New HFi with Pentruder RS2 and Pentpak 3 is herePublished 9/3 at 12:06
Tractive has released its new generation of Pentruder products. In this article you can read about all the benefits and the organisation behind the new Pentruder RS2 wall saw and the Pentpak 3 power pack.
On 1 March this year, the manufacturer Tractive, who is behind the Pentruder brand, launched new and revolutionary equipment, being just the beginning of a completely new generation of products.
Pentruder's unconventional product solutions
Business people who know and use Pentruder's concrete cutting equipment will already know that Tractive’s generational change began to take shape at bauma 2019, if not before. “It has taken time and we may have sticked out our chin and pulled it in again, a little back and forth. But for us, product development is not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Product development for us is to create efficient systems for concrete cutting entirely for the user's sake. Our products should be machines that are simple and logical to work with; they should be more efficient and last a long time. If we are not completely satisfied, we have no problem going back to the drawing table. Our customers are worth the very best,” says Marie Peil, marketing director, Tractive AB.
Since its inception, Pentruder's products have differed from other brands on the market. They are unconventional in their solutions and manage to keep their distance from competitors, both in execution and performance. It all started when the founder of the company and the product designer, Anders Johnsen, was asked by a rally car driving concrete cutter in 1977 in Borlänge, Sweden, if he could design a gearbox for a drilling system. Anders was already known at the time for developing gearboxes for rallying cars. Developing a gearbox for a concrete drilling system worked out perfectly, with the rest being history, so to speak.
At the start of the 80's, Anders and his wife Ingrid began to develop and manufacture a range of machinery and equipment for concrete drilling. This was subsequently acquired by a multinational manufacturer at the beginning of the 1990s. Following this, Tractive AB was founded shortly afterwards, but with a focus on gearboxes for rallying and racing. However, after some years ideas for a new concrete cutting product developed. In order to meet market demand and to manufacture the developments, Pentruder was created, and in 1997 the first Pentruder wall saw was launched. Gearboxes for rally cars were then still manufactured, but over the years the development and manufacture of concrete cutting equipment has taken over as the major area of operations. For a long time, gearbox production for rally and racing cars has accounted for 10% of company turnover, with the rest coming from concrete cutting equipment. “Gearboxes for the rally sport, however, are going a bit in waves and may well increase again,” says Marie's twin sister Jenny Muda, who is CFO of the company.
Investment in ‘HF’ technology
Throughout the 1990s, the hydraulic drive dominated Pentruder's development in conjunction with the company's unique gearbox transmission solution in order to get as much power as possible on the spindle. But well into the 2000s, as is well known, a revolution happened when high frequency/high cycle (HF) driven technology was introduced on machines for the concrete cutting industry. The technology was not new, but thanks to the development of electronics, it was now possible to develop much more compact concrete cutting machinery with high performance and considerably higher efficiency than hydraulic machines.
Tractive entered the market for HF technology in 2004, but also still produced hydraulically driven machinery for a number of years. When Tractive launched its high frequency driven machines, however, Anders Johnsen was concerned that the various technical features on the Pentruder wall saws would be too sensitive for the tough tasks. It quickly became apparent that there was no justification for the concern. Users, especially in Europe, immediately showed great interest in the new machinery and demand increased sharply. Then interest among users also spread to markets such as the USA, Japan, Australia and so on.
In 2005, sales of the second generation of the new technology platform for HF powered machines really took off. In step with the sharp increase in demand, more efficient production premises were needed, and operations were moved from the plant in Alderbäcken, south of Borlänge, to the current location in Gjutargatan in Borlänge. The 2,000m2 facility was built by Tractive exactly as the company wanted it, being completed in 2005. The number of employees also increased to 16. In the following years, a lot happened within the company. Major investment in a number of different CNC-controlled multi operation machines was made, and the plant was added to and expanded several times resulting in a 2,500m2 production area.
At present, there is a great need for, above all, additional storage capacity and production areas, with plans for a further 2,500m2 expansion within two years. The demand is high as more and more resellers have been linked to the company’s operations. The export share of company activities has increased and is increasing in Europe, the USA, Japan and Australia. This has seen the number of employees increase from 25 people in 2010 to over 50 today.
Since 2014, when an agreement was reached with the American manufacturer ICS Blount, sales in North America have increased significantly. The prevailing rumour in Europe and Japan, that the real concrete cutting connoisseurs (or nerds) choose Pentruder, is increasing also in North America, resulting in more American concrete cutting contractors choosing the brand. “Even though our products have received a ‘high-tech’ stamp, they are not more difficult to work with. With the development of our new RS2, the goal has been to make it even easier to work with the saw,” says Marie about the increasing popularity of the company’s products in North America.
ICS in the USA is the reseller of Pentruder in the US, Canada and South America, with Pentruder currently also having 36 dealers worldwide, including a Swedish and Japanese subsidiary. In the US, Pentruder's main hub is still located in Chandler, Arizona with Terry Martin, who worked with Pentruder long before ICS took over sales and service in the country, still being a key person.
New HFi with the RS2 wall saw and Pentpak 3
On 1 March this year Pentruder launched its third generation technology platform. It may have taken some time to get off the ground but now the company says everything feels just right. “We are three siblings who are responsible for the daily operation of the company, together with our parents, of course. I will not say that our parents have taken the step back when it comes to design and development as well as the overall management of the company, but they are not involved in the daily operations in the same way as before,” says Marie. “Even when it comes to the operation of the company, it's a bit about a generational change in that we siblings, Marie, Kristoffer and I, fully work in the company,” added Jenny.
