In an Interview with Insights Success, David Mills, Co-founder of Softree Technical Systems, describes the journey of Softree Technical Systems and about its contribution to the software industry. Softree Technical Systems develops and supports high quality software tools for engineers working on corridor based projects such as roads, pipelines, and railways.
Applications of Softree products have been utilized by engineers in the civil, forestry, oil and gas, military, government and mining industries. Its engineering team focuses on developing innovative solutions to problems its clients face on a day to day basis. Softree is dedicated to working with its clients to keeping the standard of its software to the highest possible level. It prides itself on keeping its programs light, fast, and easy to use.
Below are the highlights of the interview between David Mills and Insights Success.
Give a brief overview of your company, its solutions and services.
Softree is a developer of engineering software in both civil and natural resources markets, including forestry and mining. Softree has been providing innovative software solutions for surveying, mapping and civil engineering for more than 25 years. We develop software that is innovative and powerful. We’re always trying to tackle new large and complex engineering problems. But leave the complicated stuff to us. Our software works hard behind the scenes so that our users can always enjoy a simple and intuitive interface.
Softree has three core products:
RoadEng – Softree’s road and site design software. It is ideal for applications in resource industries: forestry, mining, and energy. RoadEng allows for the geometric design of ramps, access roads and haul roads with constant feedback from real-time window interactivity.
Softree Optimal – Softree Optimal is a vertical alignment optimization program that runs as an add-on for RoadEng, or other civil design products. Ideal for haul and access road optimization, it generates the lowest cost vertical alignment based on the ground surface, the horizontal alignment, and the design parameters and constraints entered by the user. It will bring down road construction costs by 10-30% or more.
Terrain Tools – Terrain Tools is a software toolkit for 3D mapping, terrain modelling and land development. Fully geo-referenced, it reads a variety of formats including LiDAR, Shape, DWG and images. Alongside TIN and contour map creation, it offers a variety of simple but powerful features available for site design and grading. Create 3D surfaces: terracing, channels, ditches, pads or sub-surface zones.
Describe the ways in which your mining solutions are focused on being customer centric.
Our software is designed for the engineer, not a CAD Tech. Also, by using it, mining companies are able to design their access and haul roads faster, in house, and at a lower cost.
Describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learnt that have shaped the journey of your company.
The core goal of our company is to develop software tools that are easier to use.
Other CAD-based civil design software systems try to do too much. More is no longer better. I read a survey recently of CAD-based design users and it revealed that only a fraction of the software’s functionality is used. In many cases, users weren’t even aware if their software could do a specific function, much less how to go about doing it.
Our goal is to avoid that – we often take functions and features out of the software if they are not important. Our software is easy to use, easy to complete your project.
What are the evident challenges in the mining industry and what are your company’s strategies to tackle these challenges?
Access road and haul roads represent a significant cost to mining operations. Designing lower cost roads (in terms of earthworks) and better roads to reduce cycle times are important to us. RoadEng with our optimization add-on included can do just that!
Our software allows engineers to design the lowest-cost haul road design that satisfies their design constraints & standards. Optimization technology automates the creation of your vertical alignment and can bring down construction costs by 10-30% or more.
What is your perception on mining exploration in relation to climate change?
Access and haul roads, along with the actual mines themselves, create a lasting mark on our physical landscape. It is important to us to create tools that allow the engineer to best determine the location of the roads and to minimize the earthworks involved in creating them.
Designing an efficient haul road is of critical importance. Haul roads in both their construction and more so in their use, are a tremendous cost in mining. The cost and total emissions from transporting the mined materials can vary greatly depending on the design of the road.
Where does Softree Technical Systems see itself in the long run and/or what are its future goals?
Softree is focused on continuing our development of easy to use engineering software tools and leadership in the area of corridor optimization. We are nearly to market with the next level of alignment optimization, horizontal optimization. And we are very excited!
McElhanney discovered “RoadEng” while looking for an easier way to deliver resource based road designs. Years ago, we tested the software with immediate success, going from watching training modules on the weekend to project delivery without delay in the following weeks. Since that time, it has quickly become a company-wide standard tool for the design of linear based projects including resource roads, construction access, pad design, pipelines, pedestrian trails, etc. We regularly us it to manage large LiDAR base plans, conceptual engineering, earthworks balance, and preparation of final drawings (planprofile- cross sections-mass haul). We believe its greatest strengths are how easy it is to learn and fine-tune design alignments. The ability to have the plan, profile, cross section, and mass haul open at the same time provides a great visual aid for designers which leads to more effective designs. The addition of “Optimal” provides valued engineering for large projects based on a wide range of criteria by automating the process. The Softree team is friendly and provides great support.” – Jason Paquette, AScT, Senior Technologist, McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd
Softree sticks to its word in providing a “Clean Simple Approach”. As they say “The key to good software is its ability to deliver power without complexity”. So true! I highly recommend Softree, and we are proud to be a client.” – Matt Mahoney Design Engineer Franklin County Public Works Department, Franklin County, WA
“We really like the ease of use of RoadEng, it lets us try a variety of alignment options and quickly provides us with material quantities differences” “The software is relatively easy to use, with minimal time invested in learning and maximum time spend on design optimization.” –Travis Peterson, Canada Projects Limited, Calgary, AB
About the Leader
David Mills, P.Eng is a principal in the company. He does a little of everything at times, Mostly software design, development, testing, support and documentation.