Piling Canada

Digging a Little Deeper

Solving geotechnical challenges in deep excavation, deep foundation and slope stability through software development
Written by Pat Rediger
March 2023

DeepEX 2023 provides solutions to limit equilibrium, slope stability, non-linear analysis, finite elements, 3D design, 3D visualization, generate drawings, tunnel design, city-wide building damage assessment and more

Combining interests in deep excavation with software development led Dimitrios Konstantakos to find new ways to solve deep excavation design issues. After digging a little deeper, he hit on the idea that his software could form the basis for a new company. Today, Deep Excavation provides software solutions, workshops and training for geotechnical engineers across North America.

“It’s really a marriage between geotechnical and structure, and you have to throw in code compliance,” said Konstantakos. “You can’t just provide a software system. You have to build an expert system that guides the user toward making the right choice. Since this field of work has so many options and so many unknowns, you have to minimize the risks. At the same time, you have to prepare a design that’s constructable and feasible.”

Deep Excavation features more than a dozen software programs for geotechnical engineers, from designs for deep excavation and pile foundations to slope stability analysis and 3D rendering. In addition, the company aims to make computerized simulations available for practical applications in the broader geotechnical engineering and consulting fields. It also provides consulting services to clients during different excavation and construction projects. 

These accomplishments come from humble beginnings during the early 2000s when Konstantakos was a civil engineer with a programming hobby. He had just started working for a geotechnical firm and wanted to impress his supervisors by working on a software program to assist with excavation design. As the days became weeks, he slowly concluded that his true calling was software development specializing in deep excavation design.

“I had a house in New York, and I sold it and packed up everything in my car, and went to a Geo-Congress with a couple of brochures and set up an exhibition booth,” said Konstantakos. 

When nobody showed up at his booth, he grabbed his brochures, stood at the door and started handing them out. 

DeepFND is a user-friendly program for deep foundations, developed by expert engineers to help design deep foundations and minimize risks
DeepFEM can be used for the staged simulation of any project of shotcrete or mechanized tunnelling

He reached agreements with two major companies, and the rest – as they say – is history. He continued to revise and design his software programs and added additional staff as demand increased.

Deep Excavation’s software also takes advantage of new 3D and virtual reality technologies. Its PileDVR and DeviateVR software address pile deviation from the original design when drilled.

DeepEX

The company’s bread-and-butter software is DeepEX, which manages the risks of deep excavation design with limited equilibrium, non-linear and finite element analysis. 

“We also do tunnel design and can even model an entire subway system. We can build a whole city in 3D buildings, and if we want the subway to go from Point A to Point B, we can determine where the subway stations are. We can model the entire city and get your cost estimation, excavation, panel design, building damage assessment and estimation of transportation. We can even tie that all together with monitoring data,” he said.

The other highest-selling software is DeepFND, which covers all aspects of structural and geotechnical foundation pile design. It can handle the design of single files, file groups and file rafts, and calculate structural and geotechnical capacities. It also accommodates various standards, including Canadian, American, European and Chinese. 

Other major software packages include HelixPile 2021for designing helical piles, which allows the user to have an unlimited number of stage conditions and soil profiles; SnailPlus 2021, which follows the Federal Highway Administration’s methodology for the design of soil nail walls in an interactive environment built on the DeepEX basic layout; and SiteMaster for processing and presenting inclinometer readings and remote geostructural sensors. 

Deep Excavation’s software also uses new 3D and virtual reality technologies. Its PileDVR and DeviateVR software address pile deviation from the original design when drilled. To compensate, engineers specify verticality and deviation tolerances that must be met during pile installations to ensure the construction meets the design requirements. Rather than using two-dimensional cross-sections with depth to visualize pile deviations, this software allows users to inspect pile installation records in 3D using virtual reality. 

“When installing drill files that can deviate from the original position, we measure the position using instruments and then visualize those deviations in 3D using augmented reality. You can put on your augmented reality glass and can actually go down the piles before you start drilling and see what the offset of lack of overlap is,” said Konstantakos.

Augmented reality

The company also developed HoloDeepEX, which ties the DeepEX software with augmented reality. Models are prepared in DeepEX and exported to HoloDeepEX, a free software. Users can use their voice to control the stages or use the mixed reality headsets to move within the excavation before anything is built. 

These software options and several others are available for purchase and downloadable on the company’s website at www.deepexcavation.com.

Konstantakos says several options are available since engineers have different needs and projects. Support is included at no charge for the first year, and Konstantakos prides himself on the technical maintenance that the company provides. The team follows up with clients to ensure they get the most out of the software and correctly use the programs’ various tools.

Deep Excavation’s software has been used in more than 15,000 projects of various sizes and scopes. 

“You can start from a simple single file pile foundation project or a simple strategy pile in excavation, all the way to modelling an entire subway system. You can do a sophisticated analysis that includes the tunnels, buildings and cost of the project. It’s really up to the project, the engineer and the company working on the project to determine what they require,” said Konstantakos.

Not willing to rest on his laurels, Konstantakos says the company invests in developing new software, including enhancements to existing software with 3D imaging. In addition, the company will focus on fixing the gap whenever there is a need or a way to improve what already exists.

“I want to emphasize that as an industry, we should be charging for the value of the work and the risks associated with the work. We believe that our software will help solve the computational part that’s intensive, reduce that risk and deliver true value for engineering firms. I would say to our friends who are reading this article that you can focus on being an engineer, not an analyst.” 

Photos: Courtesy of Deep Excavation



Categories: Business

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

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