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On the e-bike to the construction site

Interview with Sanne van Vliet, commercial manager at BAM Infra Nederland

Urban mobility and energy transition are important themes within BAM Infra. That is why the construction group is affiliated with the Bouwhub in Amsterdam Westpoort and employees travel on electric bicycles to project locations in the city. Commercial manager Sanne van Vliet tells more about BAM’s sustainable ambitions.

On the e-bike to the construction site. How does that work?

“Urban mobility and the energy transition are important themes within BAM Infra. We work throughout the whole Netherlands – and beyond -, but construction traffic has especially in cities a major impact. As a large construction company, we find it very important to take responsibility for this. That is why we have been thinking about smart and clean ways to get in and out of the city for some time, for example by using electric cars. That’s how we came up with the idea of e-bikes.

We started a pilot at our project location on Joan Muyskenweg in Amsterdam South, which immediately proved successful. Our employees come to this location with their own transport and then continue by bicycle to the various construction projects. There are fixed containers containing the construction equipment, so they do not have to transport it themselves. Not only construction workers, but also contractors and company managers regularly use the e-bike. And I myself often go by bike when I visit construction sites or customers.”

Was everyone immediately enthusiastic?

“Of course it took some getting used to at first, but the benefits quickly became apparent. You arrive at your destination much earlier, because you pass all the traffic jams and congestion in the city. Moreover, you do not pay sky-high parking costs and you save yourself that eternal frustration of not being able to find a parking space. Of course it does help that they are e-bikes: if you have been doing heavy work in the open air all day, you can use a helping hand. We now regularly receive requests from other parts within BAM Infra who want to borrow our e-bikes, but on the Joan Muyskenweg we really cannot – and do not want to – do without them anymore.

At the Bouwhub in Amsterdam Westpoort, where we are affiliated, we have now also introduced the bicycles. It’s great when other construction companies also let their employees cycle to their projects.”

Are you also looking at other forms of smart transport?

“Hell yes. Electric driving is of course a great solution, but an electric heavy truck in the city is still a heavy truck. And we all know that the quay walls in Amsterdam will not last long if nothing is done about them. That is why we look at transport over water, for example. This is not possible for every project, for instance: we cannot carry asphalt – which must remain hot – over water. But we should be able to transport stones perfectly over water. So we are working on that.

Because we are always looking for innovative, sustainable mobility solutions, we also have the Green Deal ZES signed. This resulted in the collaboration with the Bouwhub. We have also met many interesting parties with the same themes and ambitions and with whom we can share our knowledge and project experiences. Only together we can really make a difference.”

How does BAM Infra contribute to the energy transition?

“In various ways. Consider, for example, installing solar panels in the road surface, on the emergency lane at Shell Station Haarrijn and on cycle paths in Brabant. Or the 3D printing of concrete: because it wastes less raw materials, it is much more sustainable. Moreover, you do not need formwork, which keeps the concrete in place during pouring and curing. We also work as much as possible with special asphalt, which is produced at a lower temperature and thus produces fewer emissions. And we are looking at building a hydrogen asphalt plant and the use of hydrogen trucks. This year, BAM Infra celebrates its 150th anniversary and to celebrate that, we plant all over the world 150,000 trees . In this way we try in all kinds of ways to contribute to a cleaner world.”

What other challenges of the Board do you appeal more to?

Digital connectivity is also a theme that plays with us. We strive for a smart city, certainly from asset management. We collect large amounts of data every day, on which we base our business operations. Nowadays we can accurately monitor the traffic flow, the condition of the asphalt and whether maintenance is required. By means of temperature sensors in the road surface, we know exactly when to spread. We scan road signs and know immediately whether they are still in good condition or, for example, if road works are now redundant. We map out our entire work area digitally and can use our materials very efficiently and sustainably.”

How do you see the region in five years?

“I expect that Amsterdam will no longer allow cars at all by that time, which will result in many more high-quality public transport connections and smart mobility solutions. It would be great if companies would collaborate more in that area. What we do now with the Bouwhub, is of course also possible with offices.

Next to our office in Bunnik there are other large offices and every morning and evening a whole procession of employees drives behind each other. We are sometimes talking about a system to let those people ride together, that would save so many cars on the road. A kind of carpool-Tinder, as we sometimes jokingly call it. If companies are interested in that, please let me know!”