Creating the Future Foreman | Alexandra McManus from Eyrus

If you think building an app is complicated—try building an apartment complex. Construction projects are extraordinarily sophisticated operations that pose myriad logistical, organizational, and even legal challenges.

And coordinating the activities of all the various workers and stakeholders is especially important. “Having the right number of the right type of people on site at the right time is a leading indicator of project success across the board,” says Alexandra McManus, the co-founder and CEO of Eyrus, a company that offers a workforce productivity and visibility solution for the construction sector.

On this edition of UpTech Report, Alexandra talks about how capturing information and managing its distribution can affect safety, productivity, and profitability.

She also discusses how she’s applying emerging software and hardware solutions for an industry that has historically lagged with digital technology.

More information:

Alexandra McManus is the co-founder and CEO of Eyrus, bringing to the company over two decades of professional experience in the construction technology space, across business development, operations, leadership, and more.

She provides a constant stream of vision and intuition for Eyrus alongside her co-founder and COO, Hussein Cholkamy. Together, they launched Eyrus to generate the ultimate workforce visibility platform by leveraging automated data collection and IoT hardware.

Eyrus provides simple and seamless solutions that enhance levels of workforce insight and support construction professionals in delivering their projects on time and on budget. To meet today’s challenges around COVID-19, Eyrus combines workforce data with site zone information to provide solutions for protocol mandates in the workplace, streamlining workflows, increasing collaboration, promoting safety, and supporting compliance.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience

Alexandra McManus 0:00
When you’re specifically looking at a kind of construction project, it’s a very kind of dynamic and fragmented environment. So what we’re really trying to do is align data across that project and provide transparency to all the stakeholders.

Alexander Ferguson 0:20
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our apply tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Today, I am joined by my guest, Alex McManus, who’s based in Philadelphia. She’s the CEO and co founder of Eyrus. Welcome, Alex, good to have you on.

Alexandra McManus 0:36
Thanks for having me.

Alexander Ferguson 0:38
Now, Eyrus if I pulled from your website, it’s a workforce productivity tool. So you’re using automated data from the product site to produce continuous actionable metrics and insights. So for those out there, if you’re leading a construction project, this might be a platform that you’re going to want to check out. Now on your website. Alex, you said it states next level workforce visibility, help me understand what was the problem that you guys initially saw and set out to solve?

Alexandra McManus 1:04
So when you’re specifically looking at a kind of construction project, it’s a very kind of dynamic and fragmented environment. So what we’re really trying to do is align data across that project and provide transparency to all the stakeholders. So very big picture, right?

Alexander Ferguson 1:24
Right. There’s a lot of people a lot of things going on, we need to make sure everyone knows what’s happening.

Alexandra McManus 1:28
Exactly. And very specifically, we focused on workforce visibility, right, so providing the workforce data in real time. And the reason is, for most markets you’re in but specifically in construction, which is still largely run and built by people, having the right number of the right type of, you know, people on site at the right time is a leading indicator of project success across the board. And because of that, right, it becomes also the strongest kind of risk mitigation insight you can have into the project from schedule, to safety to insurance, and then that the workforce data itself actually ties into every piece of work flow required to make that site operational. So really, what we’re looking at doing is centralizing data, capturing it once and then reusing it as many places as possible. Right? So I mean, recycling it and get as much value back to everybody.

Alexandra McManus 2:32
Right? so from the people that have to capture it to the people that overlooking the project to the people that are looking at the schedule or safety of the worksite.

Alexander Ferguson 2:39
People all the way all the way along to that pipeline, it taking a step back, you you started this 2000 sorry, 2015. Is that right? About six years ago? Yeah, we started 2015. Gotcha. And and from from that time, what are some of the use cases that you can describe in any of your client base of in play? Like you can just like even share some of those stories?

Alexandra McManus 3:02
Yeah, so I mean, I wouldn’t mind picking a few because we do capture data for a lot of different values, right? The whole idea is capture it wants, reuse it as many places as possible, right? efficiency and data and technology. So I’m going to give you one from like a safety standpoint. So you’re on a dynamic worksite, where you could have workers coming from 100 different companies, right easily on one of these large sites in a site could cover acres, if not hundreds of acres. So you’re covering a lot of ground, you have a lot of fragmented companies on site. So there might be one person in charge of safety. So it’s OSHA oversees construction site safety, right. And they let you know that until it workers been on site for about 80 hours, right within that first 80 hour period or two week period, that’s when the highest amount of safety incidents happens. So we track right the consistency of the workers and maybe the trade workers the workforce on site. So let’s say that you’re on a large site, and all of a sudden, there’s a big crew shift. So all of a sudden, you know, the crew had been on site for, you know, weeks at a time everything’s running smoothly, safety incidents are going down, there’s a major crew shift, that information isn’t readily apparent to the safety personnel. So I risk and let them know. Alright, here’s an alert, there was a crew shift in this area with this company on this site. So now, the safety personnel can go and focus there and you know, decrease safety incidents. So that’s an example of using that data.

