Skip to main content

APPS for geotechnical field work

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GEOAPPS (APPS for geotechnical field work)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-03-31

In any construction or civil engineering activity, before or during its execution, professionals like geologists, geotechnical engineers, builder engineers, architects, civil construction technicians, etc, have to take measures and perform different in situ tests and processes called field work. This activity it is necessary to address construction problems like slope stability, laying foundation, landslides, lining design of tunnels, design of retaining walls, etc. In addition, daily high technical and specific activities, as both, in situ and laboratory tests, are required to obtain physics and mechanical properties of soil and rocks, e.g. Plate Load (PLT), Standard Penetration Test (SPT), Rock Flat jack test, Rock Geotechnical stations and Explanatory Borings for identifying the types of soil at a site. Most of these measures and tests are normalized (Eurocode 7, British Standard, ISO standard, Technical recommendations and other international technical standards).

The process at work field is: first, to take measures in the field, second, at the office, to introduce the data in a computer for processing them and to obtain the needed values and, finally, to elaborate the proper geotechnical engineering assessment that will be collected in a report to be sent to the client. This process is high time consuming (e.g. 1 or 2 days from the end of the tests). Furthermore, geotechnics, has an unpredictable and variable behavior, and therefore, there is a high number of measures to be done in each construction. For example in the construction of a bridge, building large pipes, etc., SPT test will be needed each 2-5 m for designing the foundations. Consequently the time dedicated to these tasks is very high. These measures are important for taking important decisions in the construction, so, to obtain and process them easily and with high quality, will contribute to reduce time and to decrease costs during the construction.

Currently, there are physical tools that support work filed calculations like geotechnical compass, as well as more sophisticated and expensive tools for some specific measures, but it can be stated that at international level, there is not any cost effective solution that supports the technicians in their work field. Therefore, Terrasolum S.A (Terrasolum), proposes as business idea to increase the efficiency of the geologists, geotechnical engineers, builder engineers/technicians, architects, civil engineering technicians’ work field by developing a family of 20 apps (GEOAPPS family) for smartphones and tablets (android and iOS Apple), that automate field data acquisition, geotechnical calculations and generation of geotechnical reports.

GEOAPPs family will provide to their customers with an easy and inexpensive but – still - a high quality and knowledge intensive apps that enables relevant productivity gains while working in the field. With GEOAPPS applications, traditional work process that would normally take around 1 to 2 days (and around 12 working man hours) it can be run in just 1 hour. Some prototypes have been already tested. Four Apps prototypes belonging to the GEOAPPS family developed for Android system and provided in Google Play Store (https://play.google.com/store/search?q=terrasolum&c=apps) have demonstrated their feasibility and interest to the market. Some of them had more than 21,000 downloads.

The market need it is clear. In any construction, mining or civil engineering activity, before or during its execution, professionals have to evaluate the soil and rocks mass conditions, taking measures and perform different in situ tests and processes called field work, as well as elaborating geotechnical reports. If professionals could decrease the time for doing the same activities in a cost effective way, they could improve their productivity and obtain bigger profit in their sales. The market, therefore, is global in nature, because it covers the entire world geography, any place wher
TERRASOLUM, S.L. as coordinator of the project GEOAPPS, is the responsible of the execution of the WP1. Feasibility Study which Deliverable is D1: Feasibility report.

During the last 6 months, TERRASOLUM has been working in this Feasibility Study with the aim of defining, in detail, a business model and a marketing plan for GEOAPPS family.

The main tasks carried out during the project were:
1. Market survey to assess and to specify different important aspects about the viability of the GEOAPPS project: who are GEOAPP’s future clients?; what type of operating system they use usually in their smartphone?; what lines of APPs are more interesting to develop for the future clients? and the number of the APPs to develop in two years. The market survey was carried out, obtaining a participation of 548 respondents.
2. Confirmation of the number and type of Apps to be included in GEOAPPS family. To be sure that the 20 apps initially identified are the most important
3. Specification of the technical methodology for developing the apps: a GEOAPP Workflow” where it is presented the basic steps for developing applications have been defined.
4. Deeper analysis of GEOAPPs prototypes: a detail analysis of the market evolution of the two prototypes Apps BEARING CAPACITY and SIMPLE SLOPE, was carried out to learn more about market behaviour: geographical areas of most interest, language to be used in the apps, retained users, peak of downloads after launching the prototype, client's satisfaction,...
5. Deeper analysis of main competitors identifying them, their products, business models, ...
6. Definition of the necessary resources to develop the GEOAPPs Family and to be ready for launching the new product to the market.
7. Marketing Plan definition: product, price, sale channels, promotion and resources
8. Definition of revenues and operating margins.
9. Analysis of the expected growth potential.

Finally, it is concluded that considering the business model and the marketing plan defined, the family of products, GEOAPPS, could be a successful business for investors who are looking for great value in a very specific sector.
According to all the tasks carried out during the 6 months of the Phase 1 and described previously, we can conclude that the business idea of launching to the market the GEOAPPS family product could be a very successful business. Summarizing:

• GEOAPPs family product is a group of mobile applications for automation of field data acquisition, geotechnical calculations and generation of geotechnical reports through standard smartphones.
• GEOAPPS family will include 20 APPs focused in two work areas: 1) Field and laboratory testing and 2) Checking and designing calculations in the field works.
• GEOAPPS languages: English and Spanish.
• Value proposition: to provide to their customers with an easy and inexpensive but – still - a high quality and knowledge intensive apps that enables relevant productivity gains while working in the field. With GEOAPPS applications, traditional work process that would normally take around 1 to 2 days (and around 12 working man hours) it can be run in just 1 hour.
• High Potential Market made up of Geoscientists, Civil Engineers, Mining&Geological Engineers, Environmental Engineers.
• Potential Market areas: Americas, part of Asia and Europe.
• Pricing policy according to the use of the apps.
• Sales Channels: most usual platforms for downloading apps.
• High Expected revenues with very good Pay Back and NPV values for investors.
Logos of the 4 prototypes apps launched
Concept of the advantages of GEOAPPS family