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First standardised fence rolls off the production line

Heras has a rich history. In a series of articles, we look back at some of the key developments in our history. Part 2 focused on the challenges Ruigrok faced as a business owner in the first years of the company’s existence. In part 3 you can read how Ruigrok turns his dream of standardising the production of fences into reality. 

 First standardised fence rolls off the production line  

After three years at the helm of Hekwerk Industrie Eindhoven, now known as Heras, founder Frans Ruigrok has achieved quite some feats. He has regional crews working in all corners of the country, and he has managed to gain the army corps of engineers as a customer. The time is right to put his revolutionary idea to standardise the production of fences into action.

In 1957, the first pile for Hekwerk Industrie Eindhoven’s new facility at the Rondweg in Eindhoven is driven into the ground. The facility comprises offices, a workshop and a concrete factory for the production of standardised prefab concrete bases for fence posts. The relocation in 1958 marks the end of the pioneering era. The company also changes its name from Hekwerk Industrie Eindhoven to Heras Hekwerk. A name that embodies solidity and generates trust. This proves to be a good move, as it becomes clear that customers find their way to the company without the need for advertising.

Ready-to-use fencing parts
The company is firmly anchored in the industry, and in 1958 Ruigrok succeeds in turning his dream, the standardised production of fencing, into reality. The factory is fully equipped for the industrial production of fences. Welding tables, sawing machines and cutting machines are introduced, and the production process, from the supplying and processing of raw materials to the manufacturing of ready-to-use fencing parts, is made more efficient. Serial production is now a reality. Named after the I-profile post, the I-fence is Heras’ first standardised fence with a prefab concrete block foundation. It’s the first fence without an angled support beam: a revolutionary solution.

Sustainable end product
During the same period, Heras says farewell to a time-consuming process. Previously, materials were treated with lead, primer, paint or bitumen to prolong their service life. Now the posts are hot-dip galvanised. The result: a sustainable and low-maintenance end product. The installation of the fences is also simplified. Previously, the I-posts were placed in a concrete block that was poured on location. This meant installers were at the weather’s mercy. Another disadvantage was that it was very difficult to get the posts exactly in line. The I-post with concrete block foundation is a significant improvement. All that had to be done now is dig holes, install the posts and the concrete base, install the top tube and assemble.

Patent on pre-stressed concrete piles
In the early 1960s, Heras introduced bar fencing and bar gates with a fixed height and width. Hot-dip galvanised, with interchangeable parts and much cheaper than existing systems. From the very beginning, this solution is a huge success and the gates sell like hot cakes. At the end of the 1960s, after extensive experimentation, Heras launches its pre-stressed concrete pile in four heights with various barbed wire extension arms. This pile is designed to be competitive with similar heavy concrete piles. Ruigrok comes up with this idea after seeing the first, and until then only, industrially manufactured fence post in Germany. This conic post was made from sheet iron and was filled with concrete. Ruigrok loved the shape but thought the design was wrong. Instead of iron on the outside and concrete on the inside it should be the other way around. This is how the idea for pre-stressed concrete piles came into being, for which Ruigrok receives a patent.