
Initially, SiteTrace is targeting mid-sized players in the mechanical trades that work on non-residential projects, such as hospitals, schools, data centers and commercial buildings. This largely covers projects with relatively high expenses and non-commodity subassemblies which can complicate project progress and are a particularly painful problem for general contractors who have subcontracted out trade work.
Getting to know SiteTrace
A team of Stanford grads launched SiteTrace in 2020. Founders include CEO Mehul Kulkarni and Head of Customer Success Lin Htet Kyaw, who both have Master’s degrees in civil engineering, Head of Product Sara Pearce-Probst, who has a Master’s in structural engineering, and CTO Catherine Jiang, who has a degree in symbolic systems.
COVID-19 had a major impact on construction projects globally, and digital technology is expected to be a key part of the new normal for the industry going forward. Many construction companies were already investing heavily in technology prior to the pandemic, which saw the entire industry quickly shift to working and collaborating digitally (including filling digital orders). We believe subcontracting trades should be no exception: the global specialty trade contractors market is expected to grow from $5.15 trillion in 2021 to $8.4 trillion in 2026.
The future of SiteTrace
SiteTrace is currently serving customers by focusing initially on facilitating orders for sheet metal products. Looking ahead, there is significant room for expansion beyond mechanical trades into other subcontracting areas, which would allow SiteTrace to ultimately serve as a marketplace between material distributors and a variety of trades, facilitating everything from procurement to delivery. At 500 Global we look forward to supporting SiteTrace as it builds digital tools to help further modernize the contracting sector.
You can learn more about SiteTrace at: https://www.sitetrace.io/
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