Alexander Ferguson 4:38
It’s it’s letting the right person know that something has happened. They now need to put a special attention to make sure people are safe because of that. Yeah.

Alexandra McManus 4:45
And it’s getting them the data in a way that’s meaningful to that right, same information but meaningful to the safety personnel because that’s what they care about. Right and kind of the this the same way we can look at schedule. So if you’re overseeing the schedule of a project we would input the schedule, right? import it into our system with a trade resource forecast, how many workers from each kind of special trade need to be on site at that time, right, that ties down then to a critical path. So just like if you’re designing technology, right, and you might, you might plot it out in JIRA are in follow a critical path construction works the same way. And so there’s certain tasks that are very important to the overall productivity of that schedule. If, for instance, somebody is putting up a curtain wall, which is kind of closing in a building, this is really important, and that those trade workers haven’t shown up on time, and maybe consistently, you’re understaffed in that trade, that’s in leading indicator of an issue. Right, so then you can alert somebody higher up in the project that’s overseeing the schedule, that we don’t have the right staff in place to do that task. Right. And so they can drill down to see what the issue is. So we had a very specific example of that happening on a site, it turns out that there was a material delay. So the workers aren’t on site, because the material is not there, the materials not there, right? Because it’s not being shipped, right? So they can follow that back, and then solve the problem and bring the schedule back. So that’s probably save six weeks on that project.

Alexander Ferguson 6:18
Conversely, without without having that visibility, you would probably not know that till much later. And you’re like, why is nothing getting done, and then you’d have to manually go backwards. That’s the point of the technology pieces that it actually should alert you it somewhat in real time knowing there’s something to pay attention here.

Alexandra McManus 6:35
Exactly. And I’ll give you a just a much more kind of prevalent and recent example to right. So we have a platform in place, we understand what the workforce and what they’re doing on site, and we’re with COVID, right, all of a sudden construction is not happening without people, right. And so there, they need to be on the site to do the work, what we’re able to do is start looking at kind of workforce safety and have kind of a digital twin of the site, how many people are in certain areas, so we can zone out a construction site, you can see who’s there in real time, and then be alerted. If there’s too many people in an area. So you’re gonna have a density issue. Alright. And actually, you can use the same platform and technology with the right IoT, and even go back and do dwell time and contact tracing weeks later. So just pulling the data, right from, you know, the workforce and then using it

Alexander Ferguson 7:26
through the right path. Well, the type of people that are using it looking at are they project managers? Like what what’s the folks that are actively using the platform?

Alexandra McManus 7:36
So you’re gonna see everybody across the board? So pick my schedule example, our workforce example to understand, right? What’s the kind of risk of that project being on time, can do that for one project, and you can also see it across the portfolio. Right? So if you’re an owner, you want to see the normalization of data across your portfolio. Alright, if you’re on a project, right, you need to see the kind of the workflow of the the workforce data on that project. So if you’re, you’ll be using it as a project manager, you’ll be using it as a scheduler, actually, you’ll be using an as an administrator, right? Because you have a job to check in and check out the workforce.

Alexander Ferguson 8:18
And this is a dashboard of of data. But it’s it’s the input, you’re not inputting anything. So where is the data coming from?

Alexandra McManus 8:27
Alright, so we’re big, we’re

big proponent of input once use as many places as possible, right? So on every construction site, workers have to register on the site, right, so what we’ll do is through that registration process, they’ll will actually use our software, right, and we really focus on our UI UX design to make it easy for the project administrators to input the workforce data, then the work will be given some kind of wearable, and it’s typically an ID tag, right. And then that wearable can serve many functions on the site, whether it be used for access control, or just kind of virtual control where we can read the wearable through gateways on site. So it’s administered once. If you’re in our portfolio, and you have an Irish ID that could be used on any other worksite, you’re on as well. So what we see is a lot of our owners right there, their workforce runs across different projects, right, a lot of the subcontractors or trade partners also work across different projects with those same general contractors or owners. So you put it in once and then you have the information every time they come in on site.

