Engel & Leonhardt supply structural precast concrete elements to the housing industry

If a company wants to be successful in the long run, it will have to respond to the demands of the market. The Engel & Leonhardt precast plant is fully aware of this. The manufacturer of structural precast concrete elements located in the picturesque town of Storkow is supplying the customers with ever new products and innovations – nowadays to the housing sector primarily.

After the foundation of the Berlin-based construction company in 1927 – by Adolf Leonhardt and Wilhelm Engel – the Engel & Leonhardt company continued to develop. In 1958, the establishment of the present precast concrete plant in Storkow began as a company of HMT Strausberg. In the first few years, precast elements for road and underground construction as well as customized precast parts were manufactured there under the difficult circumstances prevailing in the GDR.

In the 70s up to the 90s, the plant was characterized by large-scale production almost exclusively manufactured in steel molds. Along with products for underground construction, L-shaped elements and fence posts, precast elements for the municipal housing projects of the GDR became more and more important. „In 1990, the plant had to reinvent itself,“ reports general manager Jochen Zumpe.

Precast concrete plant undergoing change

The changed conditions after the reunification necessitated a full turnaround of the factory and the production range. Hence, first negotiations regarding the acquisition of the HMT plant in Storkow with Engel & Leonhardt Betonwerke GmbH & Co. KG had already begun early 1990. They were finalized with success and the concrete plant was integrated into the E & L group of companies. The entire production was reorganized. Formwork construction was predominantly made of wood. Form this point on, the supply of spatial balconies for the modernization of residential properties in Berlin was a core area of the activities. When the main factory was closed in Berlin, the production facility in Storkow was acquired by Mahlo Bau GmbH. At first, the plant of the newly founded Engel & Leonhard Betonwerk GmbH primarily manufactured precast elements for balconies and elevator shafts to cover the own needs of Mahlo Bau GmbH and to be used in housing rehabilitation projects in the Berlin area. „We supplied 40,000 or even more balconies for comprehensive refurbishment projects in Berlin – eventually we stopped counting,“ reports Zumpe.

As of 2010, the core activity of the plant shifted from refurbishment to new residential construction. „The rehabilitation of Berlin was completed for the most part and new construction became more and more relevant, hence we had to further develop as well,“ says Zumpe. Balconies with very complex geometries, elevator shafts for modernization and new residential construction, stair production and customized precast elements characterize the current production range. In the meantime, Engel & Leonhardt is no longer manufacturing for Mahlo Bau GmbH exclusively, but are also supplying other medium-sized construction companies in Berlin-Brandenburg, Hamburg, Bremen and other regions.

Berlin and affordable housing construction

Engel & Leonhardt benefit from their proximity to Berlin and the urban development plan of the capital city. Berlin has been growing by an annual average of about 40,000 people since 2011. As a consequence, 20,000 homes will be needed annually over the next few years; among them, above all, common good oriented homes.

Hence, it can be anticipated that the safe core business of the company will remain in the field of new residential construction, because precast concrete elements play a key role in affordable housing construction. „The issue of affordable housing calls for a repetition factor,“ states Axel Mahlo (Dipl.-Ing.), the managing partner of Mahlo Bau GmbH. At present, both the precast producer and the Mahlo Bau parent company enjoy the comfortable situation of having substantially more inquires than capacities and can thus select the orders.

Skilled employees and a lot of storage space

The permanent team of Engel & Leonhardt comprises 35 employees – five of them are working in the office, 30 in the production. The crew is complemented by seasonal supporters. The peculiarity: „We have a low employee turnover rate. Some employees have already been working with us for 40 years, some in the second generation,“ general manager, Jochen Zumpe, states. „Our employees are our greatest asset.“

Another strength and important asset of the precast producer is the premises covering eleven hectares. In this way, they are in the position to pre-produce large quantities and store them accordingly. This, in combination with an own truck, allows them to deliver on short notice. However, the concrete plant itself isn‘t the only beneficiary of the large premises. „The fire department and the technical relief organization have the possibility to carry out exercises on the site,“ says Zumpe, for whom social commitment for the region is very important.

Manufacturing technologies and investments

Five years ago, the Engel & Leonhardt precast plant started investing in plant equipment and manufacturing technology more intensively. „We wanted to modernize and advance the plant step by step,“ Zumpe says. The concrete that is used at Engel & Leonhardt is mixed on site. For this purpose, a concrete mixing plant of Wiggert & Co. GmbH is used. The cement needed is purchased from Cemex located in Rüdersdorf. Concrete transport has been carried out by means of dumpers made by Ausa for four years now. And a new production hall heating system of Etapart provides for continuous production even in winter. The range of services of the concrete plant includes the entire formwork and reinforcement planning in accordance with architect specifications. The formwork systems are both partially manufactured in-house and purchased externally.

New staircase formwork

The new electromechanical, centrally adjustable Variotop staircase formwork supplied by Howal is an investment Engel & Leonhardt is particularly proud of. This formwork allows the production of straight precast concrete stairs with right-angled treads and integrally molded bottom landing and top landing as raw concrete staircases or as fair-faced concrete staircase. The electromotive central adjustment of the steps minimizes the set-up times considerably and eliminates the individual adjustment of every step.

The extended top step can be placed in any step of the formwork, thus enabling the production of flights of stairs with molded bottom landings and top landings and a length of up to 1.50 m with varying numbers of steps. For the adjustment of the angles a spindle-type lifting gear is used provided with hand wheel and angle level. The tread is entirely made of steel and designed without joint so that the precast element shows no butt joint in the landing. „Using the new formwork system means that we only need 30 % of the previous effort,“ states Zumpe.

Engel & Leonhardt Betonwerk GmbH
Bugker Chaussee 5
15859 Storkow (Mark)/Germany
+49 33678 4370

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