Automation of manual tasks in the precast concrete industry
Olthof Groep BV in Sappemeer, the Netherlands, is a family business owned by the Olthof brothers, which has grown into a major player in the production of concrete, precast concrete elements, aggregates, sand and gravel. The group is also active in the field of collection of railroad ballast, as well as the transport and rental of machines and containers. A recent collaboration with Echo Precast Engineering led to the installation of a high-tech automatic plotter SmartJet® and a concrete aspirator, which allow for faster and more precise work with less manpower.
2008 - 2019
Livestock farmers become concrete producers
Initially, the company was only active in livestock farming, purchasing a concrete plant to produce the concrete elements necessary for the expansion of their own infrastructure. With the founding of Olthof Prefab the focus increasingly shifted towards the production of concrete blocks and prestressed hollow core slabs for third parties. The construction of a second concrete plant in 2019 marked the end of the company’s livestock farming and the turn to solely the concrete business.
To further optimise the plant’s production processes, the managers contacted Echo Precast Engineering NV from Houthalen-Helchteren in Belgium, where machines and installations for the production of pre-stressed concrete elements for global demand are being developed, produced and installed. A thorough analysis of the specific needs and possibilities led to the installation of an ultra-precise automatic SmartJet® plotter for Weep Hole Drilling and a high-performance concrete aspirator.
According to the basic data of the architect and constructor, Olthof Prefab draws up the laying plan and calculates the needed floor elements. The new plotter marks the elements and marks cut lines, cut-outs and identification data as they come out of the extruder. Weep holes are automatically included in the process as well. The plotter is able to mark geometric figures, letters, numbers and even logos on the top and sides, and the plotter can receive the data via USB or WiFi.
Thanks to the plotter, human errors resulting in incorrect cuts or weep holes are eliminated. After all, remanufacturing the wrong hollow core slab is an expensive business, resulting in double fabrication, transportation and crane costs.
What I remember most from this pleasant and smooth cooperation with Olthof is the constructive interaction during the exchange of ideas in order to arrive at an optimal solution
Roeland Reenaers, Area Sales Manager at Echo Precast Engineering
The concrete aspirator is placed behind the plotter and, after marking, takes out the excess concrete at the level of open cores to make openings, hammer heads and column recesses.
The concrete aspirator also cleans the concrete remains off the track. Through the speed and precision of the work and the saving of a few jobs without significant added value, Olthof Prefab has already increased its efficiency during the production process. Both machines are available in standard and customised versions. All things considered it’s a smart investment that pays for itself quickly!
This excellent collaboration with Echo Precast Engineering enables us to make a great step forward in the scaling up and automation of our production processes
Frank Arkema, Works Manager at Olthof Prefab BV