There are many ingredients that go into making good wine: the grape varieties, the terroir – that mythical combination of soil, topography, and climate – and of course the expertise of the winemaker. But behind the glamour and the heritage, winemaking is also an industry that requires its entrepreneurs to have the right equipment for the job.
With the support of EU4Business, two companies in the Republic of Moldova, Fortus Ltd. and Cebacot Ltd. have invested €2.7 million to build and equip a factory for manufacturing concrete posts for vineyards – more than €1.3 million of which came in a loan contracted from the European Investment Bank (EIB) through the EU4Business Filière du Vin Programme.
Good quality line posts are vital to the proper construction and installation of trellis to support the vines, and are therefore an essential component in the establishment and success of a vineyard. The vineyard trellis, and especially the end post assembly, must be properly constructed to support canopy and wind loads.
Inspired by a visit to Italy
The idea of investing in such a plant came to Cebacot director Mihai Ceban during a visit to Italy. Knowing the demand in his home country for the pre-stressed concrete posts used in modern vine plantations, but also in orchards, Ceban was interested to learn how the Italians produced such quality posts.
“Because we didn't have enough money, I applied for a loan offered by the European Investment Bank through the Filière du Vin Programme, for a period of up to 10 years with a grace period of 4 years,” Seban said, adding: “An important thing for us was that we were able to benefit from VAT and customs duties exemption for importing the equipment from Italy.”
The entrepreneurs have invested in a production plant that fully corresponds to European standards, with modern equipment imported from Italy and a number of their 15 employees professionally trained in order to obtain a top quality product. The investment in modern machinery that allows quick drying of the pillars, using a natural gas-based heating system, allowed the factory to produce 25,000 pillars a month, compared to 4,000-5,000 using the natural drying of concrete products.
Vladimir Zanovei, Manager of Fortus Ltd., says he is sure of the quality of the posts produced, because the company subjects them to constant conformity and quality tests, at every stage of the technological process.
Durability and quality
“If we make a comparison between the concrete posts produced in Soviet times and those made by our company, it is like comparing a Mercedes with a Soviet ZAZ,” said Zanovei. “Due to the new technology of concrete compression, the mixture of granite gravel with cement and special additives that allow us to ensure the hardness of the concrete (850 brand), we can be sure that the posts will resist at least 50 years. Moreover, due to some special substances and steel wire cable, both imported from Italy, we obtain the elasticity of the posts, which perfectly suits the mechanised grape harvesting and is adapted to the setting of anti-hail nets.”
With investments in the mechanisation of production processes and an efficient management of the business, the entrepreneurs are able to offer a competitive price for their products, with their concrete posts selling for 185 lei (around €10) a piece, compared to €25 euros for imported posts.
The concrete used for manufacturing the posts is the same as is used in the construction of large hydroelectric stations. This, as well as the technology of pouring into the wired stretched moulds offers a special elasticity and durability to the final product. Although the final price of concrete posts is almost the same as the price of wood or metal posts, the durability is incomparable.
"At present, we are negotiating with partners from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to export our products to these countries,” said Vladimir Zanovei of Fortus Ltd. “Due to the great production capacity we could work in three shifts, in order to fully use the capacity of new machines that were very expensive but are productive. We can produce 400-500,000 pre-stressed posts annually. It is true that the raw materials’ import constitutes about 50 percent of the costs and the economic situation is not exactly favourable, but we are sure we will be able to recover the investments made with the support of the Government of Moldova and the European Investment Bank, through the Filière du Vin Programme.”