Future Of Humanity Podcast with Carl Taylor
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3D Printing, Drones, & 3D Modeling in Mining & Construction – Episode 3

  • June 6, 2018

The Recap

Dave Meney is the owner of Yenem Engineering Services in Perth, Australia and the mentor for his dynamic team. He and his team have been working for 25 years to help companies get the most out of their structures and improve their production. Dave and his team aim to address structural issues before buildings collapse or other issues arise. His philosophy is that regular structural inspections increase the life of structures and reduce the cost of production and therefore will improve workflow.

In this episode, Dave discusses the purpose of his company as well as the future of 3D printing, drones, and 3D modeling in the future of mining and construction. He insists that a change in thinking is needed for the trust and support of 3D printing technology with steel. Dave states that 3D printing technology with steel lowers the time and cost of building construction and structural inspections using drones will benefit and transform society in the future.

Episode Highlights

[01:36] – Origin of the name of Dave’s company

[02:10] – How long Dave has been involved with engineering

[04:43] – The type of industry and clients Dave is currently working with

[05:37] – The change of the technology landscape

[06:54] – Purpose of Alt Connect

[08:27] – 3D printing plastic vs. 3D printing steel

[11:09] – Where did Dave’s interest in 3D printing come from

[13:27] – Potential future for 3D printing steel on site

[15:54] – Does 3D printing steel fundamentally change the dynamics of what can be done in construction

[19:24] – How does the 3D printing hold up against natural disasters such as earthquakes

[20:45] – Does 3D printing make buildings safer or lower the cost and time of construction

[25:27] – Structural audits using drones

[29:11] – How will 3D printing impact society in the future

[36:51] – Dave’s advice for recently graduated engineering students

[39:07] – Shock needed to create the “change”

