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Contiga takes automation in precast to the next level

Contiga hollow core precast plant in Norway

Something ground-breaking is happening on the island Askøy just outside of Bergen on Norway’s west coast. Here, one of the country’s leading precast manufacturers, Contiga, has opened a new, highly automated hollow core slab plant. Reducing labor costs was the top priority for the ambitious project.

Since spring 2021, the Norwegian precast producer Contiga has manufactured hollow core slabs on the Island Askøy. It only takes 10 operators to run the daily production of three beds.
“The layout of the factory is very good, and the speed of the machinery is impressive. I am proud of the level of automation that we have achieved. We can do a lot with quite limited resources,” says Production Director Hilde Fløgstad.

Keeping labor costs at a minimum

Contiga, part of HeidelbergCement, delivers prefabricated elements in steel and concrete. Its hollow core slabs, walls, stairs, columns, beams, and balconies can be found all over Norway – in commercial buildings, apartment blocks, public buildings, sports arenas, and elsewhere.

Labor is expensive in Norway, so priority number one was the highest possible automation level. “That is the only way we can stay competitive in this market,” notes the production director.

Contiga had used Elematic before and been happy with both machinery and service. Choosing the Finnish company as the main supplier of machinery and software for Askøy seemed obvious. “It was one of the companies that had come furthest with regards to automation, and it had a wide range of products,” says Fløgstad, adding that “when building a highly automated factory, you need the IT bit to be in line too.”.

The production at Askøy is monitored and planned with Elematic Plant Control.

Flexible operators reduce vulnerability

Thanks to the high level of automation, Contiga Askøy will only have 13 employees in total, with 10 operators working at a time during normal production (180 000m2).

“At the moment we are operating in only one shift, and we are producing three beds a day now. At the plant, we have four beds which are 132 meters each, which will give us a maximum capacity of 240 000 m2 per year,” explains Contiga’s Technical Advisor Ove Sandvin.


Elematic was one of the companies that had come furthest with regards to automation, and it had a wide range of products.

Hilde Fløgstad, Production Director, Contiga

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Precast hollow core production at Contiga with Elematic Extruder E9 and Modifier E9

Contiga Askøy started casting in early 2021 with a team that had never seen the machinery before. It did not, however, take the operators long to learn how to use it, says Sandvin.

While a minimal workforce reduces costs, it can also make the production vulnerable to e.g., sick leaves or quarantines during an epidemic. To overcome that, the operators at Askøy rotate between different tasks every second week to ensure that they are well-trained for all operations.

Smart layout and speedy machinery

Utilizing elements from old building is not the only way to reuse concrete. The new Askøy factory is also geared for recycling, as leftover concrete is grinded and reused in the recipe with the slurry from the recycling plant.

“To build a new factory without a recycling plant is very unthinkable these days. Recycling is just as important as the core processes in our production. We need to reduce our waste and leave a CO2 footprint that is as low as possible.”

The layout of the Contiga Askøy plant is designed to be efficient not only from a production perspective, but also with regards to maintenance, washing, and transportation.

Both Fløgstad and Sandvin highlight the batching & mixing plant that has practically worked perfectly since day one. Also, the automated transport of concrete from the mixer to the extruder, the multistresser, and the transport of the ready elements deserve praise, says Sandvin. He goes on: “The Modifier E9 saves our personnel from the toughest jobs, and we save about 1.5 operators behind the machine.”

The speedy Extruder E9 is also worth mentioning, Sandvin notes. “We have cast up to 2.8 meters per minute for a 265 slab. I think that is quite fast!”

Innovative construction projects

Contiga has been working on many major construction projects. Among them is the Barcode area, a row of modern, high-rise buildings reshaping the skyline of a former dock and industrial district in central Oslo, and the Vestland county’s administrative headquarters in Bergen – the first project in the area where Askøy is located. One project that Fløgstad is particularly proud of, is the emergency ward project in Oslo.

“We delivered new elements, but we also reused elements from the government quarter in Oslo.”

The Norwegian government quarter was bombed during Anders Behring Breivik’s terrorist attack in 2011. Intact elements were taken down and cut a little shorter before being transported to Contiga’s nearby factory in Moss. Here they were furbished, so they could get a new life at the Oslo emergency ward.

“It is a great project in terms of sustainability, and we are very happy that we succeeded,” she says.

Although the method is logistically challenging, and standards for precast concrete change over time, Fløgstad foresees a future, where re-used and new elements will be used side by side. Contiga’s sister companies are involved in similar projects in Sweden, and Fløgstad hopes that more are coming up in Norway too.

“We are working on how to make it easier. There is a Norwegian standard now that also gives guidelines on what can be reused and what requirements we have to fulfil.”

Hollow core slab lifting

Good cooperation despite hiccups

Fløgstad characterizes the cooperation and communication between Contiga and Elematic as very good. Not least during the crucial early phases of developing the new plant. “Elematic was very open to listening to all our needs – dreams even – and trying to accommodate them,” she says.

“We have worked together to create something new, to take the automation level higher than ever before. That has been – at least for me – the best part of this cooperation, it’s been really exciting!”

New projects usually experience some hiccups, and Contiga Askøy is no exception. Thanks to fast and professional responses from Elematic, even critical problems have been swiftly overcome.

“We had a small breakdown in our mixer, and we needed parts that we didn’t have on hand. Elematic turned around quickly and helped us – both with finding out what was the root cause of the incident, but also sending parts with express delivery to Bergen, and they also helped us with the installation, so we had a very short period where we were not able to produce compared to what could have been,” Fløgstad says.

Sandvin memorizes another episode that occurred just after the plant was finished and the Elematic people had left. “We were alone, so to say, when we experienced that something went wrong with the receiver of the aggregates. I called Elematic, and we managed to solve the critical issue remotely,” says Sandvin, who has been pleased with the service agreement between Contiga and Elematic.

Contiga hollow core factory in Norway
Automatic slab transportation at Contiga precast plant in Norway Elematic Plant Control with Tekla Structures used at Contiga in Norway


  • Contiga AS is a Norwegian supplier of prefabricated concrete and steel solutions
  • Offers design, production, assembly, and project management for all types of construction projects
  • Delivers hollow core slabs, walls, stairs, columns, beams, and balconies
  • Employs about 500 people at 11 permanent locations/plants and offices around Norway
  • Is part of the global HeidelbergCement Group with 53,000 employees in more than 50 countries

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