Love at first site: German firm MAUSS Bau is using new technologies to transform construction
Even in an inherently bricks-and-mortar industry, if you don’t embrace innovation, you will be left behind.
Step onto a MAUSS Bau construction site, and you might expect a scene filled with diggers, vibrating slabs and hard hats. And you wouldn’t be disappointed. But look a little closer and you will realize that you’d stepped on to the site of a modern tech company — because cutting-edge construction is a high-tech business.
Transforming from a traditional building business, founded in 1884, into a data-driven, technology-oriented company while also staying true to core values is at the heart of what has made the German family-owned MAUSS Bau so successful.
This high degree of agility has enabled the company to adapt its own business model and pioneer a new way of working.
Building and infrastructure are top of the agenda for both governments and municipalities. According to the UN, urbanisation in Western Europe is expected to rise to 82.2 per cent of the population by 2030 compared with 64.6 per cent in 1950. By 2050, that figure will have reached 87 per cent — and that will require more efficient homebuilding to cope with the demand.
In an industry that is, on the one hand, still very traditional and predominantly analogue, but on the other has become very complex from up to 1000 people including subcontractors on one huge construction site at the same time, to regulations, complex supply chains and legal standards.
“Without the right tools, it is impossible to handle all topics properly”. When Schneider talks about tools, he does not mean excavators and concrete mixers, but technologies. He wants to network construction sites by using Microsoft Teams and Yammer for better communication and connection within the different divisions, putting his construction managers in a cockpit situation. Always at their side: a digital assistant, running on the Microsoft Azure cloud with all the information and leading indicators that make it possible to make the right decisions on site.
With site plans and all other project data in the Microsoft Azure cloud, subcontractors can see updates instantly and all teams can be sure they are working from the same versions. The status from MAUSS Bau’s 26 or so construction sites can be quickly analysed through dashboards in Power BI, a Microsoft business-analytics service that visualises trends. This enables project managers to predict the need for schedule changes, people, material and tools. “Now, every construction site is staffed and equipped efficiently, and that has had a huge positive effect on our budgets and timelines,” explains Schneider.
And things don’t end here: in the near future, Schneider plans to further develop their lean cycle planning and ordering platform and distribute the Dynamics 365-based model as a solution to the industry, connecting construction companies with the suppliers of materials and equipment.
“By turning from a traditional construction company into a solution provider MAUSS Bau is embodying the change that every company needs to make to become a digital company,” says Oliver Gürtler, Small, Medium and Corporate Leader at Microsoft.
The core of this change is due to the openness from the team for continued learning. Know-how and knowledge transfer is key, so Schneider and his team are building up an internal knowledge base, inputting every single step of a construction project (including construction site, purchasing, calculation, warehouse), so as to build on the expertise and experience of their workforce, some of whom have been with the company for more than 45 years. Every employee is trained on this knowledge base, in simulations (for example, taking on another builder’s role) and this is where the real understanding happens. “You don't get better by doing what you've always done, but by breaking through old structures and giving a space to new approaches”, explains Schneider.
For a company that prides itself on a close relationship with its 600-plus staff, this transformation means workers have new digital skills and an increased sense of commitment and belonging.
Utilising the data and insights and the experience from their expert team, MAUSS is reinventing the traditional approach to building, asking crucial questions about how to reuse materials, which of them can be dismantled most efficiently and how to build in the most environmentally friendly way. All of this is core to MAUSS's commitment to sustainability, with full visibility into all resources, people and materials.
Today, that upskilling, sustainable mindset and spread of digital culture has extended to MAUSS Bau’s subcontractors, who are abandoning long-held practices and adopting digital themselves. However, far from disregarding experience and heritage, this approach gathers that expertise and updates it for future generations. The result is a workforce with the power to modernise traditional sectors and build for the future.