Finnish engineering and consulting company Elomatic Oy has grown its international business over several decades across a wide range of industries. With Finpro’s support, Elomatic started a promising pilot project with Sykehusbygg in Norway.
Elomatic was founded in 1970 and is today an internationally valued supplier of industrial engineering and consulting services. The company’s expertise extends to many sectors, including Biotech and Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing, Marine & Offshore, Oil & Gas, and the Process industries. Hospital building design represents a new direction for the company, however.“In October 2015, Finpro invited us to an event about Norway’s health sector and hospital construction markets. This resulted in a pilot project
with Sykehusbygg which oversees public hospital construction in Norway,” says Kalle Virta, head of Elomatic’s medical business sector, which was established one year ago.
“Elomatic has created a visualization tool for designing hospital pharmacies which Sykehusbygg is now testing in two Norwegian cities.”
The initial 30-minute session with Sykehusbygg is still fresh in the mind of Elomatic’s product manager Henri Koskinen.
“We quickly explained and showed what we can do, and that was sufficient. Elomatic is not a hospital sector actor as such but Sykesbygghus became interested as soon as they realized that the tool is good. The decision about the pilot project came already before Christmas,” says Koskinen.
The project kick-off still had an unexpected twist, however.
“We discovered at the first meeting in Trondheim that as a public sector actor Sykehusbygg still had to run a competitive tender on the project. But after a few weeks we received a message that they had not found any other participants for the tender.”
The project then proceeded at a brisk pace, punctuated by Skype meetings. The finalized design app was delivered to the customer at the end of March 2016.
Visualization for early stage design
Elomatic’s tailored hospital space design app is based on modeling technology familiar from video games. 3D technology makes it possible to perceive and explore a space from different viewpoints and a virtual reality helmet provides the feel of moving inside the model. The app is designed to boost the initial idea stage before the start of the actual design stage for the space.
“With the help of the tool, the customer can get many ideas for the design of a space, not just a couple of ideas as is traditionally the case. Bad ideas can be rejected before the start of the actual design phase. When the architect joins the process, the costs go up immediately,” says Koskinen.
The app has been designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible so that people can model their own working space in just a few minutes.“For example, a pharmacy worker or a nurse can design their new work environment and send it to the boss. The virtual reality helmet makes it
possible to walk inside your own plans. By press a button you can also test ergonomics and practical issues as well as accessibility, like the opening of doors and whether a wheelchair fits in or if a hospital bed can be turned round in the space,” Virta explains.
Possible follow-on projects?
Both Elomatic and Sykehusbygg are thinking about possible follow-on projects but the future of the cooperation is still open.
“We don’t know where we will be with Sykehysbygg next year but the confidence has been built and it looks promising,” says Koskinen.
“The next target could be a broader app with added functionality that can be used to explore the logistics of a whole hospital or, for example, the logistics of waste, food, people or an evacuation.”
This would change the scale of the project from hospital pharmacies and tens of square meters to whole hospitals covering hundreds of thousands of square meters.
“At Elomatic, we have the advantages of a big company. We have all the required design tools and industrial engineering and management, cleanroom and usability experts who can bring lean thinking to the hospital world,” says Virta.
Elomatic has strong faith in its visualization tool because it produces better outcomes for hospital design. The company has also produced a tailored app for Jyväskylä’s Central Hospital that is used to examine how to best arrange furniture in the hospital corridors.
“The hospital can have a corridor that is two hundred meters long. When you walk through it with the app in real time and 3D, it gives a completely different understanding of the space compared to just looking at a picture. You can even hear the footsteps,” says Koskinen.
Finpro creates new contacts
Sykehusbygg was not on Elomatic’s marketing radar before their October meeting.
“Without Finpro we would have no idea about this organization that manages hospital design and construction in the whole of Norway. In the pilot project we are not yet talking about millions of euros but the door has been opened to the Norwegian market and Sykehusbygg is a valuable reference for us,” says Virta.
Elomatic regularly receives new invitations to the events organized under Finpro’s Digital Hospitals program.
“This is a good and easy way to get new contacts – it’s very different from going alone to look for customers in foreign markets. Finpro organizes smart events through which we have also met Korean, Dutch and Danish parties. Every meeting is interesting and instructive, even if they don’t always lead to a project.”