If We Don’t Do It First, Someone Else Will

STRABAG was one of the first large companies to recognise the potential of the Schüttflix online platform. Thomas Nyhsen, technical manager of the STRABAG North Rhine-Westphalia Subdivision, talks about the Germany-wide roll-out for Transportation Infrastructures, the start-up mentality, and explains why, for him, passion is at least as important as competence.
Thomas Nyhsen
Thomas Nyhsen
Technischer Direktionsleiter Nordrhein-Westfalen

By the end of 2021, all STRABAG Transportation Infrastructures units in Germany will be using Schüttflix. The app for the supply, disposal and logistics of bulk goods enables digital orders, price comparisons, live tracking of deliveries and paperless contract processing. The start-up wants to be the first provider to deliver all common bulk goods at transparent prices throughout Germany.

STRABAG recognised the potential early on – a partnership has been running since the beginning of the year, which began in 2020 with a pilot phase in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the first four months, STRABAG handled more than 4,000 bulk goods transports via the new platform; by the end of the year, this figure is expected to rise to more than 20,000 across Germany.

Thomas Nyhsen is leading the roll-out of the Schüttflix app for STRABAG´s road construction in Germany. How did the cooperation with Schüttflix come about, Mr Nyhsen?
Thomas Nyhsen: In the context of digital transformation, we invariably examine processes that cost time while generating little value. Orders and deliveries of bulk goods are a prime example: they produce piles of paper in the form of delivery notes and Excel lists, and the ordering process ties up a lot of administrative resources. So, I was convinced that the Schüttflix app had digitalisation potential from the start.

This app offers the road construction industry the possibility to digitally map the procurement process completely, from ordering to invoicing. And another great added value lies in expanded access to the transport business. Around 90% of our portfolio in transport infrastructure construction comprises our own services, and our value creation is correspondingly high. What we lack, however, are transport capacities. We were dependent on a few large players. However, thanks to the Schüttflix app, we now use a platform with more than 2,500 freight forwarders and around 20,000 trucks. The availability of vehicles increases enormously, while the dependence on individual players decreases.

Can you give an example?
Certainly. In the course of the roll-out, we offered the collection of 400 t of material on the platform. Within five minutes, all tours were taken by the transporters, and even with a price advantage for us. But it’s not only about speed or monetary advantage. If the transport volumes available on the market are used more efficiently, fewer empty trips are made, which results in a reduction of CO2 emissions. That means we also contribute to sustainability.

Strong partners – Christian Hülsewig from Schüttflix (right) and Thomas Nyhsen 
from STRABAG (left) receive a Schüttflix transport. STRABAG recognised the potential of the Schüttflix platform early on and cooperates with the start-up. 

What was your experience cooperating with Schüttflix, in terms of where corporate structures meet a start-up culture?
Working with a start-up has introduced me to new, efficient methods of implementation of innovations. A decisive advantage is that we, as users, sit at the same table with the development and programming team to discuss our needs and requirements. Schüttflix is a market solution; we have jointly developed a suitable application for STRABAG, very agilely and without specifications. We quickly tested and evaluated prototypes. Pilots that are found to be good are developed further, while everything else goes “in the bin“, no matter how much has already been invested.

How should one imagine this process?
For example, we extensively tested the Schüttflix app in a pilot phase in North Rhine-Westphalia and analysed how, and in which processes, this application brings further added value to our company. We very quickly identified and developed two new process types together, the transport and the project business.

Was speed important to you?
Of course! That’s what it’s all about today. If we don’t do it first, someone else will, and that will give them the competitive advantage.

Did the employees embrace this?
I always build teams in such a way that passion and expertise count above all else –hierarchy or position in the company never comes first. The involved employees should be passioned about the task they are responsible of. And so, that was the case with this project, because the goal and added value were clearly communicated to everyone right from the start.

Was kommt in der Zukunft?
Wir wollen die Schüttflix-Plattform auch für andere Materialien öffnen. Asphaltmischgut zum Beispiel, davon bewegt allein der Verkehrswegebau in Deutschland jährlich bi zu 6 Mio. t. Das wird ambitionierter, denn im Gegensatz zu Schüttgut hat hierfür nicht jede Transportfirma die nötige Qualifikation. Außerdem wollen wir

What’s your vision for the future?
We want to open up the Schüttflix platform for other materials as well. Asphalt mixes, for example, of which the road construction industry in Germany alone moves up to 6 million tonnes annually. This will be more ambitious because, unlike bulk goods, not every transport company has the necessary qualifications to handle this. In addition, we want to become even more sustainable and also realise transports by rail, and possibly by ship, and use trucks only for the final mile. In addition, the platform will be made available to other Group countries, under the direction of STRABAG Innovation & Digitalisation (SID).

Schüttflix is now entering a business environment in which STRABAG’s Transportation Infrastructures Division has maintained partnerships over many years. Does STRABAG really intend to give these up?
No, that’s not the point at all! We will continue to maintain our partnerships. The only difference now is that they will be adapted to a completely digital process.

The Construction Site Reporter

Fabienne Zilken, site manager at STRABAG and Schüttflix reporter.

How is the Schüttflix app working in practice? What do the users say? Fabienne Zilken regularly asks these questions on-site. In addition to her daily work in the NRW Subdivision, the site manager has assumed the role of Schüttflix reporter during the roll-out. She visits colleagues on the construction sites, films short interviews, and shares them on the Stranet. The goal is collegial exchange, sharing practical experiences in using the new tool.

Digital Logistics Hub

When Nils Klose joined Schüttflix two years ago as Managing Director and Chief Revenue Officer, there were 44 employees. Today there are more than 100, and turnover has risen from €13 million to more than €50 million for the current year. Schüttflix developed Germany’s first digital logistics hub for the bulk goods industry. “The app connects delivery companies and forwarders directly with the customer side, i.e., from the construction industry and gardening and landscaping“, Klose explains.

Nils Klose is Managing Director and Chief Revenue Officer at Schüttflix.

With a digital price comparison and a digital ordering process, the app saves time above all. In addition, this linking of supply and demand avoids thousands of empty trips on Germany’s motorways. The application is designed for the smartphone: “Placing an order“, he adds, “should be as easy as writing a chat message“. He says that with STRABAG as a partner, the company has been able to make a big leap. “We remain market-neutral and independent, and have many other large and small customers, but with STRABAG at our side we were able to expand our network and received helpful feedback on further development of the app.“ Founded in Gütersloh and now also based in Cologne, the company is pushing ahead with internationalisation for further growth, starting with the European market. “We will also expand the business on the platform to dispose of construction and demolition waste.“

Design & Engineering
Just Do It!