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Customer Engagement through BIM

Interview with Daniel Gmeiner, Director of the Hilti BIM Competence Center

We talked to Daniel Gmeiner, who is responsible for the founding and rapid expansion of the Hilti BIM Competence Center located in Rotterdam:

"BIM is not new to Hilti"

“BIM is not new to Hilti. We watched the trend already a couple of years while developing a comprehensive offer which enables real added value to our clients. Our share of wallet of hardware products in large projects has ever been between two and five percent. Hence, it was not first place evidence that Hilti would be significantly important to the rising BIM project workflow. Then, on a certain moment, the Netherlands became the first country to understand the impact Hilti can have to overall workflow productivity which is way beyond hardware contribution. We believe the high adoption of BIM at contractor side in the Netherlands was one strong catalysator.

Organizational changes

So, the Netherlands proofed that BIM has much more impact than we originally envisioned and our customers demanded our participation in BIM projects. The Netherlands office started to think which service offering captures best the competence Hilti can bring to a BIM projects. Consequently, we had to invest in a role who can talk to the client on a professional level and found the “BIM Project Manager” as new role within Hilti. Meanwhile we already have three colleagues in NL.

We connected these BIM project managers to our Lead Engineers and added the first BIM Modeler to connect professional design of fastening and fire-protection solutions with client’s BIM model. Our BIM modeller was a Revit-Pro and that’s where the pain started … we realized that there are no BIM objects available at Hilti. We had nice 3D-objects but no parametrized BIM content in 2015.

It was necessary to push our own internal stakeholders to listen to the BIM experienced Dutch team what works, what not and what was needed to accelerate. Parallel further European countries realized that BIM was about to take off. We got increasingly considered as project partner as building owners and GCs realized it makes sense to bring Hilti to real projects on a higher level. However, each Hilti market organization was asking for support given a hard learning curve with many pitfalls.

No market more advanced as the Netherlands

The executive board confirmed that no market is more advanced as the Netherlands in transforming BIM to real productivity on-site. It was commonly understood that the formula of a team consisting of a BIM Project Manager, a BIM Lead Engineer and a BIM modeller makes sense from competence- and workflow perspective. Hence, the EB decided to invest in a BIM Competence Center which should host the most talented BIM people in one place to service European countries out of Rotterdam while training global teams to further accelerate. No doubt that I took such an opportunity to lead this center. We started in May 2018 with a team of three and grew to 18 colleagues running more than 40 projects across Europe within a year.

As we hold a “critical mass” we strive to scale-up. All European markets follow the Dutch example hiring local BIM project managers as face-to-face client responsible role who the team in Rotterdam serves with professional design and modelling to run a successful project.

How we do it

We encounter competence build-up and service execution as hybrid model. Means, we steer our experts to deliver daily project services while coaching others. It maintains their expert-level within an agile BIM development while focusing on the right priorities. Another evidence we could find within specialization of people. We’ve split workflow between BIM Project Managers, BIM Lead Engineers and BIM Modellers which pushes professionalization and enables us to deliver remote services to international markets. The local BIM project managers scope and contract projects by holding strong client relationship. We train them with our BIM Project Managers from the BCC and jointly allocate resources to the project pipeline. Same principle for our BIM Lead Engineers. We support the local counterpart on complex designs like seismic fastenings while the local market facilitates face-to-face relationship to client’s engineering department. Based on clear design input the modelling is done remotely from Rotterdam as we centralized the team across Europe.

We build a strong service offering along the complete workflow. The value of “BIM with Hilti” comes through partnership across the entire workflow such as integration of different trades into one fastening solution. Pre-Fabrication of supports, Advanced Logistics and BIM2Field are other examples of productivity gains which we call “BIM Use-Cases”. A client can pick and choose where to start within the workflow which simplifies things. The solutions take advantage from a professional, upfront BIM design and modelling based on client’s requirements. Hence, we understand our BIM Service Offering as consultative approach with high customer centricity.

Mission critical of the BIM Competence Center is to “make BIM scalable”. Even the best-defined service offer is worthless when high project load causes opportunistic behaviour. We want to be the one partner enabling all projects with a high probability to succeed.

How do we manage “scalability”? We defined three scale factors of BIM for our contribution to client’s projects. First is “People”. The above described role-clarity combined with a comprehensive initial training package, we call it BIM Master-Classes, enables fast ramp-up of resources.

Second is processes. Our defined BIM Design Workflow capitalize on this role-split for specialization while utilizing a professional document landscape to contract and document the project flow.

Third is technology. By using a standardized software-landscape as well as modular parametric BIM objects we reduce the complex software population to a minimum. Based upon these BIM Scale Factors we leverage international load-balancing for our rapidly increasing international project partnerships. Thus, we are ready to scale-up.

This is also one of the reasons that we searched the market intensively to find a suitable software and consultancy partner to support us in deeper understanding, developing and strengthening BIM in the best way. We found this in Itannex, who also support our HQ in Liechtenstein in the development of intelligent and productive BIM tools and content. As we have common customers, we can create a triple win situation.

The Hilti BIM Experience Center

However, one topic was not yet addressed properly. Our clients tell us that BIM is complex, difficult to find an entry point and despite excitement in theory the gain of execution productivity is challenging.

We took these perceptions as call-for-action to do different. Just because something has digital elements does not mean it can’t exist in the real world. Hence, we decided to make 'BIM tangible' for our clients and built a customer journey which follows the logical construction workflow and presents the Hilti BIM use-cases in a most tangible way. We call it the Hilti BIM Experience Center. It has been opened on June 11th 2019 in Berkel en Rodenrijs, at Hilti Netherland BV and we invite everybody to join us and experience hands-on our BIM journey in the most collaborative way!