better together story

Building durable ports in Spain

Building durable ports

The Port of Algeciras in the south of Spain is a leading port in the Mediterranean area. It handles an annual container cargo volume of 3.3 million tonnes of TEUs (Twenty feet Equivalent Units, or standard six-meter containers). Bekaert was selected to supply Dramix® steel fibers to reinforce the concrete pavement of a brand new terminal comprising 392 000 m2. We therefore played a key role in the construction of a reliable, safe and durable port.

In 2008, the local port authority awarded the South Korean concern Hanjin Shipping the development and operation of a brand new terminal at the Port of Algeciras. To realize the project, Hanjin partnered with the Spanish group Acciona and the engineering company ALATEC. Works at the site began in April 2009 and are planned to be finished in March 2010. When completed, some
3 700 tonnes of Dramix® steel fibers will have been used to reinforce around 98 000 m3 of concrete pavement.

Exceeding the standard

The three berths at the new terminal will be intensively used by large cargo vessels carrying between 5 000 and 13 000 TEU. Because of the high number of loading and unloading cycles – the projected container traffic is set at a staggering 1.7 million TEU per year – the concrete terminal floor requires optimal reinforcement. Should a delay in operations occur because of a faulty terminal floor, the repair and down-time cost could jeopardize the profitability of its operator

Moreover, the Spanish standard for the design and construction of port pavement sets the minimum durability at 25 years. As concrete strengthened with Dramix® steel fibers greatly exceeds this standard because of its high fatigue resistance and load bearing capacity, ALATEC opted for Bekaert.

In addition, Dramix® has significant advantages in usage, compared to other reinforcement fibers. For example, ALATEC confirmed that the fibers could be distributed more uniformly in the concrete pavement with Dramix®. This is one of the reasons why ALATEC has been using Dramix® steel fibers in its container terminal construction work for over 15 years now.

Mr Garabatos from Alatec supervising the works on site: “On-time delivery for previous jobs, a stable product quality and a full service approach including dosing equipment on site convinced us in choosing Bekaert.”

Bekaert’s experience in this type of project and the excellent relationship that it has built up with ALATEC for over a decade now, are other major reasons why the engineering company chose Bekaert as a crucial partner in yet another successful, large-scale construction project. Plans exist to expand the Port of Algeciras with a similar terminal in another eight to five years time. Most likely, ALATEC will then again opt for Bekaert’s Dramix® steel fibers to build a safe, reliable and durable port terminal.

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Mini-companies in Latin-America

Mini-companies: a future-proof business model

At the end of 2007, Peru’s economy was booming, boasting a continuous GDP growth for more than 60 months on end. Prodac, Bekaert’s local production platform, proved no exception to the national trend: demand was skyrocketing, resulting in double digit growth. When import duties for steel were totally abolished by the Peruvian government, international competition toughened. In order to stay on track towards sustainable and profitable growth, Bekaert had to fundamentally reinvent its business model.

The starting point, as ever, was the voice of the customer. After being credited as the market’s premier benchmark company for wires and wire-related products, Prodac went further down the path of integration and a total solution approach.

Shifting the mindset towards market orientation

In 2008, the ambitious business model project was launched. Prodac established five business units that are no longer linked to a product, but each to a single market: mining, building, agriculture, erosion control and retail. The new business units operate as ‘mini-companies’: the team members work towards a specific goal, constantly aiming for optimization and forge strong ties with suppliers and customers. This requires a fundamental change in mindset, flexibility, openness and a market-oriented approach. We recognized from the start that we could not be experts in everything. Our specialty was wire, but our knowledge on the industries that were applying our wire products needed to be broadened. That is why experts in areas such as geomechanics for tunnels, retail marketing or engineers in the correct applications of geosynthetics were incorporated into the Prodac teams, thus allowing us to increase the speed of acquiring industry-specific knowledge.

Even though the project is still in its implementation phase, the company’s portfolio has already undergone several changes and extensions. And we offer planning, logistics and installation assistance to our customers. In short: Prodac is now considered as a true specialist in tunnel sustaining for mines, in vineyard conduction technology and in steel reinforcement for concrete.

Strategic diversification in our product portfolio

As a result, the five market-oriented business units have materially broadened their product and service offering. Diversification is key here. Products can be manufactured locally by Prodac, sourced from other Bekaert plants or delivered by a third-party supplier.

The ‘new business model’ project will be further deployed in the coming year. Today it is already clear that Prodac’s future-oriented vision and its customer-oriented approach will offer a competitive advantage.

From left to right, General Managers from the various mini companies: Daniel Masias, Central Manager Environmental Solutions Business Unit, Fernando Muñoz, Central Manager Mining Business Unit, Victor Marquina, Central Manager Agriculture Business Unit, Antonio Aguilar, Central Manager Building Business Unit, Michele Bio, Central Manager Distribution and Retail Business Unit.

In Chile too the mini-company model has been introduced successfully, as from 2003, in order to encourage individual initiative, customer orientation and sense of ownership.

