In the realm of ink-and-paper architecture engineering and construction (AEC) documents, it might seem that technology has made little impact. What was good enough, still is, for many users of blueprints and like documents.
But ARC Document Solutions, a publicly traded international construction printing and software company with a storied legacy, has changed expectations of such old forms by providing more. Through a meshing of services and products, the company is building upon its reputation as a trusted source of construction documents.
Historically tied to American Reprographics Corporation (from whence ARC’s name comes), and to a conglomeration of other traditional construction printers in the US and Canada, the Walnut Creek, CA-based company has in recent years been transforming itself into a technology solutions company. Now, ARC customers run the gamut of those who need construction or facility software to traditional printing or other services, including Managed Print Services, signage, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Hyperlinking, Project Management software, Facilities Management solutions, Closeout services, VR, and more.
The development of its SKYSITE platform several years ago, and the continued tweaking of the company’s offerings has led to a place where its branding strategy and business model have merged. With ARC’s unveiling in March of its Professional Suite of services, it appears the full potential of the pairing of goods and services offered by the company is finally being recognized. AEC Next recently spoke with Kumar Wiratunga, Corporate VP, Technology Solutions for ARC Document Solutions, about what’s new in its offerings, how greater productivity in construction can be achieved, why companies can benefit from a consultant/software solution, and more.
What sorts of problems bedevil the construction industry these days?
Wiratunga: “One of the things we’ve seen in the industry as a whole is that there’s a real lack of productivity. Our Productivity Suite is designed to fill those gaps in workflows and associated productivity. We work to improve those workflows and lower risks associated with construction.”
How are AEC companies mis-stepping in addressing the issue of lack of productivity?
Wiratunga: “There’s a perception that throwing software at the problem is the solution, but it’s not. A combination of software and services can be the answer, for many companies. We have the experienced people to effectively be an addition to your company’s team, taking on the tasks you need, whenever your company needs them handled.”
ARC’s employees aim to be an addition to a firm’s professional staff, but how do they do that? Can you give a small example?
Wiratunga: “We identify the discrepancies in a company’s design and construction documentation. We create a discrepancy log for that.”
Why a Productivity Suite? Isn’t this kind of a repackaging of ARC’s services?
Wiratunga: “In the past, we’d deliver these solutions as stand-alone solutions. Now, we’re providing them as a suite of tools, putting all of the software and services together in the same toolbox.”
How is the technology side of ARC changing the company as a whole?
Wiratunga: “ARC has always provided document management services to the AEC&O community, but in the past, we did it just using paper. Now, we do it faster and more efficiently, using cloud and mobile… For us, all that historical domain knowledge, and our many experts on the ground, are very influential in the development of our services. Our customers also have been very influential in the development of the Productivity Suite.”
What makes ARC different from other companies offering project management software for AEC?
Wiratunga: “ARC offers a combination of software and services that others cannot provide. It’s what sets us apart—and our SKYSITE platform was built for AEC.”
What has changed about ARC in recent years?
Wiratunga: “We have absolutely adopted and embraced cloud and mobile. When you look at our SKYSITE cloud-based platform, it is on par with anything out there. Added to that we have these services we offer, including a whole nationwide drone network. We created a mobile Closeout feature that is drastically reducing time needed on that task for companies.”
Is ARC a customer-responsive type of company?
Wiratunga: “Today, ARC is the number one provider of solutions for AEC&O industry. We have more than 90,000 customers. Our Productivity Suite was tested on a core group of our customers. It’s been well received because our customers now see the connective tissue. In the past, they’d see BIM or another service, but not all of them together. They now see the opportunity to have a single source for various solutions on all of their projects.”
How about traditional paper-and-ink Print Services—ARC still has a strong presence in that market, right?
Wiratunga: “We continue to support those clients, and demand for those services remains high. We recently launched a Smart Color program, through which we can simply and affordably print color drawings.”
So, ARC is in par going for a true diversification of its print portfolio?
Wiratunga: “We have invested quite heavily in what we would call large-scale, decorative wall prints, environmental graphics, and more… We want to sell adjacent services to the same clients. There’s an opportunity to help our clients do better, and we aim to make the most of it.”