text.skipToContent text.skipToNavigation

Solid relationship expanded to include air

Welding company and machine builder Leenstra has had itsme as a regular partner for the supply of electrical materials for more than twenty years. A recent machine building project broadened the relationship to mechanical products, in particular Festo pneumatics. The project involved a machine for the manufacture of concrete elements and it only made the cooperation between Leenstra and itsme more solid.

Leenstra in Drachten (65 employees) specializes in assembling and welding steel products for sectors such as construction, automotive, offshore and recycling. Owner since 1990 is VBI (Verenigde Bouwproducten Industrie), part of Consolis, a large European company specialized in making concrete products. Leenstra also carries its own products for the construction industry, namely clamps for safely lifting concrete slabs and fall protection for employees working at height. Finally, from its history with VBI and other customers, the company is still active as a builder of machinery for the manufacture of reinforced concrete elements. 

Electrical and pneumatic engineering

The Leenstra casters make concrete elements, with or without reinforcement, of up to 5.25 meters long by 1.25 meters wide and with a maximum product weight of 2,500 kilograms. The machines are based on the method of direct demoulding. They have a high degree of automation for filling the molds, compacting the concrete by vibration, finishing, letting it dry in the air and finally disposing of the hardened elements. They are machines as large as 41 by 15 meters. "As a result, it pays to perform a rebuild after ten or twenty years," says chief structural engineer Ronald Terpstra. With proper maintenance, the structural work remains good for a long time, while the production part, including controls and drive technology, can be brought back up to date with new construction. "That makes a huge difference in costs compared to complete new construction, which is what we do," he says. To supply the materials for such projects, Leenstra always worked with itsme for the electrical engineering and with Festo for the pneumatics, including the switch boxes.

Questions about Breemes's de-risking?

Fill in the form and we will get back to you!

"In a few years, the ratio of electrical engineering to pneumatics will be 50/50."

When another conversion was on the cards last year with the 'Master Caster' project, it also immediately looked at the new possibilities offered by the gradual shift from pneumatic to electric drive. "This shift is presenting itself widely in industrial automation," Terpstra explains. Account manager Arthur Cooke of itsme agrees. "We are Festo dealers and see that our customers are increasingly using electric drives to control the movements of cylinders, for example. After all, air is an expensive medium. I expect that in a few years the ratio will be 50/50."

Complete unburdening

"For the time being, however, Leenstra also still needs pneumatics," Terpstra reports. "For the heavy work, electric drive is used; hydraulics are not applied, to prevent contamination on the products in case of possible leakage. However, our machines have the necessary lifting, lifting, clamping and sliding movements, of valves, among other things. And these movements can still very well be performed pneumatically with the reliable solutions from Festo. This offers many advantages, such as low cost, high reliability, cleanliness and simple control. " That pneumatic solution requires separate cabinets, which move with the machine part they belong to, such as the filling machine driving back and forth over the mold. If the cabinets move with the movement, less fragile piping is needed. It simplifies control and ensures that the pneumatics in its own cabinets remain clean and dry under harsh production conditions.

"itsme delivered the cabinets completely finished."

Leenstra was able to source the pneumatics components from itsme right away. In addition, for this project Leenstra decided not to build the control cabinets itself. "We do have people for that ourselves, but with such extensive projects it is much more pleasant if another party prepares and builds the cabinets. Then we can immediately place them in the machine and only have to connect the hoses. We also came to talk to itsme about this combination of control cabinets for a pneumatic solution. We supplied them with the schematics and they looked at which old components we actually had to renew. Then they delivered the cabinets completely finished." 
To build the cabinets, itsme called on a partner, says Cooke. "This technical service provider has a lot of knowledge of and experience with hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems and drive technology. They have been working with us for quite some time. The logistics of component supply, cabinet construction and delivery to the end customer were coordinated by itsme from itsme Industrial Automation specialists. In this way, we have completely relieved Leenstra of the burden of the switch cabinets. Incidentally, we work with several partners for switchgear cabinets. With each project, we weigh up which cabinet builder or installer is most suitable for it."