Tweetable Quotes

Links Mentioned

Yenem Engineering Services Website

Future of Humanity Community

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Read Full Transcript

Welcome to the show. I am your host, Carl Taylor. And I hope you've been enjoying the episode so far. This is Episode 3 of Season 1 of Future of Humanity. Now if you are just joining us, I highly recommend that you go back and you check out Episode 1 where we talked all about the future of electricity distribution through some incredible technologies such as block chain. As well as Episode 2, check that out, where we discussed the hidden epidemic that we are all facing with our jaw structures that's leading to crooked teeth and breathing problems on an incredible scale. After this episode, make some time to go back and check them out if you missed them.
Host: Now, today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Dave Meney. Dave is the owner and director of Yemen Engineering Services where they work with mostly mining companies to help them get the most out of their structures and a result improve their production as well as ensuring their plant is code compliant.
Host: The reason that I got Dave on the show is he and his company are working on some pretty cool stuff in the 3D printing space. And what his company is doing is frankly a game changer in the mining industry with how structures are being built and how maintenance can be done.
Host: So in today's episode, we talk about 3D printing plastics versus 3D printing steel. We discuss the use of drones and online 3D models and how they're being used on a mining site. And just how the improvements that we're seeing in 3D printing are ultimately going to change the face of many ways that we currently do things.
Host: Now there were a couple of issues we had with the audio on this one. There were some people sitting behind Dave, in his team, in his office, and unfortunately, some of the noise they were making in the background was just a little too loud. We've done our best to clean up the audio, but if you have a few of those sections where you're like, "There's background noise," apologies for that. We've definitely learned for future episodes to ensure that that doesn't happen. So just wanted to give you that heads up if you're like, "Hey, there's noise in the background," we are aware of it and you shouldn't expect that in future episodes. So let's get into the episode.
Host: Thanks Dave for joining us. Super excited to have you here. You know, we've known each other for a little while now, right? Well, not knowing each other super well, but we've been connected on social media and travel and similar circles. And it's funny, today, I had a brainwave or realization that the name of your company is your last name backwards. Is that right?
Interviewee: Yes. It is. I've got clients that are probably as old as I've been working with them and they still haven't connected that. And then, there's others that see it straight away. So its an interesting test I think, an accidental test, I've got to see how laterally thinking the person I'm talking to is.
Host: Yeah, it's great. Yemen Engineering and then Meney is your last name.
Host: So let's talk a bit about kind of what you do. So, your company is Yemen Engineering Services. How long have you been doing that and in general engineering and what you do?
Interviewee: Sure. Structural engineering started when I finished uni in '97. I worked initially design office as one of two structural engineers. So I was the newbie there. And we were in an industry that [inaudible 00:04:07] so it was structural engineering work, but in a very mechanical and industrial environment. Not at all what I expected coming out of uni and having learned a lot more about public buildings and bridges and those sorts of things, but I liked it and discovered it was a good niche to be in.
Interviewee: So after 5 years working there, I tried a few different contract roles, various companies around Perth here, generated a bit of an audience of customers, I guess, clients wanting me to do work, mostly at night, [inaudible 00:04:42] outside of normal working hours. I got to a point where I was busier, at the time, after dark doing engineering designs for a decent amount of money than I was doing my full-time role during the day.
Interviewee: I had to come to that crossroad and think, "What am I gonna do? I can't be doing all of this." I was recently married and we were just starting to build a house and I thought it's either one or the other. And I decided to take all of the customers and slowly, I thought, build a consulting business for structural engineering. And things moved fairly quickly. And I never looked back.
Host: You just mentioned, slowly you thought, but I'm guessing it moved faster for you than you expected?
Interviewee: Yeah, I think if you start building a house and you want most of the time available to put into that, it's not gonna happen that way. Murphy's Law suggests then that I'd be a lot busier. Making money is a good thing before spending it, but it was successful. For 11 years, it was just myself in a home office environment, which was fantastic. I'm designing structures in my boxer shorts. And then about 11 years into it, I've decided I wanted to pass on knowledge to other engineers, [inaudible 00:06:00] like [inaudible 00:06:01] engineer. And that was quite successful. That was John and he stayed around for about 11 years in the business. And I, at the time, had just moved from the home office to a nearby commercial location, to an office. We've had a number of staff and they've come and gone.
Host: What type of clients do you work with? Industrial? What would you describe? What's the industry and the clients you're working with right now?
Interviewee: We work in the mining industry predominately, except for when the [JFC 00:06:31] came along and we had to make some adjustments. I'm happy to say we're back busy again with mining again, but most of their clients are mining companies, all service providers are mining companies that provide equipment, I'd say screens and those sorts of things. Very mechanically oriented client based.
