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Product dialogue in the construction equipment industry: Building bridges for digitization

High need to catch up on digitization in the construction machinery industry leads to strong interest in the presentation of SupplyOn, the leading network for the manufacturing industry.
High need to catch up on digitization in the construction machinery industry leads to strong interest in the presentation of SupplyOn, the leading network for the manufacturing industry.

A very good reason for Dr. Lüddemann, Chairman of the Federation of the German Construction Industry (Hauptverband der deutschen Bauindustrie e.V., HdB) and his colleague, Dirk Siewert, Head of Civil Engineering and Construction Machinery Technology, to feel satisfied: More than 80 participants as well as 13 solution providers attended the debut product dialogue “Potentials of digital solutions in construction machinery technology”, which took place on March 19, 2019 on the premises of the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (htw) in Berlin.

The participants covered a broad spectrum of companies: from OEMs to add-on parts suppliers, from construction companies to technology companies such as the SupplyOn shareholders Bosch and Continental, from telematics providers to rental platforms. In the midst of all this: SupplyOn as a vertical collaboration network connecting purchasing companies and their suppliers. The event was hosted by Prof. Dr. Britta Kruse, Professor of Geotechnics and Surveying at htw, who also supported the event from a scientific point of view.

Insights into the future at the get-together the evening before

The event kicked off the evening before with a get-together at the premises of the creative agency IXDS. Their branch manager, Mr. Stephan Rein, made it clear that tomorrow’s requirements cannot be met with yesterday’s concepts. Using the example of the planning of a new underground station for Hamburg, he impressively demonstrated how innovative 3D technology can contribute to gaining insights for certain construction-relevant applications at an early stage through simulation. For example by prototyping with augmented reality, here with the help of a 3D model of the station and its characteristics. In the course of the evening there were many fruitful discussions, accompanied by a creative start-up atmosphere.

Construction industry needs to catch up on digitization issues

In his welcoming address the next morning at the htw site, Ralf Lüddemann stressed the need of the construction industry to catch up on digitization issues. The association HdB regards the product dialogue as an important step to show its members how the industry can tackle the challenges of digitization. At the Construction Equipment Forum last October, for example, the need for action to optimize and digitize business processes became clear.

Moderator Stephan Rein from IXDS led through the tightly timed schedule of the product dialogue:

Overcoming information silos with intelligent and standardized combination of data

Panel discussion at the product dialogue: High need for industry standards
Panel discussion at the product dialogue: High need for industry standards

In three blocks, solution providers presented their platforms for telematics and sensor technology, for connecting machine data with informative dashboards, but also for connecting different systems, hardware and partners, and for the intelligent shared use of common resources (e.g. for construction machines rentals). Each of these blocks was followed by a panel discussion. One thing became crystal clear: Information silos must be overcome and heterogeneous data must to be consolidated for topics such as BIM (Building Information Modeling). Critical questions on data ownership and data beneficiaries were also part of the discussions.

It became clear that it is necessary to exchange a predefined set of qualitatively meaningful data in a standardized way, to evaluate it efficiently and to make it available to the users in an advantageous way. This applies in particular to smaller contractors who struggle with the complexity of heterogeneous construction machinery and limited standardization. Because every construction site is different and some business partners may only be relevant to a particular construction site. Some presentations also looked into the future, e.g. how predictive maintenance helps to minimize downtimes and significantly increase efficiency on the construction site.

SupplyOn has experience with industry standards

Author and speaker Arvid Holzwarth, SupplyOn AG
Author and speaker Arvid Holzwarth, SupplyOn AG

At the very end of the event, SupplyOn highlighted its unique network concept. The SupplyOn network connects not only customers and their suppliers, but also transport service providers and other partners such as the Berlin School of Economics and Law (which addresses topics such as “Lean Management”, where necessary).

SupplyOn has already succeeded in establishing industry standards in sectors such as automotive and aerospace. It therefore sees good opportunities to pilot specific use cases (e.g. planning and picking the materials required for construction site equipment) with willing partners to prove that digitization is worthwhile. With the help of the construction industry association and the SupplyOn network, a to-be-defined standard could be broadly implemented to create a de facto standard. This offer was well received by the association.

Standards working group planned with VDMA, kick-off at bauma

According to Dr Lüddemann, the first concrete steps towards the creation of standards are already in the planning stage on the part of the association. In a joint working group with the automobile association VDMA, forces are to be bundled on the subject of machine data in order to promote the creation of an overarching data exchange standard with partners who are not members of the association. It will kick off at the leading trade show bauma on April 8, 2019 in Munich – to build bridges for digitization in the construction equipment sector.

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