QSAid–Quantity Surveyor’s Aid. (1984 – 1988)
Initially designed to generate Bills of Quantities from SMM6 standard libraries. This system required traditional manual dimension take-off from hard copy architectural drawings. It was developed in collaboration with Henry Cooper, the UK’s oldest QS firm.
Extended to link B of Q production to AutoCAD and to transfer dimensions to Bills of Quantities directly from AutoCAD drawings.
Further developed a new type of link between Architect and QS in collaboration with Unity (UK) Ltd. AutoCAD Release 10 was modified by AutoDesk specifically to accommodate these links so that financial information could be embedded in the drawing.
Link to AdminAid (1988 – 1996)
A pilot project was started as an experimental accounting system for small builders.
Link to AutoCAD (1987 – 1997)
A prototype was developed for Whitbread to use with shop and pub conversions. This generated a fully dimensioned and costed B of Q document directly from an AutoCAD drawing. It reduced the time needed for this process from 3 weeks to about 3 hours.
ArchAid – Architects Aid - linked QSAid, AdminAid to AutoCAD (1988 – 1997)
Specimen prototype AutoCAD libraries were prepared to provide more descriptive and financial depth to an AutoCAD drawing - in conjunction with Unity UK. This linked in a more general way the dimensioned drawing layer components to standard descriptions and costs.
It also introduced and developed links to AdminAid, which provided commitment-based control and analysis for the execution of larger construction projects. It retained the AdminAid links for authorisation of all budget allocations and transfers to avoid unauthorised movement of funds between project components.
Due to the resistance from QSs, we attempted access to UK market through major property investors as there was no established market available. Investors were keen but the individual architects, surveyors and contractors preferred to continue with their own software without any inter-connecting links. It was clear this would not succeed unless all 3 professions would participate.
Russian project in collaboration with Pilbeam Ltd.
In the absence of interest in the UK, we attempted to apply ArchAid in Russia to help resolve a funding problem in large construction projects where previous misuse of funds was leading to a loss of future funding from the World Bank. We performed a feasibility study funded through the European ECIP program and worked closely with the principal Russian negotiator for the World Bank. In his view, ArchAid could satisfy the criticisms of the World Bank.
Unfortunately, his time was suddenly monopolised by the Russian authorities to try to resolve a more urgent issue which threatened to close another critical source of funds for Russia. He became the key negotiator in that process and was constrained to stay indefinitely in Paris until that problem had been resolved. In the absence of this key person for the foreseeable future, we reluctantly had to abandon this project.
This project started a long-term collaboration between FSS and Pilbeam, who were based in the UK, Serbia and South Africa. They now provide all our deployment, security and support services.
ShelMat Ltd and SIMBlock – the SEEDA project
The requirement in this project was to provide the mathematical background for a fully automated control system for the production of interlocking masonry blocks. This involved an intricate CAD link to read a CAD drawing on a block by block basis. The details of each block were translated into a set of impulses to send to a machine with the linear actuators attached to the block faces. This trigonometrical analysis supplemented the basic PLC control system to prevent collision between plates as they moved into the position that the cavity for the next block shape required.
A very competent team was assembled from people who had each founded and managed their own small companies and worked at the cutting edge of each of the technologies required. These companies included Unity UK Ltd, AES Engineering Ltd, Javelin Controls Ltd, CIMLogic Ltd. We also had very efficient people in administration and finance so that the project finished on time and on budget.
"You know, I don't think that sort of accommodation would ever work for us."
At the Refugee