Innovation

Better. Faster. Leaner.

Innovation and the EPC industry: opportunity is everywhere

Advances in technology, equipment automation, data integration, and virtual reality create incredible opportunities in the engineering, procurement, and construction industry. They equip us to work safer, better, faster, and leaner. Adding this progress to the tried-and-true processes, honed over centuries, that have delivered the modern marvels of the world is crucial to attracting the next generation of engineers – including system and software engineers – to an industry where they can make the impossible a reality.

Accelerating the pace of innovation

Bechtel has pioneered innovation for more than 118 years. In addition to completing thousands of one-of-a-kind projects, we led advances that changed the industry forever, such as requiring hardhats be worn at large construction projects; an industry practice that started with Bechtel at the Hoover Dam.

Bechtel’s unique expertise in engineering, procurement and construction in conjunction with a global reach help us anticipate, create, pilot, and quickly implement new ways of doing things. Our huge global supply chain exposes us to the best and most innovative partners.

Our approach

We believe the key to innovation is to fail safe, fail fast, and fail forward. We follow a six-step internal process to test assumptions, integrate solutions in the business, and ensure a steady stream of diverse ideas.  Our goal is rapidly to deliver mature innovation to our projects for the benefit of our customers.

Investing in ideas

The Future Fund was created as an incubator for ideas within Bechtel, specifically tasked with seeking out new, disruptive ideas from our colleagues, suppliers, and customers – partners inside and outside our industry. The Future Fund then finances the ideas that can dramatically improve engineering and construction processes, quality, and safety. The fund allows ideas to mature from concept to prototype in a sandbox before deploying as project pilots, effectively de-risking exploration and innovation for our projects and customers.  Our end goal: deliver the best for our customers and create a new way of doing business.  We call this Project 2020.

Ideas through implementation

Our employees around the world have submitted nearly 1,500 ideas, with more than 100 in the prototype stage and dozens which have already been deployed. These ideas range from wearable devices for employees to improve efficiency, using drones to increase accuracy and safety, creating automated mooring systems, delivering high-risk training via virtual reality, drill head collision detection, 4-D technology and virtual reality to improve cargo logistics, virtual project delivery, autonomous equipment, and inflatable scaffolding inspired by children's bounce houses.

Currently more than $21 million has been committed to prototyping and testing these new ideas.

Learn more about our approach at Forbes: Less Dust, More Data. Construction sites have gone high-tech.

Partnering with industry and academia

In 2016 we have

  • Met with more than 50 companies, including the most promising start-ups in the burgeoning construction tech scene to talk through ideas and challenges and review their technologies
  • Sponsored six capstone design courses 
  • Co-sponsored the NASA Centennial 3D Printing challenge with Bradley University, Caterpillar, AutoDesk and Brick & Mortar VC
  • Partnered with MindSumo to create a Bechtel "challenge".  MindSumo is an organization that connects more than 250,000 college students to businesses by inviting them to submit innovative ideas to solve real-world challenges for a cash prize.

Investing in the future 

Bechtel has long believed that the future of our industry comes from the next generation of engineers. One way of investing in our industry’s future is by partnering with organizations such as FIRST®, DiscoverE and Junior Achievement.  We have also sponsored the creation of Dream Big, an IMAX film geared to children encouraging them to make a difference through STEM.