An example of Tractive being more of an ‘art form’ than a purely a business driven company which only looks at its revenues, is the company's focus on creating good and optimal products for users, often going against the accepted industry norm. What many manufacturers focus on currently is that the so called ‘service wall saws’ have integrated power packs, i.e. no power pack standing on the floor. At bauma 2016, several manufacturers showed their innovations with integrated engines, including Pentruder. But after a while, Pentruder chose to shut down this development, deciding that it simply could not reach weight requirements if the company was to be able to build in all the smart features it wished to see included.
Instead, its ‘Pentpak’ remained on the floor, fitted with a new type of communication between saw and Pentpak which was developed to increased performance and power whilst at the same time achieving the same hard hitting goal of keeping the weight of the saw head down. The result was the new RS2 HFi which is a unique high frequency controlled wall saw with a width in use that is difficult to match. “RS2 could be called a small-medium-large saw as it is small, light and compact, but has a high performance and capacity. The saw can handle blade diameters of up to 1,600mm. Between the saw unit and the Pentpack, there is only one cable that goes into a newly developed and unique connector that sits on the saw head. Here all important data is collected and passed on for control of the saw. RS2, I would like to say, became even better than we could imagine. It has everything. A few years ago, it was unthinkable that we, who are snowed into mechanics and gearboxes, have now landed in a product with less mechanics. RS2, for example, has much fewer gears,” says Elin Skantz, who is responsible for marketing communications at Tractive.
There are sound arguments for the new Pentruder RS2 having integrated motors with slip clutches. The 18kW drive motor is integrated, as are two brushless feed motors, one motor for the saw arm rotation and one for the saw's movement along the rails. Both feed motors can be used simultaneously. The saw is waterproof and has blade rotation in both directions. The saw has been made very easy to establish, partly because the saw head weighs less than 25kg, and is equipped with smart and simple quick couplings for the blade both in terms of putting it in place and being removed. RS2 uses the same rail system as other Pentruder HF saws, which means maximised stability and the best possible handling in the workplace. It has easy mounting of the saw on the rails, with the same mounting distance for the rail feet as other HF saws. All servicing and maintenance of the saw can be done with standard tools. Also, worth mentioning is the new light and stable blade guard which is easy to loosen and put in place and provides very good protection against splashes from the blade. As for the new Pentpak 3, it is very stably built and has a built in RCCB switch, i.e. an earth fault circuit breaker type B.
“Developed and manufactured completely within our own walls”
“The entire new third technology platform has been developed by us, even the remote control for the saw. I would like to say that it is ‘state of the art Pentruder’. In general, the saw contains much fewer components that can break than in previous saws. We have not used any standard components; everything is newly developed and tailored. This is a difference from ‘generation 2’ when we actually used some standard components. We have managed to make the third platform extremely reliable without any loss of power and have created a saw with an efficiency of as much as 93%. It is very good. Other arguments are that the saw has a high torque and large speed range and Pentpak 3 can withstand getting really hot,” says Kristoffer Johnsen who is production director at Tractive. “I want to point out that we have been able to test drive the saw a lot in tough conditions and it has been very valuable during the development,” Elin adds.
An important detail regarding production worth highlighting is that Pentruder also does its own metal processing. Many other manufacturers cast their machine chassis in aluminium externally, but Pentruder does not. Instead, Tractive buys the best possible aluminium and mills out each component. This is one of the reasons why the production facilities are so packed with advanced machinery. “Milling instead of casting gives a significantly higher durability in the goods and our machines become more durable and last longer,” says Elin. In terms of capacity, there is still a lot of room to increase production, but the bottleneck is, as mentioned, the space itself in the machine hall and warehouse. The existing premises in Borlänge have been expanded in several stages with a mezzanine floor etc. added. The company has invested in several warehouse automation systems and elevated storage room, but the premises are still cramped. “We are now actively working to expand the facility by approximately 2,500m2 within two years. We already have the land. What we need most is more storage space and production areas,” says Marie.
Strong, loyal and flexible organisation that moves forward
Tractive AB is owned by one family which is managed by the parents and their three children. But the fact is that the whole company is like one family. The organisation is extremely flat, and the decision making paths are very short. Everyone in the company is fully involved in what happens in the company and can exert influence. In times when the world is struggling with a serious pandemic, this is extremely important in order to be able to quickly change operations, change routines and adapt.
“We really want to pay tribute to our staff, which throughout the years have been, and are, extremely committed, and take great responsibility. It feels incredibly positive with such a resource in our employees,” says Marie. “We have no ambitions to work ‘lean’, we run our own race without ‘toolboxes’ and platitudes,” Kristoffer continues.
The siblings also emphasise that the company’s dealers as an extremely important link in the sales and service network. The company has a very flexible, reliable and strong sales organisation located in all corners of the world. This flexibility is of direct benefit to customers. “A high level of service and sales is extremely important, and the customer should easily reach us when they need help. We also like to be over-equipped with machines, components and spare parts in stock just so that we are sure that we can deliver immediately when a customer needs it. We do not see a large warehouse just as a cost but as an important resource and service measure for the customer. Satisfied customers come back and spread good rumours,” says Elin.
Finally, keep an eye out for the new Pentruder RS2 and Pentpak 3. Launched to the market on 1 March this year, the equipment will be demonstrated and exhibited from the spring at various locations and will also be shown at the Demcon and BeBoSa trade shows in September this year.