Frederik Tengg CEO Q Point

Collaboration and networking as key competences for digital road construction.

Who benefits from digitization in road construction, why public clients in particular benefit from digitization in road construction and why this complex task can only be solved with knowledge and information networking.

Carina Bulz in conversation with Frederik Tengg

Mr Tengg, in your opinion, what are the advantages of digitization in road construction?

The advantages of digitization are not limited to road construction alone and have already been largely implemented in other industries, which is why we can also derive a preview of the future of road construction from the preliminary work done there. A significant advantage is certainly the enormous saving of resources, since the consumption of resources is unnecessarily high due to separate work areas - planning, production, transport, installation, machine management - and thus incomplete information. Since the exact requirements along the processes are not coordinated, one tries to secure oneself or to maintain flexibility by increasing the buffers or capacities. A further, not negligible advantage is the increase in the quality of products and services in connection with digitization. These two advantages ultimately make a win-win-win situation possible. Here, too, it is possible for us to think outside the box and see our own future in other sectors, such as the port of Rotterdam. Various specialists in the logistics chain, all of whom had only partial information, networked there. This turned out to be very efficient. And through the cooperation, everyone made progress and everyone benefited from it, to the benefit of the entire northern Limburg region.

How and for whom does such a situation present itself?

In road construction, clients, contractors, subcontractors and all their employees meet in one project. The reduction of inefficiencies due to a lack of planning and information has positive effects on all participants. Road construction companies are currently operating with a margin that is only common in the retail trade. Even a small mistake in a construction project can cancel out the positive completion of a project. The figures, especially for small projects, are frightening, but they account for around 80 % of the total volume. After all, the only real opportunity for the majority of companies to complete successful projects is to avoid waste. In reality however, there is a ruinous competition in which prices are lowered further in order to obtain orders.

Digitalization, however, makes it possible to make sensible savings. Digitization currently saves up to 20 % of the total costs for road construction projects and up to 30 % for operators of mixing plants. These are economically and ecologically convincing arguments.

How do these economic and ecological advantages translate into people‘s lives?

For the contractor, as just mentioned, the increase in the margin brings security, an effect from the advantages of planning security, process cost knowledge, real-time information, controllability, digitization and much more. The knowledge of process costs, at what price a company can offer in order to secure a profitable transaction, is a decisive competitive advantage.

Secondly, digitization has a directly measurable impact on employees, their motivation and satisfaction. Digitization significantly relieves stress on the working day and makes work plannable. It is an enormous difference to analog construction sites, where exact information is missing, everyone solves his own problem, but creates problems elsewhere in the process and the end of work is always „open end“. This causes enormous costs and uncertainty and thus stress. Digitalization here actually brings with it an upgrading of all activities, but is also associated with major changes for employees. In practice, analogue working days always start the same, regardless of how large the workload is. This behavior has consequences for the entire construction process. One can say that a mosquito actually grows into an elephant in terms of resources. Digitalization demands a change in people‘s behaviour, which, however, has great advantages for them and their social lives. The largest dimension in the series of winners, however, comes to the third participant in the triple-win situation or its millions of participants, the public sector and thus again every individual like you and me.

What exactly does that mean?

Most road construction projects are awarded or financed by the public sector. Costs, the environment and social growth are decisive criteria here. This means: Costs arise from the construction contract and the follow-up costs of the construction contract. The follow-up costs are particularly significant. If the construction contract itself is now carried out much chaper, while at the same time the quality improves significantly, this has a total savings effect of several billion Euros per year for Germany, for example. Billions that do not have to be spent on infrastructure year after year. These are savings that are directly reflected in the CO2 balance, in raw materials that have not been withdrawn, and relieve the federal, state and municipal coffers. Digitalization, especially in the public sector or in directly related areas such as road construction, thus indirectly supports the social base of society, the health and education system and much more. These advantages cannot be denied. With QSBW 4.0 [note: Qualitäts-Straßenbau Baden-Württemberg 4.0, an initiative initiated by the state government to improve road construction], Baden-Württemberg has now become the first federal state in Germany to include digitization in tenders.

How does Q Point see the future of digitization in road construction?

If we widen the focus, we can see that digitization is still in its infancy. From the very beginning, we at Q Point had the holistic view of construction projects in mind and designed our process control system accordingly. That‘s why today we are the only ones to offer true dynamic process control. There are many specialists in individual process steps, but it is of little use if the profits from perfectly executed processes go up in smoke at the interfaces in a supply chain. Q Point focuses on the efficiency of the overall structure and acts most successfully here. However, the underlying problem cannot be solved on its own, which is why Q Point began to establish a partner network from early on. Networking based on partnership is definitely the future of digitization.

How do you explain that?

At Q Point, we set an example of networking-based partnership. This is possible because Q Point is an open-manufacturer and system-independent solution. So everyone can connect to Q Point and we actively turn to the best in the industry and invite them to participate in the partner network. To return once again to the example of networking in Rotterdam: Partnership is more efficient, it is wise to share knowledge, much smarter than if every company has to find out the same way itself. Every partner benefits. Studies show that networking between companies and employees pays off, because companies that rely heavily on cooperation achieve twice as much growth in turnover and earnings compared to companies that tend to take a more conventional approach. The only question is: Is everyone ready to put their cards on the table? It is still the case that there is often a completely misconception about digitization that everything is open. This is not true. Essentially, the cooperation in networks is exactly the same as in the analogue life, where you have to exchange ideas for cooperation. In the digital world, however, only the information needed for the immediate processing of the process is passed on. With Q Point, we have created such a networking platform that is open to all market participants and allows all participants a maximum degree of digitization for internet of things.

How would you describe the advantages of Internet of things for construction companies from your point of view?

Here I must once again refer to the openness of the Q Point system, which ultimately brings advantages that take immediate effect: With us, an entrepreneur can integrate his previous investments in Internet of things and keep his investment decisions independent for the future. As a specialist for dynamic process control, Q Point‘s openness allows it to include the knowledge of the best in the calculations of highly complex processes and to make the entire knowledge of a structure visible to the customer in simple graphics. Q Point‘s service consists of filtering a vast amount of data and making it available to the customer in an easily understandable form. This not only as a naked number, but also to show where this number moves within the tolerance range, where it is related to the entire building or simply as a simple target/actual interpretation. The service is effective, the documentation of the construction site procedures and quality criteria is currently being carried out. The more partners there are in the Q Point network, the more finely and accurately the companies can handle the construction sites. A cooperative partnership is necessary for future questions, be it because of economic aspects, the required transparency or because of all other advantages around Sharing Economy.

Thank you for the interview.

My pleasure.