CS at your service
When your plant has been built and your Elematic machines are up and running, then it is time for the Elematic Customer Service team to take over caring for your needs. With preventive maintenance and long-lasting wear and spare parts, the wheels of your production keep turning without interference. You can have instant expert answers through data-communication or over the phone, but CS team members also regularly visit customers' factories to provide hands-on help or to check the functionality of machines and help plan for the optimum changing of wear parts. This is what Mr. Markku Marikko, Service Engineer at Elematic, does for a living. In October, he spent two weeks in the Persian Gulf inspecting factories and taking care of customers' concrete matters. In the early morning on the 10th of October, I started my journey to the Middle East. Here at Elematic headquarters, winter was setting in and the weather was gloomy; the temperature was nearing zero degrees. Almost 17 hours later I stepped out of the plane into the 30-degree evening heat of Dubai.
Ever new towers meet the eye
Rise and shine! On Tuesday morning, Mr. Keijo Kuru, our man in Dubai (Sales Manager for the area), picked me up at the hotel. We headed for the plant of Juma Al Majid, a large UAE group that produces all from paving stones and pipes to hollow-core slabs and pillars with Elematic machinery, including a circulating line, hollow-core lines, table molds, and a concrete distribution system. During the drive there, I once again marvelled at how quickly the scenery changes. It was only six months since my previous visit and already numerous new buildings had been erected. Half-done towers with huge cranes looming over them could be seen everywhere. The building boom is tremendous! Here if anywhere we really are in the right place at the right time! During the last year we have delivered 5 complete plants to the area and a fair amount of separate machines and other equipment on top of that. We have comprehensive service agreements with many of our customers, which include auditing the factories to check the operation of machines as well as the inventory situation of wear and spare parts. This was also the purpose of our visit to Juma Al Majid.
The language of precast is global
We were met by the General Manager, Mr. Mohd.Majid al Salaf and the Operations Manager, Mr. Abdul Haleem Helal. Together with Mr. Helal, we looked through the contents of the audit. For the rest of the day, I followed the production and checked the functioning of machines and equipment. The calibre of a couple of nozzle units needed to be checked carefully, which we did together with the local maintenance crew. Although we sometimes hit the language barrier, we still understood each other for the main part; we have the technical knowledge in common. Among other things, we discussed Elematic's new extruder sleeves, which stimulated great interest. We proceeded with the audit for the next couple of days, changing wear parts where needed, making a few adjustments here and there. I also checked the Batching and Mixing station as well as the recipes. It was the Ramadan and all work ceased at 3 pm. Wednesday evening I had dinner with Mr. Keijo Kuru and his family. They have spent a year in the area and have enjoyed their stay. "In the summer you live an in-door life and enjoy the air conditioning. You visit the malls, which are magnificent and refreshingly cool. When winter comes, you have the energy to do out-door activities," describes Mr. Kuru. Upon leaving Juma Al Majid, I discussed the audit and its different issues with Mr. Alwyn Nazareth, their Maintenance Engineer. "We are very satisfied with our Elematic machinery and their durability, they are technically good solutions! The cooperation between our companies also works nicely; we get the assistance we need", Mr. Nazareth concluded. We parted in high spirits. Friday is a holiday. After a delicious breakfast, I took a brisk walk before the midday sun became too hot. Having worked a few hours in the afternoon, the temptation of diving into the refreshing pool became overwhelming and I went for a swim. I was delighted to find a sauna next to the pool; it made me feel right at home (we Finns really are touchingly attached to the idea of sauna)!
Hollow-core sleeves to the test
On Saturday, Mr. Kurian from the UPC Dubai factory picked me up at the hotel. We drove to the factory, where we met with the Maintenance Manager for UPC Dubai and UPC Abu Dhabi, Mr. Per Pedersen. Together we circulated the plant and discussed the condition of the machines. They are the first to test the newest, extremely long-lasting hollow-core sleeves: these are estimated to last four times longer than the old ones! On our tour of the facilities, we greeted Mr. Kalevi Mäyrä, who is the Production Manager. He and Mr. Kuru were presently introducing the Elematic machinery to a research group from Korea, who wanted to know all about how our production equipment works and what products could be made with them. The round completed, Mr. Pedersen and I drove to the UPC factory in Abu Dhabi. Here and there next to the road were huge basins filled with water. It was for irrigation, to make the trees grow alongside the road. The trees on their part prevent the wind from blowing sand onto the road. As it only rains once or twice a year, the irrigation systems are vital to keep any green growing in an otherwise desert area.
Factories running at full speed
At the UPC factory in Abu Dhabi, we met Production Manager Mr. Eero Niskanen. The plant has our machinery for the making of hollow-core, but also a circulating line and battery molds. They also use Elematic magnets for attaching side forms to table molds. We started to inspect the equipment, which was in very good shape. I was most pleased to notice how well they were looking after their machinery, cleaning them thoroughly at recommended intervals. This is the first step in preventive maintenance! Back at the hotel, there was just time to throw on my shorts and take a short walk along the beach before the sun went down; the setting sun was a magnificent sight. In the direction of the city, construction workers hammered on and would continue to build around the clock in shifts (except on Friday). For the next week, I travelled to Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, touring the factories of our customers, checking machinery and discussing their future needs. The building boom is just as strong in all these places and the factories are constantly run at full capacity; what better way to test the true endurance of our machinery! All in all, I had had a greatly interesting two weeks. Now more than ever, with an escalating demand for precast products, it is vital that our customer's plants operate seamlessly without interruption. In this, Customer Service plays an important role. This is where we can really be of service.