Roughly 2,100 participants – this is the positive conclusion of the 60th BetonTage congress held in Neu-Ulm from February 23 to 25, 2016. This new record once more emphasizes the role of the event with a long tradition as the leading congress of the European precast concrete industry. Friedrich Gebhart, President of the Baden-Württemberg Association of Concrete and Precast Plants (FBF) – the promoter of the BetonTage congress, also expressed his pleasure about the "record result", when reminiscing about the history of the BetonTage congress in his opening speech. What once started as a seminar with 15 participants at the Chamber of Crafts in Ulm has long since developed to a platform of continuing training for the industry and its market partners. High-profile contributions, renowned speakers and networking among colleagues have always characterized the BetonTage congress. So the anniversary edition also provided an interesting technical program under the motto "at the forefront of knowledge for 60 years".
Right at the beginning, the two keynote speakers gave a glimpse into the future. It began with the expert on future trends, Oana Horx-Strathern, of the ZukunftsInstitute in Vienna – which is probably the most prestigious (pre-) think tank of our time. She demonstrated how future demographic developments and lifestyle trends will influence our life and construction: urbanization, small units, flexibility and mobility, single explosion and multi-generational models with shared apartments were just some of the keywords. Her knowledge was based on the experience she had make when building her own house. The expert on future trends also revealed her affinity to precast concrete components and promised to use even more of them for the construction of the next house.
Solutions of tomorrow
The keynote co-speaker, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Hillemeier of the Technical University of Berlin, a luminary in the industry, had already outlined his vision of modern building with concrete at the BetonTage congress 30 years ago. Now, the brilliant speaker and great motivator demonstrated how this could look like in the 21st century. His credo: the limits of concrete are the limits of our imagination.
The plenary session on the second day of the congress dealt with the implications of the ECJ ruling on the List of Building Regulations (Bauregelliste) B and a possible "follow-up regulation". RA Michael Halstenberg of HFK Rechtsanwälte LLP, Düsseldorf, presented a voluntary system of manufacturer declaration and registered requirements documents, the associations of the precast concrete industry had agreed on. He stated that it was now time to create trust among users, such as the construction industry, and planners for this solution, that is already successfully effected in countries like the Netherlands. Under-secretary Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Scheuermann, Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg and head of the nationwide Construction Engineering Committee of DIBt – the German Institute for Construction Technology – that is entrusted with this subject, afterwards announced that the approval body takes a constructive attitude to the proposal. However, the German supreme building authority (Oberste Baubehörde) did not intend to interfere in a regulatory manner – in compliance with EU regulations – but were in the position to convey the proposal as viable solution to the lower building authorities (Untere Baubehörden) which are responsible for the implementation, according to his statement.
Thought-provoking impulse for every-day operations
Besides the plenary sessions, the technical program traditionally comprises of several product-specific panels held in parallel in the afternoon; they addressed primarily the key target group of the concrete and precast concrete industry. The lectures range from structural precast construction, to concrete products used in road, landscape and garden construction, to lightweight concrete and cast stone through to pipeline construction as well as small wastewater treatment plants. These panels addressed and discussed, among others, current questions concerning technology and standards. The program was traditionally set up with the collaboration of the respective associations and organizations.
The two hands-on workshops once again met with positive response. The workshop program for plant managers and those in charge of production in precast concrete plants included lectures on manufacturing and surface treatment of colored concretes, the use of concrete formliners, slip resistance methods and lime efflorescence.
Visions around concrete
Even three panels dealt with the innovative potential of the building material concrete. The findings of current research projects were presented under the title "from research to practice", an example of this is "C³-Carbon Concrete Composite", the largest joint project in the German construction sector at present. The panel on application-oriented research for concrete, for instance, presented findings about the influences of steel fibers on heat propagation as well as long-term structural behavior of bonded anchors and introduced a novel design concept for formwork systems used for free-form precast elements. The panel on the potential of concrete components of tomorrow also looked ahead. Here, new fields of application for prefabricated concrete products were presented, such as double wall elements, which were turned into towers for wind power plants or UHPC precast concrete elements used as noise-reducing concrete road pavements. The lecture on a 3D printer also attracted wide interest.
The fascination of the building material concrete is not only due to its technical diversity, but also due to its aesthetical design potential. In this regard, architects and planners have been able to convince themselves in the panel "concrete in architecture" for many years. In this context, renowned offices, working on an international level, but also young architects are presenting the project they realized. This year again, the organizer in cooperation with InformationsZentrum Beton and the DBZ Deutsche Bauzeitschrift magazine, that is published by Bauverlag as the BFT International trade magazine, invited to this panel. About 400 architects came to the event, inducing the chairman of the chamber of architects, district group Ulm/Alb-Donau-Kreis, to address the event as "the most renowned architectural event in Southern Germany" when welcoming the participants.
There was also again a special panel for structural engineers, a continually growing group among the visitors of the BetonTage congress. The agenda comprised, among others, current changes to standards, new DBV codes of practice as well as a lecture on the design of fastenings for the use in concrete construction.
Exhibition of the supply industry
The accompanying exhibition of the supplier, machinery and software industry is an integral part of the BetonTage congress and with 160 exhibitors it was fully booked out again. For the first time, the most beautiful stand was awarded: Ecoratio Europe BV from Rotterdam was the winner of the "exhibitor award".
The 2016 Innovation Prize of the supplier industry was awarded to the latest best product developments; the prize is annually presented in cooperation with the BFT International trade magazine. Rapperstorfer Automation GmbH based in Austria is the winner in the category of automation, machinery and plant technology. They won the prize for the development of a production plant for fully-automated production of reinforcement cages for concrete elements. Another prize was awarded to Solidian GmbH located in Albstadt; the company was awarded in the category of reinforcement technology for a bridge structure made with carbon-fiber reinforcement. Furthermore, Dyckerhoff GmbH located in Wiesbaden was awarded a prize in the category of manufacturing technology for their newly developed Nanodur E80 concrete, a concrete with remarkably high modulus of elasticity.
The BetonTage congress also fulfilled its reputation again as a communication platform. There were many opportunities for intensive networking, whether at the exhibition, during coffee breaks, when having lunch, in the BFT Café or during the evening event. "We do not see ourselves only as initiator and continuing training platform for the industry, but also intend to promote the dialog among each other and with the market partners," stated Dr. Ulrich Lotz, General Manager of FBF Betondienst GmbH, as the organizer. If you won't miss the next event: The 61st BetonTage congress will take place from 14th to 16th February 2017.
FBF Betondienst GmbH
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