Home » Firm raises £1.1m funding to automate off-site construction

Firm raises £1.1m funding to automate off-site construction

by Mark Cantrell
Eva Magnisali, founder and chief executive, DataForm Lab

A company focusing on construction automation has raised over £1m in seed funding to fuel its ambition to bring its technology to the off-site manufacturing sector.

DataForm Lab (DFL) has completed a £1.1m seed funding round, led by Marathon Venture Capital. The company says the investment will accelerate its “mission” to unlock capacity and investment in off-site construction, using its software platform.

According to DataForm, adopting automation in off-site construction is essential for overcoming the challenge of limited capacity, and moving construction to factories presents an “ideal opportunity” to leverage automation.

However, despite its potential to boost capacity and efficiency, automation is still underutilised. In many advanced off-site manufacturing facilities, the company adds; work remains predominantly manual, and translating designs into production information is a lengthy process.

The underlying reasons why happen to be quite consistent across the industry. To begin with, every building is different, and interpreting its design to shop floor terms remains an “arduous process”, the company says.

Moreover, production planning remains an “afterthought”, with legacy processes accumulating complexity and switching costs. Most importantly, design and manufacturing are usually disconnected, leading to significant efficiency losses.

DFL’s software platform is said to be unique in its ability to seamlessly link design and manufacturing for off-site construction. The platform enables manufacturers to automatically configure projects, instantly translate designs into production drawings and machine code, and simulate and optimise factory operations through dynamic scheduling.

Eva Magnisali, DFL’s founder and chief executive, said: “We are here to challenge the current industry perceptions about digitalisation and automation. Our mission is to increase capacity in construction by optimising the manufacturing performance of off-site factories. Once the day-to-day design-to-manufacturing workflows are automated, the integration of manufacturing automation technologies becomes the obvious, de-risked next step.”

DFL is already working with off-site manufacturers in the UK and Nordics. The company says its platform is “material and sector agnostic”, and is used by manufacturers of 3D and 2D timber and steel systems to successfully complete housing, commercial, educational, and hospitality projects.

The £1.1m seed round will enable the team to expand, the company says; accelerating an ambitious product roadmap, and meeting the rapidly growing demand for their innovative solution.

George Tziralis, partner at Marathon Venture Capital, said: “Our buildings are still being constructed manually, not produced by machines; automation is still nowhere to be seen in one of the largest sectors of the economy. Eva brings a rare blend of practical experience across design, manufacturing and robotics, along with a relentless drive to put automation at work. We are excited to work together and help bring her vision forward.”

Main image: Eva Magnisali, founder and chief executive, DataForm Lab

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