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Conceptual study for the reconversion of LUFORT: Diversification towards high added value UHPFRC products for face internationalization

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IDIFOR (Conceptual study for the reconversion of LUFORT: Diversification towards high added value UHPFRC products for face internationalization)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2015-11-30

The vocation/vision of the company is to contribute to the social improvement and environmental sustainability broadening the spectrum of use of special concretes. The business core is take the full advantage of the special concrete properties to manufacture exportable innovative products, which will boost the competitiveness of related sectors. This is necessary in several niches where current solutions are not entirely satisfactory, existing a clear market gap.
The goal in the Phase 1 has been to study the viability of carry out the cast-in-serie production at precast company, performing the industrial elements and obtaining empirically the real production costs with the optimized industrial structure. In short, the goal is analyze the impact for the company of the ready for mass-production. Four niche markets where analyzed, considering the export potential, capacity to cover latent demand, value added compared to traditional solutions, market barriers and analysis of the procedures to develop the industrial property protection. In the whole process, and specially in the last point, the SME instrument coach, Julián de Juan Landaburu, provided us a wide vision of what was the most interesting business to focus efforts. It was the case of the special concrete rafts. It was decided, thus, to concentrate on this idea, develop a deeper market study, business and marketing plan.
During Phase 1 the business structure was shaped. LUFORT counts with the support of the special concrete consulting company RDC, which owns the intellectual property of the industrial models. In order to commercialize the product, a third company, IDIFOR, will be created with a participation of 50% of each company. Commercialization will be done among this company and the benefits will be shared according to the participation. IDIFOR will be used also for the commercialization of future exportable elements.
First of all, a market study of the sector was carried out for Spain and the regions that were supposed to have potential for demand each product (Southamerica, north of Africa, EU countries, Canada, etc).

Product diversification viability study: The optimum countries to export the products were analyzed one by one, considering the costs, the country risks, legal barriers, competence, type of payment, foreign exchange risks and macroeconomic situation. The main markets of our competitors were included in this analysis.
Rafts have their main market in the EU zone. Markets from other continents are interesting for possible manufacturing liscences, which will be studied after check the response of the market to the product. Despite of the size, the analysis showed that the transport does not have a very limiting overrun to long-distance exports.

Industrial property analysis:
The deepest work performed was in this field, where we had a strong support from the coach. The process to register the industrial designs carried out (however, it is still pending on further development) and also we managed to understand the way to protect the products in the country where the exports are carried out. Also the company wrote model contracts for possible manufacturing licenses.

Market barriers analysis:
Study of homologations, requirements, duties and required certificates for each product in each of the international markets identified as a profitable. With this research was noticed that direct exports to United States of America were not possible as the product contains steel, so if the country is identified in the future as interesting the commercialization should be done manufacturing the products in the country.

Client study through visits and surveys:
The real demand of the clients and prescribers is a key factor for success. Surveys within this stakeholders helped to determine their perspective of how should be the perfect product. This was a very useful information to estimate real costs and competitiveness of LUFORT precast product. The constant feedback from these stakeholders was perfect to improve and optimize the elements. The specifications from each country were also identified, but not always matched with the industrial possibilities. Standarization of the products has to be done in order to optimize the industrial structure.

Commercialization plan:
LUFORT needs a structure for arriving to the client. This varies depending on the product. As rafts are a very different product than the traditional concrete precast elements, this subject required an additional research. For all the cases exist the possibility of the company implementation into the region if the sells exceed the expectations and the turnover can cover the costs.
The commercialization was structured with a Join Venture between Lufort (precast company) and RDC, the special concrete consulting company which owns the industrial property. The benefits of this society will be shared.
The general conclusion is that, with enough resources to develop a marketing plan (in the frame of an internationalization plan) the niche business model will be profitable. The rafts are an adequate solution to solve many of the current problems and increase the level of the industrialization. The increase of lifetime will mean a more sustainable structure. The special concrete raft will decrease the wood consumption, avoid the current use of toxic products for increase durability, and will provide a long lifetime element. The synergies with other sectors different than precast concrete or civil engineering has been also noted.
Raft prototype (part)
Mould to cast the raft prototype
Precast concrete trade balance (Spain-World)