You see them at every construction site or public event around the world: temporary fence panels and barriers from ZND.
ZND is a global leader in the production of temporary fencing, barriers, hoarding and accessories who, through their network of distribution partners, supply the construction and events sector. Through their partners ZND fence panels and barriers have featured at some of the world’s most prestigious events including multiple Olympic & Commonwealth Games, the Tour de France and the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II. However, most will be familiar with ZND products for their day-to-day role of protecting the public from the hazards of construction sites.
In recent years, more and more production and sales processes have been digitized resulting in a deluge of data being available, though the full potential of this has not been utilised due to how disparate the systems are. Different systems are employed across ZND sites in the US, UK, the Netherlands and Poland, making it difficult to create a common picture of company performance which results in a lot of manual work in separate spreadsheets. Tackling this has been a priority of CEO Marcel van Kesteren.
Since Marcel’s appointment as CEO in mid-2021, digitization, IT & data have become high priority on the strategic agenda. At the forefront of this digital strategic agenda is the creation of a joint cross-country picture of purchasing, production, and sales performance. Collecting data from dozens of machines and international sales channels in a data warehouse and making this transparent with dashboards on strategic, tactical and operational level, enabling ZND to make data-driven decisions and optimise processes at a level previously unthinkable.
“For more than 60 years, ZND has been producing, selling and supplying the highest quality fencing in dozens of countries around the world. Since the digitization of production and sales processes, the amount of data generated has increased enormously, which we are now using more and more to substantiate our decisions. This ultimately results in more accurate, but above all faster decisions.”
An example of a data-driven process is the purchase of steel pipes and wires, both vital in the production of ZND’s core products. The steel price has been extremely volatile in recent years, first due to the corona crisis, later the sky-high inflation due to rising gas and electricity prices and the war in Ukraine. By consolidating the market, production and raw material data from various steel suppliers around the world, this can be converted into smarter and more efficient purchasing and charging the price to the end user.
A challenge around the realization of a digital transformation strategy is that this requires a skillset that is not always represented within a production company. This challenge was overcome together with Sweav, a community and platform for independent (ex-)strategy and M&A professionals who often have 5-7 years of experience at leading digital strategy firms including McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, SparkOptimus and Deloitte. Ex-strategy consultant Maarten Steinfort was appointed Head of Digital Projects to implement ZND’s digital agenda.
ZND is not the only manufacturing company that suffers from the scarcity of digital specialism on the labour market. Sweav founder Joeri Schouten encounters this every day at companies within the manufacturing industry that are often owned by private equity. Joeri Schouten: “Sweav often works with successful manufacturing companies that want to take the next (digital) strategic growth step with their investor. Our collaboration with ZND and Maarten is a perfect example of accelerating the realization of such growth ambitions.”
The first dashboards have been operational within ZND’s central management and finance team since November and will be used at scale throughout the rest of the organization by the end of the year. Maarten Steinfort: “Within digital transformations, it is essential to start small with a concrete project, make mistakes and learn from them, and finally gradually scale up successes. For example: our BI dashboards were first tested within the local finance teams, then with the group management team, and later with the local production managers, purchasing and sales teams.”
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