Chicago-based Pepper Construction has been named the most innovative construction firm in the country for developing a virtual reality safety training program by leveraging tools and staffing resources that were already in place to create a “real life” safety learning environment. As a result, the contractor was named as the grand prize winner of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Innovation Awards, sponsored by Autodesk.
“In order to make construction projects great, firms must innovate,” Bob Lanham, the association’s president and president of Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc. in Houston, said in an Oct. 13 statement. “These award winners have mixed hard work and ingenuity to strengthen their firms and produce outstanding results.”
Through collaboration between the safety and virtual technology department, the Pepper team developed a virtual training program by customizing it using their own statistics reinforced with industry data with an option to make changes as the data evolved. This process allowed the team to eliminate the need to hire a consultant or purchase new software minimizing financial investment. The team combined BIM models and point-cloud scans that were already in use in their programs with Unreal Engine, a creation engine used to build video games, to immerse employees within a replicated jobsite with real hazards in an authentic yet safe way.
In addition to Pepper Construction, Richardson, Texas-based Skiles Group received the second-place prize for development of their own app, Smart Safety, which provides field staff and project administrators with one-click access to site-specific emergency protocols and resources on all active jobsites. Dunkirk, Md.-based PATRIOT was awarded the third-place prize for creating individualized treatment units to support both the healthcare industry and patients suffering from COVID-19.
The association presented Pepper Construction with a $7,000 grand prize during its annual convention last month in Orlando. Lanham noted that the association created the AGC Innovation Awards to inspire members of the construction industry to craft innovative solutions to pressing industry challenges. Lanham added that the Innovation Award showcases free thinkers within the construction industry to provide solutions to construction challenges we face.