Host: Yeah. In this engineering space ... And you're doing some really cool stuff and I'm excited to kind of pick your brains about some of the exciting things you're doing in the engineering space. You've been doing that from where I ... My research showed me going on if not more, 30 years. I'm guessing in that time ... One is that correct? And in that time, have you seen the technology landscape change much in those 30 years or is it more of a recent phenomenon that it's really starting to change in the technology [inaudible 00:07:21]?
Interviewee: Yeah, I think it's more recent. I think we've done a lot of the same thing for a long time. And I think that's still the case in design offices really. Pulled out of the drawer and repeated and [inaudible 00:07:33] and over and over we go. I think the last few years ... Well actually, I think it's down to in time that gets you thinking about new ways and smart ways of doing things. It's important in business, we reinvent ourselves frequently to stay ahead of the rest. And I guess, unfortunately, creativity tends to happen when you're quiet and gets put on the back burner when you're not. So if we've been busy for 25 out of those 30 years, we haven't been [inaudible 00:08:04] we've been putting fires out [inaudible 00:08:09] and wishing that we had more time to do things smartly and better or for whatever reason something different.
Host: Okay, well that's a great transition into ... You're doing some creative things in the engineering space right now, in particular around 3D printing. I also know you're doing some cool stuff with drones and modeling, but what I really want to talk to you more about is a product I believe you call it altConnect. Am I saying it right? How would you explain it?
Interviewee: Yeah, having an idea and then putting a name to it is a really ... Having an idea is a good thing, putting a name to it is really difficult. I had a couple of other ones and it'll make more sense, I guess, when we talk more about the connection, but it's a friction based connection and I thought [Fricon 00:08:54] would have been a good one. A freaking good one. [crosstalk 00:08:58]
Host: Very Aussie too, right? I like that.
Interviewee: Absolutely. It's a colloquial. I came up with ... It's an alternative connection so I thought well, altConnect could work. And we started to write that into our immediate press releases and things. And then I Googled altConnect, because I wanted to register that name and it's also associated with a Bitcoin thing. I guess, my immediate aim is to flood the market with altConnect steel connection, not altConnect the cryptocurrency thing. But it is an alternative method of connection, connected steel.
Host: So talk to me about that, right. So it is, as I understand it, you're essentially 3D printing steel. Right?
Interviewee: Yeah.
Host: Now, many people who might be listening, they might be familiar with the idea of 3D printers who work with plastic. Is it essentially the same concept just with steel? Talk to me about firstly, how does it work and then we'll talk into why is it necessary.
Interviewee: I'll talk about the connection itself just briefly and then lead that into 3D printing because this whole concept of connection is only made possible, as far as I'm concerned, because of 3D printing in steel. That is because of [inaudible 00:10:19] tolerance. So I've got a little demonstration [inaudible 00:10:22]. This is basically just an L shaped column and beam that we've printed in plastic. The idea of the connection is that you have two tightly fitted components. So you've got this, what we're calling the spigot, and you've got this [inaudible 00:10:38] section being called the socket. Basically, it's just one fits over the other. It's as simple as that.
Interviewee: And the theory is, that when we put bending into that connection, we give it strength so that it resists tension. So I'm actually pushing up at the moment and nothing's happening. It's not coming out like that. And it's that bending that's allowing that friction to really [inaudible 00:11:01] in and hang on.
Interviewee: If we were to manufacture that out of steel under normal methods, our first and biggest problem that we've always had, is tolerance. A 400 [inaudible 00:11:12] diameter pipe is not 400 [inaudible 00:11:14] in diameter and it's not circular. So when you're trying to fit one of those inside another, you've got to give a generous amount of tolerance to ensure that the outer [inaudible 00:11:27] and the outer tolerance [inaudible 00:11:29] dimensions, still allows them to fit together. So at best, you've got a sloppy connection and a sloppy connection's not gonna give us what we need, which is a firm grip.
Host: A sloppy connection, I mean, if we put that in construction terms right, a sloppy connection would be a building doesn't stay up? A construction falls down? It's not safe? Is that what we're talking about?
Interviewee: Yeah. It's not safe there's a lot of space. If we build columns and put things on them and there's a loose fit at every connection, when the wind blows, the building could drift a meter before everything's tightened up. [inaudible 00:12:02] things to be tightly fitting. And 3D printing gives us that opportunity, albeit very new and expensive and limited in terms of size and so on, it's an emerging technology. It's been around some time and it's getting better every week. It gives us the opportunity to create steel components that we would otherwise have to mill out of a machine and start with this huge piece of steel and mill it down. And who would do that? I mean that's just [inaudible 00:12:36].
Host: So it's an interesting thing. What was the process before this? What is currently being done or what were you doing before you had this option available to you?