Alexander Ferguson 9:34
I’m going to play a little bit of a devil’s advocate here, just pushback of like, I’m trying to imagine, you know, an owner, right? Why would they not want a solution like this technology? Is it the overhead costs is is is it they’re looking at, okay, why it’s just too much to roll out or is too complex? What are they and what are they doing before they have this or is they’re not even using anything or they’re using something If

Alexandra McManus 10:00
you’re speaking to the choir here, right, I don’t know, are preaching to the choir. To me, everybody should have this, right. So it makes all the sense in the world. But it’s really just the standard adoption of technology, right and having to run through that process. Because in the construction industry, you do have a lot of different stakeholders that are not necessarily aligned under one mission or one Corporation, it takes more time to push through technology that isn’t centralizing things, right. The the other side is technology is can be cumbersome and difficult to operate. So I think one of the things that sets us apart from other technologies on site is I come from the construction industry, my co founder who’s saying comes from the construction industry. And so what we really work on is making the AR platform, easy to administer on site and operationally easy to start, as well as providing the customer service. So somebody’s job on a construction prior project is to manage the construction project is not to manage technology, right? So technology needs to be there to help. And so we’re very aware of that. So if somebody is spending time, to input workforce data, or to use our information, we want to provide more value back to that individual. So it’s just understanding that market,

Alexander Ferguson 11:30
technology overall should help us do make our jobs easier, better, faster. But it’s like what you have described so far, isn’t necessarily thing revolutionary, it’s just somewhat revolutionary to the construction industry, of where they are in the adoption curve. What can you speak to as far as maybe the roadmap of what’s coming up or new features that you have that is actually somewhat maybe could be seen as as futuristic, or implementing new technologies. Alright,

Alexandra McManus 11:57
so it is revolutionary to the construction industry. And when you look across our platform, what you’re looking at is a series of technologies that are kind of, we’re not not on the cutting edge, but on the edge of where technology is going. So in order to capture data across a site, a lot of times where they don’t have connectivity, we have to build the national mesh networks, right. So we’re trying to be on top of the kind of mesh networks, we do a lot of, we have IoT wearables that are out on site. So we have a lot of the edge computing, then that’s done at the gateways, right, what data to collect it, how we want to send it up, that goes to the cloud, right? So very, very focused now on data architecture, right in kind of maximizing the efficiency across that structure, right, that’s just on the tech side. And then we have the software, right, and the focus on the UI UX for our end users, right? So they’re getting the information they need when they want. But across that kind of spectrum of technology, what we’re trying to look at now, let’s say we’re not controlling this, but the new satellite kind of Wi Fi systems, right, that they’re putting out is drastically going to change what we do. So that’s something we’re very focused on. Right. So when you’re running throughout 1000s, if not hundreds of 1000s of IoT devices, right and focused on I mean, connectivity in your data costs, you know, that I think is going to change how we do things in the future, that’s gonna change the entire thing, cellular network. So those are the things we’re focusing on. The other thing that we get into quite a bit, and it’s incident in the world of AI, which has a broad, very broad definition, depending on who you’re talking to, what AI and machine learning is, I think this is very specific to our industry, but the way scheduling is done is going to change drastically. So the old school version of having a schedule done out, right, sending that schedule down to the people, and every month or so updating it is going to go away. And what we’re going to start to do is start to have live schedules, where the data that you get from the field immediately changes the initial input values of the schedule, and then that in gets sent back and forth. And so that will have an understanding of based on who’s in the field and the productivity of the work they’re doing, how that’s impacting schedule, before the scheduler will, right. So that’s, I think something being able to kind of gather that data over time and then find the patterns in it is going to move that pretty quickly. It’s that live ability to to update and change based off of the data that’s

Alexander Ferguson 14:49
coming in your schedule so that everyone can make more informed decisions that wouldn’t that take away the job of the scheduler?

Alexandra McManus 14:55
Of course not. No, and actually some of the Some of the schedule systems we work with right I, to me, it’s just going to enhance their value. Right. And so the schedule is still has to understand what’s happening, right. But now we can provide them input so that they’re going to be actually having a real time value.

Alexander Ferguson 15:16
For for this earlier mentioning IoT devices, you so obviously have the software side, the dashboard and the UI and UX from the IoT side, do you? Are you just a distributor of like a certain flux, right? Have you guys built your own? Can you speak at all to the hardware side,

Alexandra McManus 15:33
I can, and I’ll give you a bit of an arc there. So when we, when we first started, we developed our own proprietary RFID system, which, which came with its own issues, but we certainly understood how to run the system. Then we decided we didn’t want to be in the world of hardware, and we wanted to be closer to the edge. So we found were kind of suppliers, right, and also switched into more ble, then we found we needed more control. And we wanted to be even maybe a little bit closer to the edge. And so now we do a mix of using vendors and sometimes building our own. Right. So now we like to combine, just like we look at data is using one something once we really look at our IoT the same way is how do we pack the most into our IoT to get the most value out of it. So we might have a badge that has ultra wideband ble, and NFC. Right, you need one device, but now it controls different things. And now I can control your access control on site, the BLE will give us a virtual sense of where you are, an ultra wideband can give you distance to somebody else. So in order to do that, we weren’t finding it necessarily readily available in the marketplace. And then we need gateways that can read the data the way we want it to be read. And then we need to manage them the way we want to be managed. So then you put all the tools up behind that.

