Eliminating material waste with Matrak

Matrak Founders and brothers, Brett and Shane Hodgkins.

Material tracking software company Matrak is supporting over 250 projects to reduce risk, material waste and improve efficiency, through their innovative construction material tracking platform.

Matrak’s sustainable solution to material tracking is changing the way construction teams manage their projects. The company’s material tracking platform was designed to simplify and support the complexities of tracking and managing materials — building visibility throughout the entire supply chain.

Matrak co-founder Brett Hodgkins experienced the frustrations of manual material tracking firsthand, working for his dad’s façade company for five years from 2010. Alongside his brother, Shane Hodgkins, the pair developed Matrak – an end-to-end material tracking platform.

CEO and Co-founder, Shane Hodgkins says end-to-end material tracking is an inevitable shift for the industry. “It’s a shift that’s been progressing for a while, but has accelerated over the past few years,” he says.

“Our platform enables anyone, from manufacturers and installers to logistics and builders, to track the materials they are using for different projects, through all of the different stages of the project’s lifecycle and keeps everyone on the same page.”

A building can be seen as a sequence of materials getting to the right place at the right time, with the proper quality. When something goes wrong in the materials process during a build it can result in financial penalties, and in many cases, delay the entire project.

“Basically, we’re trying to remove a lot of the adversarial nature between companies,” says Shane.

“The Matrak platform allows everyone in the supply chain to be on the same page and not have any risks associated with materials on their projects, giving people time to focus on getting the job done.”

CTO and Co-founder, Brett Hodgkins says there’s many elements that make their platform a sustainable solution for the construction industry.

“Because the platform allows the user to track materials as they are being handled, issues can be resolved before things get shipped,” he says.

“Shipping costs are significant, so by removing the risk of having to reorder materials, Matrak saves the associated reorder costs as well as saves the time it takes to reorder and have the materials shipped to site.”

“You have all of the material tracking information in front of you on the dashboard, including who in the supply chain has handled the materials.”

Last year alone, the Matrak team estimated they saved around 30 shipping containers of materials in over 180 projects. Shane says a lot of it has to do with risk prevention. Even if your materials are in the right spot, Matrak allows you to have certainty.

“We also haven’t come across any other systems that allow this level of granular material tracking across different stakeholders,” says Shane.

Traditional processes of material tracking in the industry, such as excel sheets and email communications, become quickly outdated once the data is recorded or sent. The value that comes from having large amounts of material tracking data, all timestamped and tracked through everyone in the supply chain is palpable.

When it comes to tracking carbon emissions, Matrak presents huge potential in tracking emissions resulting from the use of materials. There’s an increasing push by organisations like the Green Building Council of Australia and government bodies for construction companies to invest to cut national emissions across the built environment.

According to a report from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) – Australian buildings and infrastructure: Opportunities for cutting embodied carbon – embodied carbon in the production of building materials is responsible for 28% of emissions from the building and construction sector globally.

When a company has to reorder materials, the emissions generated by the entire process need to be considered, including the resource extraction, manufacturing and transportation of the materials to site.

“There’s a lot of data and information out there about the emissions used in the design of a build, but very little about actually bringing the project to life and things such as material reorders,” says Brett.

“Matrak eliminates the need for reordering, which can lead to a reduction in emissions that would have been generated in the process.”

Hutchinson Builders are one of the companies seeing the sizeable value of the Matrak platform. Jacob Baldacchino, Façade Manager at Hutchinson Builders says life before Matrak was far more complicated.

Jacob Baldacchino, Façade Manager at Hutchinson Builders with his son Tyden on site.

“Beforehand, prior to Hutchinson Builders, my role had me flying overseas, just about every week or two, to verify that what we were paying for and what we were agreeing to was happening. I also found information getting lost in translation with the different languages and cultures I was working with. Having Matrak, which is in multiple languages when needed, sharing the same information on both ends has been a gamechanger. It’s made it a lot easier for us,” he says.

Mr. Baldacchino says Matrak has allowed them to see the project’s productivity as far back as procurement and production.

Before joining Hutchinson Builders, Mr. Baldacchino has seen a number of companies negatively impacted by traditional methods of material tracking. “Let me give you an example,” he says.

“With traditional methods, you might order and receive a container of materials. It might be running late so the container is rushed to site. Then you’re faced with a bill of materials that need to be ticked off and accounted for one by one. If that’s not done, it’s near impossible to keep track of the materials ordered, whether they were all there and of the right quality, so finding what you needed becomes more difficult than just ordering replacements locally in some instances.”

Matrak not only accounts for all ordered materials, but it gives you real-time transparency and visibility to see what’s arrived on site, what’s on its way and what still needs to be shipped.

“Personally, I think we’re only seeing the start of what you can get out of the platform. The Matrak team have been fantastic in adapting the platform to our needs,” says Mr. Baldacchino.

“It gives us a sense of security that we have done everything we possibly can to make sure that what we’re providing is the best of the best.”

The construction industry is fast paced and for companies to maintain a good reputation, projects need to be completed on time and on budget. Shane and Brett had this at front of mind when developing the Matrak platform, delivering a simple and efficient product that even the busiest of people could use.

The platform can collect the drawings from the project a company is running, like elevations or shop drawings, and then extract a bill of quantities from those drawings to provide visibility of what items are needed to complete the project before it commences.

From there, the user can print a QR code or ticket of the drawings, which are interactive and can be colour coded as completed. The software then shares all the information with everyone else in the supply chain who are using the platform.

On top of their sustainable product, Shane says Matrak also has their own sustainability goals as a company.

“We’re a member of the Materials & Embodied Carbon Leaders’ Alliance (MECLA), specifically because we’ve got all this information on the materials going through the supply chain. It means that by connecting that information with not just the manufacturers, but also their sources of raw materials, we can track the embodied carbon within a construction project,” says Shane.

The Matrak app will create a Bill of Materials from your drawings and make them interactive for real-time updates.

“We’re currently delivering early pilots on embodied carbon tracking with façades because they’re quite carbon intensive to begin with. I think the whole team here are excited because we think that we can make a big impact in the industry, just by creating the visibility of embodied carbon in materials that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

Sharing their finals thoughts, Shane and Brett say it’s inevitable that material tracking use in the construction industry will accelerate in the near future.

“To us, it seems illogical to have large, complex and expensive projects with teams having no visibility on the different materials they are purchasing and using. Relying on pen and paper or excel is becoming a thing of the past, and for good reason,” says Brett.

“The innovative, forward-thinking construction companies and leaders that see the benefits of a quality platform like Matrak are those who are going to drive positive change in the industry.”

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