Blastrac the full-liner for surfacesPublished 26/11, 2015 at 15:11
The US owned Blastrac BV in the Netherlands comes from a company with roots dating back to the early 1900s. With the brand name Diamatic, as part of the group since 2005 and a focus on developing a wide range of machines and tools for floor preparation, the Blastrac group has radically increased its presence in the market. Jan Hermansson reports.
Blastrac is a multinational company with over 300 employees worldwide and a turn over of €100M. It acquired Diamatic in 2005 and the Diamatic brand steadily took market share in the US and Europe, where the floor grinding and polishing industries were rapidly expanding. In the US Diamatic became the brand for concrete floor grinding and polishing, while Blastrac in the US is focussing on shotblasting and scarifying. In Asia and Europe Blastrac is the brandname covering the complete floor preparation portfolio.
Blastrac and Diamatic are both the full line providers of different floor systems. The range is huge and the company also offers a large range of additional methods for concrete preparation and removal of different types of floor coatings, such as shot blasting, milling and scraping.
For Blastrac it all started with shot blasting. The first portable shot blasting machine was developed in 1978, but the company has roots dating back to 1906 when the predecessor American Foundry Corporation was founded. The company became well-known for its static large machine called Wheelabrator, which had several wheels that threw the abrasive at the surfaces to be processed. This was an alternative to the compressed air type of blasting in use at the time.
But with the new Blastrac portable shot blasting machines the company rapidly became market leader and in 1980 production also started in Europe. In 2013 Blastrac introduced its own line of diamond tools in Europe covering diamond sawing blades from 125 to1610mm in diameter and core bits from 10 to 600mm in diameter. Currently Blastrac is focusing on sales of its new Diamatic diamond tool line on nearly all European countries.
Blastrac has 55 different products covering grinding and polishing machines, scarifyers, shot blasting, steel blasting, equipment for removal of hazardous material, shot blasting for steel surface preparation, machines and tools for decorative flooring, equipment for maintenance of runways and highways and different kinds of dust collecting systems. There are 10 base models of grinders and polishers, plus ride on machines with three planetary systems on each and integrated dust extractors. The shot blaster line contains 12 standard models, the scarifyers have four base models, the steel blaster line has seven standard models, and there are two models of floor strippers and a line of dust extractors, pre-separators and cyclones containing 12 base models. Blastrac also has its own tooling line called DiaMag. DiaMag tools were launched in 2010 and were originally the name of Blastrac’s patented quick connection system.
Blastrac and Diamatic products have been manufactured in the Blastrac owned factory in Poznan, Poland and Nieuwegein, Holland since 2006. About 70 people work in the production in three shifts, seven days a week. The European headquarter is based in Holland and here are research and development, IT, purchasing, logistics, warehousing, marketing, finance, sales and European management located. “For us it is very important to have full control over our production and quality control and therefore we manufacturer nearly all the parts ourselves. That is why we have chosen to have enough capacity to manufacture and assemble everything ourselves,” said Blastrac European marketing manager Rocco van Vliet. “And we want to keep our production in Europe. Here in Utrecht we have a large stock of our products and the majority is shipped from here. We also do all our testing and CE certification of the machines here before delivery.”
Blastrac Europe has its own subsidiaries in UK, Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Australia, Middle East and India, which have been built up since the beginning of the 1990s. There are also a number of distributors in other parts of the world, including Africa and South America. The North American market is taken care of by the US organization with head office in Oklahoma. The head office for Diamatic is in San Diego, California. Blastrac Asia is based in Shanghai, China.
We want to offer the best method
Rocco van Vliet said that there are many concrete cutting and light demolition contractors all over Europe that offer concrete floor grinding services and the number is increasing. However, Rocco believes there is a slight misconception that Blastrac is trying to change. “Here in Europe floor grinding was fully embraced by the contractors when it was introduced,” said van Vliet. “It was a new method that could very easily be included in the services the concrete cutters and the demolition contractors already offered. They were already at work performing their tasks. But sometimes floor grinding is not the most efficient and economic method. If, for instance, you need to lower a concrete floor diamond grinding is not the most cost effective method compared to scarifying/milling. Also for the preparation of concrete floors an alternative and more cost effective solution for several applications is shotblasting. What we want to do to a wider extent is to offer a mix of different methods to contractors providing the ultimate flooring solution when it comes to quality, efficiency and profit. Our grinding and polishing machines should be used for the right purposes. That is how to get out the most of them.”
Blastrac has 12 different models of machines for grinding and polishing from 180mm to 780 mm working width. The three head planetary belt driven system is patented and some of the machines are remotely controlled. The latest is the BMG-555, which was introduced at the French trade show Batimat in November. For the moment Europe is quite a way behind on polishing comparing to the US, about 80% of the grinding jobs is floor preparation and the remaining 20% polishing.
Blastrac’s clients can be divided into industry sectors of airports, roads, remediation, industrial decoration flooring, steel and rental. “What we call industrial decoration flooring is the biggest sector for us which represents about 50%,” said van Vliet. “This is where you find all concrete floor preparation and polishing. We have a big market share in this sector, but with our Blastrac product mix we still see enough opportunities to grow in this market. Other key markets where we see potential are in rental, roads, airports, windmills, shipyards, petrochemical and remediation.”
The strategy for the near future is to continue to open its own local sales offices in various countries. “To be present in the market with our own organisation we believe is the best way to go. Long-term organic growth is our priority,” said van Vliet. He also emphasises the value of setting up training and service centres at each subsidiary to reach out to clients and educate them in how their products work. In Poland Blastrac just opened a centre of excellence with a fully equipped demo centre where Van Vliet believes that Blastrac has a good chance to grow extensively in all markets where they are currently present. He points out that Scandinavia is of particular interest.