BAM Infratechniek turned to Mendix’s application platform to rapidly develop an application to automate the weld documentation process—a critical lever for project invoicing. Prototyped in just three weeks, the app has improved revenue capture and staff efficiency, prompting BAM Infratechniek to explore how else it can leverage the flexible platform to quickly adapt to market changes.
As one of the Continent’s dominant providers of commercial construction services, Royal BAM Group’s BAM Infratechniek subsidiary is active in the markets for design, construction, and maintenance of cable and pipe networks for telecommunications, data, rail, gas, electricity, (waste) water, and heat. One of the key milestones for many of these projects is creating high-quality welds that join together equipment, pipes, and other fixtures.
According to Martin Wanschers, Manager Process Control at BAM Infratechniek, thorough and careful documentation of all welds is a critical requirement before invoices can be issued and revenue collected: “We must deliver very specific information to our clients about numerous aspects of these welds. We have to demonstrate and document that this employee with these certifications, using these materials from this supplier, completed a weld that was approved by this inspector on this date. We have to do that for every weld for every project in order to receive timely revenue payments from clients.”
Previously, BAM Infratechniek relied on a cobbled-together system based on Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word, which presented numerous limitations and usability issues. The company next turned to a Microsoft Access-based application, but it proved to be inflexible and difficult to use.
“We went back to the drawing board,” recalled Wanschers. “Basic packaged applications were available and affordable, but they wouldn’t deliver what the business needed. Meanwhile, the two high-end products we evaluated were far too expensive, since we wanted wider adoption of the weld-documentation solution.”
BAM Infratechniek decided the best course was to build its own custom application, understanding that it must carefully select the right platform. “We knew old-school tools and development environments could mean lots of time, money, and risk,” said Wanschers. “Instead, we completed a workshop with Mendix, where after just three hours, we had a simple application. It was clear that Mendix and the agile development methodology would allow us to quickly develop the application needed to support our business.
“Initially, it seemed almost too good to be true, but when a proof-of-concept showed tangible results after only two days, we knew Mendix was right for us. Mendix’s platform delivered the unbeatable combination of speed, flexibility, and cost effectiveness.”
Working with Mendix implementation partner FlowFabric, the BAM team quickly created “BLINQ,” a browser-based app that automates the weld-documentation process. With BLINQ, welders, inspectors, managers, and other participants are able to easily document each step in the weld process. The resulting documentation allows BAM to prove that a certain amount of progress has been made on a project, which is often the basis for fixed payment thresholds.
“BLINQ enables us to capture the maximum revenue for a particular contract,” explained Wanschers. “With millions of euros at stake – every weld has to be performed correctly and documented correctly. We’ve decided to focus this app on one specific role – the work preparer who manages the quality of the construction work.
“But it’s also important to understand that, for BAM Infratechniek, BLINQ is not solely focused on ROI – although we certainly believe this app has an attractive payback. What really matters is that BAM Infratechniek wants to be the best in our industry. The process we use to make welds has to be in control – that is our primary goal. And with BLINQ, we have better control and better quality. Plus, with BLINQ, we can train people much faster because the app is very simple to use.”
From day one, BAM Infratechniek has been impressed with the rapid development capabilities of Mendix’s application platform, along with the expertise and support from FlowFabric. What’s equally important, though, is the ease with which the company can tweak the application on the fly in response to new business demands. For instance, BAM Infratechniek expects to deploy a mobile version of BLINQ to enable welders to directly report their welds through a smartphone app.
Martin Wanschers: “Mendix is an extremely flexible platform that is empowering our organization to be more effective and to react more quickly to market changes. We want to be more agile and Mendix is playing an important role in that strategy.
Royal BAM Group nv is a successful European construction group and unites operating companies in five home markets with the administrative centre in the Netherlands and listed at NYSE Euronext Amsterdam. BAM is active in the sectors construction and mechanical and electrical services, civil engineering, property and public private partnerships.
BAM has top market positions in the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. One of BAM’s prominent features is its widespread regional network of offices, meaning that the company is always close to its clients. With around 24,000 employees, BAM is responsible for the implementation of thousands of projects every year.