Efficiency rules at Durabrik thanks to Proove
Planning tool Oracle Primavera proves added value for SMEs.
To enable them to build quality and affordable homes within a certain timeframe, efficiency has become key within Durabrik. Manpower, material and machines are planned in detail, matching the location and phase of the new build and renovation projects. Since Durabrik manages about 350 building sites per year, software tools are in-dispensable. Durabrik therefore installed Oracle Primavera P6, after having been consulted by Primaned. “After four years, we definitely do not longer regard this solution as a pure planning tool. It has become an essential part of our processes”, explains ICT Manager Vincent Coppije.
Durabrik has become a household name in the Belgian turnkey building market. With their other brand, Victor, they specialise in renovation and they also run a separate business unit for purchasing land, while subsidiary EcoPuur offers expertise to install sustainable energy solutions. Durabrik employs 240 people in 3 locations (Drongen, Kampenhout and Nevele), including approximately 100 labourers specialising in foundations, carcases and roofs. Durabrik also calls upon a large group of expert subcontractors for finishing, carpentry, interior design and techniques.
Stand-alone application no longer met needs
Since Joost Callens became CEO of Durabrik, the business has grown substantially. EcoPuur runs about 450 energy projects per year, with on average 300 new build and 50 renovation sites added to the portfolio annually as well. Up to 2012, all work was managed with the stand-alone planning software MS Project. This package however did not allow long term resources planning on corporate level. This resulted in overcapacity on some sites, where others proved short of manpower. “Since we didn’t have a general overview, we were unable to map the required manpower,” states Vincent Coppije. “We also didn’t know what the required resources would be in the following months. Result: our subcontractors had regularly been taken on another assignment already, forcing us to find another (more expensive) alternative.”
A quest for more efficiency
Durabrik’s CEO already wanted to drastically automate the planning in 2010. ”He knew all too well efficiency is key to survive in this highly competitive market,” continues Vincent Coppije. “Deploying manpower at the right time and no longer than necessary enables a project developer to offer quality at affordable prices.
In Belgium, the cost of labour can indeed be killing. We are also faced with deadlines becoming tighter, forcing us to plan in large detail. But building projects are not static: unforeseen situations such as bad weather, unplanned construction and technical issues and/or adjustments, late delivery of materials, absenteeism… can cause delays. A planning needs to be updated constantly and as quick as possible, even more so since an increasing number of clients asks for an up-to-date project status. All of these reasons combined is what made us decide to implement a new planning tool.”
Oracle Primavera most suitable
In choosing the new planning tool, Durabrik didn’t rush into making a decision. Several applications were looked into and tested, reference visits organised, finalised by a proof of concept phase. “Primavera, introduced by Proove, totally stood out,” continues Vincent Coppije. “This package can easily handle the volume of our building sites. Since it is very easy to define different views, we get a clear overview of all planned projects and resources. Unique to Primavera also is the flexibility to open the project structure on allotment level, lot level or housing unit level.”
Added value during implementation
Despite its high flexibility and user friendliness, Oracle Primavera P6 is no plug and play application. “It requires a certain amount of time and energy for implementation and training,” says Vincent Coppije. “We learned a lot during that phase. Proove is indeed no software developer, but a project controls expert. The consultants introduced the Oracle Primavera features in a very efficient way. Firstly, a number of key users – project leaders, IT experts and the operational controller – were trained in what Oracle Primavera has to offer. A number of workshops were next, with the aim to define, together with the consultants, the requirements and structure/templates of the planning. What was interesting, was that Proove identified the flaws in our way of planning, together with practical optimisation actions for improvement. They even looked into aligning the engineering department responsible for ordering materials, the output to and feedback from subcontractors and the integration in our ERP system. We ended up with a consistent system integration set-up, with processes that are optimised and aligned, resulting in a complete planning that goes all the way. Proove also advised us to centralise our planning tasks, splitting the work over different project managers. This way of working has already proven to be of important strategic value. If needed, we can call on other planners, several people have become planning experts and the planning is more accurate since people involved are close to the field.”
So how does it work?
When the calculations for a project are started, the planning is set up using a Primavera template. The planner then allocates resources (own people and subcontractors) to the project, by ‘type of work’: brickwork, electricity, foundations, HVAC… The project is then started in Oracle Primavera P6 by defining the start date for the actual work, upon which the template plans all activities
(including interdependencies) correctly. Each week, the planning is revised based on the feedback of site managers regarding started, finished or rescheduled work. Vincent Coppije: “Our planners only need to check for resources conflicts and whether everyone has enough work in the longer term. If needed, they might reschedule certain activities. After confirmation, the planning is loaded in the ERP system, which automatically generates states of progress and invoices. Oracle Primavera P6 is also used to send a detailed work planning to the subcontractors. A final element is the link with the client portal, enabling clients to check the progress of the project in detail, all based on the Oracle Primavera P6 database.”
Oracle Primavera supports sustainable growth
Thanks to Oracle Primavera P6, Durabrik managed to solidify its growth without having to hire people at the same rate. “Because we maximise efficiency of our resources, we can still offer affordable quality”, explains Vincent Coppije. “It also enables subcontractors to work more efficiently, resulting in healthy partnerships. A massive advantage of Oracle Primavera P6 is that
everyone involved consults the same version, avoiding discussions. Lastly, we now have a global overview, enabling us to quickly detect conflicts and attain deadlines more easily.”
Additional features in the pipeline
Obviously, Oracle Primavera P6 has many more features, which Durabrik chose not to implement just yet. “We only required an efficient planning tool,” adds Vincent Coppije. “However, the better you get to know the package, the more you would like to get out of it. That is why we are now looking into extending its features. We added for example the parameters for the renovation department. With Proove , we are also testing a Team member app enabling site managers to enter started, finished of rescheduled activities directly via their iPad or smartphone. That allows a ‘real time’ planning and an even more efficient deployment of resources. We also intend to implement Oracle Primavera in the near future in the engineering department, more precisely for the preparation phase, including orders and building applications… We even envisage to include the allotment procedure and road infrastructure applications. In other words: we aim for a totally integrated, long term planning. Apart from working even more cost efficient, this will also help us to start project more strategically, which in fact means we could use Oracle Primavera P6 partly for portfolio management. Oracle Primavera P6 is so much more than a planning tool. Here at Durabrik, it has become pivotal to maintain our market position!”