Alexander Ferguson 17:01
And this is probably why it can be difficult for anyone wanting to roll this out. Because there’s so many different pieces that you have to understand to make it happen. But your point is that you’re trying to take care of all that right for

Alexandra McManus 17:12
difficult to build, we’ve done that part. And so one of the things we really focus on is making it easy to administer for our clients, right. So part of that is making the readers we have Plug and Play Part of that is having the wearable also be an ID badge, right part of that is fitting into the operational structure already that’s happening on sites, how much of a

Alexander Ferguson 17:36
shift or a hard lift for those who are there using the technology, it’s not much changes. It’s just, it’s now there. Yeah,

Alexandra McManus 17:44
and what the other thing we find, and again, I think this is probably pretty common against any industry that’s adopting new technology is what we’ve tried to do is create a configurable platform, so that we can meet the needs of a project at the place of the project. So the project is starting, they collect certain amount of data, right, and as they build, and as they need more data, right, they can use different layers of our platform to gain the knowledge that they need at that time. And then across a project or across a portfolio right project so that they can normalize the data. So it’s really important that we’re not saying here, you need all of this to get started. And you have to understand everything I understand that the client needs to understand get the data they need at the time, right and cool. Just help them do it. As far as the the

Alexander Ferguson 18:38
growth of of the need for data and integration. are you guys looking at or already have any integrations with other solutions and services out there?

Alexandra McManus 18:48
So we do have a couple great integrations. So we integrate with pro core technology. So in the world of construction, they provide a fantastic platform that enables kind of information from across the construction cycle right to be in one place. Right? So construction is a lot more than just what’s happening on the work site, right? It’s everything that leads up to building and everything that happens after building, right. So along those same lines, we also work with Autodesk, right, that’s kind of building that same system. And then I think one of the neatest integrations we have is with Oracle, they have like the preeminent scheduling software, which is Primavera. So when we talk about all the neat things that you can do with scheduling, and then take that data and send it down, right, we’re able to bring in a Primavera schedule, look at their trade forecast and send that piece of information down to everybody in the field at the right time.

Alexander Ferguson 19:48
We already made the statement the world of construction is now being transformed with technology right now. What can you speak to the future of where we’re headed? Maybe in the near future next year or two and and maybe a little bit further 510? What kind of tech predictions do you make? Can you make on what we’ll see?

Alexandra McManus 20:09

in construction or everywhere because I mean, the world is moving fast. That is true,

Alexander Ferguson 20:15
let’s focus on construction, or industry of where it can go.

Alexandra McManus 20:20
So I really do think and we’re hoping to kind of lead the way on this as well that the transparency of data is going to start to kind of lead the management of construction. So when you look at a construction site, it’s kind of like a beautifully choreographed chaos. Right? So you have incredibly talented people managing, right, just huge workforces with again, misaligned information. So that transparency of information is actually going to be able to streamline and help everybody understand what’s happening on site, and it’s going to create mass efficiencies, right? So from our perspective, we would also like to see everybody associated with a kind of one data, take it everywhere you go, kind of mentality, right? So we just have to get rid of and this is across the board, right? reimporting information, people looking at different information for the same thing. So that normalization of data outside of what we’re doing. I mean, there’s just amazing things happening kind of in robotics, I am I don’t know if you’ve seen some of those things in construction, tech and kind of using 3d printing to print out materials, right, that also is going to kind of come into the construction industry as well. That said, I think it’s going to be run by people for a very long time.

Alexander Ferguson 21:47
It’s coming but it’s not gonna change that that that quick. But But I love the point that we need to have more visibility so that we can make more better decisions. And that’s where technology will hopefully help play the largest role. Thank you so much for sharing this insight of for those that want to hear more about Alex’s journey, stick around for part two of our founders journey series once we get more into the details, but for those who want to learn more about our twist, they can go to EYRUS.COM And what’s a good when they get there, Alex, what’s a good first step for them to look at or take?

Alexandra McManus 22:24
Well, I would love it actually, if they just want to contact us and then send up a fill out the form and then we’ll contact them. Or obviously you can read about the information on site.

Alexander Ferguson 22:38
Awesome. Well, thank you again, Alex, for your time. It’s been a great discussion and everyone stick around for part two. We’ll see on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live, work and do business? Go to UpTech And let us know


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