We are a team of real enthusiasts, – Bilfinger Tebodin management about the company’s activities in Ukraine
Bilfinger Tebodin has been operating in the Ukrainian market since 1993. Please tell us how the company’s path in Ukraine started and what important changes have taken place during this time?
The Company began its activities in Ukraine in 1993 as an enterprise with 100 percent foreign investments of the Netherlands engineering consulting firm Tebodin. We supported large-scale demonstration projects of the Netherlands government in different economic sectors of Ukraine aimed at implementation and application of innovation technologies and equipment. Such a support was provided through consulting (namely market research, business planning and feasibility studies for international and local investors), and engineering and project management (including procurement and supply management). Thanks to technical assistance projects and participation in outstanding projects of international investors, our company quickly gained a reputation of a “Dutch design institute in Ukraine”. As a general designer, we accompanied the projects of modernization of cement plants and their transition to dry production, construction of new manufacturing facilities of building materials, implementing projects of new international passenger air terminals, building new commercial facilities under green standards etc. Diversification of markets and expertise, as well as continuous improvement and compliance with market opportunities have always been our strategy and the basis of sustainable development.
Since 2012, the company has been part of the international industrial services group Bilfinger active in the markets of Technologies, Engineering and Operation and Maintenance of industrial and infrastructure facilities in Europe, the USA and the Middle East.
The company’s key services in Ukraine are engineering, project management and consulting, including technical, environmental and management consulting. We are present in multiple economic sectors such as Agro-Industry, Health & Nutrition, Transport and Port Infrastructure, Industrial & Commercial Property, Oil & Gas, Energy and others. A major part of engineering business today is offshoring and nearshoring services for North-West and Central and Eastern Europe. Recent years the company has been also actively developing process engineering services in Ukraine, offering our clients a comprehensive approach taking into account best available European practices and deep technological solutions adopted to local environment.
Historically, Bilfinger Tebodin’s activities in Ukraine were closely connected to the projects of International Financial Institutions such as European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, European Commission and the World Bank Group. We are proud to be an independent international engineering consultant implementing technical assistance projects of international donors in Ukraine.
What issues does the company have in Ukraine? And what is the best way to tackle them?
More than 25 years of operations in Ukraine have taught us to be agile and to adjust to a constantly changing environment. We always try to see not problems but tasks, which we translate into opportunities. Our main principle of doing business is to find ways of partnership and mutual complementarity. In Ukraine, we do not have a problem of creating opportunities; on the contrary, we have a lack of experts for the implementation of both internal and external projects. Investing in employee educationand creating competitive working conditions to prevent the outflow of intellectual resources can be a solution to the problem of a shortage of high-quality experts in Ukraine.
As of the construction market of Ukraine, intense market competition from both international and local providers of engineering services forces us to constantly adjust the strategy of cost and content components of our services. However, we believe that we have certain advantages: the experience of a general designer, known in the best international standards and practices, specialization in various industrial and commercial markets, the ability to attract not only local resources but also the expertise of the developed European network of Bilfinger Group and external partners. Our experts are able to speak the same language with technology solution providers and customer engineering teams, thus relieving the workload or complementing the client’s project management. Foreign investors, for example, do not always have clear understanding and experience of passing approval procedures, taking into account building norms and permitting procedures in Ukraine. Bilfinger Tebodin has extensive experience in this. International companies and their financial and technology partners developing business in Ukraine usually have their own standards for the construction of new facilities, and Bilfinger Tebodin ensures the maximum possible adaptation to Ukrainian construction requirements, acting as a bridge between the customer’s wishes and local realities.
In general, in Ukraine the enthusiasm of investors is ahead of market conditions and opportunities of the investment climate. And although the country is gradually revising its mechanisms to support the investment climate, we share some investor concerns.
To overcome the risks and different countries’ specifics and to focus on the development of our core practices, Bilfinger Tebodin has moved away from the geographical organizational structure at country level. Instead, we are developing business lines (consulting, engineering, process engineering and project management) at Central and Eastern Europe. It also allows you to build strategic relationships with investors who have plans in our region.
How do you see the future of your industry?
Our mission to monitor market trends and anticipate the directions of business development has made it the norm and basis of our work to conduct in-depth market studies focused on technological trends and a detailed analysis of the strategies of market players and market forces.
Overall, iindustry is now undergoing a truly revolutionary transformation, stimulated by energy transition and industrial digitalization. Energy transition – a new energy paradigm – covers energy efficiency, decarbonization of industrial sector, including electrification and shift to renewable or alternative energy sources, applications of CO2 capture and utilization technologies. It also supports the development of innovative technologies such as new hydrogen uses, and sector coupling. Industrial digitalization embodies the so-called “X 4.0” concept, which has long gone beyond the plant and “Industry 4.0”, and encompasses the entire value chain from digital management of physical assets to the creation of circular ecosystems, end-user engagement and the use of new types of energy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the industry to accelerate the transformation process. The trends observed today are the optimization of operational processes through automation and digitization of production and construction processes, implementation of remote monitoring solutions for production and construction sites, focus on autonomous movement of materials on site, creation of design solutions for contactless interaction inside buildings, revision of sanitation and construction norms, optimization of digital infrastructure, enhanced focus on cybersecurity.
Bilfinger Tebodin offers Digital Maturity Assessment to evaluate digital readiness of the enterprise. We also help to develop business transformation concept and support its implementation. The company’s technology division has digital solutions that help significantly increase asset efficiency and reduce operating costs.
