The image of craftsmanship is often associated with tradition, with craftsmen working in their workshop, but seldom with innovation. However, the reality is quite different. With the advent of digitalisation, many companies are showing an appetite for new technologies.
One of them is the company Annen Plus in Manternach. It was awarded - for its craftsmanship combined with digitalisation - the 2017 Craft's Innovation Award, The Hands of Innovation, in the 'Production Process and System' category. The company particularly stood out for its innovative wood construction system that does not require screws or nails.
Modern, innovative and aesthetic. That's how we could define Annen Plus' architectural buildings in three words. With a staff of about a hundred people, it specializes in the construction of modular wooden structures that are used for all types of large buildings, such as storage halls, production halls, sports/cultural centres and even office buildings.
Each piece has its importance
The most surprising in this new way of thinking the architectural approach, is the innovating sense in a creation that could be described as evolutionary, if not revolutionary. House Annen's concept is based on parametric construction i.e. a way to achieve extraordinarily complex constructions in a flexible way without making mistakes.
In other words, it means that in an architectural plan, all the elements used will be converted into electronic data. Then, a numerical process deals with the manufacturing of various elements, all of which is computer-assisted. The parts resulting from the production chain can be perfectly assembled. They are then coded to make the final construction easier.
With the company Annen, constructions make each room unique but also specifically adapted to the entire project.
Strength through unity
The 2017 Craft's Innovation Award was also awarded to the company Annen Plus as it managed to combine artisan know-how and digitalisation. In fact, it is especially the use of digitalisation that made this automation of construction processes possible today.
Digitalisation manages the numerical control of the machine tools, capable of producing the thousands of construction parts, whether joints or other assemblies of an architectural project. This manufacturing system combined with parametric programming means that almost every shape is within reach.
Modern architecture by Annen is not only aesthetic, but modular. It especially makes it possible to reduce this innovative company's ecological footprint. Not only are the structures easy to build, erect and transport, but the Annen system supports sustainable development, as the parts can be reused on various constructions. What's more, the buildings are energy efficient, thought out to have the lowest impact on the environment, all in the spirit of circular economy.
3 questions to Alois Annen, Director of Annen Plus S.A.
1. In 2017, the company Annen Plus won the 2017 Craft's Innovation Award. What does this Award mean to you? Has it had an impact on your work?
We are very proud of this award. It reflects our commitment, the know-how of our team and our efforts to bring new ideas and techniques to life, in line with to economic and technical change.
The award has brought enduring attention to the company. As a result, we are receiving an increasing number of inquiries, which is a challenge for many. These challenges in turn offer opportunities through which we can learn and grow.
A very important marketing tool of the company is word of mouth. Our services and product range make us stand out from the crowd. As a result, we have a steadily growing number of customer enquiries.
2. The Innovation Award was attributed to your company among others for its innovation. How would you describe the innovative nature of your architectural creations?
Innovation is necessary and very exciting. For us, innovation is part of our daily business (sometimes on a large scale and sometimes on a small scale). With the help of the latest technologies and new ways of working, we are able to implement even complex and elaborate types of architecture. Every building is a sign of its time. Nothing is as constant as change and this is where we come in, taking into account the environment, time management and quality.
3. Digitalisation can be a great catalyst for growth. How does digitalisation impact your way of working on a daily basis?
We seize opportunities, large and small, and are happy to invest in changes that help us advance.
We stand for traditional craftsmanship as well as the use of the latest digital techniques. Digital methods are an indispensable tool. In order to successfully realise special wishes of our clients, we use the complete range of design tools.
In all areas, we put a lot of energy into converting analogue working methods into digital ways of working. This ensures efficiency gains and jobs for us in the medium term.