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New plant in Russia

better together put to practice in setting up the Lipetsk plant

It took Bekaert just over a year from the decision to set up a new steel cord plant in the Lipetsk Special Economic Zone to the moment of first production. Key to this success was efficient cooperation between Bekaert, on the one hand, and the Lipetsk Special Economic Zone regional management agency and regional authorities, on the other.

Bekaert opted for the Lipetsk Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to locate its new plant after several years of exhaustive research, visiting many different regions and considering numerous possible locations and set-up configurations. Only the Lipetsk SEZ could meet the site selection criteria, for example, the availability of skilled labor, high-quality power supply, and of communications and transport infrastructure. Moreover, Bekaert wanted an efficient collaboration with the local authorities. And that is just what the Lipetsk SEZ offered.

Close cooperation results in fast approval

Bekaert was immediately impressed by the positive atmosphere and can-do attitude of the SEZ management when they first met. Mr. Lavrentiev, Director of the SEZ regional management agency displayed a deep knowledge of all issues of concern to Bekaert. For example, the selection of a suitable land plot, power supply and engineering infrastructure were discussed openly and in detail. In addition, Bekaert received wide support from the regional authorities, more specifi cally in the person of Oleg Korolev, Governor of the Lipetsk Province.

The speed at which the Bekaert investment was approved by the SEZ Supervisory Board was truly astonishing. Bekaert staff and the SEZ management agency worked day and night to successfully prepare all the required papers in less than a month.

Investing in quality and in the local community

For the construction of a new plant Bekaert prefers to work with local companies as they know the local conditions. In this way Bekaert also aims to contribute to the welfare of the region. Of the twelve subcontractors employed to build the new plant, four were local Lipetsk companies.

Paul Wyckaert (Bekaert) and Vladimir Lavrentiev (SEZ): The speed at which the Bekaert investment was approved by the SEZ Supervisory Board was truly astonishing. In less than a month the required papers were prepared.

All through the employment period, Bekaert offers an intensive training program for both operators and plant management. Bekaert wants the competencies of its staff at Lipetsk to be of the same high standard as at all other Bekaert plants worldwide. As for the quality of the Bekaert products manufactured at the Lipetsk plant, Bekaert will be able to match the same high standards as well. In the construction of the Lipetsk plant Bekaert spared no trouble nor expense to install the most modern infrastructure and state-of-the-art machinery.

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Power distribution in the U.S.

Flexibility and strength in power distribution

While the U.S. population has grown approximately 100 percent over the last 60 years, electricity consumption has increased more than 1 500 percent, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This increased electricity demand has caused congestion in the U.S. transmission system, which is in vital need of upgrading.

According to an industry analysis done by the Edison Electric Institute, approximately 70% of transmission lines in the U.S. are more than 25 years old. As the U.S. power grid continues to break down, Bekaert is working closely with its customers as investment is being made to modernize the system. Major North American customers include producers of transmission and distribution power cable used by electrical utility companies. Bekaert supplies stranded steel core reinforcement materials for their aluminum conductor steel reinforced and aluminum conductor steel support (ACSR and ACSS) conductors.

General Cable, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Highland Heights, Kentucky, is one particular customer that has partnered with Bekaert to provide solutions for the future. General Cable is a global leader in the development, design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of copper, aluminum and fiber optic wire and cable products for the energy, industrial, specialty and communications markets. Energy cables include low-, medium- and high-voltage power distribution and power transmission products

The relationship between Bekaert and General Cable has grown significantly over the last few years. What began as a small scale trial program with Bekaert in 2004 has now evolved into a strategic partnership with its foundation built on service and quality. “Over the years we have found tremendous value in our relationship with Bekaert. At General Cable, our competitive strengths are in areas such as breadth of product line, brand recognition, distribution and logistics, sales and service and operating efficiency. We see Bekaert as an integral partner with the same strengths and core values as ours,” said Paul Eaglin, Director of Sourcing, General Cable.

A case in point came in 2009 when General Cable won a major project to supply four million feet of transmission cable that will eventually connect wind farm developments to the US power grid. Bekaert supplied all of the ACSR 7-wire strand for that project. Eaglin: “This was the single largest project that we have worked on with Bekaert to date. We were very pleased with the excellent product quality and level of service that we have come to expect from Bekaert. Bekaert delivered all of the ACSR materials on-time and with no quality issues. These two crucial supply factors allowed us to seamlessly service our customer in a critical market for our collective growth.”

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation reports in their 2009 Long-Term Reliability Assessment that there are plans to install approximately 32 000 miles of transmission line throughout North America from 2009 to 2013. “General Cable plans to play a significant part in the growth of transmission cable, including for the renewable energy sector, both in the U.S. as well as around the world. Bekaert is a reliable global partner for General Cable’s future growth,” Eaglin said.

(left) Troy Irwin, Sales and Marketing Manager, Wire North America, Bekaert and (right) Paul Eaglin, Director of Sourcing, General Cable.

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