“We have been progressive and that has helped us a lot.”
An interview with Dries van Wijk, managing director at Nimatech.
Less noise and fuel savings are the result of the electrification of Nimatech’s vacuum systems. Nimatech supplies paving machines and is itself a manufacturer of vacuum systems. The vacuum systems developed together with Intercel have undergone a transition from diesel to electric drive. The systems are used on construction sites to move, for example, stelcon plates, iron frames and stones. This innovation process has been wonderfully received with satisfied customers and enthusiastic users. Dries van Wijk, managing director of Nimatech, tells us how this innovation came about.
What exactly do you develop and supply?
“We supply machines for pavers and landscapers to lighten and improve heavy-duty work. We build our own customised vacuum systems and import a standard range of paving machines. The vacuum systems are used to move and transport stelcon plates, iron frames and stones for paving, for example. When a customer makes an enquiry, we look at exactly what its requirements are, what problem needs to be solved and how we can engineer the best possible vacuum system for it. The drive of the machine is an important part of this. Various drive technologies are possible: diesel, petrol, hydraulic and, recently, battery-based electric drive. The required voltage, the weight to be lifted and the size of the objects are the starting point to deliver the most efficient and productive vacuum system. The end result should be a low-noise and productive system that complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, achieves savings and is sustainable. Electrification meets all these conditions.”
What developments do you see in the current market?
“We notice that sustainability and circularity are very important. With circularity, we see, for instance, that our paving machines should be able to easily process existing paving into new paving. And the same applies to the machines we develop; how can we reuse old parts in our new machines or give them a different application. Electrification is a necessity for our customers and therefore also for us. Throughout the chain, the explicit demand for sustainability is there. It is driven by requirements in tenders but also from the mission of our customers themselves.”
What was the challenge you took on together?
“For years, we had a range of vacuum machines to pick up anything airtight. These were always powered by hydraulic or diesel technology. In 2017, we teamed up with Intercel to explore how this could take on battery-based electric drive. We as specialists in vacuum technology and Intercel from its expertise in electrification and batteries. The main challenge was battery capacity. The machine had to be as productive and reliable as diesel on site. Our collaboration paid off immediately and has been a great success, both in productivity and reliability.
This proved to be a smart move, as demand proved to be high and the response from our first customers was very positive. In particular, the fact that the machines are so incredibly quiet was much appreciated. No more noise, which is much more pleasant for users to work on the construction site. And it is no longer necessary to refill the diesel tank in between jobs. Just plug it in once a day and then be able to work all day.”
What was the collaboration like?
“The first meeting was very pleasant and we immediately went into depth together. Actually, we were good partners from the very first moment. Problems we encountered could be tackled well together thanks to the joint expertise and our flexible attitudes. Even in the financial part, we were able to switch well and come to a quick agreement easier than expected. We now have a more informal relationship and update each other regularly. This keeps us abreast of developments in the market and allows us to act quickly. The customers of Nimatech always come first. We have never encountered problems that we did not solve together.”
What does Nimatech’s electrification of systems deliver?
“For a long time, we were the first to run this electrified vacuum system. This has given us a lot of PR and brand awareness. The electric machines are a wonderful addition to our overall range. The world needs to get rid of fossil-driven machines and we have made an important step in that. We have been really forward-thinking and that has paid off seeing as 50% of our sales consist of electrically driven vacuum systems. And that in just five years!”
How do you see the joint future with Intercel?
“Together we are going to look closely at expanding our vacuum range. But we are also looking wider in the paving machine range. I can’t tell anything about it yet unfortunately, but 2023 will be a special year!”
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