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Big Float Promises Big Things for Finnish Company

Wed May 27, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

You’ve heard about the Big Dig. You may soon be hearing just as much about the Big Float.

The Big Float amphibious excavators are a patented innovation by REMU Ltd., a Finnish company headquartered in Ahtari, Finland. The company is growing steadily as it penetrates U.S., Canadian and European markets, and sets up its European and North American headquarters in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. REMU, mainly a manufacturer of screening buckets and screening plants, as well as amphibious excavators, foresees a good future here, when American markets start growing again after turbulent times. In the summer of 2008, REMU appointed Eric Dupee region manager of North America. The company currently has 35 employees.

Originally known as ST-Tekniikka, the company officially became REMU, Ltd., in January 2009. With that change, came others such as the nomination of a new Chief Executive, Juha Salmi, who has been with the company since 2007 and who established the subsidiary, REMU, USA Inc. in order to focus on developing a dealer network in the United States and Canada, as well as focusing on the structure of the overall REMU marketing program.

Former chief executive Ossi Rissanen, who is now the chairman of the board focusing on managing sales in Finland, said, “The past 11 years as head of ST-Tekniikka has been busy and full of challenges. We have put lots of effort into the development of products as well as facilities. The company’s goal in the coming years is to expand its operations to new market areas as well as develop its functions to support the growth. To achieve these goals, we need a manager with new ideas and enthusiasm, and Mr. Salmi has both.”

Salmi commented that the company is in a very interesting situation. “The timing to take REMU to U.S. markets couldn’t be better,” he said. “Success in U.S. markets has been the sum of various factors, most important of which are a great team, spirit and an increase of marketing efforts.”

This success is greatly enhanced by the efforts of Hanna Rissanen, the third member of the board who is responsible for the company’s marketing and human resources.

Keeping Up With Technology

“Our REMU screening technology and Big Float amphibious excavators are innovations. The foundation for these innovations is our long experience in the earth moving industry and in our manner of thinking. We think that problems need to be solved and we always do our best to help our customers solve their problems. Some might think it foolish to make so many different models of screening buckets, but each one of them has solved someone’s particular problem and has given us more experience in screening technology.” Ossi Rissanen said.

“In the 1980s, REMU made well-known, durable trommel screens, often called ’Rolls Royces’ of the screening industry. Some are still steadily working in the field, but the technology has changed so much. We now offer modern, compact screens that can process a variety of difficult materials such as compost and demolition waste. As a part of our environmental responsibility, we continue to seek solutions for effective recycling and for reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfills,” he added.

“Nowadays, the economy makes contractors look for savings in fuel, working hours, maintenance cost, etc.,” added Salmi. “By investing in a REMU screening bucket, a contractor can earn his investment back in three to nine months with the profit it generates. The screening bucket is easy to take onsite where material can be handled and used again. The amount of material ending up to landfills decreases. And screening with buckets causes only a fraction of the fuel cost compared to big trammels.”

Big Innovation, The

Big Float

REMU’s biggest innovation, perhaps, is its Big Float – a patented amphibious excavator – the answer when cost savings are needed in marsh excavations.

The Big Float can be hauled and it takes only 20 minutes to load and tie down, giving it unique transportability. A new type of machine for marshlands and shallow-water areas, it comes in three different sizes with 11-, 14- and 21-ton excavators for:

• Technical jobs in areas covered with water

• Construction and maintenance of waterways

• Restoration and treatment of recreational areas and sanctuaries

• Prevention of flood damage

• Landscaping

• Cleaning and building shorelines — lakes, rivers, seas and canals

• Building drainage trenches on wetland, swamps and industrial waste areas

• Cleaning settlement pools, managing waste ponds, nature preservation projects.

The working unit of the Big Float is an 11-, 14- and 21-mt (12.1-, 15.4- and 23.1 -t) standard tracked excavator with outreach of 52, 39 or 32 ft. (16, 12 or 10 m) respectively. It is possible to equip the machine with all the customary work attachments of an excavator. The standard backhoe bucket of 200/158 gals. (800/600 L) has drain holes for water.

The track units of the Big Float – the structure of the pontoon undercarriage – are comprised of a sprocket, an idler, track rollers and standard-type track-chains, which roll around the two pontoons. Due to the unit’s patented construction, the driver can use a hydraulic cylinder to pull the pontoons closer together for driving onto a lowboy or transporting over public roads.

As an option on Big Float machines, it is possible to attach additional pontoons and hydraulically operated support outriggers to the sides of the pontoons. The Big Float has maneuverability in areas where traditional machines cannot go. It travels from the transport platform to the work site on its own tracks, with no hoists required. The pontoons ensure flotation of the machine in the water as well as safe travel over soft marshlands. Under favorable conditions the machine also can be transported in the water by towing or through waterways by using propellers that can be attached to extra pontoons. The propellers get their power from the track system, thus making it easier to control the same way as driving over solid ground, according to company literature.

The working depth of the machines without outriggers is:

• Big Float 10.22 /4 ft. 4 in. (1.3 m)

• Big Float 12.24 /4 ft. 8 in. (1.4 m)

• Big Float 16.36 /5 ft. (1.5 m)

If the Big Float machine is fitted with approved side pontoons with support outriggers, it is possible to work in depths greater than these. This machine has been inspected and approved in accordance with water traffic regulations in Finland. Big Floats are well suited for work on soft and muddy ground and can travel across or work on top of excavated and piled soil. As an option, Big Float machines can be equipped with special attachments for pile driving, suction dredging and for the removal of aquatic vegetation.

Bridging the Gap

“If there is an advantage to being from Europe, and especially from Finland, it is the image that Finland has as a producer of high quality, environmentally friendly and innovative solutions,” Salmi said.

However, a disadvantage to being from Finland is the time it takes to ship freight from Finland to the United States. In order to overcome this issue, REMU is making plans to open a production plant in the United States.

“That is because we are dealing with heavy equipment and freight for tons and tons of steel costs too much,” said Salmi. “The USA is going to be our biggest market and that’s why we need to start fabricating goods closer to markets. By starting manufacturing in the USA, we can benefit by the quality of U.S. labor and minimize freight costs, but also, we do not need to tie millions of dollars to products that are in the sea for months.”

“All our products are unique! To save contractors money, we just need to be more and more innovative and show the way. We simply need to be years ahead (of the competition) instead of one step,” said Salmi.

For more information visit CEG

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