It needs to say that the ongoing transformation covers more than just the industry. Cities also need to change. The main changes today are aimed at the application of integrated and sustainable approaches to urban development planning and greater involvement of public opinion. The concept of a “Green and Smart City” provides comprehensive solutions to environmental issues such as waste management, water use and supply, resource efficiency and buildings, transport infrastructure development and digitalization. This concept has already gained widespread support and is now being adapted in leading Ukrainian cities under the support of International Financial Institutions.
How is the work of your team built during the quarantine period? How do you support the team?
Our Company’s IT infrastructure is designed so that any employee can work from any Bilfinger Tebodin office in the world. We were completely ready for remote work and did not have any difficulties shifting to home mode. Therefore, the focus of the company during the quarantine period was the psychological comfort of employees and application of the best tools to intensify work in groups.
In order support comfortable environment and employees’ mental health, department heads are regularly holding group and individual sessions, experimenting with formats. But I also must admits, that due to habitual working in “distributed teams” mode as team members are normally located in different countries, we did not feel much discomfort. Although, it was really nice to return to the office and meet colleagues for morning coffee, which has become partially possible since June this year
Do companies that once invested resources in process automation feel that they benefit from these investments?
There is no doubt today that success of the company largely depends on the degree of automation or digitization of its managerial and production processes. Therefore, companies that once invested in process optimization – whether it was an internal enterprise resource management system or technological processes optimization within manufacturing facilities – have a positive response.
The advantages are multiple indeed, including increase of asset efficiency rates, decrease of number of errors caused by human factor, safer technological processes for people and the environment and many others. Nevertheless, in the context of energy and industry transformation, investments in process automation should be approached comprehensively. Prior to implementing certain digital solutions, a complex assessment of the company’s operating model is needed to provide a clear understanding of the market environment and to assess how the company’s model meets the market needs, which processes need to be adjusted or changed, and which need to be eliminated.
A deep level of process automation is increasingly becoming a basic condition rather than a competitive advantage. Today you can hardly imagine success in most industries without the use of cloud storage, artificial intelligence or augmented reality technologies. Ukraine is now on its path in this direction. Thanks to the intellectual resources and the developed base of information technologies the country has great prospects.
We see our role as a Consultant to assist companies in their smooth transition to the new industrial norm by applying a holistic approach. We run market studies to help our clients develop market and business intelligence to verify investment plans with market trends, best available technologies and solutions, and to adjust their market strategy. Our consultants are ready to model and support the entire business transformation of the company from strategic input, scenario verification and roadmapping until the execution stage, including redesign of operational processes, adaptation of supply chain, optimization of asset management and enhancement of business resilience and sustainability.
Could you name innovations that could help Ukrainian business survive unforeseen situations in the future?
If we talk about innovations and trends, first of all it is the application of integrated approaches. For example, in design, we increasingly see in customer requests the need to use integrated solutions for the design of technological processes based on software solutions AVEVA, COMOS and others. In a broad sense, this all goes under the term BIM (Building Information Model or Modeling) design, when your drawings carry not only visual information but also have an informational component. The use of integrated solutions allows making design more efficient, providing an intelligent connection between all components of project documentation: project database, 3D model, flow charts, specifications, questionnaires and so on. This approach reduces potential errors, speeds up the design process, and reduces design and construction costs. It should also be noted that the integrated project information model creates additional added value for the customer, as it is the basis for further implementation of the Digital Twin concept and can be used at the stage of operation as a standalone product, for example, for training operating personnel or planning further reconstructions. Bilfinger Tebodin uses AVEVA E3D, Siemens COMOS, Autodesk Plant 3D solutions for technological design at the corporate level.
In terms of production processes, the current trend is the implementation of the Digital Twin concept for new or existing production processes. Digital twins are used throughout the life cycle of technological production for engineering analysis, forecasting and optimization of the production system. By simulating the process with a digital twin and analyzing what is happening with the help of digital communication, companies can create a manufacturing methodology that will be effective in a variety of conditions, including changing market needs or the company’s shift to another product program.
What business opportunities can open up in the times of change?
Traditionally, the main drivers of opportunities in Ukraine are International Financial Institutions, which are usually leaders in financing projects in Ukraine, advancing the country on the path of transformation and implementation of world best practices. The strategic focus of International Financial Institutions is a priority support for accelerating Ukraine’s integration with the European Union and strengthening the resilience of the country’s economic model, as well as the development of strategically important sectors such as agro-industry and transport infrastructure.
We are proud that together with International Financial Institutions we help leading companies to realize projects focused at implementing climate technologies, studying advanced methods of industrial waste management, construction of new manufacturing facilities in accordance with advanced European technological and environmental practices, and development of strategic planning of so-called “Green Cities” aimed at environmental protection, energy efficiency and development of efficient infrastructure, and many others. We see multiple opportunities for business development and help to implement them.
What motivates you?
Bilfinger Tebodin is one of the few companies with foreign investment that has been present on the market since its establishment in Ukraine and continues to develop. Like many of my colleagues, I work in the company for a long time and develop together with it. For over 20 years at Tebodin, I have been energized by the fact that each year is new and excitingly challenging, with new opportunities for professional and personal development, each project expands horizons and perspectives, exceptional international and local teams and connections create a sense of unity of efforts and inspiration, that everything is possible.
We are motivated by a belief in sustainable development, our focus on the highest standards and the independence of expertise and depth of approach. We are a team of true enthusiasts, with a variety of cultural traditions and experiences, collective erudition and the principles of cooperation and partnership with individuals and companies that believe in, promote and invest in our country and region.