ViCre co-creates roadmap to accelerate 3D printing technology in Flanders

In Industry 4.0, strategic alliances are quintessential to build solid platforms for mutual thinking, action and co-creation. Multistakeholder project management is all about managing complexity. Aligning different visions, writing proposals, finding funding, building a masterplan to make things work and deliver in time: it’s often hard to keep on track. ViCre is currently accompanying a ground-breaking project in 3D printing in Flanders and shares its 5 step-approach towards smooth project management.

Even if your project is the size of a whale, it should always move like a dolphin.

Eight partners, one goal

3D printing is gaining momentum in Flanders, but with regard to the construction industry, additive manufacturing is still in its infancy. However, a two-story 3D-printed house – a scoop for the worldwide industry – is soon to rise in Westerlo. “It’s only a matter of time until Westerlo becomes the cradle of concrete 3D printing”, says Peter-Paul van den Berg, managing director of Kamp C, the Provincial Centre for Sustainability and Innovation. Kamp C is an autonomous company of the Province of Antwerp and the initiator of the C3PO-project, aiming at accelerating the integration of 3D printing technology with construction companies in Flanders. The 3 year-project is co-funded by the European Union and pools organizations from both academic and corporate arenas. Ghent University, Thomas More College, construction companies Van Roey, Beneens, Trias Architects, ETIB nv/Concrete House and ViCre are now joining forces to fastforward additive manufacturing in the Flemish building industry to ultimately transform the region into a centre of expertise. ViCre, business consultancy company, is currently in charge of the process accompaniment of the C3PO-project.

Just recently, one of the biggest 3D-printers on the planet was installed in Kamp C. The massive printing installation is now being customized and fine-tuned to complete its ambitious mission next Autumn: the creation of a 8,5 m x 9,5 m x 9,5 meter concrete house, including support columns, floors and walls, layer per layer. In a later stage, the technology will become accessible for companies and research institutions to experiment, test prototypes and realize 0-series.

Common ground

“The launch event of the 3D printer was picked up very well by the press and well-received by the industry”, says Annelies Helsen from ViCre. “It’s the beautiful result of the great collaborative project setup and the masterplan we co-created with the eight funding partners. When working together with people from different professional backgrounds, the main challenge is always to establish common ground. Aligning and connecting government officials with technical people and academics is not an easy job. Everyone wants to experience some added value at the end of the day: by building deep industry knowledge, improving their network, creating brand exposure, encountering business opportunities. Following our 5-track plan, we co-created a playing field that allows for these positive exchanges and smooth project implementation.”

Five simple steps towards project completion

    “Define the vision of your project together. What are you going to do for whom? Don’t be afraid of dreaming. Don’t think about the how yet, only discuss the what. If your project were a boat, which point at the horizon would you like to reach? When? Once you have an agreement on these essential elements, you can start building a (retro) plan.”
    “As soon as you have the first draft of your retro plan, you have a rough view on the timing of your project and its main milestones. Make an inventory of all the knowledge and actions you need to achieve these milestones. Transform your dream into reality by chopping it up in feasible and workable compartments.”
    “Every project phase deserves its own process. Only experts know how to design the best solutions. Building knowledge to initiate action is about bringing the right people together at the right time at the right place.”
    “Good contribution management is key to every successful project. Appoint project leaders – progress and content managers – and define project roles for each project phase. Each project member should be able to chase the right objectives to individually add to the project.”
    “To measure is to know. Identify key performance indicators, measurable values that demonstrate how effectively your project is making progress. Integrate sufficient progress meetings in your project plan on strategic moments. Save these dates carefully. You are not the only one who’s busy.”
Repeat these 5 steps over and over, until you have reached your goal. Annelies Helsen: “Finding a good rhythm to move forward is essential for successful project execution. It’s a dynamic process, requiring continuous fine-tuning and real-time adjustments. You want your crews to tick-tack-tick-tack, interact on the fly. Communication is key. Provide enough feedback loops and meetings in your project architecture to keep it agile. Scrum, redefine, reprioritize, and adapt your action plan. Even if your project is the size of a whale, it should always move like a dolphin.”