An Innovation Leader in the Mid-Size Enterprise Sector: the WOLFF & MÜLLER Group

Case Study

The B&B hotel in Heilbronn, a current construction project was taken as an example of all the advantages of 5D processing.
Using the new iTWO software from RIB, it has significantly improved construction processes already, accelerating quantity takeoff for carcassing work by up to 50 per cent.
Helmuth Pfeiffer: Our clients benefit from transparent construction processes, which improve the security of their investment.

Carcassing Quantity Takeoff Time Halved by Digital Engineering and Construction Processes

The medium-sized construction company WOLFF & MÜLLER ranks as a pioneer in digital construction. Using the new iTWO software from RIB, it has significantly improved construction processes already, accelerating quantity takeoff for carcassing work by up to 50 per cent. The Stuttgart-based family enterprise plans to implement iTWO software throughout the Group by the spring of 2011 and is convinced that the innovative method of working with 5D construction models will establish itself as the new standard in future.   

Quality, reliability and innovation strength. These three keywords have always been the motto of the WOLFF & MÜLLER Group. The medium-sized Swabian family enterprise is one of Germany’s leading privately owned construction companies. WOLFF & MÜLLER handle projects all over Germany from new or modernised buildings for trade and industry or the public sector to hotels, office blocks and research institutes. They also take on particularly challenging power station and civil engineering projects. Their wide-ranging portfolio of services in the classic construction market is rounded off by road and underground construction work and infrastructure management projects. Besides actual construction work, the company also produces construction materials, offers a comprehensive concept for investment, property and procurement management, supports and advises industrial companies on buying energy, besides offering insurance for all aspects of construction. The key to the company’s success is the nationwide exchange of information and an active knowledge management covering all fields of expertise. 

Process Transparency an Essential Prerequisite

The targets that Organisation Consultant Andreas Salzer and Helmuth Pfeiffer, Head of Organisation and Data Processing have set themselves for the future are ambitious. To extend the company’s lead, they intend to achieve a significant reduction of project throughput times. With the aim of enhancing profitability and competitiveness, the company plans an end-to-end optimisation of construction processes. This is to be based on a uniform IT landscape linking up all tasks from quantity takeoff through the compilation of work specifications all the way to cost estimation and control.

Model-based Engineering and Construction

The company subjected many different software programs to thorough testing in the search for the optimal tool for integrated, model-based project management.

WOLFF & MÜLLER thus evaluated various systems of reputed software vendors. One of the first tools available on the software market, claimed by the manufacturer to combine 3D geometry with tendering and award of construction contracts, did not lead to the expected improvements. In practice, staff had to pool their competences in totally different areas, i.e. design and cost estimation. However, the desired increase in efficiency can only be attained when these areas of competence work in parallel, which was unfortunately not the case with this and other software.

Last year, the Stuttgart company RIB Software AG launched a solution called iTWO that also promised end-to-end handling of all construction processes in a 3D model. However, there was a crucial difference between iTWO and all the other products WOLFF & MÜLLER had tested. Helmuth Pfeiffer: “With this system, the model is available throughout the entire construction process. The model-based processing does not end with the compilation of the work specifications. This was a vitally important aspect for the requirements of our company. Another consideration was that we had already worked successfully with RIB software in the past. So with iTWO we were confident that we had found the right solution.”

The company then implemented the new iTWO 5D software solution from RIB. To create the 3D models, WOLFF & MÜLLER chose the Revit Architecture CAD system from Autodesk. In addition, an optimised content was required for iTWO and Revit Architecture to give the staff an easier start to working with the model-based work method. WOLFF & MÜLLER obtained the appropriate software for this from the Berlin company htG hartmann technologies GmbH.

Improved Economic Efficiency With iTWO

“Using iTWO, we reduced our project lead times very quickly, so that we are noticing the first signs of success already,” reports Salzer. “By adopting the digital work method, we have accelerated the quantity takeoff process for carcassing work by roughly 50 per cent.”

Digitisation of the Construction Industry Gaining Ground

The company attributes an immense amount of value added to the model-based method. The staff therefore produce the 3D models themselves to make sure the in-house quality expectations are always met. At first, this step may appear to involve extra work and expense, but it pays off by the time the quotation is made. Helmuth Pfeiffer and Andreas Salzer are convinced that the cooperation with the engineering side will soon change, too. This will depend on having a model-based design, which is bound to happen in future, according to the experts.

To demonstrate the full benefits of digital engineering and construction to the staff, a current construction project was taken as an example of all the advantages of 5D processing. At the time, a B&B hotel in Heilbronn was at the project planning stage. Being a medium-sized venture, this was a typical project for the Zuffenhausen company. The resulting quantities were absolutely precise. As well as this, iTWO introduced modern digital construction approaches to the sample project such as 3D laser scanning. Another project goal was to simulate the construction process. This was done by dovetailing the iTWO software with an additional IT system, the ASTA Powerproject project management software used at WOLFF & MÜLLER.

Migration Completed by the Spring

“Our staff were quick to embrace the model-based work method,” recalls Pfeiffer. Those already actively working with iTWO 5D are delighted with the new possibilities.” WOLFF & MÜLLER plan to have completed the migration process from the predecessor system RIB CSuite to iTWO in the first half of 2011.

As they naturally want to stay ahead of the competition in future, too, they are already considering the integration of further processes with iTWO. For example, structural engineering and dimensioning are to be meshed with the system in the near future. There is also discussion on linking up building services to derive active benefit from iTWO’s Clash Detection feature and thereby speed up the planning stage even further. A link with civil engineering project accounting and the integration of special software for sustainable building are also being considered.

Enhanced Competitiveness

Andreas Salzer is convinced that the new iTWO software will establish itself as the standard in the construction industry just as RIB CSuite did: “Clients’ specifications have changed,“ he says. “Nowadays, our customers expect a high degree of transparency very early on in the project. Details are important and variants play a key role. Some customers, especially in the manufacturing sector, even take it for granted that a simulation of the construction process will be provided,” he reports. And, with redevelopment becoming increasingly topical, clients need to know exactly the quantities that will be required to refurbish a building. “Using iTWO, we can visualise these quantities and measure the involved cost and duration of the construction process more accurately,” he sums up.

Helmuth Pfeiffer concludes: “Model-based engineering and construction with iTWO offers us a large number of options for enhancing our competitiveness. By shortening our project throughput times we save time and money. Our clients benefit from transparent construction processes, which improve the security of their investment. We are therefore convinced that our investment in the integrated software solution will pay off very soon.”

Industries>Architecture, Engineering & Construction>Contractors>WOLFF & MÜLLER Group

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