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Keestrack crushers and screeners: Profitable Belgian manufacturing in the heart of Europe

Marcel Kerkhofs, Marketing Manager, Keestrack
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Marcel Kerkhofs, Marketing Manager, Keestrack

LECTURA Press is inquisitive as always. Fortunately, Marcel Kerkhofs, marketing manager of Keestrack, is prepared to answer our questions concerning the bauma 2019, e-portfolio, company's turnover, Šternberk plant, challenges or new solar-powered concept.

Were you satisfied with the construction machinery trade fair bauma 2019? Did it meet your expectations?

It has performed above our expectations. The bauma 2019 edition was the biggest event ever, confirmed by the organization a record of 600.000 visitors and 3.700 exhibitors. For Keestrack it was a very good trade show where we as manufacturer and our distributors had a chance to meet our worldwide users.

We also welcomed a lot of potential buyers. We showcased our product innovations to the world, so people have a better view on what Keestrack as a brand stands for — innovative, environmentally-friendly and efficient mobile crushing and screening equipment. New orders have been signed on the show and new distributors have signed up to represent Keestrack as a brand in their countries.

However, these large events cost the companies a lot of money. What is your opinion on future trade fairs and exhibitions in terms of the financial side? Could the companies come up with new presenting strategies or would the trade fairs still play a key role?

The success of a trade shows is a strange phenomenon. You would expect in the continuously growing virtual world the power of these shows would diminish, however, you see the current trade shows are attracting more visitors every time. The reason for this is, I believe, the weaker trade shows have vanished while people still look for social gatherings, where they can see innovations in their industry and experience something new. This is also why more companies set up experience programs like virtual or augmented reality, for instance.

The philosophy of Keestrack is to show new product innovations as nobody wants to have a look at a machine they have already worked with for years. Of course, the cost of such an event is huge and we wonder how we can reduce costs and how to present the products in the best possible way, but we believe people still want to see the actual machines as long as they are new and innovative.

Keestrack is headquartered in Belgium, however, the company’s main factory is situated in Šternberk, Czech Republic. Why have you chosen a different country from Belgium and why has it been Czech Republic?

Keestrack consistently develops its worldwide manufacturing capacities. Opened in 2001, Šternberk - Czech Republic has been the first manufacturing site for tracked screeners and crushers of Keestrack. Šternberk has been known for skilful welders and the labour costs in Belgium were to high to produce competitive equipment.

In 2014, the group management decided to launch a mid-term development programme to expand the capacities at Šternberk. With the official opening of is second production hall earlier this year, a new 8740-m² assembly complex, in Šternberk, the second extension phase of the company’s main factory in Czech Republic, has been completed.

The first phase, of the planned three steps, was adding a modern 5000-m² factory in 2016 for steel construction, additional to the existing halls (8000 m²) and this remarkably improved raw material logistics. The second new complex – operational since September 2018 – now completes phase 2 with an additional space of 8.740 m², accommodating parts storage and four separate assembly lines for screeners and crushers.

Phase 3 of the factory extension will be initiated in 2019/20, including a new quality control facility, a modern spare part logistics terminal and a state-of-the-art customer centre. Parallel to the floor space extension Keestrack-CZ will also implement a new powder coating line, remarkably increasing production capacities and considering larger workpiece dimensions for the coming heavier Keestrack models.

Next to the facilities in Czech Republic, Keestrack also set up an assembly plant in Chuzhou, China in 2007, and bought the Italian former OM plant in 2010. Keestrack’s Indian branch Etrack has started in May 2019 at the construction of a brand-new assembly hall, with the first machines leaving the 10.000-m²-facility in Neemrana, around 100 km south of New Delhi, this year.Keestrack plant in Šternberk, Czech Republic

The company’s turnover for 2018 should have reached around 100 million Euro. What percentage of this amount is being reinvested into development and what are the main projects?

