The company Kerkstoel 2000+ was founded as a construction business in 1872 and has its head office in Grobbendonk, Belgium. Up to the 1960s, the company operated as a construction business and building material supplier.
Understanding the signs of the time, Michel and Florent Kerkstoel decided at the end of the 1960s to manufacture precast concrete elements in the form of floor slabs (which at that time were also called Omnia floors). The company expected that this innovative construction system would provide good opportunities on the Belgian market. The first floor slabs, which at that time were still licensed by the OMNIA Organisation, were produced in the easiest of ways and were distributed successfully in the province Antwerp. This visionary decision soon succeeded and marked the start of a continuous upward trend for the effectively operating manufacturer of precast concrete elements.
Today, the family business, which is run in the fifth generation by Pascal and Vincent Kerkstoel as well as Frederick Jonckheere, is one of Europe's leading and high-performing manufacturers of precast concrete elements. The co-operation with Weckenmann already dates back to the year 1974.
Almost 40 years of co-operation with Weckenmann
When Gilbert Mertens, former and current Technical Manager of Kerkstoel, placed an order with Paul Weckenmann for the delivery of a production line, the two business men did not know that this would mark the beginning of a co-operative business relationship which has been lasting for almost four decades now.
Already three years later, Weckenmann delivered the first of a total of six concrete spreaders which were supplied within these four decades. A keen sense for market developments as well as the continuous expansion and modernisation of the business are the key success factors for the company's vital development. Gilbert Mertens, who is still Technical Manager at Kerkstoel, did play and is still playing a significant role for the company's success.
While during the first ten years of the co-operation, the focus was lying on solutions for the economic production of floor slabs, arrangements for a new product were made in 1983: the double-shell wall or double wall. So in 1983, the first double wall production started at Kerkstoel in co-operation with Weckenmann.
The dynamic and successful business development of both companies, Kerkstoel and Weckenmann Anlagentechnik, can be attributed to the steady growth of the market volume for precast concrete elements, which started at the end of the 1980s.
Circulation systems for a leading market Position
In 1993 and 1997, Weckenmann participated in the installation of the state-of-the-art plants for the production of floor slabs and double walls of that time. The first formwork robots developed by Weckenmann were successfully employed at Kerkstoel. Gilbert Mertens says, "We want to supply our customers with the best quality available on the market. We can only achieve this by using state-of-the-art and sophisticated machines." The production technology is maintained regularly. The concerted modernisation of the circulation system for the floor slab production as well as for the double wall production is effected in close collaboration. This ensures that despite the huge production output, the production will run trouble-free and deliver first-rate Quality.
If replacements are required, these opportunities are taken to reasonably upgrade the plants: It was only recently that a concrete spreader was replaced by a fully automatic system. At the moment, the replacement and changeover of the complete formwork profiles to a system with integrated switchable magnets is on the agenda. All modernisations are carried out during normal business operation, which is only possible because of the close and good co-ordination between the engineers of both companies.
"We are working together on a basis of close and personal co-ordination. This ensures a good and smooth co-operation," points out Dietmar Kiene, Sales Manager at Weckenmann who has been servicing Kerstoel for many years.
Milestones of the joint company history
1974 First production line
1977 and 1981 Concrete spreader for the production of floor slabs on a stationary production line.
1993 Commissioning of a new,powerful, automated and CAD-CAM-controlled pallet circulation system with shuttering robot for the production of floor slabs.
1997 Commissioning of a new CAD-CAM-controlled pallet circulation system for the production of double walls.
2011 Modernisation of the existing floor slab circulation system: New, fully automatic concrete spreader, robot gripper and double cleaning and oiling system for shutters / magnets. Replacement of the shuttering system.
2012 Modernisation of the existing double wall circulation system: Replacement of the shuttering system with corrosion proofed shutters with integrated magnets, new
robot gripper, cleaning and oiling of formworks, extension and renewal of formwork transport conveyor.