BREAKING IS FRACTUM’S BUSINESS, AND BUSINESS IS BOOMINGPublished 22/2 at 16:47
Denmark based Fractum manufactures breakers. Sounds like nothing special, right? Wrong. Because, unlike the hydraulic breakers the demolition industry is so used to, Fractum’s range is based on an entirely different principle. Andrei Bushmarin reports.
Denmark might be a small country size wise, but in terms of engineering knowledge it is a force to be reckoned with. Based in Fredericia - a charming seaside town in the eastern part of the Jutland peninsula - Fractum is the avatar of a technology intensive company.
Broke its way out of the crunch
Originally founded in 2004, Fractum was forced into bankruptcy in 2010 by the global credit crunch like so many others in the construction industry. However, it was resurrected in 2012 thanks to outside investment and a new ownership structure. The ‘new’ Fractum was now owned by Charlie Wang, Richard Eklund and Thorkild Stockholm who became the company's managing director. With a background in electrical and mechanical engineering, Thorkild Stockholm’ experience and MBA made him the natural choice to manage the manufacturing enterprise, with Fractum’s second reincarnation has turned out to be quite successful.
The Fractum principle
If a conventional demolition hammer uses the hydraulic energy of a carrier machine to break and split a concrete slab or a stone block with a chisel, Fractum impact breakers are based on the principle of ‘free fall’. The hammerhead placed inside a heavy duty housing is hoisted to a pre-set height and then gets released. Since the breaking is done inside the tool’s housing, there is almost zero chance of flying debris, which makes Fractum machines a very safe solution.
Another advantage is the long service life of the attachment; since there is very little wear on the hammerhead compared to a hydraulic breaker’s chisel, a Fractum breaker can clock up many thousand hours of operation before it wears itself out. This has resulted in Fractum tools becoming the first choice for many when a contractor faces a heavy duty breaking task such as splitting big boulders in a quarry, or crushing large chunks of metal at a scrap yard.
From day one, Fractum’s modus operandi was to sell globally. Given the modest size of the domestic Danish market but a wide applicability of the technology, exporting was the only viable option for the manufacturer. The first customer that purchased a Fractum breaker (a cylinder operated 200 model) was Japan based steel industry behemoth Sumitomo Steel. Satisfied with the breaker’s performance, the Japanese heavyweight went on to buy another five machines.
Nowadays steel mills constitute Fractum’s core customer group, accounting for 75% of the turnover. The mining sector accounts for another 20% while the remaining 5% is distributed between various industries, including demolition. As far as demolition is concerned, Fractum prefers to sell its equipment through rental companies, having recognised the important role they play in this business.
Made to measure tools
Every breaker Fractum manufactures is fined tuned to the specific requirements of the job at hand, resulting in that on average it takes 10 to 12 weeks to design and build a new machine. In order to shorten the lead times to 5 to 6 weeks, the Danish manufacturer has recently taken to keeping some crucial components and parts in stock.
Most of the product development is now handled by the chief designer Mads Larsen, a university graduate in mechanical engineering who has been with the company for two years. There are also five workers on the production floor – all of them very skilled welders – who transform his, and Thorkild Stockholm’s, ideas into a finished product. Now producing 8 to 10 breakers per year, Fractum has enough capacity to increase the annual output up to 16 units should the need arise.
Thorkild Stockholm sees the current market situation as favourable. On the mining side, things are looking up for the Danish company in South Africa and South America where demand for its breakers is steadily growing. Fractum also plans to step up its presence in the scrap recycling market by focusing on trade fairs that specialise in steel making and scrap processing equipment. Always on the lookout for a new design challenge, the manufacturer is now mulling the idea of making a breaker equipped with a chisel.