Transcend automates the process of water facility designs via a cloud-based SaaS platform. They recently announced the completion of a $3 million Series A funding round. Punchlist Zero caught up with Adam Tank, Transcend’s Director of Software Solutions, to learn more about the future of water facility design.
PL0: Let’s talk about Transcend’s secret sauce. How exactly is Transcend able to automate the engineering process?
Our team is the bread and butter behind the success of our automation software. The majority of our developers started their careers as water and wastewater treatment engineers across many different disciplines (process, mechanical, electrical, civil), and then stumbled into computer programming.
When you bring deep domain expertise to a problem you understand the intricacies of what software can, and more importantly, CANNOT do… and then work backwards from your ‘end goal’ to get to the desired outcome.
In this case, the team developed software that replicates the same steps and logic engineers go through when developing water infrastructure designs and also uses software to tie the thread across engineering disciplines. As an example, the process simulation (process engineering work) completed by our software is then used to create the P&ID in AutoCAD (mechanical engineering work) – without human intervention. The process simulation also informs the BIM model generator component of our software, which is then used to generate a Civil BOQ… and the list goes on.
PL0: How granular does the Transcend algorithm go? Are we talking about getting all the way down to the bill of material level?
Our software generates everything from technical descriptions, to complete BIM models in Revit, to full P&ID’s in AutoCAD with valves and chemical dosing points. Those outputs are then used by the software to generate Equipment Lists, Load Lists, Civil BOQ’s, CAPEX calculations… it covers somewhere between the first 20-30% of the design process.
PL0: As per your website, Transcend leans on decision trees to optimize a solution. Can you speak more to the development and tuning of those algorithms?
Transcend’s software was originally developed in house for a small wastewater treatment company, Organica Water. Starting in 2012, the CEO ‘locked’ his engineers in a room and told them not to come out until they had mapped out every decision and step of the design process for an entire wastewater treatment plant.
Few, if any, engineers at the time thought the automation of that process would be possible. But 8 years later and here we are. Complete wastewater treatment facility designs are generated in hours instead of days or weeks.
The software now incorporates evolutionary models when applied to site design and building layout characteristics of the outputs – it creates, and breaks, thousands of options to determine the optimal layouts based on various factors including CAPEX, OPEX, Land Use, etc.
PL0: We have a lot of readers that build and integrate processing plants. It seems that Transcend H2O engine holds a lot of promise for other processes outside of water. Any hope that these builders will get a chance to leverage the Transcend H2O technology?
It is our intent that one day all built infrastructure will first be designed at a conceptual level using Transcend software. We have already started to move into drinking water and industrial wastewater treatment plants, and have even started automating the design of site layouts for retrofitted shipping containers that are used to screen employees for COVID (link here).
PL0: Anything else you would like to add?
If you’re a design engineer going crazy tinkering with the 52nd version of an Excel spreadsheet or spending way too much time writing and rewriting reports, let automation help. Software is at the point where you can get rid of the boring, monotonous work you hate doing and focus on the valuable, complex, and innovative work you enjoy.
And of course… if you or anyone you know would like help automating their design procedures we’d love to talk to you!
Adam Tank and Transcend are focused on automating preliminary design engineering for water EPC’s, utilities, and OEMs. For more information about Transcend, visit www.transcendh2o.com or contact Adam at [email protected].