Wilo and Cadac feel the urgency for digitisation

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Wilo is one of the largest developers and producers of water pump systems in the world with over 7,400 employees, 16 production locations and branches in 60 countries. The company has major ambitions, wants to digitise extensively and has therefore contracted the Cadac Group. "As Cadac is also aware that the only way for us to meet the major challenges of the future is by using smart technology."

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Cadac is aware that the only way for us to meet the major challenges of the future is by using smart technology

Ralph Huysers

International Business Developer - Wilo

Importance of clean and waste water transport

In the almost 150 years of its existence, Wilo (founded in Dortmund, Germany) has developed from a modest copper and brass goods manufacturer into a company with an annual turnover of around 1.4 billion euros through the sale and service of water pumps. "And that is not all," corrects Ralph Huysers, as the business developer responsible for a large part of Wilo's European market, including the Netherlands, "we are actually involved in everything to do with water displacement. Pump systems for heaters and air conditioners, complete drinking water systems, firewater installations in public buildings, storage and processing of waste water, use of rainwater, etc. We have thousands of different products focused on clean and waste water transport. I do not need to explain to anyone the importance of this sector. The management of transporting water to the desired place is one of the greatest challenges for humanity. Especially in current times when the climate is changing, the world population is growing rapidly and urbanisation and energy transition are continuing at a rapid pace. It's up to us to come up with solutions to keep up with the changes."


A luxury position for a company such as Wilo that can only grow further – but that is not the thinking path of the German family-run business. "On the contrary," continues Ralph Huysers. "Companies like Wilo have a broader responsibility. It's not about selling more products; the question is how we can contribute to smarter and more efficient building. In the coming decades, cities will grow rapidly, and many millions of new homes will be needed. The construction sector in its current form cannot cope with this. It is a conservative industry in which digitisation is still in its infancy. We are only taking the first steps with Building Information Modelling (BIM) or digital design. Wilo wants to give a boost to BIM, contribute and take the first steps. That is why we are going to set up our products and services digitally. Clients, architects, contractors and installers should be able to turn to us for the best solutions in the field of water and climate control. Essential systems in all buildings that we want to make completely ready for digital processing in the final digital building plans. This makes it possible to build faster and better."


Costs of failure

And with less 'waste', Ralph Huysers continues. "The costs of failure in construction are enormous. According to McKinsey, 1.7 trillion dollars of failure costs go down the drain every year. That is thirty percent of total expenditure. Thanks to digitisation, we can undoubtedly make substantial cuts in this area. The 'profit' can be invested in the necessary acceleration of the construction tasks. Don't be mistaken, in Asia, entire metropolises are being built in rapid tempo. This includes shopping malls, metros, infrastructure, schools, etc. Things may be going less fast in Europe, but the challenge is great here too. The Netherlands also needs to build at least one million more homes. That is no small matter."


Although water transport is Wilo's core business, the larger framework is BIM. Looking for like-minded partners, Ralph Huysers joined Cadac. "We cannot and do not want to solve it alone. We need partners who have the knowledge and drive to digitise and with a sense of urgency – anyone who, from a strategic to an operational level, thinks things through with us and contributes to our digital agenda. Cadac is such a company. Strong in data management and that's what it's all about: how do I arrange my data and make it accessible to other parties? We had been aware of each other for some time through various automation processes and two years ago we strengthened our ties. Now we are working together on fundamental solutions. We are taking a journey of discovery into the digital world together, pioneering for ourselves and for others. The market needs forerunners. There is a reason that our slogan is 'pioneering for you'."

Initially, the focus is on building Wilo's intelligent 3D building blocks in the cloud. "Wilo's many thousands of products must be available digitally," says Stijn Lockefeer, operations director at Cadac in Vianen. "That may sound simple, but we're talking about a product range in 60 countries – with different legal provisions and rules, different units of measure, prices, service, etc. We have now reached the point where customers can access the right content database directly via a button. The system sees from which country the application comes and shows all available options. The great advantage of the cloud solution is that there is only one version of each product. Changes in the range, technical adjustments; everything is processed centrally. This setup allows Wilo to save a lot on information management costs."



The digital database is the basis for a well-functioning BIM, Stijn Lockefeer knows this too. "Such a library is essential for modelling or virtual building. Wilo products are now available to other parties involved in a new building. Of course, Wilo decides what is and what is not public. BIM can only really work properly if all those parties share their information in the same way. From design to supply chain, maintenance and service. The complete chain is necessary to successfully design a building digitally."

"And to test in advance with simulations," adds Ralph Huysers. "And not in three dimensions, but in six. You can take weather influences, energy consumption and maintenance into consideration – therefore the complete life cycle. During the simulations, you can adapt and experiment to your heart's content, test materials, take sustainability into account. Provided that all data is available in real time."


Both Wilo and Cadac are investing heavily in this business case. "We are on the same wavelength," says Ralph Huysers. "It does help that the Netherlands, England and Russia are the countries that make the most of BIM. Dutch builders are leading the way, as are the architects, because they are also active across borders. They see the huge projects, win assignments and realise that the construction needs to be different. As suppliers, we contribute, Cadac is seriously working on digitisation."

Stijn Lockefeer nods in agreement. "Partnerships of this kind are expensive, but they are also indispensable for boosting BIM. We set up the Content Creation for Architecture, Engineering and Construction department for that purpose. Enabling digital, in other words, just as we present ourselves in the market. Wilo is one of the first companies to manage their content library with us from their master data – this is a basis to build on. Like Wilo, we are convinced that digitisation is crucial if we want to manage future construction demand and find solutions for climate change and energy transition."

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