Our customers have their say

ELVIRA SERVAES – SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER, LEADING WORKS OFFICER AT THE FACILITIES AGENCY, CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS DEPARTMENT

Elvira Servaes is Senior Project Manager Implementation in the Construction Projects department of the Flemish Government’s Facilities Agency. “We put construction projects onto the market for various clients in the Flemish public administration and supervise them until they are completely finished. One of the major dossiers in recent years has been the renovation of the Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA). The building, closed in 2011, will reopen in September of this year, having undergone a real metamorphosis in the meantime. I myself have been involved in this project for a good 3 years now, following on from a colleague.”

“In these years I’ve built up good relationships with all construction partners. But I found I needed someone by my side who was more skilled in technologies and could guide me as we moved towards delivery. There was no one available in our agency, so, based on our framework contract, I put the question to Ingenium. In this way they came on board very late, about a year before delivery in 2020. In such a situation, as a new player you have to stay in the background, because in such large, long-term projects you can find yourself walking on eggshells. But first Nico and later Wouter sensed this well and gave me advice 'off-stage' about things that were important. Congratulations to them for familiarizing themselves with such a complex file in such a short period of time. As time has gone on, they have become totally accepted as fully-fledged partners and have also become more prominent. The fact of having experience in the area, of already knowing many of the partners around the table, and of an absence of possible resentment from collaboration in previous projects, facilitated communication.”

“It’s been an almost two years gap between the completion and the opening of the museum, during which the building must of course remain up to standard. With our having no one available internally for this, Ingenium also took on the building management. In concrete terms, this involved a weekly tour of the site and a check of the digital building management system to check that everything was still OK and to signal any problems to the contractor, maintenance technicians or inspection authorities. In the meantime, the KMKSA itself has recruited people to take over, and a commercial party has also been appointed for technical maintenance. Ingenium drew up the specifications for the maintenance contract and screened the submitted offers, and will also further supervise the start-up and monitoring of the maintenance contract.”

“For me it was a very nice and very open collaboration, in which we quickly got on each other’s wavelengths and did not have a blinkered view. There was always room to discuss their proposals and to ask for alternatives. They look beyond the immediate situation and take into account what you are looking to achieve." 

"Nico and Wouter were also very available for me: I could always call them and they quickly gave me an answer that I could continue with. Moreover, their high degree of involvement was also noticeable. For Ingenium, this project is just one of a very large portfolio, and on top of that a project that they got dropped into only at the very end. And yet I felt that this was not a 'quick job' but a real commitment to master the file in a short time and to think along and cooperate where necessary. In addition to their technical knowledge, it is also the human knowledge and the sense for and dealing with sometimes delicate situations that for me has been a real plus. Collaboration should be about building, and always in a constructive way. Only this way can all parties – also in conflicts – sit around the table to find solutions.”

SVEN HEBBELINCK – HEAD OF TECHNICAL DEPARTMENT UZ BRUSSELS

UZ Brussels (Brussels University Hospital) covers a floor area of 136,000 m² and has 721 beds. Its technical installations are shared with the university medicine and pharmacy campus on the same site. Sven Hebbelinck has headed the Technical Department since 2002.

A few years ago we launched a tender competition for a framework agreement for a number of engineering assignments. There were 4 candidates and the contract was assigned to Ingenium in early 2018.

"A major factor in our choice was Ingenium’s emphasis on quality assurance, both in their designs and in their budget monitoring. But what stood out even more was the focus on the final phase of a project, which we call commissioning. Many consultancies treat this step rather off-handedly, thereby passing the problems on to the client. It’s important to us that the design consultancy, together with ourselves and the contractor, carry out tests to check that everything has been implemented as designed, and that it works as provided for in the plans. Ingenium’s separate commissioning team gives us that certainty.”

In those 3 years we have tackled various projects together with Ingenium. At our power plant, our CHP had to be connected with the boilers, and then the entire downstream route with various substations. We also installed a new domestic hot water installation and a new cooling unit in our ward block. In addition, Ingenium assisted us in the supervision and follow-up of a project for the pharmacy department which had been developed by a foreign consultancy. A number of conversion and renovation projects are under way, for various laboratories and also for a new gastro-endoscopy unit. And we are in the process of renovating the cooling of our outpatient clinic.

These are mainly total assignments. With each project we know broadly where we want to end up. Ingenium then helps us to work this out conceptually and engineer it. Once this is done, competition files are drawn up to have the works carried out by our house contractors or to award them via public contracts. The execution of the works is monitored and at the end there is the commissioning. It is important to us that Ingenium understands where we want to go. This is not always easy, because there is never just one solution to a technical problem. My own engineers and experts also have their own ideas, and ideas can sometimes clash. But it is important to keep overall watch over the engineering technologies on the site, today and in the future.

“Ingenium’s task is to work out the sub-aspects, while thinking along critically and being creative. Sensing this, for giving shape to their ideas and then developing them in our direction, is something they are very good at."

It is not always easy for external parties that we operate in a very flexible environment. Constantly gaining new insights and regularly changing your mind is commonplace in our sector. Our clients are doctors, not technicians. They sometimes think that anything is possible, and that you can come up with a completely different opinion even at the last minute. The corona crisis makes this even more visible. While a consultancy often wants you to first explain everything well, after which they crawl behind their drawing boards and come back a few months later with the solution. By which time, however, it may be outdated.

“Ingenium now knows our sector well enough to be able to handle this great flexibility. They certainly don't mind having to respond quickly to changes.”

In the natural way of things we work together with various Ingenium employees, because our many projects have different project leaders. I get positive comments about the collaboration from everyone at our place. Things run smoothly, Ingenium is well organized and invariably fulfils its agreements correctly. They also tell me that 'the click' is there, that we are on the same wavelength and working together towards the same goal. The folks at Ingenium don’t beat about the bush. They take the bull by the horns and act to the point. That is what we want and expect.

Els Werbrouck and Els Welvaert - UGent

"For the building envelope of the Ledeganck complex, our original plan was to retain the exterior facade and build a new wall on the inside. Ingenium was able to convince us of the opposite, and we’re so happy about that now. It will result in considerable energy savings, and the asbestos has now also been removed from the 60-year-old façade.

"We are a client who like to take control, examine everything in detail and do not just accept what is being proposed. Ingenium, therefore, had little room for manoeuvre, but it did indicate proactively when our standards were not up to scratch or when changed legislation had an impact on our plans".

Ingenium always helps find solutions, both in terms of alternatives to increase living and working comfort, and with budget-friendly proposals. We also found that when they underestimated certain things, they did not deny it but communicated openly about it and adjusted it where necessary. Moreover, there is a lot of interaction within the Ingenium team itself, so that all project phases are in harmony with each other.”