Everything you ever wanted to know about hollow-core
As the leading one-stop-supplier, Elematic does not stop at delivering the machinery to your site, but goes on to provide training and support as needed. In the on-setting winter of 2005, the first ever Precast Academy was arranged in cooperation with Consolis Technology. The topic of this 4-day training seminar was the design, manufacturing, and using of hollow-core. Monday 28th November, 2005. It was snowing lightly in Helsinki, Finland, when the first day of the seminar commenced with participants from several different countries. "Elematic is a concrete construction industry generator, and thus we have the chance as well as the responsibility to take part in and even lead public discussion on precast concrete issues. What more, our customers have on many occasions communicated to us that there is real need for basic as well as more advanced education within this sector, and who better to provide it than a company with unparalleled project, product, and industry expertise", explains Mr. Leo Sandqvist, Managing Director of Elematic.
No previous experience necessary
Mr. Craig Webber and Mr. Mark Blackstock came all the way from South Africa with open minds. Newcomers in the field of precasting, they were looking forward to learning about hollow-core and meeting other manufacturers. Their company Quarry Cats is in the quarrying and mining business, but will soon also be manufacturing hollow-core slabs in a brand new plant with Elematic extruder technology. Explains Mr. Craig Webber: "We wanted to set up a business where we can use the aggregates from our own quarries. First we considered founding a brick factory, but then we decided to go for a more niche business. Our local market is receptive for precast products and hollow-core in particular. The first step was to find a company who could supply us with the required production equipment. We found Elematic through the Internet and were immediately impressed with their clear and concise, yet very informative web pages. Soon we also discovered that Elematic seemed to be the largest company in the industry and the only one-stop-supplier. The technology, the people, everything: the competition could only offer us the machinery, whereas Elematic could extend a complete package including machines, training, and support. We had no trouble making up our minds; Elematic said that it did not matter that we knew nothing about hollow-core; they would help us with everything! In fact, they agreed to hold our hands until we know how to run our plant and this feels really reassuring!"
Mr. Craig Webber was equally enthusiastic, and not just about the seminar. The large snowflakes falling softly outside the panorama windows of the lunch restaurant made him momentarily forget all else as he tried to capture the not-so-usual-sight-in-South Africa on film. "While visiting Elematic headquarters in March last year, we heard about the upcoming Precast Academy. This was an excellent opportunity for us to learn about hollow-core and to meet with other manufacturers. If all goes well, we plan to build several precast factories over time. We have spoken with people from Longley (C.R. Longley & Co Ltd, England), and we are very encouraged about what they say - they have been impressed with how Elematic has handled the setting up of their new precast factory so far, and with the entire project."
A way to stay on top of things
The Titan Precast Ltd representatives brought Irish color and cheer to the seminar. Mr. Juha Raatikainen, Factory Manager at Titan Precast Ltd, has worked in the field for many years already. "We have ordered a complete plant from Elematic, which is under construction and will be opened in the beginning of 2006. We decided to get a slipformer just in case we want to do other products in addition to hollow-core. We also acquired the Elematic ELiPLAN and the training needed to operate the plant. In these circumstances, Elematic's Mrs. Minna Uusi-Mikkola invited us to the Precast Academy." Continues his colleague from Titan Precast, Mr. Michael Coleman: "We came to this seminar to meet with other manufacturers and to hear about the latest technology from Elematic. We want to be among the first to know, to stay on top of things. Here we also hope to catch some hints on how to best use the Elematic machinery we have bought and on the factory in general."
Seeing hollow-core made in practise
On the third day, the Academy participants took off for a field trip to a modern hollow-core factory and a construction site, where the slabs from that very same plant were used. Says Mr. Mark Blackstock: "The factory visit was incredibly useful, we were thrilled to see the same machine that we have ordered, the Elematic Extruder EL 900E, casting a slab. We also watched with interest how the slabs were sawn and lifted off the bed with a crane, and discussed many useful matters with the Elematic representatives and the factory personnel - for example, why it is necessary to drill holes in the hollow-core slab. Many good hints were stored for later use!" The construction site brought out the cameras of most visitors, despite a very chilly wind and the snow wetting the lenses. Michael Longley from C.R. Longley & Co Ltd stayed warm from sheer enthusiasm: "Here we saw that things were done much easier than at our site back in England. You are so much further along with using precast here in Finland; we certainly can learn a lot from you! No competitor can offer this kind of training. In addition, the fact that we can leave everything in the hands of our one-stop-supplier is of great importance to us. We do not have to worry about who the contact person is at this supplier or that supplier; at Elematic we have one contact person, which saves us a lot of time and effort."
More to come
After four days of intensive learning and sharing of information between precast professionals, everyone was still ready to come back for more in the future. At Elematic, we have vowed to listen to our customers - this Academy will definitely have a continuation.