Interviewee: Yeah and that's a good question. Where did the whole idea of doing this differently come from? You're saying, I suppose, that years and years we've been building in mining structures, we're doing them the same way. So we're designing them out of beams, columns, braces and so on. In the computer, we're using standard connection concepts which is just cleats and bolts and welds.
Host: So for people who don't know what cleats and ... Bolts and welds might make sense, but what about cleats? What exactly ...
Interviewee: [inaudible 00:13:13] to beams that allow you to connect one piece to the other. [inaudible 00:13:16] holes drilled in it [inaudible 00:13:19] bolted up. So all of those items that go to site out in the middle of nowhere somewhere with expensive labor and then that would together piece it piece by piece. And so it's gonna be a better thing. A better way of doing things.
Interviewee: And there is this [modularization 00:13:35]. So for years now, we've been looking at modularizing structure components build with floors rather than beams. Building whole structure rather than sticks and so on. Then you've got other issues like the volumetric space in a ship and the costs associated with volume over tons. You've got wide loads making transport of these things difficult and so on. IKEA and their flat pack concept is probably the idea around-
Host: It's IKEA for full building-
Interviewee: IKEA for steel structures.
Host: Yeah. Steel structures, that's great.
Interviewee: It's a good analogy, because IKEA's furniture is amazing the way it all joins together almost the same concept without nails and hammers and nails. Things are pretty ... Are clicked together or pushed together or whatever. So we're looking at a flat pack idea that way you can transport pieces as opposed to huge, big items. And we've got to still be able to handle [inaudible 00:14:35] on site.
Host: That's quite interesting to me, because sometimes you might think well, if 3D printing can do this with all these other, not just plastics but with steel, why wouldn't you just print the whole structure? But as you said, clearly that's an issue of well, how do you transport it from where it's made? I mean, is it possible though, could it ever at some point in the future be printed on site, completely in one thing? Is that a potential future thing? Or are we years away from that ever happening or you don't think it would ever happen?
Interviewee: I think it would. If you asked the question about a little Nokia phone. Could it actually tell us temperature one day or could it tell us an email one day? These sort of questions get answered over time. There's gotta be a reason for it. It's gotta be practical and useful, but on a mining site ... Let's use mining, it's my area of expertise, you need [inaudible 00:15:32] so every conveyor needs [inaudible 00:15:35] and you can't have a whole array of these different things in the workshop. You've got to standardize all the components. For every plant that you build, you've got to provide a whole pile of stairs so that they're available if something goes wrong and you don't have ... There's no time to wait for something to be shipped or flown to the site. So there's definitely a case in the future where you need a new path, you just put your requisition order in and the printer starts up, goes online, and you go and grab your component when it's ready.
Host: Printed on the spot, on demand.
Interviewee: Yeah, absolutely. So storage becomes tiny. You've got a room with a printer in it and a whole pile of material printing. And you wait for the time required to do that. I think the future, even just looking at non-metallic parts, the plastic printing industry and so on, that's really becoming quite a theme. I love the saying about 3D printing. It's dream it, print it. That's possible with printing. If you can model it, you can digitalize it and you can model it, you can create it. And you can't do that with normal manufacturing. We're stuck with our steel beam lines and our bolts and our welds and everything [inaudible 00:16:58] so it's easy to analyze and design for us and that's really restrictive. It doesn't give us scope perhaps that amazing different things.
Host: So does that mean that by being able to 3D print steel structures now and not just plastics and such, like being able to 3D print with metals, does that mean that previously possibly impossible types of structures are now possible? Does it fundamentally change some of the dynamics of what can be done that in the past with the traditional ways weren't possible? Or is it more just a matter of making things cheaper, faster, what does that impact?
Interviewee: Yeah, cheaper, faster, lighter. They're all requirements for an end product. Whatever that end product is. The one that comes to mind is one we found a couple years ago when we started this research. One of the airlines wanted to investigate 3D printing and the [inaudible 00:17:57]. Those were the 3D printing to minimize the weight of the seats. And I think specifically, these were the fold down seats the hostess, the airline staff use when they have to anchor down.
Host: Yeah, the flight attendants they sit down and stuff. Yep.
Interviewee: In a plane, we're talking kilos are important, not tons. So modeling of the support structure for this seating was done using modeling that followed the important stress parts and only designed something that carried the stress an optimal way. So the result was a very weird looking thing behind the fabric. It wasn't just two vertical steel struts with horizontal [inaudible 00:18:49] and so on. It was a very interesting looking thing, because it was just providing metal where metal needed to be and holes everywhere else. And you can't fabricate that with normal methods. You'd start with big, heavy [inaudible 00:19:01] and then you'd start drilling and cutting holes all through it. Now why would you do that? [inaudible 00:19:07]
Host: So it really kind of changes those of you who are designing these ... It kind of ... It gives you new options and kind of changes the way you think about it. You're no longer restricted just to, "I have to connect these pieces together." It's what if it was all one piece?
