News

Introducing Cumulus WorkFlow, the Digital Foreman for Today’s Jobsite
October 28, 2021

Today, Cumulus is proud to launch in beta Cumulus WorkFlow, the new foreman of the digital jobsite. As part of our launch, I want to share with our community the reasons we built this new platform and how it will help advance our industry’s digital transformation.

Where we are, where we are going

For the last three years, Cumulus has focused on helping our customers manage their bolted joint assembly construction and maintenance activities. Leaking bolted connections release an estimated 170 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, equivalent to 36 million cars, and unplanned downtime from these leaks costs owners an average of $260,000 per hour. We are proud to have helped our customers substantially improve these statistics at their facilities, with our Smart Torque System virtually eliminating leaks on start-up, lowering rework rates from more than 30% to less than 10%, reducing quality control and data review costs by 60%, and eliminating hours of paperwork each day.

Despite this success, the value we can offer customers has a natural limit. Our sales and customer success teams often hear, “the system is great, but it would be even better if you could help me with more than just bolted joints.” Our users love the transparency, traceability, and quality assurance we provide, but their challenges with bolted joints extend to many other work activities that the Smart Torque System cannot address.

We know we are onto something big, but we realized that our platform was not yet broad enough to be truly transformative for our users. Our integration of field mobility and connected tools provides granular, real-time visibility into the quality and status of work that ultimately leaves them wanting more, especially as the challenges of COVID-19 and its economic aftermath continue to pile up.

We heard this challenge and spent the last six months rebuilding our platform to meet this need. With the release of Cumulus WorkFlow, we will sunset the Smart Torque System and replace it with our new platform capable of managing virtually any work activity and integrating with virtually any sensor or tool with compatible connectivity.

Bolted joints? Of course. Weld inspections? Sure thing. Pressure testing? No problem. Solar panel installation? Done.

We are excited to offer a single platform for managing all types of mission-critical, high-volume, manual work, enabling the fully digital jobsite.

Why is this pivot important?

The construction industry has a rework problem. Too much time and money is spent redoing work that should have been done right the first time. A 2015 study found that rework accounts for about 30% of the work performed by construction companies. A 2021 Autodesk/FMI study found that rework accounts for 5% of global construction spend, equivalent to approximately $625 Billion in 2020. Almost half of rework is caused by “poor project data and miscommunication.”

This rework problem will worsen as the Great Resignation and the Great Crew Change replace seasoned veterans with inexperienced newcomers.

The best construction companies minimize rework by having field engineers inspect and sign off on critical work activities prior to commissioning and turnover. This process is expensive, time consuming, and not practical in a cost-constrained environment, so only a small percentage of work actually undergoes these inspections. Even the most well-designed quality systems suffer from poor communication, human error, delays, and insufficient record keeping.

New technology is required to transform our stubbornly analog and paper-happy industry, yet most of today’s connected worker platforms are not primarily designed to solve the problem of poor project controls and quality assurance. These solutions help workers find information more quickly and confirm work has been completed, but they do not provide sufficient information to assure a construction manager or inspector that a complex job was actually performed correctly.

With Cumulus WorkFlow, we can do better

Can we afford to have supervisors looking over the shoulder of every worker performing every job in the field? Yes, we can.

Cumulus WorkFlow is designed to be the digital foreman on the job site by keeping track of every step of critical work activities. The platform integrates checklists, photos, location information, and data from connected tools and sensors to provide a comprehensive picture of work quality and project status.

This technology creates the “built world” equivalent of an electronic medical record for each unit of work performed. Information is provided in real time, anywhere in the world. Problems are flagged as they occur which allows for invaluable monitoring of performance and accuracy. The system maintains detailed, auditable records of the who, when, and how of work.

The data collected by the new Cumulus platform will do much more than monitor status and quality. We will benchmark contractor and project performance and assist in worker training and learning management. Cumulus integrates with digital twins and building models to complement equipment monitoring, energy efficiency, and supply chain performance data with equivalent information about manual work. We will not only flag issues in real time, but eventually anticipate problems before they occur.

The future of maintenance and construction is here, and we are excited to be filling this key gap in the digital transformation of the industrial job site.