App offers aid to engineers in emergency

Sheffield company Ekspan's new app
Sheffield company Ekspan's new app
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Specialist engineering group Ekspan has launched a free mobile app to help construction engineers and inspection and maintenance teams get rapid advice on problems they encounter out on site.

Ekspan specialises in structural movement control – supplying and installing products that include bearings, expansion joints and drainage systems for bridges and industrial and commercial developments as well as offshore oil and gas, renewable and environmental energy and bespoke projects.

Contracts include providing maintenance services for Tower Bridge.

The company has also worked on Jodrell Bank’s radio telescopes and for multinational oil companies.

Its new app works on devices using either the Android or iPhone operating system.

The app allows engineers to send images and data to the team of mechanical, structural and civil engineering experts at Ekspan’s Brightside Lane headquarters.

Chief executive Matthew Dronfield said: “In real time, if you are working in any worldwide location on a particular site where there is a problem such as partial rusting, you simply open the app, take a photograph and press a button which will tag your location.

“The information is sent straight to us in Sheffield and, using satellite technology we can establish where you are, what your project or structure is and the surrounding environments.

“We will then assess your situation and deliver the initial advice and options available to resolve the issue.

“We believe our new app will not only support engineers in the field but also help them to plan and develop proactive maintenance strategies.”

Ekspan says its app can be used anywhere and at any time – including on highways, bridges and offshore oil platforms – without the need for an immediate internet connection.

It can also be used to obtain a direct ‘quick quote’ for Ekspan to supply a specific product.

However, Mr Dronfield says winning business isn’t the reason the company developed the app.

“We all want business, but my philosophy is to make friends in business and work together to solve problems – that’s what engineering is about.”

Ekspan’s app was spawned by work the company did with the Crucible Theatre, with the help of Arts Council funding, to create the Port of Sheffield app.

The app uses GPS location to trigger audio clips, creating a “digital trail” along the canal tow path from Victoria Quays to Tinsley Locks.

Ekspan’s new app was developed in house with help from Adam Park, an architect turned postgraduate researcher at Sheffield University and the company already has plans to add additional features.

The app is available from www.ekspan.co.uk.

The Port of Sheffield app can be found at www.theportofsheffield.co.uk