Interviewee: Yeah and it makes it quite hard to even visualize and create those things, because we're hardwired to think conventionally, aren't we? Any new thing is really just, I think, these days anyways is innovation, not invention. Meaning these things still come from a traditional concept, takes time and other people's contributions, and everything to end up being something completely different in the end.
Interviewee: And I guess our little connection here is completely different then the one we sketched up some time ago before 3D printing came about. And that was our roadblock. It was we've got all these pieces of steel that are meant to go on ... Go to site and be installed very quickly and we're using more bolts. We put all these [inaudible 00:20:03]. It's crap. What are we doing this for? Who needs this? And that got shelved and 3D printing came along and the light bulb went off again and well, we can actually do this now.
Host: The idea came, but the technology wasn't readily available or in existence yet and then when it came along you could bring the idea back. One thing that I've been curious about is ... Let's say the current way of doing things with welds and bolts is by a fully 3D printed piece or as the connections that you've created where they kind of connect together ... In my head when you're describing it and visually showing it, it was a bit like a pen lid going on.
Interviewee: In a way.
Host: And is that safer, exactly the same, or less structurally sound? I'm guessing it's not less structurally sound. Let's say earthquakes for example, how does the 3D printing stand up against if you're in an earthquake prone area? Is it better? Roughly the same? Or what is that like?
Interviewee: Yeah, that's a good question. I supposed it's not so much about the 3D printing. It's about the type of structure. Actually in earthquakes, the structures ... Depends on the stiffness of the structure as to how much load it attracts. It's a little bit different than if you just jump on a beam, you weigh 80 kilos, that's the load that's going on the beam and so on. But an earthquake of something very stiff and resistant to ground acceleration, it's going to attract more load than one that's a lot more forgiving.
Interviewee: I suppose it's like the old FJ Holden versus the resisted impact versus these new cars that crush so easily and as a result the driver [inaudible 00:21:49] so in an earthquake situation a slice structure is actually a pretty good idea. A slice structure just simply means you've got things in columns that are connected strongly together and resists bending as opposed to say a truss or something like that that's got a whole pile of angular elements in them. It becomes a lot stiffer, moves less, and it also attracts a lot more load in an earthquake.
Host: Sorry to interrupt. Does that mean that with 3D printing it's easier to create sway structures or is it no different? I'm trying to understanding does 3D printing make things safer? Or is it really roughly the same and it's really about that cheaper, faster manufacturing process?
Interviewee: Yeah, I guess the 3D printing of this connection isn't to enable a structure like that to be built, because we would simply just do that now with a beam with a column and actual bolts. What the difference in ... The way we currently build structures we've got to erect scaffolding. People have got to work up high. You need to crane in every single thing. It's a slow process. The idea around our concept is that you can build floors on the ground and then you can just get columns into position with a crane and drop floors straight out of those columns. So I'm grabbing this again, that's a column, that's part of a structure. There might be four of them. Then crane can just lower that segment, which maybe a whole floor and it would just fit on and there's no scaffolding. There's no workers up high. It's no several weeks of erections. So [crosstalk 00:23:23].
Host: Yeah so, speed difference. [crosstalk 00:23:26] Give me an example of the old way of doing it speed versus your way of doing it speed.
Interviewee: Okay, so you just saw that I put a beam onto a column. If you picture the Meccano sets that we used to have in our toy box, you'd be [inaudible 00:23:43] around with a nut and a bolt right now and you're probably still putting that thing onto that column. That's the difference.
Host: So are we talking something that would take weeks can be done in days?
Interviewee: Oh, yeah I think so.
Host: So that fundamentally changes how quickly as a society we can continue to kind of build. In your particular situation with the mining, I suppose that means getting something new up and running could be quite a fuss. And time in business could often equal money so the faster they can get up and running, that's a competitive advantage for one of your clients.
Interviewee: Yeah. And then you start thinking of different things. For example, if you try to one piece to another in our example where the connection is in pieces, you can embed a little wireless transmitter into both of those pieces that align when the thing's installed. That signal could be relayed back to the operator that can confirm that the connection has been done properly. So it's fully bedded down into our connector.
Host: So you're saying there's a sensor inside or attached at the same time of connecting it Is it in a way your quality control, your QA, of checking it's been done right?
Interviewee: Yeah, yeah. It could be a little quality control. We're starting to put sensors. You know this is called the internet of things in common language. So we're starting to look at putting all different sorts of sensors into all different things. Computers and fridges are where it all started. And we now put sensors into bridges, for example. So the [inaudible 00:25:19] owners of bridges can monitor loads and performance of the bridges over time. Certainly on a connection like this, all we need to do is provide a little space inside the connection for the two sensors. One on one piece one on the other and our little program that knows when they both are touching each other. And later, we can use those monitoring devices to just keep them around the stresses on the structures. So that if the wind is particularly high and the building is swaying, we can look on a computer and see what the stresses are in the structure and whether we have a problem or not.
