The geotechnical consultancy world is lagging behind in the use of digital tools. In geotechnics, user interfaces of software programmes have hardly any undergone development in the last 20 years. Today's computing power and storage capacity is unlimited for Geo-Engineering applications. Our consultants and engineers need to make much better use of this. In order to be able to unlock these possibilities in our work, we need to acquire programming skills and be able to apply them in the digital working environment. Mastering these skills will offer the opportunity to integrate Data Science and Artificial Intelligence into our daily work.

CRUX started its development of automate design processes in 2018. In 2020 our ambition converged in CEMS – CRUX Engineering MicroServices. The objective of this new company is to fully make use of the digital techniques, obviously starting from our domain knowledge of underground engineering.

We divide our work into subprocesses and for each subprocess we develop a microservice. In almost all projects, we interpret CPTs, for instance for pile foundation and settlement calculations. If we have a microservice that automatically can process and interpret CPTs, we can use it for various design processes and build design engineering pipelines in a modular way.

This development initially leads to an increase in the efficiency of our work, as well as a significant step in quality control. As soon as a process has been automated, algorithms can be programmed to automatically optimise designs. Our microservices can be connected using REST APIs with tools of other disciplines in order to optimise interdisciplinary design processes.

Tools can also be made available to third parties by means of microservices running on our cloud based servers. As a result, the knowledge of CRUX is partly stored in knowledge systems, which also means a shift in business models.

As a starting IT company exploring new ways of working we foresee the following services:

  • Efficiency Improvements
  • Software as a Service
  • Automated Engineering Consulting
    Improved efficiency can be achieved within the daily work processes of our sister companies, CRUX Engineering and BouwRisk. Our estimates are that, especially in the starting years of CEMS, this will be a major portion of our revenue, potentially 50% of the total.

The software we develop can also be exploited as a service. As a "stand alone" cloud-based software tool, or to function as a microservice within a larger parametric design process. Since this is a relatively new way of working we are conservative in the traction we get with this service. In the coming years we expect a relative small portion of revenue from this service. But, we could be surprised here !

The last product class we envision is consulting, with a programming / developer perspective. This class could well be a significant portion of the revenue of CEMS, since we noticed that there is much interested in professionals with domain knowledge and developers skills.

The forecasts we make have a rather large crystal ball factor, as there are quite some external factors that we do not control. However, we do control our own ambition in this field and that is what we will be working on in the coming years!

One of the goals of CEMS for 2020 is to establish working relationships with industry partners. Our work and designs are always part of a larger process with numerous parties. So, for us it is very important to get partners with a mindset towards digitalisation and the willingness to invest time in exploring new ways of working. We have noticed that this innovation and business development mindset is not widely available. However, we are starting projects with a number of companies that have a progressive mindset and fully embrace digitalisation in the construction industry.

We also found an ambitious partner in VIKTOR. VIKTOR provides us a platform to bring our microservices to clients. This model can be easily compared to an "App store". The recent Geo-Tools initiative of Viktor facilitates this even more. Viktor has a strong client base and provides its clients with powerful user interface options to build their own automated design processes. This gives us the opportunity to focus on what we at CEMS know best: calculation kernels for geo-applications. Our first microservice that is available in the Geo-Tools pilot is the automatic interpretation of CPTs using AI technology (more reading: Blog Ritchie Vink). The microservice runs on our servers and the IP is protected as such. But through the VIKTOR platform the service is available for external clients to use it in their design process. Next step for CEMS is the release of a microservice, or calculation kernel, for pile foundation design. And many will follow!

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