Since most inventions and innovations originate on the shop floor, we organise annual innovation competitions for our employees. This gives them the opportunity to improve processes in their working environment. It also promotes greater involvement, motivation
and, consequently, efficiency within our company. The competition yields numerous interesting and useful proposals every year that benefit our work.
By maintaining a focus on innovation, our group is able to meet the challenges of tomorrow. All of our innovation initiatives are combined in the WILLEMEN INNOVATION HUB.
In my grandfather’s time, the best construction company was the one with the best bricklayers. Later on, it was the company with the best project and site managers. Nowadays, that’s no longer enough. The best company also has optimal control over the entire building process.
Tom Willemen, CEO
Drones ON SITE
We use drones to measure the volumes of raw material stocks, a method that is faster and more accurate than traditional survey techniques. An external partner takes care of the administrative aspects of the drone flights, as well as the post-processing of the survey data into usable information. Our roofing company also uses drones to detect heat losses. We use drones as much as possible in our road construction projects in order to generate progress reports automatically.
Drainphalt (developed by Willemen Infra) is an innovative asphalt specially made for paving car parks, driveways, and roadways around buildings. Because the asphalt pavement is water-permeable, the construction of buffers and drainage is unnecessary. The rainwater is conducted through the asphalt itself, so that it gradually seeps into the groundwater. This makes Drainphalt the perfect solution for a well-known environmental problem: 14% of all surfaces in Belgium are paved but not water-permeable, which means that our continuous asphalting of Belgium is reducing our groundwater level. www.drainphalt.be
SMART GLASSES & REMOTE ASSISTANCE
These smart glasses make it possible for the project manager to remotely view what the site manager sees at the site. The site manager can then consult the online 3D model viewed by the project manager. This facilitates fast and efficient consultation and decision-making without having to travel. Since the site manager is at the work site, he can immediately determine whether the suggestions of the project manager based on the 3D model are suitable for the site and vice versa. The glasses also make it possible to consult and manage action lists and plans, with the corresponding pictures or other visual materials.
Step into your future (VR)
Willemen Groep was the first company in Belgium to use Virtual Reality to attract new employees. In 2015, we developed our own 360° video and VR glasses to take to job and other fairs. The glasses immerse you in a virtual world where you can visit three large building sites in only a few minutes. In April 2016, our Step into your Future campaign was proclaimed the best HR Campaign of the Year during the Belgian HR Awards.
We foresee a future in extensive automation on the site with concrete printers, robots and other machinery that can carry out automatic processes. We have already purchased several 3D printers to enable our project managers to familiarise themselves with the concept of 3D printing. Nowadays, we print out entire scale models in order to give clients a 3D visualisation of their project, as well as smaller materials and parts used at the site.