„We had realized that we needed not just a single solution, but a homogeneous IT landscape.“
Markus Grubwinkler, Head of IT at Haas Group
Prefabricated construction offers many advantages. A fixed bill of quantities and a fixed price guarantee protect customers from unpleasant surprises and ensure cost and schedule reliability. The high degree of prefabrication enables rapid assembly, while the dry construction method ensures speedy completion. Whether a compact single-family home, a luxurious villa, a prestigious company headquarters, a residential complex as an investment property or a functional building for species-appropriate animal husbandry - Haas builds it all using prefabricated construction methods. And is growing steadily in the process.
Since its foundation in Falkenberg, Bavaria, in 1972, Haas Fertigbau GmbH has completed around 50,000 projects. Around a thousand qualified employees work at three locations in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. With the natural building material wood and innovative manufacturing processes, they form the basis for tens of thousands of successfully realized construction projects and satisfied building owners.
Nevertheless, it was still true for Haas' customers: If you wanted a prefabricated house, you had to go to a show house park to pick out and customize your favorites. In addition, there was a considerable administrative effort: "Our machines and design processes were automated at a very early stage, but many administrative processes in planning and sampling were still paper-based and not supported by the system," says Markus Grubwinkler, Head of IT at the Haas Group. "For example, every time a customer requested a change in the sampling of floors, tiles or room layout, the construction plan was changed by hand and brought back to the responsible department to be changed."
A laborious process, expensive and time-consuming. The senior fitters also had to check on site whether changes were even possible on site - the trip from Falkenberg to the construction site was another time and cost factor. "We had realized that we needed not just a single solution, but a homogeneous IT landscape," says Markus Grubwinkler. "Not only should our work be easier, but our customers should also be involved in all processes interactively and transparently - from the planning to the approval to the opening phase." In all of this, it was also important for Haas to comply with the standards that are important in modern construction.
The mission and vision of digitization are: Strengthen customer orientation, offer the workplace of the future, and expand leadership in innovations in the prefabricated construction sector. The goal is to reduce lead times, increase transparency, automate processes and thus massively minimize sources of error. "The idea for our prefabricated house configurator came out of the digitization team," says Markus Grubwinkler. "No one offers that yet! When the tool is fully developed, our customers can sit comfortably on the sofa on Sunday afternoon and design their dream house from there." Processes in all areas of the company were highlighted. Based on this, Haas derived an overarching mission for his entire digitization project: to map the full flow of a construction project in a single solution landscape.
With the introduction of Microsoft 365 with Microsoft Teams, Haas created the hub for communication and collaboration. The perfect interplay of integrated functions accelerated collaboration and put an end to paper chaos. Haas then equipped areas with Microsoft Surface Pro 7 as well as Surface Studio 2, linking planning and execution - a crucial point for Markus Grubwinkler: "The samplers can directly draw the customers' change requests into the digital sampling plans on the Surface Studio 2. The changes are immediately available and implemented accordingly." This significantly shortens waiting times in subsequent processes for new 'handwritten' sampling plans. At the same time, with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Haas gave its employees a state-of-the-art ERP system that perfectly maps the value flow from planning to production within a project. This enables precise result predictions based on real-time monitoring as well as evaluations. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is compatible with the existing CRM tool - the time-consuming migration of customer and project data was eliminated. Now customers log into their own project navigator and can check at any time how their house construction is progressing.
In all relevant project phases, Haas could always rely on the expertise of COSMO CONSULT's consultants on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations - whether in process definition, system configuration, or testing. In order to give this strategic project the right impetus, Haas and COSMO CONSULT coordinated regularly.
The digitalization project goes even further: Haas is currently testing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist - with Microsoft Teams and the HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset. Senior fitters can use it to help their colleagues on the construction site from their workstations: The fitters on site wear HoloLens and the specialists in Falkenberg assess whether a wall can be breached, for example - or draw in the fitter's field of vision where it could be moved. "The time and money we save as a result is enormous," notes Markus Grubwinkler. In the near future, HoloLens will also replace the trip to a model home park. Through virtual walk-throughs of homes, Haas wants to offer its customers another interactive, time-saving way to view their dream home and design it according to their wishes.