#DIGITALTRADIES: WHEN A DINOSAUR MEETS PODIUM MX STUDIO. INTRODUCING - BILL TOBIN

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Welcome back to our Digital Tradies series where we'll be talking to some awesome people from our Lendlease Digital family. Now you've seen some members of our Sydney Lendlease digital family, and that is only a small glimpse of our global family. But we have offices around the world including Sydney, San Francisco, London, Milan and Singapore.

 

Today we have a very special guest joining us and you may recognise him from last year's Autonomous Building Summit where he gave a live demonstration of Podium’s MX Studio with Bill Ruh. Joining us today live from Florida, but usually operating in California is operations director Bill Tobin. Welcome, Bill.

Thank you so much for joining us today. Bill, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

I've been around in Lendlease for 31 and a half years. I've started as a labourer and I've been delivering projects for 31 and a half years for Lendlease. Got into heavy timber and CLT, I think about seven years ago. I went down to Australia to see our first one down in the Docklands and then came back and did the first one for us and did several in the U.S. for Lendlease.

I’m interested to know what does your typical work day look like and what are you currently working on?

Well, honestly, since we started the heavy timber, nothing has been typical because we started in privatised army lodging delivering there. We did some R&D work for various entities to bring heavy timber into the codes and then accepted by the Department of Defence. So nothing has been traditional. Lots of R&D, lots of pushing boundaries, delivering CLT projects where we actually self perform and delivered our own projects to the last two years, really setting up the Podium MX facility out in Newark, California, where we actually started doing the prototyping of physical elements that Lendlease is designed in conjunction with Holmes to solve issues that we found in our self-perform work in both the U.S. and Australia - what's been lacking for more productivity and safe type equipment. The fun part is California we actually got to start. We were kind of the tail end of the design process and kind of final proof of concept of our first product. All the physical stuff that we do out there at MX is really designed to go back and feed the digital and the Podium platform. So we bring in the hardware that they can put back into the into the cyber systems and that's what's a lot of fun. It's a real balance, it's not just the digital, it's not just physical. It's the blending, which has been I think probably one of the shortcomings globally is blending the two. Especially in the construction industry, I think we're the dinosaurs, as you can tell by my grey hair, I'm one of them. So we're the last bastion of change that we as Lendlease and Digital and Podium and the MX efforts are trying to combine physical and the digital world and bring realistic, valuable solutions to the industry.

How have you seen how programming studio has provided our industry a new way of working?

Heavy timber CLT thing really started down in Australia and in fact that was the first time in many years that I'd seen us as Lendlease step outside of our traditional delivery mechanisms and go for something radically different. Which was really exciting for me because after many years of doing concrete and steel it gets kind of repetitive problems with the same labour issues are the same. But when we went down that path, it was really exciting and that's what I've always liked. I wouldn't have stayed this long if I didn't think there's some merit. And once we started going down that journey from the Docklands all the way to now, to what we've invested in. We're really talking about making the changes that we've been talking about for years, but never really stepped over that line to go chase it. So that's what makes it a lot of fun, makes it exciting, makes me come to work every day no matter where it is. My life is basically wherever my suitcase sets down. That's where I work and that's where we make stuff happen. I love it, it's a lot of fun.

It's all really exciting because we did see the live demonstration last year and it's nearly been a year now. I can't imagine what it looks like now and I can't wait to see what it be in 20 years time. And are you in the studio right now?

That’s my backdrop. That actually is a prototype skin that we made in about 8 hours for a new way of doing the skin. It's different colours, self flashing and kind of thought it up. We're working with another manufacturer on a cross between curtain wall and window wall. We've sketched it up and Daryl Patterson said, go make it. I made it in like 8 hours, put it up while they were there and said, See, this is what we can do. We flew it with the windows and doors and the balcony already on it. It’s all made out of Styrofoam, but it's to show what you can do.


What are your words of wisdom for aspiring digital trainees who want to join Lendlease?

I'm an old dinosaur, I still have a vernier scale transit so I can do everything the old fashioned way with trig and steel tapes and chains. My recommendation to the to the young gals and guys on the digital side is stay in touch with the physical side because gravity is always our enemy, the mother nature. And gravity always wins. Right. And there's there's always people no matter how much we digitise, there's still people on the other end. So don't lose track about the people and the processes that are on the other end. Take the time, go out, see it, be a part of it. So that when you go back into the shop and into your screen and with all those tools you have a better understanding, right? And then I tell the birds in the field the same thing, you know, embrace the digital side, right? It can make our day easier. It can make it faster, it can make it safer, it can make it more efficient. It takes both entities. Listen to us old dinosaurs. I know sometimes we talk forever, but listen to us. And because we do listen to you guys and the tools that the young kids put out to us are really pretty amazing. Once we work out the bugs and we have bugs. But the fact is, if we aim small, we miss small. And that's the value I see of this whole process and this whole programme is really get into the weeds, get into the weeds beyond our wildest imaginations. And it really does pay off and it will pay off.

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