A ground-breaking system developed by North-East firm Applied Integration that could revolutionise the construction industry is set for a global unveiling at a world-leading exhibition in Auckland, New Zealand.
ArchiTrack, which the Stokesley firm believe will save millions of pounds and countless man hours on major construction projects, will be unveiled at the International Conference on Construction Applications of Virtual Reality.
The conference will be attended by world-leading experts in virtual reality, augmented reality and building information modelling.
Applied Integration, who specialise in providing cutting edge solutions to the petrochemicals, oil, gas and defence sectors, have developed ArchiTrack over the past two years in partnership with Teesside University and Innovate UK.
The firm, which has also developed automated control systems for the Royal Navy’s Astute-class submarines, believe they are “pushing the boundaries of innovation” with the development of the software tool which is designed to record the ongoing architectural changes with a building’s construction.
ArchiTrack has been developed by Applied Integration after they joined forces with Teesside University in a two-year, government-backed Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
Designed to encourage businesses to improve their competitive edge and productivity through the use of emerging expertise and innovative technologies, KTP is a nationwide programme helping firms make better use of the UK’s knowledge, technology and skills-base.
Software engineer Dr Jonathan Siddle, who recently joined Applied Integration on a permanent basis after leading the project as an associate on the KTP, will present ArchiTrack to the industry experts at the University of Auckland’s flagship science centre on November 22-23.
Applied Integration also worked with academics within the university’s School of Science, Engineering and Design on the KTP, which has moved ArchiTrack to the stage where it is ready for its grand unveiling at the prestigious conference Down Under.
Applied Integration director Garry Lofthouse said: “ArchiTrack will save time, confusion, miscommunication and, ultimately, millions of pounds within the construction industry.
“We firmly believe this will revolutionise the industry and we’re excited to discover the reaction from the sector’s experts when we present them with details of the concept.
“We always believed this had far-reaching potential within the industry but the progress the KTP has made in its development means we’re now anticipating an even bigger impact than we initially believed possible.”
Prof Nashwan Dawood, the KTP academic lead, said “The new approach developed by this KTP to identify changes in design of buildings using natural language processing and game engine technology will be a massive leap towards efficiency in the design process.
“This should contribute hugely to reduction in costs of rework by identifying and resolving clashes earlier on before construction starts.”
Dr Vladimir Vukovic, the KTP supervisor, said: “It was a privilege working with such an innovative company as Applied Integration which recognised the immense potential in the ongoing digital transformation of the construction sector.
“I hope the software for automating change detection in digital construction that we helped to develop during the course of our KTP will contribute to cost reduction, quality and productivity improvements in many construction projects.
“I’m looking forward to seeing in practice the prospective futuristic features of automated model updating based on voice recognition and natural language processing.”
Ian Blakemore, Knowledge Transfer adviser with KTN representing Innovate UK, who provided funding for the KTP, added: “The project has meant a quantum leap in the accessibility of technology and a novel product being brought to market. It’s an excellent example of academia working closely with business to generate significant commercial impact from the application of knowledge.”
Dr Huda Dawood, the KTP academic co-supervisor, stated: “ArchiTrack is a standalone software, therefore the user is not restricted by using specific and expensive construction design software and there are no issues with interoperability.”
Lofthouse believes ArchiTrack, as an automated design and planning platform, will make a big impact.
“When you look at the amount of lost value that delays have across the construction industry, it is ridiculous really,” he said.
“The truth is that the handling and communication of change within the industry is generally poor. In fact, up to 23% of total contract values are attributable to rework or changes on delivery.
“But ArchiTrack can accurately track the complex architectural changes to a building during the construction process, highlighting and categorising changes to help avoid the sort of costly delays the industry frequently suffers.”
Lofthouse added: “In many ways, this is an alien marketplace for us but the university’s academics were convinced from the start that it was a major step forward for traceability within the industry
“The system’s original concept was purely for the in-house benefit of Applied Integration but Jonathan’s commitment to the project together with the university’s support, means we’ve taken ArchiTrack well above and beyond where we initially anticipated.
“The university will continue to provide advice and guidance but it’s now up to us to take the development into production.
“Our plan is for Jonathan to see this through from design and development right the way through to marketing and delivery to the customer, building a team around him as the project progresses.
“We’re eager to get ArchiTrack to market before the end of the year because there are potentially massive rewards for Applied Integration and the entire construction industry.
“We’ve already much positive feedback from potential customers but through feedback from the industry’s movers and shakers at the Auckland conference, we’ll spend more time refining and enhancing the software ahead of launch.”
Dr Siddle, who has a doctorate in Computer Science from Teesside University, added “The KTP has given me a great opportunity to apply my expertise to deliver a solution for a real-world problem – which has the potential to be such a game-changer within the sector”
• Pictured (above): Dr Jonathan Siddle and Garry Lofthouse, front centre, with, from left, KTN’s Ian Blakemore, Applied Integration’s Lee Raywood, and Teesside University’s Prof Nashwan Dawood and Dr Huda Dawood.