Three houses will inevitably come along at once
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Omrop Fryslân, from next year the bus maker VDL (based in Heerenveen) will switch to producing prefabricated units, such as bathrooms, to be used in Van Wijnen houses. VDL Bus will soon switch its name to VDL Smart Spaces to mark the change: “it’s a way to keep our work levels up”, says Ietze van der Meer of the former bus company.
Plans for a collaboration between Van Wijnen and VDL have been in place since last summer: Van Wijnen is already building a mega-factory for prefabricated house frames in Heerenveen. “As VDL Bus Heerenveen we’re always looking for ways to augment our work, and this is a great opportunity that we’re really enthusiastic about”, says Van der Meer.
“The step-over is large, but you do see some features similar in both products, such as heat pumps and ventilation equipment. Thus you have some components that carry over”, says Van der Meer. For Hilbrand Katsma, of Van Wijnen, VDL is a logical choice for a partner organisation. “They can quickly put in place what we need, and they’ll become our supplier for these units. They can easily upscale too, and there’s the capacity to make around 6,000 units per year here”.
Both companies are located on the western side of Heerenveen in Wetterwille: in between a shipping canal and rail connection. “We can really work efficiently here, and that means we spare carbone emissions too. We can also build quicker with this system, and it’s possible to erect a house in 24 hours”, says Katsma. “There is likely to be a shortage of 1 million houses by 2030, that’s 100,000 per year. We’re building about 60,000, and with the knowledge and innovation here we can make a big dent in this amount”, he says.
About 150 people work at VDL, and all of them can be carried over to the new business. Van der Meer thinks that the number of employees will continue to grow. “If you look at the housing shortage, and what we will do here, I think that demand will continue to rise.”
On Wednesday afternoon the employees at VDL were informed of their new product; the FNV union is positive about the change: “this gives more job certainty for the workers, and bus-building is under pressure here. This gives people more of a future”, says Masja Zwart of the FNV.
In the next year VDL will continue to turn out its orders for buses, before making its big switch in 2022.