Throughout an extraordinary year, we have maintained confidence in our strategy, Strong22, with its clear focus on new digital technologies and climate change. Even in the turbulent times experienced in 2020, we have continued to drive forward transformations and investments. We launched Royal HaskoningDHV Digital, increasing focus on our digital transformation consultancy and digital twin software. We acquired Novius, digital transformation consultancy experts in the Netherlands, bringing complementary capabilities to our new Digital Business Line to create a comprehensive portfolio of services. The acquisition of transport consultancy ITP in the United Kingdom strengthens our capabilities in shaping the sustainable transport networks of tomorrow.
Executive Board and Executive Council in the back from left to right: Craig Huntbatch – Global Director Maritime & Aviation, Erik Oostwegel – CEO, Jasper de Wit – CFO, Anton van der Sanden – Global Director Transport & Planning, Marije Hulshof – Global Director Industry & Buildings, Anke Mastenbroek – Business Line Director Southern Africa. In front from left to right: Meike Salvadó – Director Human Resource Management, Niels Schallenberg – Global Director Water and Global Director Digital.
We create digital twins with an unparalleled level of accuracy and detail. Our data modelling, predictive simulation and Internet of things (IoT) technologies can help transform the way clients and stakeholders think and operate, delivering the insights needed to improve decision-making and optimise processes.
COVID-19: significant but contained impact
The safety and well-being of our people has been a principal focus throughout the pandemic. Close monitoring of the global spread of the virus and government reactions enabled us to respond quickly with directions to staff in respect of their health and safety, restrictions on travel and working from home. Once that happened, we provided support in the form of equipment, regular communication and frequent resilience checks to identify where further action was required. After a short period of adaptation, the majority of our work has continued, helped by our ongoing investment in digital ways of working. For example, in some cases construction of 3D models enabled our teams to walk virtually through facilities with clients so project planning could continue.
In the face of considerable uncertainty, we put in place strict cost measures and created various scenarios as to how the business might evolve over the year. This enabled us to closely monitor our performance and take additional measures, including the use of furlough schemes. Across markets, effects were mixed. Aviation was hit hard due to the collapse in passenger numbers. Other areas such as the infrastructure market in the Netherlands flourished, partly as a result of government stimulation. Overall, impact on our business performance, while significant, was contained.
Today’s world is changing faster than ever. New digital technologies, customer demands and major challenges like COVID-19 are constantly emerging and disrupting the way organisations must operate. To provide our clients with the insights and agility they need, we are connecting digital capabilities to our domain knowledge to turn reactive decision-making into real-time and predictive control. The launch of our Digital Business Line in 2020 brings focus and strength to this commitment for clients across all markets that we service. Already it has inspired businesses like Swedish multinational power company Vattenfall to collaborate for significant impact on their renewable energy plans.
Business decisions are increasingly based on data-driven insights and simulation as human and physical worlds become more and more digitally connected. Across all our markets, we expect digital twins - digital replicas of the physical environment - to become prevalent. Our Digital Twin Centre of Excellence which is part of the Digital Business Line acts on this trend, supported by software solutions which draw on our considerable domain knowledge. In 2020, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency to explore how our Aquasuite® software can support the utility’s digital transformation over the next three years. In the United States, the use of digital twin capabilities together with predictive simulation, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is transforming decision making, efficiency and throughput in a massive nuclear waste clean-up programme. It has cut the time taken to answer multiple-scenario questions from around 25 days to just 2-4 days.
Technologies such as 3D printing, parametric and generative design are opening up new opportunities and possibilities for construction across many industries. Using digital technology to create designs based on parameters that we can vary almost infinitely, we are able to develop many scenarios and variants at lightning speed enabling clients to make better informed decisions at an earlier stage. What is more, it is possible to create a scalable solution for a design rather than treat each new building as a new project, effectively turning projects into products. Using 3D printing with circular composite, we are creating the world's first lightweight 3D printed composite pedestrian bridge which has a longer lifespan, lower lifecycle costs and improved sustainability (more information in the Our stakeholders and how we engage: Partners and associations section).
Our parametric way of working delivers a quicker, more cost effective and optimal solution for assets.
Our significant contribution to innovation in the water sector was recognised in the award of Water Technology Company of the Year at the 2020 Global Water Awards. Innovations that led to this achievement include continuing developments arising from our revolutionary Nereda® waste water technology, such as production of Kaumera Nereda® Gum. The Middle East is set to have its first Nereda® treatment plant as part of a huge waste water investment programme serving 1.2 million people. Another important waste water scheme started in 2020 in the city of Tschewane in South Africa where current requirements exceed existing capacity by as much as 70%. We are involved in the three-year project to upgrade infrastructure and increase treatment capacity to improve the quality of the effluent, avoid excess sludge and ensure discharge into the local river meets compliance standards.
We were recognised as Water Technology Company of the Year in the 2020 Global Water Awards for our significant contribution to sector innovation.
Digitising and integrating our solutions
Automation of our own work processes enables us to continuously improve efficiency in the way we deliver our services and also offer new services. For example, to investigate the causes of the collapse of a football stadium roof in the Netherlands, a drone scan of the structure created a simulated model from which calculations and assessments could be made. Our digitised models of stadiums and concert halls used in combination with our crowd modelling systems also led to the launch of a tool to optimise capacity in a COVID-safe environment for sports and other events. Another automated solution has been developed for airports to comply with new regulations on runway condition reports. The Runway Condition Report Tool (RCR-Tool©) provides automated condition reporting and forecasting in real time. Sensors for the tool have been installed at Bonaire International Airport in the Caribbean as a first step to comply with the new regulations.
By bringing our services together we can offer resilient integrated solutions to highly complex problems and also serve the entire chain in a market, from strategy to operation. For example, we design ports, but can also lay down a long-term vision which connects with operational processes. Coastal protection studies for Beira in Mozambique involve expert input from across our integrated global team. The coastal city is just a few metres above average sea level and needs a clear adaptation strategy to ensure suitable protection for its half a million inhabitants against floods and coastal erosion. To embed this ability to offer an integrated portfolio of services to clients we are developing cross-market account teams which deepen and widen our client relationships.
Our vision for sustainability is as strong as ever, evidenced at so many levels in our projects and operations. Through 2020, we have continued to push forward on climate action, enhancing resilience and building a better, more efficient and sustainable society. For example, the complex renovation of the double-arched Van Brienenoord Bridge on one of the busiest traffic corridors in Rotterdam is being tackled in a cost-effective way which embraces circularity and extends the lifespan of the bridge for another 100 years. Our solution involves building one completely new arch and renovating the original which will then replace the second arch. Once complete, a new use will be sought for the replaced arch too. We have taken sustainability to a new level within our operations, for example making a commitment to the Paris Proof initiative to significantly reduce energy use in all our offices by 2035 and only use renewable sources.
We are proud of our company, our people and what we stand for – this year more than ever in the face of unprecedented challenge. The foundations of our culture are built on our BRITE beliefs - Brightness (keeping an open mind to ideas that lead to the best solutions for clients), Result Driven, Integrity, Team Spirit and Excellence. While our culture goes through a process of change, we remain committed to strengthen these values which underpin our mission.