Hendriks precon automates production of ready-made façade elements: 'Gevelklaar'‘Great example of cooperation and engineering’

‘Gevelklaar’. This ready-to-install façade concept was developed by the firm Spaansen in the Netherlands: fully finished façade elements produced under controlled conditions that guarantee high reliability and a long service life. A carousel system developed by Hendriks precon in close cooperation with Spaansen and the robot supplier is used for production. ‘It is a great example of cooperation and we are very happy with the result,’ says Managing Director Ab Knook at Spaansen.

‘Gevelklaar’: a great façade concept

‘Gevelklaar’ is the result of a rich history in prefab façade construction. Dating back to prefab concrete shell structures. ‘A number of years ago we made a conscious decision to start providing more added value,’ says Ab Knook. ‘The solution for providing this added value consists of façade elements based on the existing concrete shell structure, including embedded facilities for electrical conduits and water pipes. The elements are enhanced with window and door frames, insulation and ceramic stone strips.’

New Plant

An entirely new plant was developed for the production of these ‘Gevelklaar’ elements. Hendriks precon quickly emerged as the party of choice for automating the production process. ‘In 2016 we completed a project to increase our production in cooperation with Hendriks precon and soon after they were also involved in expanding a production hall,’ says Ab Knook. ‘That made it an easy decision. Together with Hendriks precon and the suppliers of robots and equipment for processing the insulation sheets, we created a team that assumed full responsibility for automating the production process. Smart engineering and close coordination ensured that everything was delivered on schedule and in accordance with our requirements. Truly a major accomplishment.’

Fully automated production

Anyone entering the production hall soon realises that this statement is not an exaggeration. The production process has the appearance of a tightly organised and smoothly running machine. The concrete elements that enter the ‘Gevelklaar’ plant on A-trestles are placed on a Hendriks precon tilting frame using an overhead crane. The frame has space for two large façade elements that are tilted into a horizontal position. Next, the elements are moved in a longitudinal, transverse and vertical direction using an intricate set of operations. The elements are transported in a longitudinal and transverse direction using an electrically driven longitudinal guide. ‘The challenge is the high demands we placed on relocating the frame in an x, y and z direction,’ says Ab Knook. ‘We require ±1-mm precision!’

Speed and Accuracy

The high point of accuracy and speed is clearly visible when the robots come into play. At that point adhesive ridges are applied to the insulation sheets using a fully automated process. In the next production phase robot arms apply stone strips to the façade elements. To do this, the table with the façade element is hydraulically elevated and locked into position with clamping blocks. What makes this all the more interesting is the high speed at which the 25-tonne elements are then displaced in order to make maximum use of the robots’ capacity. The robots have a 60-cm reach. As soon as a set of stone strips is affixed to the façade, the table with the façade element must be moved. In total, this movement takes no more than 6 seconds, including the hydraulic upward and downward movement of the façade elements.

Total Solution

To be able to meet the 1-mm tolerance, the drive of the longitudinal guide is equipped with a servomotor and frequency controller to quickly increase the speed and gradually reduce it, as well as to be able to guarantee the exact location of the table to be transported. The associated controls and the smart operating panel with touch screens were also supplied by Hendriks precon. In addition, Hendriks precon engineered and supplied all of the safety features pertaining to the carousel. Examples include the practical safety railings and light screens, the platforms and machine safeties, as well as advice based on risk analyses and working with safety zones.

Ab Knook is rightly proud of the result: ‘At the present time we are the only company in the Netherlands doing things this way. Our elements have a high insulation value and make for a very clean and tidy workplace. You can say with confidence that the application of these façade elements has a tremendously positive impact on sustainability. It is good to see what we have achieved together with suppliers such as Hendriks precon. It is a great company to work with and a great engineering and technological feat.’

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