Ducon Concrete Ltd., Kanturk, Ireland, is expanding their production of hollow core slabs with a new Slipformer S-Liner from Echo Precast Engineering, one of the seven companies belonging to the Progress Group, a leading full-range supplier to the precast industry. Ducon, a family owned business, with its production site in Cork belongs to the leading precast concrete manufacturers and suppliers to the construction industry in Ireland and produce concrete blocks, prestressed hollow core slabs, precast hollowcore slabs, wideslabs and precast concrete stairs. They have over 40 years of experience in the manufacture and supply of ready-mix concrete and concrete products to residential, agricultural and construction industry customers in Munster and beyond. All their precast products are CE approved and focus strongly on quality of products as well as service to their clients. Prestressed hollow core slabs account for approx. 30% of Ducon’s overall business and ancillary precast elements (mostly precast stairs) a further 6%. This percentage is growing year on year since 2015 when hollow core sales were approx. 15% of their overall sales.
Their hollow core slab production contains elements which vary in depth from 150 mm to 400 mm. The most common sizes being 150, 200, 250 and 300 mm. The company already owned three other S-Liner from Echo Precast Engineering. With the new Slipformer S-Liner they opened a fourth production line and could dedicate one machine for each of the mostly produced sizes, which negates the need for mold changes, what leads to a reduction of production time and also minimizes errors that can occur while a mold is changed. The new process leads to higher flexibility in the production.
Another reason to invest in further machinery was based on an increased demand over the years. A special interest from clients is shown in higher demand for deeper slabs with 250 and 300 mm or requests for longer spans. Beside that the requirement for load bearing increased for office buildings and commercial developments. Also the market in Ireland is changing more and more from wide slabs into pre-stressed hollow-core applications.
Frank Healy jr., Owner and Managing Director at Ducon, confirms a very positive turnaround for his company after a long recession period in the construction industry in Ireland, which hit the country round about ten years ago. “The fact that we also sell other concrete products such as ready-mix concrete and blocks along with quarry products aided us through the extremely difficult time.” He adds: “In the last three years, with the demand for precast elements that is coming back, we have invested approx. 3.5m euros in a new plant between our quarry operation, the main production yard and in trucks. Now we also invested in the new slipformer and the concrete aspirator. With the new equipment we focus on creating a quieter and cleaner work environment within the production factory and also reduce downtime due to breakdown of equipment. Beside the new machines that are already added to our factory, we plan to complete our production with further equipment until 2020.”
Echo Precast Engineering was the partner of choice as supplier, while planning the expansion with new machines. “Our relationship with Echo began some 20 years ago with the purchase of our first Slipformer from them. When it was delivered and put in production, it worked without any teething problems from day one. This experience was repeated in the case with all four machines now and therefore I have great confidence when I buy Echo machines.”
Beside the Slipformer Ducon also bought a concrete aspirator, which is used for removing wet concrete, mainly from slots or openings and for cleaning the space alongside the rails as well as the space between the production beds.