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Forming an innovative future with Harald Ziebula

25.09.2017 | News
In the last of our 'innovative future' series, we hear from Mr. Harald Ziebula, CEO of Doka Group who offers his insight into Doka's role as a disruptive technology company in the construction industry.

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Can you tell us what innovation means to Doka and how is it translated into your day-to-day business?

Innovation applies to our business in many different ways. During the course of our 150 years of family enterprise and tradition, our power to innovate has been ultimately customer-orientated to provide the best possible solutions for our clients. In practical terms, there are two forms of innovation, one where we focus on new products, applications and systems that are designed to deliver significant change to the construction process, and the second which evolves around looking at our existing products, listening to our clients in the field, and understanding how they can be improved. The aim of our innovation is to provide the best possible product, for the most competitive price, while supporting the requirements of our client by ensuring their job is as safe, user-friendly and time effective as possible. In today’s market, we’re finding that our efforts to improve or enhance our processes and or software tools are offering sometimes greater benefit to our customers than our hardware innovations.

From a socioeconomic perspective, there are other factors such as environment and safety to protect site staff from adverse conditions. Further innovation drivers are the varying requirements from our international clients.

While the construction sector has been slow to evolve in terms of adopting new technologies over the past forty years, many believe we’re entering a new period of development. Which areas of construction do you believe offer the most room for improvement and can you tell us about some of the latest technologies Doka is bringing to the market in 2017 and beyond?

There are two areas in which the industry would greatly benefit from an overhaul. The first is the construction process itself. A vast amount of time and money are wasted on inefficiencies, mistakes and poor communication meaning that any product, system or service that can address these issues will be in high demand. The second is the direct application of technology to replace outdated methodologies on site. Doka consistently looks at both these areas whenever it considers creating or improving a product or system in the market. These ideas sometimes may cost some extra money but the calculable added value saves time, increases safety or reaches visible advantages – thus it pays off.

Good examples of our updated products include Framax Xlife plus, which is now even easier to use thanks to its one-sided anchoring, or our new Xlife Plywood Generation III, which is even more durable and scratch resistant, making it better value. In terms of our new products and systems, our multifunctional Unikit system is ideal for all fields of civil engineering, while being much more flexible in regard to different site applications and saves freight cost thanks to its modular application. Another one of our popular innovations, which is now becoming more widely used across the Middle East and Africa, is Concremote. Not only does it save our clients time by providing up-to-the-minute information, it’s also become invaluable in terms of improving concrete mixtures and quality.

Could you tell us more about how Doka has expanded its business offering from being a formwork provider to becoming a time and cost saving partner from planning to delivery?

As mentioned earlier, it is a central part of our corporate ethos to provide the best possible service. Starting from the planning phase, we evaluate which model is most cost effective, i.e. buying or renting formwork. In addition our engineers work on an ongoing basis to optimise the process, ensuring each step proceeds as efficiently as possible. Looking to the future, we have some very exciting IT tools such as Tipos, myDoka and eCommerce in the pipeline, which we look forward to unveiling soon. So many of our efforts are not focused on formwork itself but on the issue to improve productivity on the site!

Doka is present in more than seventy countries around the world, and is likely to expand its footprint in the coming months. Which markets do you find the most receptive for disruptive technology and how is Doka positioned to support that evolution?

In my opinion there is no specific market, which is any more receptive than another. The driving force behind change in our industry isn’t dictated by nations or regions, but by individual project managers who demand evolution. The real challenge is to change the conservative perception of the construction sector to utilise new technology, particularly innovations that are certified and proven to work. At Doka, we’ve taken a primary role within our industry by investing time and money into research and development, by listening to the requirements of our clients and monitoring the trends in the construction industry and its future developments. I am convinced that it is not individual markets that are most receptive for disruptive technologies, but smart and productive working managers on site.

In your capacity as chairman of the board, what significant contributions do you expect Doka to make towards the global construction market in the next decade?

First and foremost, Doka is most widely known as a formwork manufacturer, so our focus will continue to be on producing high quality products, using modern materials that allow for safer, faster and easier handling on site. In addition we are steadily increasing the range of services throughout the construction process, meaning our clients are able to benefit from an even greater level of value that extends far beyond just formwork. Doka in future will not only be a leading provider of formwork, we will be the internationally recognized expert for optimization of construction methods, processes and materials for concrete structures.

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