North East Connected

Tees firm constructing potential game changer

A thriving Stokesley firm has joined forces with Teesside University in a collaboration they believe could revolutionise the construction industry.

Millions of pounds and countless man-hours could be saved should an exciting new system being developed by Applied Integration fulfil its enormous potential.

Specialising in providing cutting edge solutions to 21st Century industries, Applied Integration design and develop the automation and control systems for customers in the petrochemicals, oil, gas and defence sectors.

Twice shortlisted for Teesside’s Company of the Year award in recent years, Applied Integration is currently building state-of-the-art, safety-critical control systems for the Royal Navy’s Astute-class submarines.

But the firm believes a unique software tool it has developed in-house to accurately record and track changes to the complex requirements of its clients could be adapted for the mechanical and electrical sector of the UK’s construction industry.

Applied Integration director Garry Lofthouse revealed: “We have to try to contain our excitement because it is extremely complex. But we believe it could be a game changer for the construction industry.

“We have spoken to construction industry experts who believe we could sell millions of pounds of licensing for this if it works as well as we believe it can.

”There are potentially massive rewards for Applied Integration and the entire construction industry if our KTP work with the university goes in the direction I believe it will over the next two years.”

Industry reports have indicated that 60% of construction projects finish over time and over budget, with up to a quarter of total contract values attributed to additional costs relating to “re-works and changes in delivery”.

At the heart of a series of delays to the building of the new Wembley Stadium were at least 11,000 individual revisions to the scheme’s original drawings, which contributed towards original estimates almost trebling to £900 million.

And yet such frustrations are familiar to all who have experience of major construction projects, with a seemingly archaic system of contractors being reissued with countless drawings every time changes are made to the plans.

To develop their idea, Applied Integration has 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.

Applied Integration is working with academics within the university’s School of Science and Engineering on the KTP.

Leading the university’s team of academics on the project are Professor Nashwan Dawood, Dr Huda Dawood and Dr Vladimir Vukovic.

Prof. Dawood is an internationally renowned expert in the area of information technologies and systems, research associate Dr Dawood is an expert in mathematical modelling, while Dr Vukovic boasts extensive academic and industry research experience in areas such as cyber physical system modelling, having played a leading role in 10 international research projects.

Jonathan Siddle, who is studying for a doctorate in Computer Sciences at Teesside University, has been recruited to work as an associate on the £110,000 KTP, with engineer Phil White supervising the project within Applied Integration.

Applied Integration believe the development of an automated design and planning platform would enable initial mechanical and electrical requirements to be easily captured, with the platform automatically populating the detailed electrical schematics and mechanical data, while all subsequent revisions and updates inputted via the software tool.

Lofthouse added: “Our initial focus is on small section of the construction industry but, without wanting to get too far ahead of ourselves, there’s no reason why it can’t be rolled out to the entire industry.”

“As a business, we are investing heavily in this concept design because of its enormous potential.

“We’ve already proved the system works on a Teesside chemical plant, with a process that previously took months to complete now being completed accurately and consistently in just 20 minutes.

“What we lack within Applied Integration is expertise and understanding of the construction industry’s requirements, which is where the university’s experts come in.

“Professor Dawood, Dr Dawood and Dr Vukovic have extensive experience and detailed knowledge of the complexities of the construction industry, so it is a huge boost to be working in partnership with them and their university team.”

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