In mid-2017, Kerkstra Precast expanded from their Grandville, MI location into a 365,000 square foot facility in Trenton, MI, a suburb of Detroit. In that time, they have transformed the former home of Huron Valley Steel Corp into a vast precast facility by installing (1) 16’ wide x 500’ long double tee bed and (2) 15’4” wide self-stressing architectural flat slab beds, one measuring 260’ long and the other 180’ long. The flat slab beds were furnished by Weckenmann of Dormettingen, Germany, while Spillman Company provided the stressing frames and hanger plates.
CPO machine for different dimensions
To make themselves even more competitive in a fast-growth market, Kerkstra installed four different process improvement machines from Weckenmann. For Kerkstra, Weckenmann developed one of the first double tee CPO machines in the world, with adjustable flange width from 11’ to 16’ wide, and adjustable stem brushes to provide for different stem depths. After transferring .dxf files via a thumb drive, the machine can operate in fully automatic mode to clean, oil, and plot the bed, plotting just on the horizontal surface of the form. The whole process only takes about 70 minutes—30 for cleaning, 10 for oiling, and 30 for plotting. To top it all off, the entire operation is completely dust free, using scrapers and brushes with a vacuum, making it fully compliant with the most recent OSHA silica dust standards. Kerkstra is in the process of adding a modification to the CPO machine to allow for plotting on their flat slab forms as well.
Investment in further machines
Streamlining processes is everything for Kerkstra, so they have also purchased a strand-pulling bulkhead placement machine, a tarp roller with 2 tarps that measure 20’ wide x500’ long, and a finishing machine. This machine has four functions: power troweling, raking, brooming, and screeding. While good labor continues to be a challenge for the industry, these technological advancements can make a huge difference in moving precasters towards the future. Kerkstra is already there.