Keestrack is an independent family-owned international holding, led by Group President Kees Hoogendoorn, his spouse Annet Schoenmaker and the sons Peter and Freek Hoogendoorn, as the second generation of owners.

For 2018 the company’s turnover reached a consolidated volume of 100 million Euro, expectations for 2019 exceed 120 million Euro. As Keestrack is a family owned company there are no share holders to be paid, resulting in a complete reinvestment of the profit in the company. Investing in setting up the best possible production facilities and in product innovation.

Keestrack’s e-portfolio is constantly expanding. However, the more electric machines, the more power sources needed. Have you ever considered developing your own tailor-made gensets for optimal recharging?

The consistent development of electric drive concepts is far more than a mere modification. Keestrack e-hybrid machines with plug-in electric drive are very flexible as they can be plugged in the electrical grid or be driven by their on-board diesel engine and onboard genset. Op top of this they can power additional electric equipment by a plug-out socket at the machine. Today, Keestrack already offers 80% of its total 22 models in six series as diesel-electric hybrid variants, 75% of them as fully electric plug-in systems.

Thanks to their on-board diesels and gen sets, Keestrack's modern "e"-versions remain as flexible and highly mobile as conventional technology without having to add a lot of additional transport weight, ± 1000 kg compared to the respective diesel-hydraulic version. By using high-quality steels and the weight-optimized design, Keestrack hybrids still undercut significantly the transport weights of most diesel-hydraulic competitor models of the same capacity.

Another interesting innovation is the "Drop-Off" power-supply module Keestrack is offering on its new “heavy equipment” plug-in plants. On-board diesel and generator are combined in a detachable unit, which can be positioned remotely from the machine, far from dust and vibrations during diesel-electric operation and easy to be accessed for control and maintenance. Since the main control with energy management and all electric drives are installed on the chassis, the drop-off modules can be completely dismantled and stored during plug-in operations via mains.Keestrack's e-portfolio: mobile jaw crusher B4 and mobile cone crusher H6

Keestrack is currently represented in more than 50 countries worldwide. Are there any other regions or challenges that you would like to reach?

Keestrack is always looking for possibilities to expand. By investing in our production facilities, we want to ensure we can deliver the equipment needed on the market, by innovation we want to ensure we can deliver the right solutions to the market. There are certainly some regions were Keestrack needs to strengthen their position and find some good distributors, but we are working hard on this.

Keestrack presented an interesting concept at bauma 2019, the S5e “Solar” track-mounted stacker. Does it mean that the company is presently into solar energy technology? Do you see a potential in it? When can we possibly expect the first mass-produced model?

The most advanced and futuristic result of Keestrack sophisticated ‘e’-technology is the proof of concept showed at the Bauma 2019 in Germany: The new track-mounted solar and wind powered stacker S5e. It is probably the first directly solar & wind-powered mobile processing plant worldwide. A small wind turbine and photovoltaic panels literally span like a sun sail over the 23-meter-long conveyor belt.

With max. 9 kWh they feed the system battery with a capacity of 23 kWh, installed on the chassis. The conveyor belt (22 kW) and the tracks (2 x 15 kW) are directly electric-driven, an electric pump unit (2 x 15 kW) supplies the hydraulic lifting cylinders. If bad weather causes an insufficient photovoltaic power supply or intensive continuous operation exceeds the solar recharging capacities, the system can be powered or recharged via available external sources, such as a diesel-electric crusher or screen, or via main plug-in.

The Solar stacker has received a very positive feedback at Bauma resulting in additional studies at our engineering department to evaluate if we can produce it by 2020 at a competitive price. Keestrack will continuously search for the best options to power their equipment at the lowest cost and with the lowest ecological footprint.

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Company overview

Keestrack is a Belgian family-owned company, specialized in crushing & screening, represented in more than 50 countries worldwide. The company invented the world's first direct feed screen on tracks. Keestrack currently offers a full range of flexible e-hybrid mobile crushing and screening equipment for the material processing sector.

Source: LECTURA Verlag GmbH; Patrik Eder