“Everything affects that 'crazy' clamp,” says Jan van Gaalen of Blok's Draadvorm with a cheerful smile on his face. Over the years, various pieces of innovative wire work made their appearance in horticulture. Consider, for example, the wire rope clamp that was conceived and produced in The Hague in 2002 after noises from the market. Even today, the machines continue to spit out new wire products, often customised work at the request of the customer.
Jan in front of the modern building of Blok's Draadvorm stands out in an industrial estate in The Hague. It could be called a piece of customisation, similar to the pieces the company supplies to horticulture.
“We can vary endlessly,” says Jan, commercial technical advisor for horticulture, without exaggeration. Blok's Draadvorm does not simply produce the same items in bulk. The machines can do it, and production in series is efficient, but the market often requires its own variant of an already successful product. Jan: “In this way the installer or grower can often neatly hide that piece of technology in the greenhouse with an extra eye, for example. Or put something unique into a growth form for orchids or cacti, for example. ”
Dimensionally stable greenhouse
Of course, very large quantities of a specific product are sometimes required. For example, 5000 (!) Rafter clamps are already placed in each hectare of a greenhouse, Jan mentions. “Fortunately, the Dutch greenhouse is dimensionally stable. That helps, but even then you sometimes see very specific questions arise. And then you have horticulture abroad. There they use completely different sizes and that also means that we have to be flexible."
On the left the first T3 wire rafter clamp as introduced by Blok's Draadvorm in 2002 for use on screening installations. On the right the Philippo wire rafter clamp with extra winding eye for the screen cloth. This truss clamp is named after creator and co-owner Philip Blok.
So, that's exactly what they are in The Hague. “It is our business strategy to provide precisely that service when delivering custom work,” says Jody Verpoort. He is Operations Manager for both horticulture and industry. “Just as our customers often want to add something unique to their product, we try to do that too. In our case, by thinking along to achieve a beautiful product as efficiently as possible. It helps to be involved early in the process. For example, if it is possible to produce something with fewer bends, then we look at that. This involves a lot of thinking and we can put our experience to good use.”
Born from frustration
It is indisputable that in the end it must mainly be a uniform and high-quality product. The last thing the grower or installer wants is that sooner or later the clamp, clip or growth form does not do what the grower or installer wants. “Sometimes it is precisely this frustration from practice that creates something new,” Jan indicates. “Or actually an improvement of something existing. For example, our roller trap clip was created. This is easily adjustable in height for the grower, without causing damage to the wire or strip. And it is also reusable, because the clamp is made of stainless steel.”
Blok's Draadvorm developed a special roller stair clip in 2010. A special feature of this stainless steel clip is the patented clamping mechanism, which makes it easy to adjust the height with one hand during the growth of the crop.
With the developments underway in horticulture, Blok’s Draadvorm is also in full development. Jan: “With the exception of a few standard growth forms, all wire work in horticulture still comes from the Netherlands. This is where horticulture is anchored and all the knowledge is located. From The Hague, our lines with, for example, the Westland as the horticultural heart are short. ”
New developments include the advance of LED lighting and the increasing focus on the optimal use of natural light. “LED luminaires are narrower and that also requires other suspension systems from us,” Jody points out. “You can see that the wires are getting narrower where possible, to limit the shadow effect, even of wire,” adds Jan.
Sometimes more general developments such as the corona virus or a boat that gets stuck in the Suez Canal also require service and flexibility. “I have already received requests from the horticultural sector whether, now that there are delays in deliveries from Asia, we can also make certain products,” says Jody. "That is good news for us."
And this is something they can do. Most of the time at least. Jan: “When some standard growth forms from Asia were more difficult to supply at the start of the corona crisis, I received additional requests from orchid growers. We have tried to help them as best we can, although in the end we do not want to be the safety net for Asia. Fortunately that is not the case and you see that people from all over the world come to us for special horticultural wire work. ”
Jan van Gaalen
+31 (0) 651485684