Project sheet Zinno 2018

Project 05/2018

Successful ideas, supported by “zentralschweiz innovativ”

A pile breaking machine developed to series maturity by BRC Baurent Central AG over a period of ten years enables uniquely efficient and high-quality pile breaking in civil engineering. The revolutionary invention arouses great interest and opens up a large international sales market. That is why the forward-looking SME from Rain (Switzerland) now has its sights set on the global market and is being supported by “zentralschweiz innovativ”.

Alois Portmann, CEO of BRC Baurent Central AG, and “zentralschweiz innovativ” coach Claudio Marty

It has been around ten years since Alois Portmann from BRC Baurent Central AG in Rain LU had a conversation with his brother, who also works in the construction industry, about the unsatisfactory solutions for pile breaking in civil engineering. Until then, manual chipping using a pneumatic hammer was the only qualitatively acceptable solution – but it was also expensive, laborious and extremely harmful to the health of the construction workers. To protect workers from serious secondary illnesses, several European countries only allow a maximum working time of two hours per day! The alternatives to manual processing, i.e. chipping with an excavator or hydraulic hammer, have so far been at the expense of quality, as they often resulted in cracking, spalling or damage to the reinforcement.

Problems recognised and an all-round solution developed

Alois Portmann and his motivated team set to work on an invention that would put an end to this unsatisfactory situation on building sites. In recent years, you have developed the BRC pile breaking (milling) machine, an all-round solution that removes the pile core and the pile skin cleanly and quickly in a single operation. A solution that completes the entire work process with outstanding quality and in the shortest possible time – and which is worth its weight in gold for the health of the construction workers.

«It is important to us that value is created in Central Switzerland.»

Construction companies throughout Switzerland soon became aware of the revolution of the SME from Rain and helped the BRC pile breaking machine to a large number of applications and excellent references. For example, the innovation was used in the construction of the Prime Tower and Europaallee in Zurich, the Mall of Switzerland in Ebikon, the swissporarena and the Himmelrich complex in Lucerne, the Sawiris Resort in Andermatt and the Roche Tower in Basel.

International market potential – regional value creation

The innovative BRC pile breaking (milling) machine was launched on the market in an organic way. The new machine quickly attracted a great deal of attention and interest from the industry on construction sites – without any major advertising efforts. The task now is to satisfy the growing global demand and to set up series production, in which various other local companies will be involved in addition to BRC Baurent Central AG. “It is important to us that value is created in Central Switzerland. We want to create as many jobs as possible in Switzerland and strive to cooperate with other Swiss companies.” He is not interested in the lucrative sale of his global process patent, which gives him a monopoly-like position for tapping into the global market, although various multinational companies have already knocked on his door. But how can he satisfy the huge global interest and produce enough pile breaking machines?

Winning the Zinno idea check competition

Alois Portmann recalls: “We realized that we were on the verge of production for the international market and marketing. In search of expert support, I surfed the Internet and came across the offer from ‘zentralschweiz innovativ’. I contacted them by phone and was soon sitting opposite an innovation coach who recognized the potential of our product and gave us helpful advice on sharpening our business model and unique selling points.” “zentralschweiz innovativ” coach Claudio Marty subsequently motivated him to take part in the Zinno Idea Check competition. This Central Switzerland award for ideas with high value creation potential is presented quarterly. Alois Portmann and his BRC Baurent Central AG submitted their project and won the prize of CHF 15,000 in the fall of 2017.

Success-oriented mediation by «zentralschweiz innovativ»

Looking back, the inventive CEO says: «In addition to the win, our company benefited from the media attention, which raised our profile in Switzerland and boosted our image. At the subsequent trade fairs, many visitors already knew about our innovation!»

As mentioned, Alois Portmann did not require any technical support; his questions revolved around global marketing and the financing of capital-intensive production. Claudio Marty also drew his attention to the «Swiss Innovation» and the «Swiss Innovation Forum», where the most renowned national players from business, science, research, education, politics and the media specifically promote innovation, creativity and design in a wide variety of areas. The «Swiss Technology Award», Switzerland’s most important technology prize, is presented annually. In the meantime, Alois Portmann has attended «Swiss Innovation» workshops and registered the BRC pile breaking machine for the national competition. The match-deciding presentations for this and for potential investors are developed and trained with the coaches as constructive sparring partners.

For BRC Baurent Central AG, the services of «zentralschweiz innovativ» were previously free of charge. Claudio Marty: «Our support is free of charge up to 40 hours of work. However, we don’t draw a sharp line when it comes to promising projects such as this pile breaking machine, which can generate a great deal of added value in our region, and we are happy to continue to make our expertise available. At the moment, the expansion of production and international cooperation are still in the early stages, and the exact requirements, including the need for support, still have to be evaluated in detail. But we are convinced by the project and will continue to actively support BRC Baurent Central AG in all matters.»

«zentralschweiz innovativ»
«zentralschweiz innovativ» supports companies and inventors in developing their ideas – whether for new products, services, business models or process improvements – into market-ready innovations. As a program of the central Swiss cantons of Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwyz, Uri and Zug to promote innovation and strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), «zentralschweiz innovativ»is the first point of contact free of charge. The innovation coaches from «zentralschweiz innovativ» provide support with market clarifications, technology research, the search for suitable funding programs and other sources of financing as well as with application procedures, the search for cooperation and research partners and, if necessary, with the implementation of projects.

zentralschweiz innovativ Ebenaustrasse 20
CH-6048 Horw/Lucerne
Phone +41 41 349 50 60
A program under the direction ofITZ | InnovationsTransfer Central Switzerland

Original press release in German.

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