Listen and learn

24 January 2024

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In my comment last month I wrote about how, on Liebherr's international construction trade press information tour, discussions of the future went hand-in-hand with one of man's oldest traditions: sitting down to eat and communicate together.

In this issue we take a closer look at the importance Liebherr places on digitalisation and the meeting of old and new is a theme I return to.

It was striking that at the heart of the new, impressive Liebherr Development Centre in a science park near Ulm – a place where some of the greatest IT minds in Germany are gathered – Liebherr outlined how it's actually one of its oldest skills that underpins all its digital solutions: namely, listening to its customers.

"We see our value in understanding our customers’ processes and providing digital solutions and services that help make their life easier," says Marcel Flir, Head of Business and Strategy at Liebherr International. "From the beginning we talk to our customers to figure out what is going on in the market."

Despite digitalisation affecting all aspects of our lives – transforming the way we communicate, work, learn, and even entertain ourselves – the age-old act of simply listening and understanding retains its value.

Another area where old and new meet can be seen in the high-rise construction feature on page 34. Flat-top tower crane design has not fundamentally changed much in 20 years, argues feature writer Julian Champkin. Yet development and progress is being made and, as the feature illustrates, digitalisation is changing things here, too.

Take Wolffkran's new High Speed Positioning System, for example. “The crane movement and position data that HiSPS generates can be integrated into the modern digital construction site organisation using building information modelling (BIM),” explains Dr. Mohamed Abouelezz, Head of Product Management and Business Development at Wolffkran. “With HiSPS our cranes are ready for the progressive digitalisation of the building industry.”

Also in this issue we look at the issue of parking for the specialised transport operator. We've covered how the human activities of eating together and listening to each other underpin our industry; but what about the need for safety and security when it comes to the most fundamental of human needs: sleeping for the night?

In the specialised transport feature on page 26 we see how ESTA and European parking association ESPORG, are highlighting the issue of safe and secure parking, or rather the lack of it, for specialised transport drivers.

Abnormal load drivers have set routes to stick to so are not free to seek available parking spots. They are also subject to the rules governing both abnormal transport and regular commercial transport, so must stop for the night. The problem is they often find all spots taken or entry routes blocked. How is the industry to attract much needed drivers if it can't even guarantee their safety and security whilst sleeping as part of their job? Let's hope the skill of listening comes into play when ESTA and ESPORG present their concerns to European rule-makers.