After-sales 3D diagnostic tool lands APU Grand Champion prize at HILTI IT global competition 2023

After-sales 3D diagnostic tool lands APU Grand Champion prize at HILTI IT global competition 2023
  • A solution leveraging 3D scanning & ML to achieve better quality control
  • HILTI seeks ideas that transcend limitations of digitalisation in construction

Team Techify with (Back row L-R) Gan Wei Jun, Jordan Sahabudin, Tan Wei Siang (Team Lead), Jackson Tai, and Mentor Mr. Victor Khoo Shien Yang (front) celebrate the Grand Championship of the HILTI IT Competition 2023. Tan and Jackson are holding pictures of a member and mentor who couldn’t attend the ceremony, Goi Yi Shen and Amad Arshad.

After-sales services and diagnostics, particularly in diagnosing previously sold defective tools, are crucial for maintaining good branding as they directly impact user experiences. Research reveals that 83% of consumers abandon a brand after just one negative customer service encounter, while a mere 1% average human error rate can lead to significant financial costs in business operations.

In light of these findings, Team Techify, consisting of five BSc (Hons) in Software Engineering students from the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), proposed a winning IT solution titled Improving HILTI’s After-Sales Diagnosis with 3D Scanning and Machine Learning. This solution not only aligns with the challenges faced by the construction industry but saw the APU team claim the Grand Champion title at the HILTI IT Competition 2023.

The team of five was led by Tan Wei Siang, with business lead Jordan Sahabudin, innovation lead Jackson Tai, operation lead Goi Yi Shen, and technology lead Gan Wei Jun as the other members.

The HILTI IT competition is an annual global IT competition that provides a platform for junior talent worldwide to tackle daunting challenges from the construction industry. APU has been participating since 2020.

This year, 187 teams, consisting of a total of 656 participants from 31 different nationalities, submitted their proposals between early October 2022 and mid-February 2023. Team Techify advanced to the semi-finals alongside 15 other teams in March and ultimately emerged as the Grand Champion among seven finalists. The prize ceremony took place on May 12 where the team was awarded a sponsored trip to one of HILTI’s strategic IT locations in Switzerland.

As a multinational company providing products and services for professionals in the construction industry globally, HILTI continuously seeks improvements in its processes amidst the paradigm shift of the fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), aiming to maximise positive impact from the manufacturing plant to the tool service centre. As organiser, the company seeks solutions and ideas that can transcend the current limitations of digitalisation in the construction industry, while also considering business viability and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Based on this context, Team Techify conceived a highly technical solution leveraging 3D scanning and Machine Learning (ML) to achieve better quality control, reduce tool inspection turnaround time, enhance customer experience, and improve new product design.

According to Tan, the team lead, “3D scanning could improve HILTI’s after-sales return process by obtaining the surface deviation of the defective tools and analysing the root cause of the problem. Meanwhile, ML can accurately predict the failure probability of all the parts with a HILTI tool based on historical data patterns.” The end result is an 30% increase in process efficiency, the team estimates.

The team received guidance from the university’s mentors, including Amad Arshad, Senior Lecturer of the School of Computing, and Victor Khoo Shien Yang, an APU alumnus of Software Engineering. They also benefited from industry mentors from HILTI Group, namely Christine Schwaerzler-Duerlinger, Cohort Lead Tool Services, Global IT, and Ng Kim Hoong, Team Lead IT Integrated Operations Centre. Additionally, Eric Yong Sze Guan, an ambassador from the competition organiser, provided support.

Integrating their proposed solutions with several of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also demonstrated the team’s broader impact, making it more appealing to the panel of eight judges, including senior leaders from HILTI and senior academicians from Malaysian public and private universities. APU’s Chief Innovation and Enterprise Officer, Prof Dr Vinesh Thiruchelvam, was one of the judges.

Associate Professor. Dr. Tan Chin Ike, the Head of the School of Computing (SoC), commended Team Techify’s success and acknowledged the participation of Team AR Innovators, who made it to the final round. He remarked, “The HILTI IT Competition provides an ideal platform for APU’s technophiles, as we ensure that APU students not only have the necessary technical skills but a competitive mindset and problem-solving acumen that is sought after by major tech companies.”