Ludwig Fasching
Director General
Doka Mexico
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View from the Top

Profitability Results from Smart Products

By Alejandro Ehrenberg | Tue, 04/28/2020 - 16:58

Q: Why is safety at the center of Doka’s value proposition?

A: Several elements can be tweaked and adapted to fit the cost needs of our clients — except for safety, which we understand as non-negotiable. Starting at the manufacturing stage, we make this a priority. Our products are made at our plant in Austria and the totality of the manufacturing chain is Doka’s. This allows us to control safety standards because every link in the chain is traceable. At this point in the product development process, we make sure to always go beyond basic standards. That is, if a piece of formwork equipment can withstand four tons, we place the limit at two tons for safety’s sake. Further on, when we implement our solutions at an actual construction site, we complement physical equipment with know-how regarding the highest safety practices. We do not just provide equipment, but base our work on the client’s architectonic blueprints, from which we develop tailored formwork plans. Moreover, our products reach construction sites accompanied by an instructor who trains the site’s workers. This instructor also monitors that the plans are being properly followed. Our manufacturing and implementation processes minimize risk factors and resonate with our guiding principle of using the simplest possible solution for the job, with the least possible number of pieces.

Safety is the cornerstone of our value proposition because once it is firmly established, other assets like durability will naturally flow from it. We galvanize all our metals products and thus make them safer and more durable. Also, unlike other manufacturers that use standard boards, we use phenolic panels in our modular wall systems. The contact side is phenolic and has a plastic coat, which enables it to be used over 200 times safely. This is important, as a high percentage of constructors in Mexico prefer renting formwork structures. Safety results in durability, which in turn, is key for the Mexican market.

Moreover, we make a point of producing ergonomic equipment, which is important in Mexico because formwork usually is handled manually. Considering a worker’s well-being is not only good in itself, it also results in higher productivity. A safe working environment reduces costs, employs manpower more efficiently and streamlines execution times.

Q: How do you face the logistics challenges that construction projects in the mining sector present?

A: Mines are often located in remote locations and tend to require large volumes of equipment to carry out construction. Therefore, being close to them during construction is key. Our value proposition hinges on being more than just a manufacturer and provider of formwork equipment. Rather, we strive to become a building partner for our clients. We make a considerable effort to have equipment readily available at the construction site, which can be located in the Sonoran mountains, 15 hours away from the nearest city. The investment is carried out in conjunction with the client, and different modalities of cooperation can be worked out. We undertook a project in Nuevo Leon where we set up a warehouse, right next to the construction site, stocked with our formwork equipment. This reduced delivery time fivefold, which was a crucial achievement as transport is a major cost factor.

Q: How does Doka innovate to carry out simpler, faster and safer construction?

A: We are continuously developing digital solutions to improve construction processes and budget management. A case in point is Concremote, a heat sensor that measures the temperature of concrete. The sensors are distributed throughout the construction site. They are connected to a computer, or even just a smartphone, equipped with our software. They enable technicians to determine the exact time when the concrete is settled and the formwork can be dismantled. Traditionally, there has always been a standard time frame of around a week before taking down the framework. Concremote is able to shorten the wait to three or four days. The savings in time and money are significant. Also, this technology can help clearly define what concrete grade is needed. If the project allows for a longer time frame, lower-quality concrete, which takes longer to dry, can be used. This also cuts costs. But if time is of the essence, then an investment in higher-grade concrete is necessary.

Concremote is ideal for construction projects in mining, where there are walls or slabs with a high volume of concrete involved. When slabs longer than 3m are used, it is fundamental to minimize fissures or other structural malformations due to drying problems. When frameworks are removed, tension is generated in the concrete, and if it did not dry properly, weaknesses may appear, posing risks to safety and possible unforeseen expenses. An example of a successful use of Concremote is a hydroelectrical dam we worked on in Canada. Temperature shifts were steep: a difference of 50 degrees C from summer to winter. By implementing Concremote, the client had almost zero fissure or reworking issues.

In other countries and regions, like the US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East, this technology is widely applied, and construction processes are streamlined. We are highly interested in introducing this technology in Mexico, but to date we have not been able to find a building partner that is willing to innovate in this regard. The issue is that to reap Concremote’s benefits, it is necessary to follow regimented work schedules and fine-tune the entire operation. This is an investment in time and effort that not many builders are willing to make. However, we firmly believe that Concremote is a game-changing technology and are on the lookout for a partner that is willing to innovate and use it in Mexico.

Doka is the world leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of formwork systems for all construction sectors. With more than 160 sales and logistics centers in more than 70 countries, the Doka Group has a powerful distribution network.

Alejandro Ehrenberg Alejandro Ehrenberg Journalist and Industry Analyst