True development partners in a musketeering spirit
Many of Elematic's finest machines for hollow-core and wall production have originated from the needs of one client in particular, the Parma precast factory in Forssa, Finland. The development cooperation between these two highly innovative and open-minded companies has been ongoing for almost 30 years, and there is still no end in sight. A true lifelong partnership is a win-win situation, enabling the maximization of productivity while minimizing the risks. The Manager of Parma Forssa, Mr. Eero Kujala, has shaken hands with Elematic's Senior Export Manager Mr. Tarmo Sahala uncountable times during the past 26 years. Since the end of the 1970's, the two companies have been working together in a true development partnership. The needs of a major precast producer have resulted in the creation of leading hollow-core production technology, which is now in use all over the world. "How much more difficult it would have been to develop new technologies without this very fruitful cooperation", says Mr. Sahala. "Working together with such an experienced manufacturer has made our solutions right down to the point and extremely user friendly. This is not just our product development, but a shared venture that has worked to the benefit of both companies."
Shear compaction makes for top extruder
One major result of the Parma-Elematic teamwork has been the developing of the shear compaction technique that is in use today. This work started already in the 1980's and soon also included the consideration of environmental factors, such as decreasing the noise level in factories. In 1995, this development work had led to the launching of one of Elematic's true jewels: the king of extruders, extremely silent EL 900E. Hollow-core technology is still today a very strong part of Parma's business. Every year, Parma factories turn out 1.5 million m² of hollow-core, of which 300 000 m² are produced at the factory in Forssa.
Going for FaMe
The production of wall elements at Parma Forssa is carried out with a circulating line, the roots of which are also found in the cooperation between the two companies. The excellent sandwich panel, an insulated wall element intended for façades, can have a large variation of finishes, much improving the general misconception of precast as being grey and unattractive. Parma was also among the first companies to make use of the Elematic Fastening System (FaMe), a modular system of magnets, side forms and accessories that suits all steel surfaces for any type of molding, all from façades to solid walls and even columns.
Increased productivity with new machinery
The first version of planetary concrete mixer was tested at Parma Forssa in the beginning of the 1980ies, followed by several others in the years to come. The mixing of dry concrete proved to be a real challenge, so Elematic designed a solution that works just as well with wet and dry concrete. "We have been very satisfied with the opportunity to use the Parma Forssa factory as a test environment for new machinery", Mr. Sahala describes. With the wide product range of the Parma Forssa factory, Elematic's extensive know-how of the entire production process has been of great importance. During the years, products such as the SlipMaster, SlabMaster, Circulating line, FaMe, and the ELiPLAN Enterprise Resource Planning Software, have been developed to meet the needs of Parma's production. "All these products have contributed to the increased productivity of our factory", says Mr. Kujala. "As environmental aspects are becoming still more important, SlabMaster, for example, improves work safety in the production area in addition to speeding up the work process."
Cooperation the most productive model
Twice a year, Parma and Elematic meet to discuss development issues and to consider future strategies. "We are old acquaintances and during our two decades of fruitful cooperation, no harsh words have been spoken on either side of the table", says Mr. Kujala. "Elematic fully understands our needs and we are confident that this mutually beneficial teamwork will continue in the future, although currently, the upswing in the construction industry means that production resources are in maximum use around the clock, making it challenging to run test series, for instance." Both companies agree that successful cooperation is a matter of specifying the rules of the game, the objectives, and the resources on both sides. If all this is planned with care, no tensions arise and both partners can have confidence in each other. "The most productive operating model of today is definitely cooperation", says Mr. Kujala. "Elematic can provide us with added value through their extensive knowledge, and we can contribute our experiences."
Importance of environmental issues growing
Parma was the first company to apply the Elematic Recycling System at one of their factories. The system cleans up slurry, excess concrete, and waste water from the production process for recycling purposes. It is based on sedimentation that separates the rock material from the water: the water can be reused in the factory, while the rock material can be used for soil enrichment purposes, for example. As for the future, Parma is looking forward to the coming Elematic LoopMaster, which abolishes the need to make holes and attach hooks in concrete slabs by hand. "Handwork is no longer possible with the amount of hollow-core slabs cast today", notes Mr. Kujala. The environmental benefits achieved with a machine such as the LoopMaster are also important. "Being able to reuse the concrete dug out from the holes is a large benefit", he continues. The hollow-core factory in Forssa uses 50 000 m³ concrete yearly, so decreasing waste concrete is a significant issue. "With today's technology and continued cooperation, I believe we can rise to the challenges brought about by the increasing hollow-core slab thicknesses and ever stricter environmental demands," Mr. Kujala concludes.