Learn about trends in digital transformation and how they affect the engineering and construction industry.
When Alexandre’s team found VIKTOR, they already had a specific use case in mind: the automation of crane foundation design calculations. A quite simple but exhaustive and repetitive process: large amounts of data are required that must all be processed through multiple third-party software packages, such as Excel and Autodesk Robot. Ideally, they were searching for a way to connect everything, without developing the infrastructure themselves. Alexandre: “VIKTOR is the only product we know of that allows us to do exactly that.”
At VINCI Construction in France, they have dozens of engineers that work on designing up to 225 cranes in France every year. Because the design calculations are very similar but specific for every crane each time, this task is very well suited for automation.
Alexandre expects VINCI will be able to use the application on around 70% of their crane foundation designs. The other 30% are more unique cases because of, for example, their location or the characteristics of the soil.
“If we succeed in automating 200 crane foundations per year, we can avoid roughly 300 days of work.” – Alexandre Cousin, Head of Generative design at VINCI Construction in France.
3D view of a crane foundation geometry in VIKTOR
According to Alexandre, the goal is for all VINCI Construction teams in France to start using the application to save time and increase efficiency. Consequently, teams will have more time to devote to other technical matters.
Alexandre: “Although essential, crane foundations are not the most exciting part of an engineer’s job. Our app shows how automating a small process ultimately makes a specific task so much easier and more efficient.”
3D view of final crane foundation reinforcement design in VIKTOR
And the accompanying formwork plan
“As engineers, we must be efficient every day. That is why it is important to provide the right tools for our teams that contribute to this cause,” says Alexandre. To some engineers, the thought of their work being automated might feel like a thread. However, increasingly more people are starting to see this differently. It’s not about replacing the engineer – they are the brains of the project, after all – but about enabling them to do their work better and faster.
Alexandre envisions a future in which all these small but exhaustive parts of a job are automated to make time for more interesting and complex challenges: “In 20 years, every engineer will know Python, and every engineering team will be developing their own tools. That’s what is needed to keep up with high demands, whilst also making repetitive work less boring. Automate what can be automated, so there is more time to engineer the awesome!”
Even though crane foundation design is a well-mastered process, it requires a lot of time due to safety reasons.
Alexandre: “We don’t want a crane falling over. With VIKTOR, we can calculate large amounts of data through integrations with multiple third-party software packages in an instance. The results are then also immediately checked for errors to ensure safety. VIKTOR is the only product that allows us to connect everything like this. We can develop anything we want on the platform.”
“For me, this type of technology is the future for engineering teams.”
As Alexandre mentioned before, it’s automating the small parts which ultimately makes the work of an engineer a lot easier. At VINCI, they have many projects that, for example, include repetitive calculations in Excel. Alexandre: “We can start by making these Excel sheets more exciting and user-friendly by turning them into an app.”
“But first, we want to make more people within VINCI aware of these benefits and have other teams developing tools with VIKTOR as well.” Luckily, this seems to be going quite well so far: four other VINCI departments have shown interest in picking up development with VIKTOR, and one of these is already rounding up their first tests now!