Working in an elite manner
These modern tools enable Spaencom to be a company of the future - young precast professionals are easily persuaded to work in an automated environment, and architects can design original solutions without having to compromise. The cooperation between Elematic and Spaencom has begun quite recently, but it aims for the future. There is still much to develop in the area of automation, and Tekla Structures and ELiPLAN are a good beginning. Says Lars Algreen Reimer, Technical Manager at Spaencom: “ One of the main benefits of the Elite solution is that we can keep the paperwork out of it, only complex cuttings require drawings. Earlier, six drawings went out to production, now only two for checking and we can always be sure to get the latest version to the plotter. The system saves time, but it also requires more experience from the workers. This, however, has been taken care of with the proper training.” According to Reimer, introducing a new system and starting up a new production facility is always challenging. This has been the case also in Vemmelev, and especially during the first phases, data exchange between the partners was frequent and changes were made to tailor the system to the specific needs of the Vemmelev factory. This applied to the starting up of the hollow-core production machinery as well, but after minor corrections the results have been very fruitful.
Precast has a good reputation in Denmark
In addition to automation software, all production equipment at the Spaencom factory in Vemmelev has been supplied by Elematic. These include Extruder EL900E, BedMaster, prestressing equipment and a saw. Part of the machinery, such as the plotter, is attached to the automation system. “I’ve never seen so high density in an element”, says Reimer when discussing the Extruder EL900E and the factory’s hollow-core production. “This machine really is excellent at compacting the concrete”. When running at full capacity, the factory can produce 14 beds a day with a double work shift. At the moment, only one shift is at work, which is less than half compared to last year. “Precast has a large market share in Denmark, perhaps the largest in Europe. In 2005-2006, we had difficulties in meeting the market demand, leaving market shares for other products and now the market has minimized,and we have to think smarter to regain those market shares, Reimer continues. Altogether, Spaencom has four factories in Denmark and produces a wide range of precast products in addition to hollow-core slabs, among others, wall and façade elements. Hopes for a once again busy future are high. Tarmo Sahala, Senior Export Manager at Elematic, is also enthusiastic. “The current recession is an excellent time to focus resources on development work, so that you are in the front row ready to do business when the construction market picks up speed again. We want to support Spaencom in achieving their visions in the future”. Sahala and Reimer both agree that the cooperation has been good, especially after the problems in creating the same understanding of the challenges to overcome when starting the new factory and the language barrier were overcome. “Our guys here at the factory do not master English very well”, says Reimer with a smile.
Beautiful buildings with precast
At the moment, the factory at Vemmelev mainly produces hollow-core for residential and office buildings. Reimer explains that the design of buildings is making it more difficult for precast producers – round shapes and large spans without beams or columns are often among the requirements. “Today, not only 90-degree corners and straight lines are planned, but also all kinds of curves. Architects are skilled at making nice and original designs, often with glass or brickwork, as the exterior of buildings has become more significant – it has to be a pleasure for the eye.” Spaencom is involved in many projects on the developing of surface materials, to meet the growing demand for aesthetic facades. Danish architects often have complex solutions with a multitude of details and special features, such as angled corners, on the drawings. “Also architects benefit from understanding the advantages and possibilities of building with precast, and their designs can be utilized to the full with the Elite solution, as 4D-information can be moved directly from Tekla Structures to ELiPLAN”, says Sahala. “The fact that the right information goes to ELiPOS and the plotter without intervention minimizes the risk of human error regarding the cuts”, continues Reimer. “Our goal is to make production even more automatic in the future and we are very satisfied with the fact that we can use the ELiPLAN for everything, as it, for example, also includes a maintenance module. Here in Denmark we have what we call “digital demand” that works between consultants and architects, but which is challenging to expand to the factory. One reason for us to choose Tekla Structures was that it provides us with this possibility”. During the past five years, Spaencom has provided special solutions of a number of large construction projects. The company delivered 11 000 different elements of which no two were alike to Danish Broadcasting’s huge construction prospect. These kinds of projects are possible thanks to sophisticated software and excellent production machinery. The limit for what can be delivered really is sky high, of with the project of Field’s is a good example: Spaencom supplied Fields with 160 000 m2 of precast elements. “We want to support Spaencom in their vision to be the preferred partner in supplying concrete elements, and to be the major supplier of highly refined industrialized building systems”, Sahala says. “We truly aim at being a modern company that uses modern tools, and we believe that automation plays a key role in our future success”, concludes Reimer.