The manufacture of precast elements for water engineering is a very sophisticated line of business that requires specific knowledge and expertise. Claus Pfeifenbring Bausysteme GmbH & Co. KG has gained the relevant experience and entered into partnerships with design and engineering offices, water and civil engineering contractors, and public-sector clients in order to supply them with a wide range of different precast elements.
Global environmental changes including extreme weather events and increasingly frequent torrential rain phenomena require a sustainability-driven approach to designing and executing projects, particularly with a view to the high ratio of paved areas that obstruct appropriate stormwater runoff. In this context, environmentally friendly surface drainage systems and compensation areas are becoming increasingly important.
In 1963 the company is founded in Neustadt am Rübenberge in Lower Saxony as a construction company by Claus Pfeifenbring. Initially, conventional drop structures were built in in-situ concrete. Based on this experience, Claus Pfeifenbring developed the precast system KSS cascade bottom linings. With this system, hydraulic requirements could be optimally met and removal costs minimised. At that time, production was carried out with the simplest of means.
The next major milestone was achieved in 1965 when the company moved to Bockel, the current production site. At the end of the 1960s, the business manufactured drop structures with up to 300 individual elements and also started producing its first precast concrete bridges. To respond to the growing demand, Pfeifenbring added major extensions to its buildings at the premises, and a stationary Eirich mixer was installed in 1971. At the same time, the foundation stone was laid for the company’s own testing ground in the form of an artificially created water area in Bülstedt extending over an area of 11 hectares for the purpose of testing true-to-scale elements of the KSS series, determining runoff volumes, and develope fish ladders.
The development of the first slope cascades KSS 500 B for road construction took place. This further developed system is used today in landfills, waste dumps and in motorway construction. In the 1970s, pond monk in prefabricated construction was also developed, which is now increasingly used in retention basins and bypasses for regulation, retention separation. Pfeifenbring started producing weir units in the mid-1970s. Automatically operated weir systems soon reached a gate width of 10 m. Construction activity was reduced while increasingly designing, producing and consulting precast elements for water engineering. Since the death of the founder in 2012, the company has been managed in the same spirit by his family and long-term senior employees.
Comprehensive plant upgrade
In 2016, the company name changed from Claus Pfeifenbring Bauunternehmung to Claus Pfeifenbring Bausysteme GmbH & Co. KG. One of the founder’s daughters, Maren Schauder, had actively taken on the managing director role. Since then, she has been running the company together with construction engineer Alexander Stateczny in his role as plant manager. In the course of this process, the company completely shifted its focus from being a construction contractor to a pure-play precast producer.
In 2017, the entire mixing unit was revised and upgraded to optimize the production process further. For this purpose, a state-of-the-art 375 l planetary mixer supplied by Italian manufacturer OMG Sicoma and a new 44 m³ cement silo from Kurz Silosysteme were installed. Two years later, the major share of capital expenditure concentrated on crane systems.
Managing director Maren Schauder comments: “As an efficient, medium-sized family business, we work with high quality standards, which is deeply rooted in the consciousness of our employees and is secured by investments in technical equipment. Solution-oriented product planning and continuous innovation as a further development of the products was and is a constant concern of the company, in line with changing ecological views and requirements. The knowledge we have acquired over decades and the simultaneous openness for innovations form the basis for the realisation of demanding projects. We regard major projects such as the delivery of precast concrete elements for 2000 meters of line drainage of a transformer station in Montenegro as a challenge.”
Many years of trusted cooperation
In regard to the equipment upgrade, plant manager Alexander Stateczny adds: “We’ve never encountered any problems thanks to the trusted cooperation with partners such as equipment suppliers Sicoma, Kurz and project coordinator Wagener & Polaschek. For example, if we had placed the order for the new mixer in August 2016, we were able to commission the mixer and silo in May 2017 after an intensive planning and preparation period.”
This way of trustful cooperation holds true for other suppliers such as cement producer Holcim (Deutschland) AG. “Pfeifenbring is currently planning to redesign its concrete mixes with a view to enhancing their plasticity so as to further improve the production workflows by reducing or even eliminating the need for concrete compaction. In addition, we are going to adjust the previously used concrete recipe with the aim to contribute to mitigating climate change and reducing CO2 emissions. In this context, we plan to replace conventional Portland cement with a more climate-friendly CEM II/A-LL Portland limestone cement. To achieve this goal, we are in close contact with the technical marketing department at Holcim, and we very much appreciate the advice and consultancy they are providing to us,” Stateczny says.
Large number of successful projects
Over the years, Claus Pfeifenbring Bausysteme GmbH & Co. KG has gained a sound reputation at the local, national and international levels by successfully completing a large number of projects in road, motorway and railway construction as well as at landfill and stockpiling sites and in a number of other areas of water supply and drainage. One of the landmark projects involved the production of the Tälesbach cascading systems in the State of Baden-Württemberg (see BFT 3/2020). For this project, the company developed an 8.2 m wide cascading system with a staggered cross-sectional pattern. This system was produced and installed in 2015. Such projects are essentially governed by the aspects of hydraulic functionality and ease of on-site installation. The first section of the cascade alone extended over a length of more than 100 m and comprised over 600 individual elements. The second phase of the project involved a 48 m long, 6.2 m wide cascading section that was completed in summer 2019.
In the case of the transformer station project in Montenegro referred to above, the drainage channels were originally planned to be constructed using the complex in-situ concrete method. However, after close consultation with the “movers and shakers” at Pfeifenbring Bausysteme, the client, Siemens Austria, favored a precast solution ranging from small drainage troughs to a large downslope cascading system that was completed within only four months.