Complete overhaul in Georgensgmünd: New curing chamber for Thomas Betonbauteile

Continuously ensuring supply capability combined with an exceedingly high quality standard – this is the ambition and guiding principle that determines the way Thomas Betonbauteile is doing business. To reach this goal, the company invested a large amount in overhauling its Georgensgmünd production site last year. This major project involved not only a full-scale refurbishment of the concrete mixing unit, but also the complete modernization of the curing chamber, which was implemented by Curetec.

The Georgensgmünd plant produces precast floors, concrete walls, stairs, and balconies for residential projects. It has been part of the medium-sized Thomas Group since September 2017. Immediately after its takeover, a survey was conducted at the production facility in order to determine the required scope of plant overhaul and modernization. The resulting strategy was finalized at the end of 2018, and the full range of envisaged activities was completed in 2019.

The Georgensgmünd overhaul project started with converting the curing chamber for precast floor units. Curetec installed a new insulation layer inside the curing chamber. In addition, a new, environmentally friendly gas-heating system was installed. On the precast floor production line, the steel and lattice girder processing units were replaced, and the carousel system was equipped with state-of-the-art controls. These activities gave rise to an even higher quality standard while increasing production output and mitigating noise. The concrete mixing plant underwent a complete overhaul to upgrade it to the current state of the art. Also, a residual concrete recycling system was installed in order to mitigate environmental impact even further.

Perfect conditions for curing

Concrete requires heat and moisture for a perfect hydration process that fully achieves its intended properties. However, heat was in scarce supply prior to overhauling the Georgensgmünd plant because there was no  properly equipped curing chamber for precast floor units. “Installing an autonomous heat supply inside the chamber was the only solution to further enhance product quality and to work more economically,” explains the manager of the precast plant, Thomas Feigl. The company quickly decided to install a hot-air heating system in order to create perfect curing conditions for the precast floor panels. Since Thomas Group had previously been successfully cooperating with Curetec on the implementation of other projects, this supplier was promptly chosen as the dedicated partner for the envisaged conversion and modernization works. “We are not a conventional heating contractor, but we know the industry and see our key strength in being fully aware of the needs of our customers,” says Talahat Akcay, project manager at Curetec.

Comprehensive conversion and upgrade

Both the curing chamber and the rack system were insulated so as to create perfect conditions for curing. A new insulation was fitted to the existing rack system. The area occupied by the storage and retrieval unit was connected to the chamber insulation.

Heating the air inside the chamber, ensuring continuous air circulation

In addition, a Concure hot-air system was installed to ensure that the chamber is heated properly. This system heats up the air inside the chamber and also provides continuous air circulation to ensure uniform temperatures inside the chamber. “The new hot-air system provides our customer with the option of operating the chamber system at a temperature of up to 45°C”, Akcay explains. This air circulation system extracts the air from the bottom section of the chamber, uses a hot-air generating unit to heat it up, and injects it again uniformly at different levels of the chamber. High-output fans are used to support hot-air circulation. “Since we are now able to cure concrete products more quickly, we can lift the items from their molds after 10 to 12 hours, and we work in two shifts,” Feigl says. A temperature sensor mounted in the air extraction zone of the chamber constantly monitors the temperature inside the chamber and transmits measured values to the control unit, which evaluates the parameters and adjusts the chamber temperature according to the programmed setpoints.

More equipment, more jobs

As part of the complete overhaul, the Georgensgmünd site shifted its production to an almost paperless process. “Typical sources of error, such as an outdated printout of a plan, can thus be avoided,” Feigl adds. Reinforcement prefabrication was also automated. The Progress system processes steel from the coil in a fully automatic process and installs transverse reinforcement with or without spacers, longitudinal reinforcement, and lattice girders.

State-of-the-art robots increase production output and optimize processes while also enhancing dimensional accuracy and minimizing errors. Meanwhile, robotic equipment has come to be widely accepted at the Georgensgmünd production facility, yet its implementation has not led to layoffs. “We now employ 20 to 30% more workers than before,” Feigl says. Molds for the precast stair units are also fabricated on-site, which is why the carpenter’s shop was also modernized as part of the comprehensive overhaul.

Employees communicate with other group-operated production sites via videoconferencing. This digital communication mode enables them to learn from each other and to benefit from the experience gained at other sites.

In pursuit of a common goal

As of today, 95% of the conversion works, which originally started with overhauling the curing chamber, have been completed. The Thomas Group production site is currently focusing on consolidating and strengthening its activities. “We are very happy with our full-scale overhaul as well as with the cooperation with Curetec. Our focus is now on producing, producing, producing,” Feigl says. In future, Thomas Group intends to commission Curetec with additional projects. “What is important for a good business relationship is to be very open and to be able to rely upon each other. After all, we are pursuing a common goal,” Akcay adds.

CureTec Energietechnik GmbH & Co. KG
Lehmkuhlen 13
49757 Vrees/Germany
+49 4479 9390 600
thomas betonbauteile Georgensgmünd GmbH & Co. KG
Breitenloher Weg 14
91166 Georgensgmünd/Germany
+49 9172 684 33 10

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