Last year Hilti announced partnerships with two up-and- coming software technology companies, Fieldwire and Trackunit. These and previous investments in concrete sensors, BIM robots, software company Procore and Profis Engineering are helping Hilti become more than just a tool company.
Subcontractors: An untapped market
The largest customer base for Hilti are subcontractor craftsmen working in the building trades — primarily concrete, but also HVAC and mechanical contractors, plumbing, electrical, drywall, structural metal, rebar, fabrication shops and commercial interior buildouts.
“There is a big opportunity for project management software in the commercial market where Fieldwire has proven to be extremely successful,” says Michael Neidow, head of tool services and software for Hilti globally. “We believe that under the Hilti umbrella we can further accelerate the already good growth rates of the past. There are still a lot of contractors that who don’t have a tailored solution for construction project management,” he says.
“Those subcontractors have a big need for a productivity solution, and Fieldwire actually goes very well with what we do in ON!Track (Hilti’s tool tracking system) and Trackunit, because many of them do not have software to manage that equipment,” says Neidow.
"The biggest value of asset management is workers’ productivity, and it’s not uncommon for contractors lose 20% to 30% of their smaller equipment on an annual basis. So this is a really good opportunity for them to save costs and stop wasting money or time.”
Service after the sale
In addition to opening new markets, Hilti is introducing a new dynamic to these markets — the Hilti direct salesforce. The same face-to-face sales consultation provided by its salespeople driving the company's red trucks and vans to jobsites will also now apply to questions customers may have about the adaptation and use of Trackunit and Fieldwire.
“We want to bring to customers first-class consulting and implementation support,” says Neidow. "There are still a lot of contractors who are not used to implementing software in a way that gets them all the productivity benefits. And that's where we see Hilti, not just as a product, but to help the customers get the benefits out of the software product. That's how we add value to our customers.”
Fieldwire’s project management solution
“The core market we compete in is field management, which is a very jobsite-focused approach to construction management,” says Yves Frinault, Fieldwire co-founder and CEO. “Our customers are the people who walk the jobsite. Typically, it is heavy on the subcontractor side, and most of our users are on the craftsman, foreman level but go all the way to project engineer and project manager on the general contractor side. You’ll find us anywhere there's a need to coordinate trades in the field.”
Every subcontractor or self-performing GC has three simple problems, Frinault says. These include:
- Real-time access to information on site.
- Coordination of labor on a granular level. How do you make sure that everybody knows exactly what they are doing down to the smallest detail?
- Reporting progress at the end of the day without having to start a second workday.
“Those are the problems we solve, and they add up to what we call jobsite productivity,” says Frinault. Basically, more performance out of the same crews. “So we are somewhat separate from the core business of Hilti, but long-term we see a very strong convergence of the software ecosystem and the various use cases.”
Trackunit: Heavy equipment and tools on one platform
“Trackunit’s focus has been connecting assets primarily in the off-highway industry,” says Soeren Brogaard, CEO of Trackunit. Our core customers are rental companies, OEMs and contractors. Hilti is our first tool manufacturer,” he says.
“What we have done is build a standardized integration between ON!Track and Trackunit Manager and the Trackunit Iris platform, which is where our data comes together,” says Brogaard. “When customers use either ON!Track or Trackunit Manager they can seamlessly transfer that asset data, whether it’s a machine or a handheld tool, into one of those platforms without the expensive cost of integration work.”
The number one thing that this partnership will solve is helping contractors avoid losing tools,” says Brogaard. And it’s not just stop-loss prevention. Tool management, predictive insights and knowing that the right tools are in the right place before the job starts also come into play.
This kind of tool tracking and analytics is only going to get more important as the industry evolves toward greater use of batteries and electrified equipment, particularly work with battery-powered aerial work platforms, says Brogaard. You can get a machine that has run out of fuel up and running after a quick trip to any filling station. But batteries take a while to charge, especially big ones. “Having that upfront information proactively guiding technicians and customers is essential,” says Brogaard. “The maintenance of batteries is of super-high importance.”