Flocon Engineering’s manufacturing process and facilities have been developed over more than four decades. Roads & Infrastructure speaks with one of the company’s most experienced employees to see how these systems and methods have been adapted over time.
Ever since its introduction to the roads and infrastructure markets more than 40 years ago, Flocon Engineering has remained at the forefront of equipment development.
One example of Flocon Engineering’s ‘know-how’ was the development of its forward moving aggregate spreader, the result of VicRoads Standard 408 clause 408.11. This required road construction and maintenance contractors to utilise forward moving equipment.
This foresight has enabled the company to adapt its manufacturing capabilities and equipment, gradually increasing its efficiency with the introduction of new technologies, as well as skilled personnel.
This adaptation has enabled the company to remain at the forefront of innovation for decades.
Dorel Strugaru – Lead Body Fabricator can attest to this. Strugaru has worked in the company’s manufacturing department for 33 years. As such he’s seen these changes firsthand.
He says that despite changes in technology and processes, the quality of Flocon’s products hasn’t changed.
“We’ve been in business for a long time because we produce a very high-quality product,” Strugaru says.
He says Flocon’s manufacturing process can produce consistently high-quality machines due to its ‘two-staged’ approach.
Flocon utilises two different sites, each with its own responsibilities.
Stage one of the design phase prepares the parts required for manufacturing. From there the machine body is prepared, as well as the machine floor.
Stage two completes the machine body, as well as the installation of any custom parts, which may have been requested by the customer.
“We have quality control checks at the beginning and end of the product [manufacturing process],” Strugaru says.
This quality has been certified by an Australian Design Award, with the operation of more than 1000 units in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Western Samoa and China.
Strugaru says his team have had to adapt themselves with new technologies. But he says these “upgrades” have helped to increase the efficiency of manufacturing by almost six weeks since he first started at the company.
“The equipment that we use now has improved a lot,” he says. “When I first started here there was two people working on one machine body. Now there’s just one person.
“Now we use a tunnel spinner for example as well as laser cut parts. [The process] has improved a lot, it’s much easier.”
Strugaru says the process can at times be challenging, but it’s something he “really enjoys” about his role.
One of the biggest challenges that Strugaru says he enjoys the most is the production of Flocon’s fully patented Forward Moving Aggregate Spreader.
The machine, used for road construction and maintenance, is designed to cater for Victorian Government legislation, requiring the need for forward-moving spreaders in road works across the state.
Flocon Engineering’s forward-moving aggregate spreader is cabin controlled and can spread aggregate up to 20 millimetres in size. The machine is capable of towing and has a legal payload of 10 tonnes with the current model.
When fitted with an aggregate spreader to the truck, the machine’s maximum spreading width is 2700 millimetres. This can be increased to 4900 millimetres when spreading with a self-propelled chipping spreader. And for full width spreads, two split hydraulic augers can be installed, to support the spread of material.
Strugaru says each individual unit is tailored to the desires of the end user, with a multitude of customisation options available.
“When the final truck comes in you need to make sure everything fits perfectly,” he says. “Every truck is different, so it’s challenging, but it’s definitely not boring.”
He says the Flocon Engineering team has learned valuable lessons since the production of the first prototype.
“Now we’re trying new things to make the machine much better,” Strugaru says. “The end product is beautiful; it works very well.”
He adds that Flocon Engineering’s culture of innovation means each unit is seen as a new opportunity and challenge, rather than just another typical manufacturing process. A contributing factor for his 33-year tenure at the business.
“It’s a very cool company to be a part of,” Strugaru says. “We have a lot of good people around us. There’s great communication with management, so everything runs smoothly when we build good, quality machines.
“It’s a good job to be [in].”
This article was originally published in the July edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.