On the Road with Amr: The Path to Prefab in the Netherlands  

On my continued quest for innovation, I’m in the Netherlands, where I met with Dennis Eikenboom, Director at Finish Profiles Group. This company has a remarkable four-decade journey marked by constant innovation in an exceptionally competitive market. Their commitment has always been towards continuous improvement in engineering, processes, and equipment, all while pursuing excellence in quality and efficiency. Their strategy involves:  

  • Optimizing engineering early in the design phase. 
  • Utilizing digital prefab and installation procedures. 
  • Employing IFC models within a BIM to Fabrication framework. 

During my conversation with Dennis, I learned how through their prefabrication solutions, they forged a path to unparalleled speed. And by harnessing the durability of steel prefab, they not only ensured cost-effectiveness but also embraced environmentally sustainable processes to create structures with an exceptionally long lifespan. 

Watch my interview with Finish Profiles Group’s Director, Dennis Eikenboom, to see how their culture of continuous improvement sparked innovation and is a key component to their success.   

As I wrapped up my interview and factory tour, I noted five ways construction companies and manufacturers could benefit from a set-up like Finish Profiles. 

1. Advancing Toward Industrialized Construction Excellence Beyond Industry 4.0. 

While Industry 4.0 represents the integration of automation and data exchange in manufacturing, what I observed at Finish Profiles goes far beyond that. Their approach is collaborative, involving architects, engineers, and manufacturers early in the design process, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and waste reduction. This approach aligns more with the principles of Industry 5.0, where collaboration, collective team-building knowledge, and automation converge to offer innovative solutions that address affordable housing challenges and curb CO2 emissions, all while delivering high-quality prefab products.  

2. Digital Manufacturing Workflows are Revolutionizing the AEC Industry 

Finish Profiles is committed to making affordable housing attainable for everyone without compromising quality. They accomplish this by merging prefab elements with modular elements, BIM data, and front-time engineering to reduce time and surprises onsite. This methodology enables them to craft multi-story housing units that are cost-effective and architecturally versatile. 

“Using hybrid systems for panelized buildings, we can achieve complex geometries by integrating cold-rolled and hot-rolled steel structures. This process allows for limitless creative possibilities while eliminating material waste,” says Dennis. 

By integrating engineering with BIM workflows, every fabricated component aligns precisely with engineering drawings to ensure uniformity. This process allows them to conduct a precise structural analysis, which has reduced the steel material required for design by two-thirds. 

3. Optimizing Project Planning with Lean Construction and Prefabrication 

Lean construction takes a shift in mindset, but by approaching efficiencies early during the design phase, we can seek opportunities for prefabrication and waste reduction during construction. Modern industrial technology that facilitates end-to-end workflows, driving digital progress throughout the project lifecycle, is one way to create this operational excellence. The accumulation of data collected with this new way of working will lead to information-rich digital twins that support efficient facility management, resulting in energy savings, reduced rework, and informed decision-making for future buildings, campuses, and overall city planning.  

4. Empowering Communities through Learning New Skillsets 

Finish Profiles’ extensive global network has led them to export solutions to Belgium, Canada, the Caribbean, and various African regions. In locations such as Gambia, their involvement goes beyond construction; they empower local communities through technical training and local team building by providing the knowledge of assembling and setting up prefab buildings. Such an approach transforms the lives of community members and opens doors to growth and prosperity.  

5. Unlocking Prefab Success: Impact of Logistics Planning and Sustainability 

During our conversation, Dennis emphasized the commitment to logistics efficiencies. And the Dutch Prefabrication experts exemplify this commitment by efficiently planning logistics such as transporting twelve 70-square-meter houses' worth of materials on a single truck. This approach underscores their commitment to minimizing CO2 emissions. 

Further, their production facilities have been purposefully designed with carbon neutrality, installing an extensive array of solar panels on their roofs, ensuring that their prefab facility operates at 100% sustainability. They have taken other steps, like owning a forest in the Amazonas region. This holistic approach is a testament to their commitment to environmentally responsible practices, encompassing everything from logistics to production. 

Finish Profiles is doing it right, and many firms can apply their methodologies to help reduce our carbon footprint, upskill communities with new skills, and help build a more sustainable future. 

Next, I'll be heading to Las Vegas for Autodesk University, where I'll meet with global industry leaders to discuss the latest innovations in the AEC industry. 

Amr Raafat

As Chief Innovation Officer at Windover Construction, Amr leverages technology to optimize project delivery. He previously led the virtual design and construction team and the Innovations for Design, Engineering, and Automation, IDEA™ platform providing leading-edge technology services to streamline the construction process. With more than 20 years of experience combining architecture, construction, and engineering, he’s a champion of pioneering construction technologies to streamline project procurement. Amr received the ‘Innovator of the Year’ award as part of the 2019 Autodesk AEC Excellence Awards. He received his master’s degree in architecture from Boston Architectural College.