Solutions from Progress
One has to be aware of existing traditions to be able to implement the current state of the art. Following this maxim, GP Wapening recently added a new high-output mesh welding system coupled with a special bending solution for cage production as well as the complete bending software package from Progress to its second-hand equipment pool used on its reinforcement production lines. The company hardly supplies any construction sites since it focuses on meeting the specific requirements of precast plants in the Netherlands, where it is fairly common that the reinforcement is sourced from such specialized bending shops. It is thus imperative to remain innovative in order to keep up with latest developments.
New and tried-and-tested machines
In 2022, the bending shop founded just five years ago, in 2017, purchased a new M-System PowerMesh mesh welding system from Progress Maschinen & Automation, as well as sophisticated production planning software from Progress Software Development. Both suppliers are members of the Progress group of companies. Yet it is not only new machines that ensure high quality and adherence to delivery schedules since GP Wapening also uses machines that were already purchased in used condition, including an MSR straightening, cutting and bending machine from 1999 and two EBA automatic stirrup benders from the late 2000s. The company has a sustainability-driven mindset, which is why automated machines in good working order continue to be used.
“I personally worked with Progress for the first time in 1999, when I bought a new MSR machine. Back then, this was the first model that included automatic bending block change and automatic cutting – a prototype. I very much liked this machine because it was easy to maintain and repairs were usually easy to do and spare parts were easy to get a hold of,” reports Pieter de Haart, Managing Director of GP Wapening b.v.
Investment in the future
The need for sustainable and efficient construction methods is becoming increasingly urgent also in the Netherlands – the precast industry expects high growth in this area. Due to the severe housing scarcity in the country, building with precast elements has already become widespread. This market segment will continue to gain in importance because of the time saved in the process and the resulting reduction in carbon emissions on the construction site itself as well as the long service life of precast concrete buildings. GP Wapening is preparing for this by enlarging its machine pool and relying on sophisticated innovations in automation and software solutions for upgrading production. Having started out in a building providing 3,000 m² of floor space in the small neighboring village of the current company headquarters, a new 9,500 m² factory building was added shortly thereafter to accommodate the new mesh welding system – an investment in the future and envisaged growth of the business. According to the company, it is thus well positioned to supply reinforcement cages to precast plants in the Netherlands and Belgium – and also in Germany if demand arises.
“For us, it was a forward-looking decision to take the step towards maximum automation, including the mesh welding machine that can produce all types of cages flawlessly and in a fully automated process and the software including data and workflow management. Every step has been automated to the max. We have implemented Erpbos as well as using pretty much the whole ‘bending software package’ from Progress including Stabos and Profit”, Pieter de Haart explains the investment.
Aiming for maximum output
The investment in the PowerMesh meant that the company opted for a machine that could deliver the highest production output in square meters per machine footprint. It was thus important to generate the highest output while ensuring high quality and creating as little waste as possible. Particularly when considering current steel prices, production from the coil – the standard setup implemented on all Progress machines – is the more sustainable solution because it minimizes waste. The M-System PowerMesh includes 20 welding heads and comes with a sophisticated bending solution that uses a combination of single and lateral benders to place the mesh elements and then mount a corresponding 2D mesh on top. It thus provides the perfect solution for generating the required high output of custom-bent cages, which amounts to a maximum of 4 tons per hour. The system is operated in three shifts – two during the day, when cages are produced, and a night shift, when flat mesh and more simply curved cages are produced.
Software completes state-of-the-art production
The fact that GP Wapening is still relying on a mixed production setup involving both conventional and automated fabrication makes planning more complex, which is why several new software solutions had to be implemented. The Progress solutions make this process easier to manage. The new ERP system, Erpbos, ensures that the welder can view the cage as a 3D model either on-screen or through a projector as soon as the bent lower cage is placed on the welding table. This clarifies how the finished product is to look according to the specification, thus making work easier and reducing the error rate – with the added effect of a paperless, even more sustainable production process. The Erpbos system thus contributes to structuring the manufacturing steps in an appropriate manner. It is supported by the profit software for production planning, which transmits all data directly and cleanly to the MSR straightening, cutting and bending machine and the EBA automatic stirrup benders. Thanks to the effective interaction of the software and the automated machines, this always happens at exactly the right moment so that the infill reinforcement can be kept ready at the assembly station even when the M-System is in production mode.
“Automation and software go hand in hand,” reiterates de Haart, adding: “The PowerMesh and the entire automated system are fantastic, but it is the software that makes the whole system truly complete.”
GP Wapening b.v.
5804 CD Venray/The Netherlands
+ 31 478-759446
Progress Maschinen & Automation AG
+ 39 0472 979100
Progress Software Development GmbH
+39 0472 979159