We should stop complaining – and show positive examples, because there are plenty of them. An interview with Stefan Neumann
Is the construction industry lagging behind in terms of digitization? Would she have to do more? Or is the industry already well positioned? What does “Construction Industry 4.0” really look like in the companies? Stefan Neumann, Managing Director of 123onsite, with his assessment in an interview.
What about digitization in the construction industry?
Stefan Neumann: Depending on who you talk to, the situation looks different. Overall, the industry is comparatively little digitized. I see for the
future of the construction industry
certainly still have some catching up to do. But many companies have already successfully digitized. Companies use digitization, for example, to reduce the administrative workload in their
and to reduce the workload of their employees.
Bye-bye paper management at Rahlmann Hoch- und Tiefbau
As the company grows, so does the administrative workload. Company boss Fabian Rahlmann is looking for software for administrative tasks for his company Rahlmann Hoch- und Tiefbau GmbH from Hoya in Lower Saxony. He says “bye-bye paperwork” and successfully introduces digital site management.
“I WANT TO FOCUS ON MY CORE BUSINESS AND NOT SPEND MY TIME ON ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS.”
Fabian Rahlmann, Rahlmann Hoch- und Tiefbau GmbH
What does the readiness for digitization depend on?
Stefan Neumann: The construction industry is large and the requirements are different. Apart from that: Large companies usually have Staff or entire departments that take care of future topics and strategies – especially the topic of
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
is a big topic for companies and their business developers, innovation or BIM managers have the time to deal with it. But building such teams takes time and is initially a cost factor.
The size of the company determines how digitization is implemented.
In smaller companies, it is not so easy to assign someone to deal with these issues. It is therefore important to find the best possible solutions and to have an experienced partner at your side for the implementation.
What has to happen for construction companies to tackle digitization measures?
Stefan NeumannThe generational change is a typical time that even smaller medium-sized companies take as an opportunity to make a digitization push. The older generation usually doesn’t want to deal with it at all. They run the company the way it has always been. “Digitization of the construction industry? You can do that without!“is often the statement. However, when a successor comes into the company, he or she usually has a different focus on managing the business. We then experience a great willingness to refresh, rejuvenate and modernize the company. Then it’s always also about digitization. Above all, successors want to become more efficient. They also realize that digitization increases their attractiveness as an employer.
Transparency and time savings in the scheduling of machines, material and employees at Münsinger Erdbau
For its many special solutions, the family-owned company Münsinger Erdbau GmbH from the Bavarian town of Blossenau was looking for a powerful and flexible time recording program. All employees were equipped with a smartphone which they can now use for their daily work.
“BY DRIVING DIGITALIZATION FORWARD, WE ARE POSITIONING OURSELVES IN THE REGION AS AN ATTRACTIVE EMPLOYER AND RELIABLE BUSINESS PARTNER. THE 123ONSITE SOFTWARE IS AN IMPORTANT BUILDING BLOCK FOR US ON THE WAY TO THE DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION SITE.”
Johannes Münsinger, Münsinger Erdbau GmbH
Where do construction companies have the greatest need for digitization?
Stefan Neumann: For construction companies, there are two major areas of digitization: On the one hand, there are new technologies and further developments in hardware, for example in construction equipment. On the other hand, it is the software, for example for documentation or processes. This is the area where we help construction companies optimize. At 123onsite, we digitize processes, for example, with a
Time tracking through digital time sheets
improve process quality and increase efficiency. All
factors for successful, cost-conscious construction management
such as planning,
can be successfully digitized.
The IoT (Internet of Things) area combines the two areas just mentioned: We integrate Internet-enabled equipment into the software landscape. This then enables things like
digital device management
Where should companies start with digitization?
Stefan Neumann: The possible uses of software and the potential for innovation are wide-ranging. That’s why companies should think strategically: In which direction do I want to develop? What do I want to improve? Do I buy the latest excavator model? Or do I invest in
? Often in the construction industry, people invest less in software and more in additional hardware or more staff on the construction site. In the process, you could quickly increase your efficiency with suitable software, for example with an
app for site managers
digital Construction diary
. It makes sense to invest while the company is doing well, and spending on digitization is an investment in the future. As is well known, after a high comes a low. Those who are well positioned can look to the future with greater confidence. To start the process, the winter months, which are quieter for many businesses, are suitable.
It’s not about being the fastest. For now, it’s enough not to be the slowest.
Save time with professional defect management at Norbert Kees
Contractor Norbert Kees from Fuchstal in Upper Bavaria wanted to make the recording, documentation and tracking of defects more efficient. He relied on a defect management app that saves time and nerves.
“NORMALLY YOU MAKE AN APPOINTMENT AT THE SITE TO DISCUSS THE DEFECT. BY LOCATING THE PHOTOS ON THE PLAN, THE SUBCONTRACTOR KNOWS EXACTLY WHERE TO TOUCH UP – AND WE DON’T NEED AN EXTRA APPOINTMENT.”
Norbert Kees, Amberg Bau GmbH & Co. KG
What is the best way for construction companies to start digitizing?
Stefan Neumann: Of course, construction companies are particularly good at building, but they have to teach themselves how to take care of digitization and implement software projects. You need to evolve, both as a company and each employee personally.
It makes sense to look for a partner to help with the implementation. Software companies assist here with consultants, offer support and train employees.
I think the biggest task for entrepreneurs is to take their people with them. They must communicate the added value of digitization. Employees want to know: What’s in it for me? What’s in it for the company? Why are we doing this at all? Many companies shy away from the additional workload. That’s why I always say: you don’t have to do it alone.
So is the construction industry under-digitized? Partly – but there are many small adjustments she can make to gradually get better.
Image credits: Tinpixels/E+ via Getty Images; Alistair Berg/Stone via Getty Images