Ground-breaking application improves practical soil testing and generates new business for Geomachine

Geomachine provides equipment for soil testing, prospecting and well drilling. The company has a strong desire to head towards new markets and become the leading manufacturer of soil testing equipment in Finland and abroad.

Traditionally, soil testing has been a field with a very low level of digitalisation. Geomachine decided to take a step towards its goals and push the equipment used in the field directly to the next level. The work began with the development of a new kind of data logging software that can be connected to an online service.

“Earlier on, the logging solutions for our drill rigs were purchased from external operators. We wanted to provide our customers with the best possible way of managing soil testing data so we had to take the technology into our own hands,” Managing Director of Geomachine Samuli Salmela says, providing some background.

The company had a goal in mind and an idea of the customers’ needs, but the path to the solution was not yet clear. Moreover, there were no in-house development resources so Geomachine needed a partner with expertise in product management. Instead aiming for hard-and-fast specifications, the company decided to work with UnSeen Labs and take advantage of its established  design approach.

“We wanted to design a new system with our sights on user needs. UnSeen was selected as the partner specifically thanks to its iterative operating model. UnSeen had a finished concept for visualising an idea to the customers and involving them in the requirement specification process.

No square pegs in the round hole – involving the customer in product development

In other words, the team decided to lay the groundwork carefully instead of diving head first into development. This meant getting to know the world of Geomachine’s customers. The equipment and user needs were investigated and analysed by means of worksite visits, for example.

“Working with the experts at Geomachine was extremely rewarding. Originally, soil testing was a fairly new area for us, and the Geomachine team had the patience to explain to us a variety of details relating to the users’ day-to-day activities and the technical requirements of the field,” Managing Director of Unseen Esa Alanen says in reference to the process and adds: 

“Thanks to the smooth cooperation, we managed to determine the most essential features of the upcoming product and the requisite modern solutions. There is no sense in digitalising an old method when you can make significant improvements instead.” 

“UnSeen helped us see the bigger picture. We considered how measuring and recording data relates to the customer’s overall process, how our system fits in and what benefits it brings to the surrounding ecosystem,” Samuli Salmela says.

“It was crystal clear to UnSeen what to do and how to get it done. They gained a very good understanding of our business and that of our customers,” says Pasi Majakangas, head of Geomachine’s digital business.

Instead of starting off with a focus on technology, the partners ended up preparing a detailed user interface demo. This enabled user testing the system at an early stage, which helped solidify the customer needs for the purposes of the development process. The aim was to determine the features that could genuinely benefit users – i.e. what people are willing to pay for. Features were prioritised based on the analysis in order to launch the product as quickly as possible.

“We were immediately able to put together a product that required no major changes down the road. Obviously, further development is always necessary, but now it will not require changing the architecture,” Majakangas says, praising the approach that saved valuable development resources in terms of time and money.

Market buzz around the next-generation recording system

The end result, which was completed on budget and schedule, was a next-generation data logging program for soil testing that does what it says on the tin. The new technology provides Geomachine’s customers with an effective state-of-the-art solution that eliminates unnecessary work, minimises costs, and improves the quality and reliability of measurement data. The user-oriented design ensures that the software can be used equally well on site with your work gloves on.

“The solution improves the competitiveness of our equipment and also enable us to pursue entirely new kinds of business opportunities,” Salmela says in summary.