Based in the Netherlands, Ballast Nedam is part of the Rönesans Group, one of the top ten international contractors in Europe. Over more than a century, it has built, extended and maintained airports, universities, civic buildings and landmark developments throughout the world.
Being in the construction and engineering business, Ballast Nedam regularly undertakes multi-million euro projects, building some of the most innovative and ambitious commercial, infrastructure and residential structures in the world. On these massive, complex and prestigious projects, the company has to follow meticulous quality management procedures to ensure the quality of the finished building and the safety of workers.
Day in and day out, the company’s employees need to collect a large amount of information on building sites and perform quality management tasks (called registrations), ranging from reporting potential safety issues and checking regulatory compliance, to recording deviations between plans and the actual build. All the data collected on construction sites then needs to be collated, sent to the relevant teams, analyzed and acted upon.
Ballast Nedam used to undertake all these different registrations using a variety of paper-based forms and manual processes. In addition, it had a few isolated apps for specific processes that had been built using a range of different IT packages from multiple vendors. The company wanted to replace this disjointed approach with a single business process automation platform that it could use to support all necessary registrations, for all job roles and all construction projects, across the entire business.
Ballast Nedam evaluated three alternative solutions and selected K2’s process automation software because it could meet the company’s needs enterprise-wide. Rather than integrating K2 with an existing database, Ballast Nedam decided to build a new database specifically for registrations and a dedicated backend IT architecture, integrated with other enterprise systems, to support the roll-out of multiple business solutions.
As an integral part of the project, the company acquired the K2 Business Apps solution developed by INDOCS. This solution interprets K2 SmartForms and gives end users the ability to use K2 workflows in the field, on mobile devices, even in locations that do not have Internet connection. Ballast Nedam also appointed INDOCS to provide technical support and K2 training. The first K2 processes that Ballast Nedam has developed are already helping the company to improve its quality management, by enabling it to collect, share and analyze more accurate project information. K2 SmartForms and K2 workflows prompt employees to undertake inspections and send details directly and digitally to the right person. They can, for example, view building plans, mark locations on plans, open check lists, red-line areas, classify issues, describe actions required and assign a subcontractor to fulfill tasks – all while on the construction site using mobile devices. As all the information collected is in a consistent format, Ballast Nedam can then use it more effectively in its business intelligence system, to identify patterns in quality management issues, learn from its experiences and take steps to further improve quality in future projects.
Ballast Nedam expects to make considerable time savings, primarily by eliminating paper-based forms and processes, but also by adopting a standardized and automated approach for all registrations across all project sites. Furthermore, inspectors and project managers save time, by identifying actions and assigning them to individuals, teams or sub-contractors while in the field, in one automated workflow. “With just one K2-based workflow, we estimate that Ballast Nedam has saved the equivalent of a month of employee time in one year,” says Mark den Heijer, ICT Project Consultant at Ballast Nedam.
Critically, Ballast Nedam anticipates that its K2 workflows will help it to improve health and safety on construction sites. Once fully implemented across the business, a new K2 process for Health, Safety, Security & Environment inspections will allow employees to monitor compliance with regulations, quickly collect accurate information about safety concerns, send notifications immediately to the relevant team or subcontractor and ensure all necessary steps are taken to correct the situation. “K2 will help Ballast Nedam to reduce the risk of injuries on construction sites, as potentially dangerous situations can be dealt with more quickly,” den Heijer explains.
Looking ahead, den Heijer anticipates that the use of K2 solutions will help Ballast Nedam to deliver a better quality of service for customers by improving traceability and verifying project phases. The company can use the K2 workflows to record evidence of compliance with regulatory requirements more efficiently and more easily collect pictures to provide proof that key project phases have been completed correctly. As den Heijer says, “It takes just thirty seconds to document key steps in a project with K2, so it is possible to take more frequent, more detailed records for our customers.”
The flexibility of the K2 platform means that Ballast Nedam can introduce more and more K2-driven workflows to eventually automate all of its registrations. Furthermore, individual inspectors can create and adapt some K2 workflows and K2 SmartForms, on demand, to meet the needs of their projects. For example, they can build their own check lists and define which questions they need to answer. “Our end goal is for K2 to make the business more competitive,” den Heijer says.