Host: Oh, wow.
Interviewee: And you know when you do something different and you tell somebody, then they thought you'd read something. It's, "Hey we could do this, we can do that." Things then snowball.
Host: Yeah, so this internet of things I never even thought about it. It makes so much sense now that you said it, but I never thought about putting internet of things, internet enabled sensors on something like a bridge. I mean, we've heard in the news recently about a bridge that collapsed. Now, had that had sensors maybe that would have been detected far earlier and that catastrophe could have been avoided.
Host: We're not just talking about smart homes and silo homes, we're talking about a future of potentially buildings themselves being intelligent and sending back data back to monitoring stations. And then you combine with say AI. This is fascinating stuff.
Host: Let's talk a bit about that. I know you're doing some cool stuff with drones and modeling as well. Can you quickly touch on that? Let's touch on some of the stuff you're doing. You've got drones essentially going around and taking photos ... Well, it's scanning to create these 3D models. And then I believe they're connecting to some of these sensors in the building? Is that correct? Talk to us a little bit about that.
Interviewee: Yeah. [inaudible 00:27:08]. In our business we do structural audits. We're looking at all the structures that are falling apart or getting close to going next. And so that's my best service offering. We have a client in New South Wales out in [Clover 00:27:25] and in that particular instance, there's a number of concrete bins that are about 60 years old in various levels of degradation. We won that job because of an innovation thought to add [inaudible 00:27:39] sent in a competitive price for that. And so that's what we started doing when we were fitting the bins was to just hang off the side of them and [inaudible 00:27:53] concrete. And we still do [inaudible 00:27:57] job to inspect these bins. And the third time we went back, we decided to use the drones and so our structural engineer, John, stood next to the drone bar and basically in the comfort of the ground and the safety of the ground, they had a good look at the all of [inaudible 00:28:18] able to get to dealing with a crane box or [inaudible 00:28:23].
Interviewee: So, that's how ... That's the fundamental use, I guess, for drones in structure inspections. Always wanting to offer more. What can we do with these drones? We can create 3D models from the data that you capture in drones and even these cameras. We've been playing around relatively unsuccessfully with that for some time. We've got a whole bunch of photos and created kind of a Call of Duty walkthrough game of our structures. And what we want, what we're still trying to pursue, is the end game ... It's the [inaudible 00:28:59] of stakeholders that are actually interested in their assets. And without thumbing through ... I've gotta say it, they're our reports, but without thumbing through a 100 odd page boring report about structural problems, looking at photos and our sentences saying what should be done. What I much rather people do is use a mass or a joystick and search through their structure and when they get to a certain area, there's a little pop-up box that says, "This is no good. You've got a month to fix this."
Interviewee: And from there it's endless again how you can click on the box and get a work order and it's sent straight to [inaudible 00:29:45]. And all of that can be done without thumbing through boring old reports, because what we've found is people don't do that. So quite often observations become recommendations, recommendations become forgotten.
Host: Interactive. Everyone, we like to be involved. We like to be interactive. And I can definitely see that. I mean, no one wants to read those boring reports. They might have to, but they don't really want to. Right? So to be able to have something that feels more like a computer game. And you sent me a link to one and if I'm allowed to share that with the show notes, I will. But that was really great at visualizing just how easily you can kind of explore this building as you say, connecting that back to, "Hey, there's a problem here." And being [inaudible 00:30:32] 3D print the new piece. Or to put in a work order for someone to go in and fix it or ... That's pretty amazing.
Host: Let's talk about the future. With what you know is happening just in your industry alone, if we project out 10, 20, 30 years, what do you think the impact of all of this is gonna have on your industry, but also just in society in general. How's it gonna impact our cities, how's it gonna impact jobs? What do you see when you think of the future?
Interviewee: Yeah, I don't know. I can talk about where we're heading in our industry. I can see so much more screening modeling now then the old way of doing things. Certainly, we mentioned I've been in this business 30 years, so we started with drawings on drafting tables and [A0 00:31:20] prints. And then [CAD 00:31:21] came and that was fairly new when I was a younger engineer. CAD came and some people said, "Oh, I'm not learning CAD. I've only got five years until retirement." And of course, you couldn't ignore it. Everything started to become a draft of using two dimensional computer graphing packages.
