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Concrete Casting News from the Hill and Griffith Company

Cutting-Edge Production Management System is a Game-Changer for Canadian Precast Manufacturer

Posted by Hill and Griffith Company on Jan 9, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Excerpt from issue 6 of Concrete Plant International by Claude Goguen

Traditional wetcast production plant setups make it nearly impossible to drive productivity because there are too many variables and there is no linear process flow that can be easily tracked, measured, analyzed and optimized. The Prima wetcast system offers a solution to this by organizing the different work processes in the plant and by tracking and measuring these processes for analysis and evaluation. Precast producers like M-Con Pipe & Products Inc have found that Prima helps them organize the wetcast production of many different kinds of products and is the solution they were seeking to drive efficiency while maintaining high quality.

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The Problem: Inefficiency and Floor Space

Doug Galloway had a problem and an idea. The president of Ontario-based M-Con Pipe & Products Inc., Galloway was out of space on his wetcast production floor and looking for ways to work more efficiently.

That was the problem. The idea? Some type of carousel system that would move forms to workstations set up on a production line - like an auto assembly plant. Instead of moving buckets of concrete and production teams around the plant to strip, prep and fill the forms, bring the forms to the workers. 

Galloway took the idea to HawkeyePedershaab in 2013, and, little more than a year later, the Precast Industrial Management System, or Prima, was born. The HawkeyePedershaab engineering and sales team took Galloway's concept and brought it to life, creating a wetcast production system that saves space, reduces labor, increases the throughput of products and provides comprehensive analytics to management.

Based in Ayr, Ontario, just west of Toronto, Canada, M-Con Pipe is known as an innovative leader in providing precast concrete infrastructure products throughout Central and Southwestern Ontario. Even though they have a 100,000 sq. ft. (approximately 9300 m2) manufacturing facility, things were tight on the production floor.

"We were doing a lot of wetcast products, and they were taking up a lot of floor space," Galloway said. "The floor space was crammed with products and forms, and we were having to move them with lift trucks to strip the product and to pour concrete. So, we were looking for a more efficient way to manage wetcast forms. That's when we started thinking of this system. Because of the work we had done in the past with Hawkeye, we approached them about putting together this carousel-type system that they eventually called Prima."

The Solution: Prima Automated Wetcast Production

To understand how Prima works, let's follow one form down the production line. At the beginning of the day, the form is located in its assigned spot on the floor, monitored by an RFID tag. As the production line starts, the previous day's product is stripped from the form and moved out to the yard by a chain conveyor.

The form sits on a cart that rides on a moving conveyor that sends it to the next station, where the form is cleaned, oiled and set up for pouring. From there, it moves to the reinforcement station, where the steel is placed. At this stage, there may be an option to pull the form offline if it needs any special preparation, reinserting it after the additional prep.

The next stop is the form filling station, where the operator confirms that all the preparation has been completed and the concrete is poured into the form. An automated overhead manipulator then moves the green product to predetermined curing location where the product cures in the form until it is ready to return to the production loop to start the process over. There is more to the system, of course, according to Randy Beelman, Eastern North America Sale Manager for HawkeyePedershaab.

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