Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


WHEKEE Report Summary

Project ID: 729294

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WHEKEE (Smart modular panels for hotel and retail shop construction and refurbishment which reduces embodied energy by 30% respect to state of the art systems)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Archigroup S.r.l. is an Italian SME, so far focused on offering services of consultancy, interior design, and construction to retail shops and trade fair exhibitors that has conceived WHEKEE as the optimal solution to exploit the business opportunity coming from the building sector for new constructions and renovations. WHEKEE provides a more efficient and cheaper alternative to existing prefabricated interior constructive solutions for the building sector, in particular the hospitality and retail shop sector with 3% and 6% market share, respectively, and a billionaire budget per annum of €23.1 billion for hotels and €61 billion for retail shops in 2015.
Moreover, the growth of the global prefabricated construction market is projected to reach $208.79 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 6.5% between 2015 and 2020 with the highest growth coming from the wall segment.
WHEKEE offering brings an innovative end-to-end customer solution which significantly reduces initial and recurrent embodied energy and CO2 in buildings. WHEKEE is a new modular (multi-layers preassembled), smart (with multiple network connectivity and automation), efficient (35% embodied energy savings), and cost-competitive (simpler and faster installation and maintenance) concept for wall panels; proposed for the customized interiors of new building constructions and refurbishments. It consists on the superposition of several pre-assembled layers to the naked wall providing isolation, electricity, connectivity for appliances, and decorative design. WHEKEE smart panels permit a significant reduction on the work duration (prefabricated elements), what results in a global cost saving of about 25% (up to 50% for maintenance) and time saving of about 20%.
WHEKEE is at a technology readiness level (TRL) 6 stage of development. The overall aim of the project is to take the technology to TRL9 and to market launch our solution in compliance with the Ecodesign and EPBD directives and after being tested according EU regulations for construction products (reaction to fire, CE marking for the electronic system, etc.). With the WHEKEE project Archigroup will impact the hospitality and retail sectors where a need for energy and construction work costs is required as well as a sense for design with the potential to create new and variate interior designs.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Work executed during the reporting period, from May to August 2016, has been completed to cover the tasks below and assess the technical, commercial, and financial viability of WHEKEE:
- Task 1: Preparation of the scope of work for the WHEKEE project to set the activities to be done during Phase II and the resources required to bring to TRL9 and commercialize the panels. This includes a brief summary of the business opportunity, of the current stage of development of our panel, and a reference to the state of the art for wall partitions on the today´s market.
- Task 2: A thorough research of WHEKEE target market has been done, analysing the EU hospitality and retail shop sectors, concentrated around most visited cities (Dublin, Madrid, London, Rome, Milan, etc.), investment support, and legislation. We have also done an analysis of competing solutions, showing evidences of WHEKEE affordability in the target markets while emphasizing its competitive advantages (modular, of easy mounting, energy efficient, smart, cost-competitive, etc.) and the evaluation of the project risks with mitigation/contingency plans from a technical, commercial, and financial perspective.
- Task 3: Definition of the technical plan to upgrade the design of the components (metallic frames, anchoring systems, finishes, and furniture) of the panels, develop our own home automation system (including the domotic card and firmware), and validate and test after building four demo pilots.
- Task 4: Identification of potential partners across the supply chain such as developers for the domotic system, suppliers, design and trade associations, and customers (i.e. architects, interior designers, managers of hotels and retail shops, builders, etc.) for the hospitality and retail sector in our EU target countries has been preliminary carried out to further establish commercial agreements.
- Task 5: A deep intellectual property and regulations analysis have been performed to assess WHEKEE freedom-to-operate status and the need to comply with regulations of the sector.
- Task 6: A business plan has been updated to include the WHEKEE marketing strategy in line with the current state and future commercial plans of the project and of the organizational structure of Archigroup. The financial assessment of WHEKEE set the business margins for entering the market of the hospitality and retail shop sectors early 2019 and a forecast of sales and benefits until 2023.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

WHEKEE is following the path of active innovation and energy efficiency (with 90% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050) as two of the main challenges the construction sector faces. It is aimed to have an impact in the new building construction (non-residential) and refurbishment (R&M) segments that will reach a growth rate of +4.7% and +2.6%, respectively by 2020. More specifically WHEKEE is in line with the global prefabricated construction market, projected to reach $208.79 billion by 2020 (6.5% CAGR), the highest growth from the wall segment.

With our WHEKEE project, Archigroup will drive the commercialization of a new modular (multi-layers preassembled), smart (with multiple network connectivity and automation), efficient (35% embodied energy savings), and cost-competitive (simpler and faster installation and maintenance) concept for wall panels proposed for the customized interiors of new building constructions and refurbishments of hotels and/or retail shops. The selected areas are defined by the required attractiveness and competitiveness in providing service to meet or exceed the client´s expectation.

On completion of the WHEKEE project, we will industrialize the manufacturing process of WHEKEE panels expecting a maximum capacity for construction of 200 units/year satisfying demand from future end-users of the hospitality and retail shop sectors (with a forecast growth of about +3.3% and +1.0%, respectively in 2016). Using WHEKEE, traditional materials with energy-intensive production are replaced by light metallic structures and insulation sheets able to reduce the energy required for construction by about a 35% (embodied energy during construction for a 42m2 room).

We plan to market WHEKEE by early 2019 in the EU market concentrated around most visited cities (Dublin, Madrid, London, Rome, Milan, etc.), through direct contact with managers of hotels and retail shops along with designers, architecture firms, etc. interested in using our solution in their construction works.

Related information

Record Number: 193049 / Last updated on: 2016-12-16