The Portuguese startup 3DModelling Studio, a technological Spin-Off from the Faculty of Architecture, won the SmartCatalonia Challenge 2019 competition with its solution for the automatic calculation of the weight and volume of waste from the port of Barcelona.
Por Cíntia Costa e Pedro Rebordão
LISPOLIS spoke with Jorge Garcia-Fernandez, CEO of 3DModelling Studio, about the contest, the prize and its future implementation.
How did you find out about the contest and what led you to participate?
This is a contest promoted by the Generalitát de Cataluña and the port of Barcelona. The 6 challenges to which companies applied resulted from a process of simplifying the 100 needs initially identified, by the two entities, for the port of Barcelona. It should be noted that the port of Barcelona is the most important in Spain, perhaps the most important in Europe, which is why I believe that there has been such a great publicity of the competition to which we have successfully responded. Of the 6 challenges, 3DModelling Studio responded to 2:
- Uninterrupted and automatic calculation of the volumes of waste leaving the boats, which can reach a volume of 100,000 cubic meters in one year and represent a huge cost in the operation and which needs to be properly allocated – and 3DModelling won the prize for this challenge;
- Reuse and treatment of geometric data and spatial data, which are already collected and used by the port, and for which the port was looking for other creative applications.
The contest took about 3 months, 3D Modeling Studio delivered the application on the last day because we ended up answering 2 challenges when the initial idea was to answer only one challenge! The truth is that, knowing the contest and realizing that 2 challenges were aligned with what we were developing, we could not not compete!
Was the winning solution developed specifically for this challenge or did you already have the core idea that you adapted?
We had the core idea, because the calculation of volumes is already somehow widely used in construction. The big challenge was not the mathematical calculation, but the implementation of the solution to work remotely and automatically, in order to work uninterruptedly on external servers. And that was the challenge, a solution that classifies data and calculates volumes with precision, works without interruption and has no intervention by any worker at any time. The solution for the port of Barcelona was made specifically for this case study.
What feedback did you receive?
They were surprised. And when I say “they”, I mean the directors of the port, which included the CEO of the port herself, who not only were part of the jury but are now the ones who will accompany us! And the reasons that made them so surprised were the capacity and simplicity of the solution that we presented. I cannot fail to mention that despite the success, not everything was easy: the pitch was not easy, we were going to present 3 videos and the organization only uploaded the first video, and 3 were needed to tell our proposal, and because we are not a company neither from Barcelona nor Spain, which may raise some concerns. In the end, everything went well, we believe it was because we were able to present a solution to a problem that they had not yet been able to solve.
And what specifically is your solution?
The solution has 2 steps: a digitization of the waste data is made, using a laser scanner technology, which is an active technology that can work without interruption and that does not depend on the weather conditions or the lighting of the place. This first phase ends when the data is transferred to our server. In the second phase, data processing, three-dimensional data is used to calculate in a precise way not only the volume of waste, but also the type of waste, which is made possible by our solution. Then, connect the data treated with other data related to the traceability of the waste, such as the name of the boat and the operator and the weight of the waste. And, at the end, the client, in this case the port of Barcelona, receives a report in HTML format (web) where all this information compiled in User-Friendly format appears.
How will the award impact the company?
This is a large scale project, a large client, a huge volume of information to be processed and it will certainly make us evolve and grow. Our goal is to design and implement a Software as a Service (Saas) model that fits this need very well, and therefore having a big client, that would guarantee that we can provide a solution defines, solidifies and strengthens the design of the business model that we want to implement. We want to continue to develop solutions at the service level, but this award makes us move more quickly towards “producing” the service, which will give us another scalability.
And what are the next steps?
In September, we will start a more interactive process with the port itself to learn about its specifics and needs. The initial solution included using the software we developed and reusing an existing technology for documentation. Right now, we want to take a slightly different path and we want to design our own data capture solution! It is a challenge, because there are many variables at stake, but it is the only way to be able to reduce the cost as much as possible while ensuring that the system never fails, because we have to guarantee the calculation of waste of 100 thousand cubic meters per year. That is why we are now developing our own hardware.
Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?
Yes, it can. For example, in the industry, space limitation is a reality that requires an ever better knowledge of volume and weights. We have some international references from those who are already doing it and we think that in the end we will be able to have a very solid product for half the price the big companies are asking today. And having the port of Barcelona using our solution gives us a credibility that we didn’t have before.
What other solutions do you intend to develop with the port of Barcelona?
As mentioned above, we presented and were finalists with two solutions. For the processing of geometric data we also had a very interesting solution that involved transforming this data into a video game: it is a very interactive video game and connected with the community, which is Minecraft. Minecraft is not only the best selling video game of all time, but also the most viewed on youtube! More than just selling the solution, we wanted to help the port of Barcelona implement it in its community. We believe that this solution also deserved a prize, being also aware that it was very difficult to award 2 prizes to the same company.
And what goals do you have for the future?
I would say internationalize the company. The company is very new, about 3 months of activity, and we still did not have an idea of internationalization. But this award marks a time before and after, and we have already received communications from Finland and Spain from people interested in what we are doing. In September we will have to reformulate our plan for 2020. Obviously we are interested in the Portuguese market, we are a Portuguese company, but our idea will be to continue to develop products, technologically differentiated and innovative, that allow us to leverage faster growth.
About 3D Modelling Studio
The use of 3D data is constantly evolving and 3DModelling Studio understands the value of looking to the future and keeping up with it. They are a technological Spin-Off with the aim of providing a combination of products and services in the three-dimensional digitalization of the physical environment (3D reconstruction from remote sensors), intelligent modeling and the analysis of spatial data.
Learn more at http://www.3dmodelling.eu/