Putting data to work: Harnessing technology to unlock actionable insights

Case study

Author: Tobias Scharpenberg is Digital Content Creator at Hexagon's Geosystems division

Gnant GmbH started its digital journey more than ten years ago and impressively shows how tradition and digitalisation can lead to a successful future

Gnant GmbH has been Lower Austria’s specialist for gravel, sand and stones, earthworks and transport since 1959. To become more productive, efficient and environmentally friendly, Gnant began digitising its demolition, excavation and recycling operations more than ten years ago. With more than 160 employees, the company combines traditional values such as reliability, diligence and handshake quality with state-of the-art working practices

“The first investment we made was a rover and a 3D machine control system for a dozer,” recalls CEO Josef Gnant. With these investments, Gnant wanted to differentiate itself from the competition. While most of the industry won tenders based on the cost factor, Gnant focused on offering the best overall solution. But at the beginning, this approach met with little understanding from customers: “In fact, no one was willing to spend money on this.”

Gnant offered the added value of the new technologies at no extra cost. Instead of passing on the costs of its investments to the customers, it demonstrated their solutions’ value over the years through the quality of its work. “By now, the customers also recognise the advantages and are willing to spend money on this technological edge,” says Gnant.

The human factor is the key to long term success

Josef Gnant knew that the workforce was crucial to the company’s long-term success and built up the necessary skills in digitalisation internally. “It was a challenge to find the right staff, as digitalisation is a constantly changing process,” says Gnant, but emphasises: “The young generation wants to experience a competitive digital edge.”

The growing amounts of data and requirements in work preparation are changing workflows and increasing the need for office staff. Roland Maurer, responsible for digital solutions at Gnant, also notes: “The time required for work preparation has increased, but this pays off in the aftermath.

The accurate processing of data in the office enables machine operators to work more independently and autonomously. With modern machine control and field solutions, they take on more and more tasks on the construction site. “The solutions are easy to use. Meanwhile, the foremen and machine operators on-site also do the surveying work for us. They capture the elevation points and create a terrain model themselves,” says Maurer.

The changes on the construction site are also confirmed by Josip Tokic, Site Manager at Gnant: “The personnel effort on the construction site is not extensive. Due to the high technical standard, the team, apart from the operators, consists of two to three people.”

Jointly creating added value for customers

Johann Handl, Account Manager at Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon, has been supporting Gnant GmbH for many years. As a digitalisation expert in heavy construction, he knows: “Gnant is one of the few companies that can truly call itself a pioneer of the digital frontier. They fully cover the digital heavy construction portfolio. That is the benchmark in civil engineering."

To be a pioneer and to be able to continuously offer added value to its customers, Gnant not only wanted to invest in the appropriate technology but was also looking for a longterm technology partner. “The big advantage with Hexagon is that everything is part of one bigger system,” Gnant points out as one of the reasons he chose to partner with Hexagon. All construction machinery, field solutions and office applications communicate with one another and ensure that office and field teams are always up to date. This fully connected ecosystem brings Gnant significant productivity gains in all project phases.

In addition to the extensive portfolio of technologies and brands, the comprehensive service and support network was a decisive factor for Gnant to build up a strong relationship: “What fundamentally brought us together was that we were never let down. If a product failed, a new product was available the same or the next day. This limitless collaboration and availability are a key advantage that made me feel I had found the right partner to perform this development and digitisation together.”

Roland Maurer confirms that the support is also a mainstay for the successful introduction of new technologies in his work, emphasising: “Hexagon does not stand still. We are constantly being introduced to new technologies.”

Practising digitalisation instead of just talking about it

With employees who share his vision and a technology partner who supports him with experts and a comprehensive solutions portfolio, Gnant has been able to digitise all processes and workflows. Projects that would be difficult to realise using conventional methods can now be completed in the shortest possible time and with the highest quality. “With the right partners, people and machines, you can solve any problem,” Gnant is convinced. “If we hadn’t made these investments, we definitely wouldn’t have had this growth, we wouldn’t have been able to find and develop these outstanding people and personalities, and we wouldn’t stand out in the market the way we do now.”

From the survey of the site conditions and the preparation of bids to the planning and site preparation to the execution of the construction work and the subsequent maintenance of the infrastructures — the digital solutions help to complete the projects on time, on spec, safely, sustainably and profitably. Gnant particularly stresses the connection between productivity gains and the reduction of waste and emissions: “In addition to digitalisation, eco-friendly construction is also a critical process for us, and we have realised in recent years that these two topics actually go hand in hand. Because the more precisely work is done through digitalisation, the more accurate and consequently fewer quantities are moved on the construction site.”

In the future, using digitally connected technologies in civil engineering will be unavoidable to remain competitive, use resources wisely, and attract and retain talent. Gnant sees these changes as a great opportunity and highlights: “I believe that if everyone — from planners to owners to contractors — not only talks about digitalisation but also practices it, great productivity gains can take place.”

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