Reimagining the construction industry by leveraging technology

Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Ark is a cloud-based software platform that provides users with digital workflows, data analytics, and a design configuration tool that streamlines the planning and delivery of new buildings using off-site manufacturing.

Ark's leaders were designers, engineers, and project managers with a combined 50 years of experience in the construction industry this brings a deep appreciation of the specialist and complex nature of the construction industry.

Their mission is to provide a solution that will reduce costs, improve productivity, and help decarbonise the construction industry through modern methods of construction. It was with this goal in mind that Managing Director at Ark, Stuart Suthern-Brunt approached Airteam to create a product to take to industry.

Construction is complicated and inefficient

The construction industry is behind the curve in terms of both digital adoption and sustainable practice. Massive lifecycle inefficiencies are a well-established source of frustration and a tragically unnecessary strain on our planet's natural resources. The concept behind Ark is to change all of that.

Stuart, who has been in the construction industry for over 25 years and worked on hundreds of projects, has seen the good as well as the bad. He states, "It's very dynamic, it's a great industry, but unfortunately, it doesn't perform very well compared to other industries." The construction industry is responsible for 18% of direct carbon emissions and a third of all waste in Australia’s landfill.

While other industries are using technology, eking out every possible productivity gain and reaping the rewards, construction has been left behind. Stuart continues, “Productivity has actually gone backwards, it's actually less than it was in 1990. It's just under 2%, lower than it was. Every other industry has gone up from like, 100% to 1,000%”.

While other industries have been leveraging data, increasing productivity, reducing cost blowouts and reaping the rewards, it hasn’t been the case for one of Australia’s most important industries.

It was with this inside perspective that Stuart and the team at Ark approached Airteam to help ideate and create a minimum viable product (MVP) that would make a positive impact on Australia’s construction industry.

Creating higher quality buildings in less time, while reducing cost and carbon footprint

Stuart and the team at Ark understood the problems of the industry and had a great concept to take to market. They just needed the right team to start bringing their product idea to life.

“We met Rich, and once we'd had a couple of sessions with Nick, and the team we just felt absolutely, this was the right decision. We worked on a trial to begin with, but we felt comfortable quite quickly. The professionalism and the turnaround were great. We'd have a meeting on Monday or Tuesday, and we would get information back by the end of the week.”

With a brief in hand, we set out to create a product with a suite of interrelated applications to progress users through a digitally enhanced construction experience.

Our ultimate challenge was to simplify construction processes while taking both industry experts and non-construction users along on the journey.

Our guiding principles in creating Ark were:

● Simplify: construction is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

● Be the best: generate a blueprint for world-class design to be standardised and replicated.

● Data-driven construction: create the catalyst for future construction to leverage data for sustainability.

● Feature-driven: provide intuitive 3D modelling and deep customisation.

● Enable users: make it easy to plan out a building in hours, not months.

● Put usability first: let users select from a toolkit of repeatable components to rapidly create industrialised buildings.

● Standardise beautiful design: take a modular approach to enable modern methods of construction.

● Connect: bring together industry experts seamlessly and reduce cost margins and wasted effort.

Collaboration and validation: building better together

Before Ark invested further resources into their concept, we took a collaborative human-centred design approach to validate their ideas. Stuart describes this initial step as “a hugely valuable service to help people go through that discovery and shape the ideas and refine the ideas that they might have for technology or a product.” Ark was beginning to recruit its in-house software development team and overtime we formed an integrated team as part of the build process, this way we ensured a seamless transition post Airteam.

Once we had solidified our ideas, we moved on to design. Ark was designed as a suite of interrelated applications, an ecosystem of consistently branded functions that work together to enhance the construction experience digitally. By using feature-rich, data-driven software, workflows were created to systemise and automate the construction planning process. The core aim was to reduce needless overhead, cost margins, and effort spent throughout the construction process.

Standardisation and repeatability were crucial to Ark's success. A toolkit of repeatable components was created that allows users to create industrialised buildings rapidly. This approach enables Ark users to create higher quality buildings in less time, reducing both cost and carbon footprint.

We knew Ark wanted to enable collaboration within the construction ecosystem, allowing firms to integrate their organisations, processes, and information to produce better outcomes by facilitating the transition to modern methods of construction.

Today, Ark represents a new leap forward in intuitive digital modular construction. It bridges the gap between industry complexity and first-use familiarity with its intuitive 3D modelling tools and concise process touch points. By building better together, Ark and its approach gives customers a new efficient way to plan and develop buildings.

A new product to transform the construction industry

The final product was a high-level model that Ark has now developed into a full product that was launched in April. Speaking to Stuart again says, “Ark is now in full sales and marketing swing, booking demonstrations and securing trials of the software”.

“We ended up with a fairly advanced MVP, we've had some people in other tech companies that have seen it and said, it's more than an MVP.”

The design of the Ark platform took it from a start-up to a valid market offering in under a year, with rapid client and market acquisition proving that good design is crucial for commercial success.

Good Design Award winner

Our work for Ark was selected as a Good Design Australia Awards winner. The Good Design Awards are internationally renowned for celebrating excellence in design and innovation, and it's an absolute privilege to be recognised among the best in the industry.

“Ark thoughtfully organises and packages a diverse range of information using a range of clever UI patterns. We especially enjoy the side tabs and checklist-style toggles that ensure familiarity and navigability. ” - Good Design Awards Jury

Taking innovative ideas and turning them into reality

With Ark, we are proud to have helped develop software to drive greater efficiency in the construction industry, creating a platform that provides users with digital workflows, data analytics, and a design configuration tool that streamlines the planning and delivery of new buildings using off-site manufacturing.

If you are sitting on a product concept, want to start researching before investing further, or are looking to develop prototypes or MVPs, we can help. Our full-service design and development team can walk you through each step in your journey. You can share your project with us on our contact form here.