Expanding the horizon: The first plant of a new era
Now all the best know-how and experience has been put to use in a fresh form of thinking - adapting Elematic's own strengths to the existing production environment of a customer to create entirely new features in slipforming technology. This has been realized in the designing and for precast floor components for Fuji P.S Corporation in Japan.building of a production line As is often the case with projects of considerable size and complexity, this one has also matured slowly but steadily over the past 10 years. Previously, Elematic's manufacturing techniques were developed with the requirements of the European construction industry in mind. After the first tentative projects in Japan during the early nineties, there was a quieter period during which Elematic had time to develop and refine a manufacturing process that was in accordance with the demands on load-bearing capacity in an area with severe seismic activity, high standard of quality requirements and the specific working environment in Japan.
Extensive know-how matures into new concrete measures
Almost three years ago, Mr. Tatsuo Katoh from Correns, Elematic's agent in Japan, called Finland to announce that they had a customer needing a tailored solution for the manufacturing of precast floor components, and that they believed Elematic would have the right products and know-how to deliver such a production line. After thorough negotiations and meticulous planning, Elematic Oy and Fuji P.S Corporation began the work of engineering and constructing a manufacturing process for Japanese products at the site of an existing factory. The result was a production method based on prestressed slipforming technology. It was complemented with an automatically controlled transportation system of concrete from a nearby location, a highly automated process for the different phases of the production line, originating in the CAD drawings of the client, as well as the robots and other special equipment utilizing the automated process. The production line produces 500 meters of two different types of prestressed floor slabs and 100 meters of other prestressed products daily. Insert-robots move along the line placing fasteners and clips on the slab and plotting final cutting marks. A 34 meters long, 2 meters wide slab is lifted up onto the conveyor belt and only at the final stage is it cut into slabs of the required size. This new technique is being implemented for the first time. "The cooperation between Fuji P.S Corporation, our agent Correns and ourselves has been very interactive and successful throughout this project. We have gained much valuable knowledge ", says Mr Kari Vappula of Elematic.
On-site in Japan
For more than twenty years, Mr Heikki Mikkola has traveled the world and especially the Asian continent for his work. This is only his second time in Japan though, and Mr Mikkola speaks highly of the Japanese work ethic, the interactive team spirit and the dedication with which his Japanese colleagues have embraced this project. "We have worked closely together to find the best local solutions to issues that differ from European standards. For example, the welding equipment is different here in Japan." "It has been challenging but rewarding to tackle the special demands of integrating a new, highly automated production line in this specific working environment".
Meeting the challenges of an international project requires good communication between the project members. Mr Mikkola specially thanks Mr Nasu from Correns, who has acted as interpreter and supervisor throughout the visit of the Finnish visitors. Mr Mikkola oversees the assembly work of the production line and provides training for the personnel who will operate the line upon its completion. Although Japan is on the other side of the globe, today's technology makes it possible to discuss the assembly work online with colleagues at Elematic in Finland through both sound and picture.
Not all work
But it's not all work during the 3- to 4-month stay in Japan. Mr Mikkola and his colleagues Mr Ari Laitinen and Mr Jouni Sirkka, who work as an electrician and an automation engineer at Elematic and arrived in Japan in September, have bought bikes to get around in the beautiful mountain area surrounding Nogata. They have improved their physical condition by biking on the winding roads up to 500 meters above sea level, where the view is spectacular. Food is also an important part of getting acquainted with a new culture, and Mr Mikkola says he enjoys eating Japanese food and has only been twice to McDonald's, a few minutes walk from the hotel. The new production line is to be inaugurated before the end of the year. This is also a fine way for Elematic to begin its new era.