London-based technology startup Aphex has launched Aphex Planner, a cloud-based user-friendly “lean construction” platform to streamline coordination of site-based activities by multi-company teams.
While project management scheduling tools like Primavera P6 and MS Project are widely used for creating overall master programmes and showing the different phases of activities, Aphex Planner focuses within these phases.
Company co-founder and CEO Carlos Adams explains: “Detailed production planning is typically undertaken by construction professionals who directly manage daily and weekly work execution.
“We developed Aphex Planner to help these ‘last planners’ work collaboratively to develop weekly schedules of tasks required to hit milestones, while identifying dependencies and constraints that might affect those schedules.”
Users log in to work on shared programmes via a standard web browser. A site level dashboard provides data on activities, their start and finish dates, and their locations, and then, if any other activities are scheduled in the same date ranges and in the same locations (the same buildings, zones, floors, etc), these are identified as clashes to be resolved.
Aphex was established in 2015 by Carlos Adams and Carlos Carvalho, both graduates of the built environment faculty at the University of the West of England. Disappointed at the lack of sophistication in the software used in delivering major projects, they teamed up with civil engineer Damian Bucke who wanted to develop a better short-term planning tool.
They found investors prepared to back further development of a prototype application, and formed technology partnerships with IBM (providing weather data in to Aphex Planner) and with Oracle (clarifying that Aphex Planner is a different proposition to Primavera).
“Aphex Planner is designed to be as collaborative, open and transparent as necessary,” Bucke says.
Users agree sequences of work to resolve the clashes, and these sequences can be printed out to guide daily tasks. In-built notifications help keep users abreast of any real-time changes relating to their company’s activities and users can also annotate activities with photographs and comments.
Good software design is vital, says Carlos Carvalho, Aphex’s commercial director: “Too often, detailed planning is undertaken using wall charts, sticky notes and Excel spreadsheets. Aphex Planner is designed to be an intuitive-to-use business product that focuses on users’ information needs and empowers them to make better decisions on their clients’ projects.”
Aphex Planner is already being trialled in the UK on Crossrail and on a High Speed 2 project. The company offers free month-long trials, after which users can switch to paid plans starting at £35 per user per month.