Collaborating disciplines

The project started last summer and was delivered early this year. Terpstra: "It is now running to the satisfaction of the customer. Thanks to the innovations we made to the machine on the basis of previous experience with this customer, it contains a piece of production optimization. We like the new approach for the pneumatic switch boxes. In the initial process we were kept well informed and exchanged drawings each time to keep each other up to date with the latest version. The cabinet builder delivered on schedule - not too late, but not too early either, because then it just got in our way."
Cooke confirms, "Through the use of the right technical knowledge and good mutual relationships, this project was completed successfully. We continue to invest in the cooperation with Leenstra, for supply and advice on electrical and mechanical materials in automation and lighting technology, among others. But also consider the automation courses for the technical staff. Also in the future we will continue to seek cooperation with the various itsme Solutions, partners and suppliers in order to be able to help and support Leenstra in the best possible way with all technical and logistical issues."


Check out our other success stories:

    19 sep. 2023
    Sparck - using air to remove air from boxes
    Drachten-based Sparck Technologies builds automated packaging machines that make customised boxes for online retailers. The company focuses on energy-intensive pneumatics at a number of points for its innovative, high-speed machines. This ensures maximum benefit for customers: less air in the box, less cardboard consumption, higher packaging capacity and less dependence on manpower. itsme supplies the Festo standard components for this and also ensures that Sparck-specific pneumatics products are made.
    Read more
    18 apr. 2023
    Tight connection for signal cables
    For years, itsme has supplied signal cables to Krohne Altometer, producer of flow meters for the process industry, among other things. Cut to size and delivered on time, although the latter is a challenge these days due to delivery problems in global supply chains. "In itsme we have a good party, which thinks along and helps where it can. Just a very reliable supplier, who says what they do and does what they say." Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
    Read more
    6 apr. 2023
    Breemes 'Best overall supplier' by Nitto Belgium
    Nitto Belgium and Breemes have an enduring bond. Last year, that was rewarded with Breemes being awarded the "Best overall supplier" award. Sustainability is an important theme in their relationship these days. As a partner, Breemes thinks along with Nitto Belgium, about solutions to the global component scarcity and also about greening Nitto's products and production.
    Read more
    4 apr. 2023
    HAK to LED
    Lighting is an important aspect of sustainability. In 2023 the production of fluorescent lamps will stop and the switch to energy-efficient LED lighting will become really urgent. Some companies have yet to start, others have been working on it for years. Like food company HAK, which has been carrying out replacement projects in cooperation with lighting expert itsme for years. Here too, HAK's brand values of health and sustainability are in the spotlight. HAK, known for its Dutch vegetables, has grown from a traditional cannery for the Benelux to a branded vegetable food company for Northwest Europe. In the North Brabant town of Giessen, 150 employees annually produce millions of the well-known glass jars and, for several years now, stand-up pouches. "Because we depend on nature, our biggest challenge is to get the product in good quality into the jars and bags," says Henk de Graaf, technical project leader and industrial automation engineer. "We are dealing with a seasonal product that depends on weather conditions and must be harvested and processed at the right time." The production process is highly automated and recent investments include energy and water savings.
    Read more

Stay up to date with the latest news:

  • NEWS
    12 apr. 2023
    Festo - VFEO
    The new manually adjustable throttling valve with check valve VFOE is equipped with the "Push-to-lock" function and optimally suited for standard applications.
    Read more
  • NEWS
    23 jan. 2023
    Festo's broad portfolio and efficient solutions
    Discover the innovative power of Festo's portfolio and itsme's factory scan!
    Read more
  • NEWS
    20 dec. 2022
    Accurate and highly dynamic handling of pressure
    With the proportional pressure control valve VPPI, all nominal sizes are controlled directly; without the need for pilot valves or pre-stages. Due to the pressure compensating element, the valve regulates dynamically and precisely; even at the larger nominal sizes. The powerful and low-friction voice coil makes the VPPI highly dynamic. The integrated position controller contributes to high stability.
    Read more
  • NEWS
    6 mei 2022
    Did I miss out on that advantage?
    Familiar components in a new machine? Often it can be smarter! Festo's portfolio develops annually with around 700 new products. This innovative strength lends itself extremely well to a lower cost price. With the itsme factory scan we would like to help you find smart applications that fit in with the current focal points in machine building.
    Read more

Why not take a look at these trainings we offer: