First published in Bolted #2 2017.
As prices continue to be down in the steel and metals industries, developing a successful partnership with a major customer can go a long way to securing profitability for a small business. The Danish company Viggo Bendz is based in Høng, on the west coast of Sjælland, the largest and easternmost of Denmark’s islands. The company employs eight people and delivers solutions and equipment for crushing, demolition and sorting. Poul Erik Jakobsen is owner and CEO. He took over the running of the business in 2006, just three years after it was formed. “When I started,” he says, “we were mainly dealing with excavators. Then one day I had a realization that the company would not survive in the future if we only sold certain kinds of bolts. We needed to expand our range in order to compete.”
The ability to anticipate change has been important to Viggo Bendz from the outset. Currently, one half of their business is parts for excavators such as teeth, buckets, cutting edges, hydraulic hammers and grabs. However, the other 50 per cent of their turnover comes from machines and complete plants for the environment and recycling business. Contractors are the main users of the Expander System bolts that they distribute, yet they have been well aware of Expander System’s potential in the recycling business, where Stena Recycling is one of the main players.
Located in five markets – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Poland – Stena Recycling is committed to sustainability in their business practice. The two companies have had a long relationship, with Viggo Bendz supplying standard bolts for over a decade. However, they recently offered Stena Recycling the Expander System to test on their so-called ‘orange peel grabs’ (see picture). With this kind of machinery subject to wear and tear through constant and prolonged use, Stena Recycling have now taken the opportunity to employ a solution that will reduce the need for maintenance and will increase the safety and machine life cycle, Jakobsen believes. He says that, “By introducing the Expander System, Stena Recycling is saving money. Because of the quality, it represents a long-term investment for them. The industry is tough at the moment, due to the market price for steel and metals. Longer machine life obviously means both greater sustainability and profitability.”
The importance of supplying a sustainable solution to today’s market is something that Viggo Bendz knows well. The waste recycling business is one segment that is at the forefront of sustainable work practices, as companies increasingly focus on resource management and turning waste into new raw materials. More organizations are looking toward employing technology that enables this process and fits in with their sustainability strategy. Being able to supply a pivot solution that improves the durability and longevity of moving mechanical parts, means contributing something vital to the business of customers and to the environment as a whole.
As for being a smaller independent company in the current business climate, there are significant advantages according to Jakobsen. “We are focusing on quality products, which means that it is not always the cheapest solution for the customer. It is vital to us that we provide excellent service. Because of our size, we can be flexible and change direction quickly to help our customers and our own business if we need to.”
Being a distributor for the Expander System suits Viggo Bendz’ business model. They have a market presence all over Denmark, covering industries such as construction, mineral and scrap recycling. Currently Expander System accounts for around 200,000 euros of their annual turnover. Like almost every modern business, raising the company’s profile nationally has meant increasing their online presence. “We are focusing a lot on social media now,” continues Jakobsen. “Once a week we try to upload a case story to Facebook. Every time we upload an Expander System case, we get a couple of new customers. This is something that we must continue to use to our advantage.”
With pricing being crucial to compete succesfully in the market for the foreseeable future, Viggo Bendz is both positive and pragmatic about its current position. “Yes, it is all about price,” Jakobsen says. “However, with Expander System we do not have so many direct competitors. Being able to offer reliable, long-term solutions gives us the chance to target customers in waste recycling and other sustainable businesses. Even travelling around locally, you see how many grabs and different machinery are in operation. This potential is exciting for us.”
FACTS: THE SOLUTION
CLIENT: Viggo Bendz.
END CUSTOMER: Stena Recycling.
PROJECT: To provide solution for pivot wear on grab machinery.
NORD-LOCK GROUP PRODUCT: The Expander System.
The Expander System: cost-effective and sustainable
With its focus on sustainability and cost-efficiency, the waste recycling industry is tailor-made for long-term bolting solutions. Grab machines work constantly and repetitively, collecting, sorting and distributing waste of all kinds. Naturally, they develop pivot wear over time. Standard bolt fittings and joints become worn, leading to enforced machine reparations, which in turn lead to downtime.
The difference with the Expander System is that it is installed directly into the existing mounting on the machines, and involves a simple process which avoids welding and line boring. As well as being cost-effective in terms of longer machine life and increased uptime, it also adheres to sustainability principles, requiring less equipment and repeated repairs. By prolonging the lifetime on cylinder rod ends and moving mechanical parts, Expander System contributes to the increased safety and productivity of hard-working grab machinery.
The Expander System is installed on over 10,000 types of machines, covering more than 80,000 different pivot applications so far. The most common industries where they are being used are construction, manufacturing, oil & gas, mining, marine and agriculture.
Within waste recycling, The Expander System is not the only Nord-Lock Group solution to be hard at work. Several companies currently employ Nord-Lock Group products, including large UK waste services company Biffa. They have been using the wheel nuts on all their Mercedes trucks since 2012, having found them safer, more reliable and cheaper to source than standard locking wheel nuts.