French SaaS construction solution developer Finalcad is expanding internationally, and reaching beyond conventional building projects into civil engineering projects.
French SaaS construction project management solution provider Finalcad has been expanding internationally, its marketing director Aurélien Blaha told me this week. Moreover, almost exactly three years since the business first began to reach outside of its native France market, Finalcad has also expanded the reach of its application beyond a focus on conventional buildings to cover linear civil engineering projects – in particular, roads and rail schemes.
“We now have a roughly 50:50 split between Europe and southeast Asia,” Blaha said. Singapore was the French company’s first overseas office, and now has 15-20 people, and the company has just opened a Japan office in Tokyo. “We are dealing with the international arms of several major contractors, predominantly based in Japan, Korea and China [examples include Shimizu, Fujita, Takenaka and Kajima], and they are very open to new technologies to help them monitor their projects across the region. Asia is growing very fast for us.” In June 2018, the company opened a hosting facility in Tokyo to serve its southeast Asian customers; it also has hosting facilities in the US and in Frankfurt, Germany.
In mainland Europe, France and the UK remain strong markets for the firm, which identified the digital transformation opportunities arising from BIM adoption in the UK in 2016, when it then exhibited at the Ecobuild show in London. “Other strong markets for us include Belgium, Switzerland, and – in particular – Spain, where we have opened an office in Madrid. We already had some projects in Spanish-speaking Latin America, and are now seeing strong interest in Spain itself. The market there is quite dynamic.”
Civil engineering expansion
Finalcad has also expanded beyond its original focus on buildings to cover infrastructure projects, and in particular to provide progress monitoring tools and workflows to infrastructure project teams. This covers both new-build assets and refurbishment of existing assets – “around 80% of Finalcad usage on roads, for example, relates to small capital value projects relating to existing roads; some of our users refer to Finalcad as a ‘WhatsApp for Roads’,” says Blaha. The company recently announced deals with French infrastructure group RATP, the roadworks business unit of Eiffage Group, and the Trans-Sumatra Toll Road mega-project of Indonesian contractor PT PP.
Rail projects are another area where Finalcad is being deployed – again to cover both new works and repairs to existing track and stations. Using the Finalcad Live mobile app (available on iOS and Android) on GPS-enabled mobile devices, users can capture details including geolocation data. French state-owned public transport operator RATP (which also operates some transport routes in London) is a customer in this sector.
The energy sector, including nuclear, is another area where Finalcad customers are expanding use of the platform, though the business hasn’t yet developed toolsets to support some types of linear or distributed energy infrastructure (for example, power distribution grids or offshore wind farms). And in south America, Finalcad also has some natural resources clients, including a mining customer operating in Peru.
From field to enterprise
This expansion into support for infrastructure is partly a reflection of the demand by customers for field-based tools, says Blaha.
“Many of our customers are general contractors, and 85% of their users want information in the field. They also want to collaborate with their subcontractors, and most of these are highly mobile small-to-medium-sized businesses. It makes sense for them to have information readily available on a mobile platform.”
Finalcad’s business model was initially solely based on per-project licensing – “This encourages adoption and use of the application down the supply chain,” – and the company now has over 200,000 direct users of the solution, with another 800,000 included in email distribution of reports and notifications from the platform. However, as adoption has extended across multiple projects, customers are now able to purchase the solution via enterprise agreements (Eiffage is a recent example).
Blaha says enterprise adoption has also grown in parallel with digital transformation of the whole design-to-construction process. “Digital maturity has evolved,” he says. “Users initially wanted to collaborate on design information – now they want to see how design information is being applied in the field, and gather as-built data. We are also having more conversations with senior executives about how they can reuse data across their businesses too.”