‘Working with people is much more fun’

Ed Blom

Ed Blom (54) first joined BAM as a service technician almost 30 years ago. The experience he built up still serves him well in his current managerial role in operations and maintenance at BAM Bouw en Techniek Regio Midden. ‘I have hands-on experience with the impact of a malfunction in building installations.’

Change is a constant in Ed’s field. Technological change, but also in terms of the way the world of operations and maintenance works. Innovation and collaboration are key. ‘When I first joined GDW Installatietechniek – one of the companies that would later make up BAM Techniek – electrical and mechanical engineering were worlds apart. Later on, as head of the Technical Management department I was able to facilitate the integration of these two disciplines. This was an intense and very educational process. And then after that I had the opportunity to set up a national knowledge centre for technical management.’

Construction and technology

Years later, Ed played his part in yet another integration process, this time involving the construction and technology disciplines. ‘Compared to the process of electrical and mechanical, this time the integration went much more smoothly. The need to merge construction and technology was much more obvious. There are clear benefits for our clients in the regions if we can offer them a single point of contact for their building. The two disciplines were already working closely together in operations and maintenance, with construction taking the lead in realisation projects and technology when the project involved the operational and maintenance stage.’

‘It was important to bring employees together. My personal background is in mechanical engineering. I find technology interesting, but the thing I like best is working with people. I consider it one of my responsibilities to stimulate mutual cooperation, which allows people to grow. That’s been one of the reasons why I took up business management studies.’

Focus on what clients need

Ed believes that some of the major changes in his field flow from the changing relationship between client and contractor. ‘These days our focus is much more on what the client requires. I meet with clients and end-users on a regular basis to determine their needs. It’s important to connect the questions and ideas from the side of the client with the knowledge we have accumulated. This could involve things like a reduction of maintenance and energy costs or the improvement of sustainability or comfort. In addition to construction and technology we have a large in-house team of experts in various fields. All of this expertise, in combination with our services programme ‘UP’, enables us to create further value for our clients.’

Predictive maintenance

Ed has high expectations of ‘predictive maintenance’, a buzz word in the field and a very visible trend. ‘In my role as a member of the board of the Dutch maintenance branch organisation NVDO, which brings together all relevant industries, I can see how predictive maintenance has become the norm in other industries, such as the process industry. I expect this to offer massive benefits in the built environment. We’re already testing the waters in buildings such as the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam.’

He is also a keen advocate of early involvement of his discipline. ‘WTC Utrecht is a good example. In this project, we were part of the discussion as early as at the design stage, sitting at the table with both the design team and the client. This allowed us all to make the best possible decisions with respect to the maintainability of the building and its installations. Our technicians were able to familiarise themselves with the systems well ahead of the operational stage, and if necessary they could give valuable feedback to the project team. By taking an integral approach to development, design, realisation and operations, we can deliver a building that suits our client perfectly.’