Interviewee: Then 2D has become 3D. The latest thing that's happening now, by some, not by everybody, so it's the current future thing ... Current future, if that makes sense, is modeling bits, modeling, I called in BIMs, so it's Building Information Modelings. So, things are put together as objects so in a piping system we might have a pump, we might have a flange on both sides, a pipe on both sides. All of those things are objects with predefined parameters. So diameters are linked, just as an example [inaudible 00:32:18] manufacturer. So if you'd measured a drawing back in the day and then someone wanted to change something, everything would have to be redrawn.
Interviewee: Currently, now, everything's a database driven thing so you [inaudible 00:32:31] and you say, "We're going to use a warming pump of that brand." He'd say, "No problem," he would replace the pump and the entire drafting package would update all of the dimensions and everything that changed because of that. And anything you can think of that changes, pushes everything else around. What's in the background, computer software is doing crash detection. If you chose something too big and it struck a column rod nearby, then you would be alerted to that. So you have to deal with that. So you might move the whole thing half a meter one way. And again, the whole thing would change.
Interviewee: The biggest hurdle we've now got with companies that are starting to use that technology to create plant designs and things, is the lack of any drawings. It becomes a debate on how are we going to sign off on this. We're used to looking at a drawing and putting a signature in the box. So now how do we do that? And these are issues big enough to squash any idea of using this sort of technology [crosstalk 00:33:32].
Host: And I suppose in some ways if it's so easy to just swap out a part and change things, deciding when it's done, it's like, "No, we're not changing anything more." I can so see that. It's just a simple change. Right? We're not that far along. Surely we can make the decision now to change this. So, yeah. Getting that final closure of saying, no it's done.
Interviewee: Yeah, absolutely. That can become really hard. You know, the best project manager is the one that draws a line and says, "That's it. We're not doing it any other way. We'll have our opportunity again. We've got to move on." And so that can be a bad thing in a great aspect of technology and how changes so simple could make us unable to make decisions in the future. Too many opportunities of choice and change. So that could be something, but again, we're really just dealing with a current parameter that stops us from growing. We have to grow up and deal with that. So we can't sign a drawing anymore; I'm sure we can get around that no matter. We're doing that in our office. We approve a model of one of our clients and we take a snapshot of the model. We know it's timestamped. We sign a piece of paper basically with a little snapshot on it that says, "This is the model we've seen and we're happy with."We change it in the future, I guess I've got a little bit of paperwork [crosstalk 00:34:59].
Host: In the future, you can potentially link it in with the blockchain and then use the block chain smart contracts to say it's done. So if you want to really connect it into the future, that might be a way you could go. No longer be pieces of papers signed, it'll be signed through the block chain ledger possibly.
Interviewee: I think the future's gonna be one where we model, where we create model because we've got ... The options become a lot, endless really. The manufacturing constraints have just disappeared because we can print anything. And we can model everything. The customers can see what they're getting before they order it. In the case with a house, no one has to write house plans anymore. I think for ages now, if you've been a new house purchaser, you've sat in the office with the builder and have a look at your house fully furnished and walking from room to room. And that's how it is now.
Interviewee: So, if not everyone's doing it, we'll see that soon. It allows us to visualize things and create. It's really scanning things. It's really modeling thing was really demonstrated to us by [inaudible 00:36:13] software development. And they had the [inaudible 00:36:19] to plan out ... I think it was Philadelphia, when the Pope visited America, they scanned the entire city of Philadelphia into a computer. Then they used that model to create the road transport plan from the airport to the city hall. They list everything in a virtual world. They actually put the crowd there and they went through every possible scenario. Security and everything. Based on a whole bunch of photographs from an aeroplane. Basically, it's how that started. Maybe, yeah there was a few dollars behind that, I imagine, but as that technology becomes more and more accessible to everybody, [inaudible 00:37:06].
Host: Absolutely.
Interviewee: It's hard to answer your question of what the future would look like.
Host: I think you have. It's showing the ramifications of 3D modeling as you've just talked about. The ramifications of 3D printing of metals. It's just gonna just continue to snowball. I personally have envisioned a future where we at home have our 3D printer who maybe it can straight out of atoms create anything. It means you don't even need different things. It'll just be able to manipulate different atoms to create what you want. Why would you [crosstalk 00:37:44]
Interviewee: That's actually very scary.
Host: Oh, absolutely. It's a potential future though I think that really we could see. And what you're working on is some of the forefront of that and actually using it in day-to-day application.
Host: We'll start to wrap up in a second. I suppose, one of the key questions I'd love to know of you is ... Bringing it back from the future and talking more about where we're at now and the things you're doing now ... If you were to give ... Let's say you were having a conversation, maybe one of our listeners, is a young, smart driven person who's just come out of their engineering degree or they're just going into it or they're looking at their career ... What would you, with what you know about what's happening in your industry in particular, what would be your advice then to be able to stay on top of where things are headed as well as where things are at right now?
