Voorbij Prefab in Amsterdam makes prefab concrete elements for new homes that are used in large new-build projects. The company is part of TBI, one of the largest construction companies in the Netherlands. To expand its services further, Voorbij Prefab decided to start fitting the window frames in the prefab concrete elements for houses at its factory site. Previously this was done at the building site. To ensure that the right frames ended up in the right concrete elements and that the frames were easy to find on the site, more insight into this process was necessary. Bizzomate provided several custom made workshops, besides delivering software solutions, and organized three business design sessions for Voorbij Prefab. These provided valuable insights and formed the basis for improving this process.
Challenge: Locating and inspecting window frames
When Voorbij Prefab opted to pre-install the window frames in their concrete elements on the factory site, they ran into a number of issues. Firstly, it was not clear where the frames were located on their site. The frames are delivered by external parties and then placed on-site. Because this was not a streamlined logistical process and the location of the frames was not recorded, it was sometimes unclear whether a frame was not delivered, or simply could not be found.
In addition, it was not always clear which type of frame belonged to which concrete element. As a result, window frames were sometimes incorrectly installed in the concrete elements. In addition, some frames were damaged. It was then unknown whether the damage had occurred on Voorbij Prefab’s site or whether the window frames had been delivered already in a damaged state.
Bizzomate assistance for locating and checking window frames
Voorbij Prefab wanted to improve this process and solve these problems. They therefore contacted Bizzomate for this challenge. Two years ago Bizzomate executed the ‘Flapp’ project at Voorbij Prefab. They developed an application which could locate the metal frames (flats) on which concrete elements are transported to the building site. With a similar problem arising, Bizzomate was called in again.
Solution: start with business design workshops
Jan Boekel, scrum master at Bizzomate: “Because of our previous project at Voorbij Prefab we already knew each other well and had a great partnership. However, we know that with every new project the preliminary phase is essential. Therefore we started with the fundamentals: business design workshops.
Three online business design workshops
Bizzomate organized three workshops. Participants included the production manager, the work planner and scheduler of Voorbij Prefab and three people from Bizzomate.
During the first workshop, each step of the process around the delivery of the frames was mapped out exactly. A digital Miro board was used for this, which makes it very easy to draw out business processes. In the second and third workshop, the impact of the problem and the impact of whether or not to automate the process were also carefully analysed.
The workshops produced a couple of important results. By mapping out the current process step by step, Voorbij Prefab was already gaining greater insight into how they could make the process surrounding the delivery of window frames less error-prone, more manageable and more transparent. But first, an important decision had to be made about whether or not to integrate the functionality for frames into the existing application.
Jan: “Thanks to the business design workshops, we found out that TBI might want to further integrate the process of delivering the window frames and concrete elements in the future. This finding made it seem logical to build the functionality within one application. Moreover, we discovered that the employees who assemble the window frames sometimes also work in ‘Flapp’ and therefore prefer not to switch apps. Therefore, following the workshops, we advised to integrate the functionality for scanning the frames into the existing application. It was a bit harder for us to build, but a lot more user-friendly for the employees.”
All data bundled in one place
The biggest advantage of the renewed ‘Flapp’ application, a result of the findings of the business design workshops, is that all data for both the concrete elements and the frames are now bundled in one place. The entire process from the drawing of the frames to the delivery and installation in the concrete elements is now monitored. All information such as the location and serial number of frames and concrete elements is recorded and can be easily consulted. Therefore employees can react quicker to delivery with too many, or to few window frames, and take immediate action on reported damages to the frames.
Because Bizzomate looks further than just building an application and is convinced that the core of a problem cannot always be captured in an application, but sometimes also in another internal process or new agreements with a supplier, there were a number of changes in the process. For example, the agreements with suppliers have been streamlined thanks to the workshops. From now on, they must always send a delivery note, so that it is clear which frames will be delivered, and when.
Importance of business design workshops
Lisa Rooijakkers, Production Manager at Voorbij Prefab: “Bizzomate looks at the complete process and has advised us excellently in this trajectory. Because they paid so much attention to the preliminary process, they are able to develop solutions quickly and in a focused way.”
Jan: “We have learned over the years that if you have all the essential information fully mapped out in the preliminary phase, you benefit from this later in the process and are able to prevent a lot of problems. By spending sufficient time on this in the preliminary phase, we ensure that we start focused and well prepared from the first day of the actual project. The customer saves costs because we do not build unnecessary functionality. As far as we are concerned, starting an automation project with business design workshops is an absolute requirement for successfully building applications.”
Voorbij Prefab is part of TBI and builds prefab concrete elements.