February 1, 2015

Construction site - Controlling via Cloud


Intelligent IT enables continuous improvement of execution quality

Mobile solutions and cloud technology at Johann Augel

The family business Johann Augel Bauunternehmung GmbH in Weibern, district of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate, which was founded in the 1920s and is now managed by the third generation, is active in structural and civil engineering, mineral oil and industrial construction. Started as a building materials trader and structural engineering company, the medium-sized construction company today focuses primarily on the competence fields of planning, building and securing with a focus on quality and professionalism in construction projects of all kinds. Augel GmbH coordinates construction projects of customers by integrating all external services and thus ensures a high degree of cost security in the course of the project. State-of-the-art technology in machinery and equipment and employees who are always familiar with the latest techniques and methods of the industry ensure a smooth construction process. In all construction projects, the focus is always on the entire construction value chain.

For many years, the focus of the construction company, led by Rolf Scharmann, has been the use of high technology with the aim of consistently improving the quality of construction work. In addition, Johann Augel's employees participate in ongoing training and further education programmes, which are primarily conducted during the winter months.

Consistently integrated IT infrastructure
Thus, the company is a best-case user of the 2G concept solution. These are service stations for the efficient use of construction equipment, materials and accessories for construction sites, which a company from Kirchheim/Weinstraße has implemented in cooperation with various German universities. As a corporate solution, the containers are fully integrated with the in-house IT infrastructure at Johann Augel. One of these is the cloud-based software pds for small and medium-sized companies in the construction industry for payroll and equipment accounting and costing. On the other hand, the company relies on Connect2Mobile's software bau-mobil for column deployment planning as well as mobile recording of hourly and equipment data via smartphone app on site at the construction sites. By means of intelligent interfaces - developed by the software engineers at Connect2Mobile - the three systems enable an integrated use and documentation. This saves time and thus money and - last but not least - optimizes quality and safety in the company's demanding construction tasks.

All master data, from current projects, employee information and their qualifications, vehicles and equipment to the various types of services according to the Construction Work Key (BAS), is maintained by the company in the cloud solution from pds. This data serves as the basis for bau-mobil as well as the container from 2G Konzept.

Always up to date
The advantage: the site managers can obtain information on the current status of a construction site at any time. This is because almost all of Johann Augel's columns are equipped with a Samsung Galaxy tablet PC with which they record the working hours every day and transfer information about equipment and vehicles on the construction sites and materials used to the office. "Special text templates were created for the equipment data and building materials for our company. The foremen only need to put the appropriate crosses on the tray," explains Sabine Holzem, the employee responsible for wages and personnel. "This is very simple. Our foremen have all understood the application of the app from bau-mobil after about three to four months and are coping very well with it", she adds.

Olaf Heuser learned even faster: "I internalized all important functions within one week. The app is basically self-explanatory," says the foreman happily. "Whether it's entering the hours or reserving devices: in the past, documenting my work always involved a lot of telephoning; that was often time-consuming and laborious. With the tablet, everything is done very quickly and I can concentrate on the essential tasks of the construction work," he explains.

Relevant information available at all times
For this reason, employees' hours now go into the office every day. Originally, Sabine Holzem always received the manually filled out assembly slips of paper once a week. Followed on sorting and manual input. Now, thanks to bau-mobil, a site manager can get a daily impression of what is happening on the construction sites. Hours worked can be checked at any time. And the employees on the construction sites benefit as well: Their wages are now usually credited to their account on the 5th or 6th of the month instead of the 15th as prescribed. This is also ensured by the simple transfer of the construction site data into the pds software, which Sabine Holzem usually carries out 1-2 times a week. In this way the relevant information from all construction sites is always available throughout the company - wherever it is needed.

Perfectly intermeshed: bau-mobil and 2G concept container
Access to 2G Konzept's container and the rental of construction equipment as well as the ordering of material is regulated by RFID chips in special customer cards. At Johann Augel such a chip is integrated in every foreman’s driving licence. Dispatching ensures that the chips contain all information about the employee’s qualifications by including them in bau-mobil. This is because not every foreman has a driving licence for all types of machines or is qualified to process materials of any kind. Expiration dates for certain qualifications are also recorded in the company's IT infrastructure. This way, site managers always know when appropriate follow-up training should be scheduled. Through the integration of bau-mobil with the container, the employees’ authorisations are always up-to-date. At the same time, it is clear which colleagues use which equipment on the construction sites, how long they have been working with it and when it was returned. Thus, the booking is directly placed on the construction sites.

Better safe than sorry
Device security is also consistently checked and thus guaranteed by the integrated IT at Johann Augel. Every return is noted in the system. This process is followed by a check in the company's own workshop before a device can be scheduled again for another construction site or task. If a construction device returns with a defect, the container provides return stations so that repairs can be carried out immediately.

Fast response time
A very precise recording of services on the construction sites enables an exact documentation of the construction site events. Target-performance comparisons can be made at any time. Tests to determine which equipment and machines are required and which materials have been used also serve as empirical values for further projects and tasks. The company benefits from new activities not only when things run smoothly: Potential difficulties are also documented by bau-mobil and recorded in the IT system. For instance, the foremen take pictures of any kind of conspicuousness on the construction sites with their Galaxy-Tabs and send them to the office together with their working hours. Site managers can trace everything closely and - whenever necessary - react immediately.

By Friday at the latest, the foremen receive the schedule for the entire upcoming work week by e-mail on their tablet PCs. Soon it will also be possible to book borrowed machines and equipment from the container directly on the construction site into bau-mobil. In addition, the currently used machines will be marked as planned in the planning of bau-mobil. "We are consistently expanding the consistency of our integrated solution in cooperation with Connect2Mobile", summarizes CEO Rolf Scharmann. "So that we can guarantee a very good quality in construction today and in the future and also constantly improve it".