Interviewee: Yeah, I suppose we're all getting wrapped up into this whirlwind of past [inaudible 00:38:44] projects and everything. It's hard to give advice to a graduate and not get wrapped up in that. I'm probably guilty of wrapping my graduates into that same whirlwind anyway, but to just work in a progressive company I think and someone or a company that's open to change. It reminds me of my first interview, Carl, where computers were new. In my final year, I bought an old, used computer then. I bought a computer to do my project with. I was quite keen on computers and how they were going to change the engineering profession. And so I went to Connell Wagner, which is a highly respected Australian company. And my question to them was, "What's your thoughts on computers? And do you use them?" And the answer was, "We have one computer which we only have a single structural engineer to use as a checking tool, but we don't allow our staff and our engineers to use it." And I declined the job offer with Connell Wagner [inaudible 00:39:49]. We're talking about in the days of Tandy Computers [crosstalk 00:39:55].
Host: I remember Tandy. As a kid I used to love going to Tandy and buying the little kits and different things from there. I was a real geek as a kid going to Tandy.
Interviewee: Choose someone who's a progressive thinker and then don't feel that you're not yourselves. Your contribution at the beginning of your career is just as good, if not better than those on the other end. Young people are so much more open to the new things than old people. And that's the thing, the biggest challenge we've got ahead of ourselves with altConnect is change and the reason for change. We need a shock to change generally as human beings. We don't just change for change's sake. I think that's the biggest hurdle.
Host: So what kind of a shock do you think's gonna need to be required to create the change?
Interviewee: Yeah, don't know. I think, a lot of heartache on our part to demonstrate the safety and the cost benefits and the time benefits associated with it. And then thinking beyond what we're currently thinking. Beyond mining structures to commercial and residential development. Perhaps we can throw up there a post disaster structure very quickly using something like our connection techniques that would obviously save our lives, because people will be housed [inaudible 00:41:30].
Host: Disaster relief. That's huge. That's a huge benefit. I can see ... Wow!
Interviewee: I guess, that's why I appreciate this podcast because the audience needs to be vast and diverse for everyone that's listening to hear their version of what's coming and what could be done with it.
Host: Absolutely.
Interviewee: I was thinking about before about visualizing the future and it always brings me to a memory in our Perth museum, which is shut down while they rebuild it. But there was a big mural in the museum that was created ... I don't know when, probably not long after the first planes. And it was a mural of the city 100 years I think, so there were a number of buildings, none more than about 3 or 4 stories. And there was this massive aeroplane in the sky, which is very visionary. And it was a fire plane so they hadn't moved past the concept of needing fire plane wing technology so looking into the future with the present that we have is a bloody hard job.
Host: Very true. Very wise. And so on that note, we'll wrap up, but thank you very much for joining us and sharing with us what you're doing. And for any of those listening, wondering what some of that background noise is, Dave's in his office and he's got his team members busy working away. So if you're wondering what that was, that's what it was. So if anyone wants to kind of stay in the loop, get in contact with you because they're excited and interested in learning more about what you're doing, what's the best way to kind of stay in contact and stay up to date with what you're working on with altConnect and everything?
Interviewee: Yeah well we're updating the website at the moment so certainly within in days, if not weeks, we'll have the new website up and running. The current website is Yenem.com.au. And that will put them in touch with us. You can join our mailing list. And the best thing would be to send an email or grab the phone number and give us a call and tell me what you wanna know.
Host: Perfect. That's Yenem which is Y-E-N-E-M dot com dot A-U. Yeah, reach out and if you're an international, you will need to add in your international dialing code. For Australia it's +61 if you're calling from an international number, but maybe email is the easiest to do.
Host: Again, Dave, thank you so much for sharing with us what you're working on. I wish you the best of luck. I'm excited to see ... Next time I catch up with you, I want to hear about what's been happening. What new innovation you've made with altConnect and your 3D modeling. I'm looking forward to you telling me that you've integrated it with block chain to make the sign off process work. That would make my day.
Interviewee: Thank you. It's a pleasure.
Host: Awesome. See you later.
Interviewee: Cheers. Thanks.
Host: Thanks for listening to the Future of Humanity podcast. To download the latest episode and find the transcript and various resources mentioned in today's episode, visit our website at FOH.show. That's F-O-H, as in Future of Humanity and show as in S-H-O-W. You can also via our website contact me with any feedback or suggestions for future episodes. So please do reach out. Now, if you haven't already subscribed, you can find the links to subscribe on all your favorite platforms at FOH.show/subscribe. That's FOH.show/subscribe. And, more importantly, if you'd like to continue the conversation in today's episode and connect with other listeners then you can join our free community at FOH.show/community. FOH.show/community. I look forward to seeing you there.

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