Composite is on a solid rise. Logical, because the fiber-reinforced plastic appears to be a sustainable alternative to steel or concrete, for example. There is therefore a bright future for Fiby Products. The composites factory from Emmen focuses on applications in the transport market, construction and civil engineering.
'With great regularity we come across sustainable concepts,' says Klaas Kooistra, Investment Manager of NOM.' However, they often lack a convincing sales pitch. In this case it was different. Besides being sustainable, the products also have a promising economic return.' Kooistra is referring to Fiby Products, an Emmen-based company to which NOM recently provided funding. Fiby Products develops, manufactures and sells products made from natural and other strong fibers , so-called composites. And especially products that are mechanically loaded.
Legion of application possibilities
Composite is a strong, lightweight and low-maintenance material. The lifespan of the fiber-reinforced plastic is at least equal to concrete and steel, offering numerous application possibilities. 'Fiby Products is active in three markets: the transport market, construction and civil engineering,' says co-founder Jos ter Laak. 'For the transport sector, for example, we have developed the Fiby tipper, a body made entirely of composite. Its low weight makes the tipper particularly ideal for road construction, agribusiness and sludge transport. Compared to steel, composite quickly saves about 30% in weight, allowing a substantial extra load to be carried. With a quick payback period, a higher daily yield and substantial fuel savings as pleasant consequences.'
Another important advantage of composite is its corrosion resistance. The material is hardly affected by environmental influences. And that fact in particular makes composite interesting for application in civil engineering. 'In that market we are therefore involved in many fine projects,' Ter Laak emphasizes. 'For example, we have already manufactured several composite lock gates for the province of Drenthe. Due to their wear resistance, the lock doors have a longer lifespan than conventional doors made of wood or steel. Moreover, they require less maintenance during that lifetime.'
As mentioned, Fiby Products is also setting its sights on the construction industry. A sector in which the integration of functions is becoming increasingly important. Here, too, the use of composite products and components can offer a solution. Ter Laak mentions a recent example. 'Together with a contractor we developed a tiny house, for which we were responsible for realizing the roof construction. Made of composite, of course. The gutter itself is attached to that construction. So it's one whole thing that, because of the properties of composite, you actually never have to replace.' The choice of these markets has everything to do with the background of the three initiators. For example, Ter Laak was the owner of Composite Technoloy Centre (CTC) in Almelo for many years. The other founders, Derk Jan Weeke and Martin Luinstra, have more than earned their spurs in mechanical engineering and the transport market respectively.
Although the three entrepreneurs had been jointly exploring the possibilities of composites for some time, Fiby Products was officially founded in February 2016. 'Everything indicates that the composites market will only continue to grow in the coming years,' Ter Laak clarifies. 'Hence, we decided to combine our knowledge and expertise in a joint venture.' And indeed, there is no shortage of growth opportunities for the composites factory from Emmen. Certainly as far as tippers and lock gates are concerned. Not without reason does Fiby Products expect to attract 15 full-time employees in the near future. 'There is just a lot of potential in their product line,' Klaas Kooistra emphasizes. 'You can see that in the increase in the number of clients. At the same time, the company is constantly coming up with and developing new application possibilities. Now the important thing is to scale up and continue to grow. As NOM we are happy to contribute to finance that growth.'