In the interview Herwig Haunschmid, managing director of voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik GmbH, offers insights into the technical features and challenges of the voestalpine open space.
voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik GmbH erected the open steel structure of the voestalpine open space using systems normally used in high bay warehouse projects worldwide.
"The voestalpine open space is a flagship example of our competence."
Mr Haunschmid, can you tell us briefly how this project came about?
I was approached by Michael Sterrer-Ebenführer who is responsible for sponsoring at voestalpine AG. I liked the idea immediately because it’s really unique to take the very formal structure of a high-bay warehouse as an architectural element, and create such a large installation in Linz. A steel structure of this type is of course a perfect symbol for this steel city. The voestalpine open space goes well with the Höhenrausch, is the perfect match for Linz, and is both fun and challenging.
So a project like this is also unique for you?
Certainly. We usually complete 25 high bay warehouse projects a year on average, and the focus of these projects is clearly economic.
The voestalpine open space project differs significantly from normal project work and is challenging in terms of installation, quality and time constraints. At the same time, the project is also visible, and so it has to be optically impressive. Normally our stacking projects are located in halls where their appearance is of secondary importance.
What are, or were, the greatest challenges?
The time constraints and the installation are most exciting aspects for us.
Time is always lost in every project’s planning phase. The first discussions took place in April 2013. At the beginning of July we jointly viewed a warehouse in Vienna and came up with ideas. The architectural design and authorization procedures also took time. Originally the contractor, the OÖ Kulturquartier, had planned to assign the project in September 2013, but we effectively started this January. As the voestalpine open space will be open to the public, we must certainly meet the opening deadline.
The installation will also be exciting as it takes place in a busy public space at great height. This requires good advance planning. For example, we are building over an underground garage and so the crane has to be positioned and secured exactly over the garage supports. We also have to partially close the OK Platz and outdoor restaurant areas gardens to protect passers-by and guests, and so installation needs to be fast. Believe me, when it comes to installation, an empty desert would be preferable to a busy area (laughs). But it’ll be fine.
Is installation particularly challenging because of the height?
The height in itself is not really a problem for our technicians. They are accustomed to climbing to heights of 52 m. But here we’re starting at 25 m above ground, and that is rare. However, our total height is “only” 34 m, so no one is about to get dizzy! It’ll be more interesting for observers…
One of voestalpine’s great strengths is the extent of its value chain – how is this reflected in the voestalpine open space project?
The steel comes from voestalpine Stahl GmbH in Linz. The coated coils will then be sent to our sister company voestalpine Krems GmbH. There the bundles will be slit and formed into steel profiles on our behalf. Finally, here at voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik will assemble, screw together and weld the profiles. We are also responsible for the engineering and installation.
For the experts: can you give us some technical details about the voestalpine open space?
We are using standard grade ST355 steel. This isn’t ultra high-strength steel as used in the automotive industry where lightweight construction is needed to optimize energy efficiency. Structures don’t always need the characteristics of lightweight construction – the cost-benefit ratio doesn’t warrant this. Thanks to the intelligent system, the loads are well distributed, so 355 steel is ideal for this project.
What is special is the coating. High bay warehouses are usually located under cover and subject to a controlled atmosphere. In our case the object is outdoors and the coating can be damaged. Therefore we’ll use batch galvanizing.
Does a project such as the voestalpine open space have an impact on your business?
Certainly, because it demonstrates our ability to innovate. That’s why I was immediately enthusiastic and keen to be involved. Only we have this installation, and that is a signal to customers: voestalpine is exceptional, creative and innovative!
It also helps our business because it makes us more visible. It is especially relevant for actively addressing our end customers, the storage warehouse operators. They are normally difficult for the business to reach and here we need wider marketing. And so the visibility of the voestalpine open space is naturally beneficial. This gives us the huge advantage over our competitors of being able to point to a public project and even visiting it with customers.
The voestalpine open space is thus a flagship example of our competence.
Personal information: Herwig Haunschmid
1985: Started at voestalpine AG, responsible for plant construction after sales service
1998-2011: Established vatron gmbh, a research and development subsidiary of voestalpine and VAI, for mechatronic systems and their international marketing, as managing director
Since 2011: Managing director of voestalpine Krems Finaltechnik GmbH
More information on the voestalpine open space Microsite: http://www.voestalpine.com/openspace/en