Successfully fighting the crisis

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Keestrack looks back on 2020

“Like many other international manufacturers of construction machinery and equipment, Keestrack was significantly struck by the effects of the corona pandemic,” says Frederik Hoogendoorn, Managing Director at the Belgian headquarters and responsible for worldwide sales and marketing within the Keestrack Group. “The developments at our international  production facilities took a very different course. Which not only presented us with major challenges in their local market regions but also in maintaining our internal and external delivery flows as well as our end-customer-oriented incoming and outgoing logistics for machines and spare parts.”

Already in January COVID-19 affected the Chinese production site in Chuzhou, which like many of its local suppliers, had to close until mid-February as a consequence of the national shutdown measures. The same then from mid-March for six weeks in the Italian Keestrack plant and almost simultaneously in the assembly plant of the Indian Keestrack subsidiary Etrack Crushers, which only opened in 2019. “Our main European plant in the Czech Republic and our headquarters in Belgium remained operative. Despite the corona related restrictions in work organization and transport logistics, we were able to maintain production, spare parts supply and services thanks to the great commitment of our own staff and external partners. Furthermore we greatly benefited from the large investments we have made in recent years in the digital networking of our own processes, also in the global connection of our dealers and service partners as well as in the remote access to existing fleets and individual machines of our end customers.” explained Hoogendoorn.

When asked about the economic result, Hoogendoorn emphasized, “It is currently still too early to accurately balance the course of business for all regions, the effects of the Covid pandemic on the individual markets and their industries were too different. Although we only lost a few international orders, we do notice certain reluctance to make long-term investments. Planned renewals or expansions have been postponed, which has led us to revise our forecasts downwards.” Instead of originally 20% sales growth compared to 2019 (approx. 116 million euros), the Keestrack Group now expects an 7% increase in global turnover for 2020.

“Based on the positive feedback from our worldwide distributors, who are consistently fighting the crisis as well, we remain optimistic for 2021. In addition, in the coming year we will be – once more – expanding our range to include important additional machine solutions and completely new product lines,” he said. The family-run group expects to increase its worldwide turnover by another 20%, which goes hand in hand with the expansion of its own workforce of currently more than 770 employees, the international distribution network with more than 65 dealers and service partners in 46 countries.

Revolution and evolution

One of the key products that Keestrack will be presenting in spring 2021 is the completely new designed Keestrack I4e tracked mobile reversible impact crusher. Thanks to the innovative RIC (Reversible Impact Crusher) technology, this machine can be used very flexible in the secondary crushing of rock and recycling building materials (eg.  asphalt, slag). The specific design of the reversible horizontal impact crusher with a large variable crushing chamber, powerful rotor (Ø 1100 mm; 4 blow bars) and electronically monitored hydraulic gap adjustment (+80 to -220 mm with new tools) allows feed sizes of up to 250 mm and ensures consistently high-quality end products of up to -2 mm in closed circuit. Secondary and tertiary crushing can now be combined in one highly mobile solution, which makes the Keestrack I4e a very good alternative to mobile cone crushers or vertical impact crushers, especially with regard to its outstanding production capacities from 100 to 250 t/h. According to Keestrack, the system also offers lower wear, better quality of the end products (grain shape) and significant energy savings in typical applications (eg. sand production -4 mm: approx. -30% compared to cone crushers; -30 to -40% compared to VSI impact crushers). This is also due to the advanced diesel-electric drive concept of the compact system (transport dimensions: 15.05 m x 3.00 m x 3.23 m), weighing 41 tonnes including the single-deck afterscreen with return conveyor. As with other Keestrack large crushers (H4e / H6e, B7e), the drive unit with 447 kW diesel engine and 300 kVa generator is designed as a removable drop-off module. Electric drives for the crusher (160 kW), feeders and conveyor belts as well as the system hydraulics enable particularly cost-efficient and emission-free plug-in network operation. Three specific patents illustrate the innovative potential of the new Keestrack I4e concept.

As an important addition to its low-emission diesel-electric plug-in crushers and screening plants, Keestrack is now presenting the battery-powered, track mobile stacker Keestrack S5e. As an alternative to the diesel-hydraulic/diesel-electric versions S5/S5e, the 23 m stockpile conveyor is equipped with a 22.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides the energy for fully self-sufficient electrical operation of the tracks and the lifting hydraulics. This enables the 12.7 tonnes machine to be independently unloaded and loaded, moved and positioned on the construction site.

The electric conveyor belt drive (max. 300 t/h at 2.2 m/s) is still powered via the standard plug-in mains connection or via the external power supply of the upstream crushing or screening plant. The new model is a further contribution by the manufacturer to reducing local exhaust emissions on construction sites, in the production or recycling of construction materials and offers advantages in handling and maintenance by replacing the diesel engine and large-volume on-board hydraulics by a battery.

Literally new ground Keestrack is breaking with the new range of road milling machines. Coordinated by Keestrack-China, an international team of internal and external specialists worked on the cold milling concept for a total of five years, now presenting the Keestrack F6 as its first production model. At the heart of this, is the new milling drum unit with its specific pick design, intended to guarantee high milling performance, fast material discharge, less wear and this results in a long service life. The working width of the 30 t model with 447 kW Cummins engine is 2000 mm, working depth up to 320 mm. According to Keestrack, other features are a modern, ergonomic design, large angles of the swiveling discharge belt and efficient dust suppression systems. For over two years, prototypes and pre-series models of the Keestrack road milling machines have proven themselves in large-scale practical tests throughout Asia, where the new series is also being produced. Parallel to their introduction on the high-volume market there, Keestrack is working on strategies for other global regions. These will combine the set-up of a specific sales and service network with the medium-term expansion of the model range.