Almost 2,300 attendees mark a new record reached by the 62nd BetonTage congress held from 20 to 22 February this year. Firmly rooted in its long tradition, this landmark event once again demonstrated its attractiveness as the leading forum for the European precast industry. The three-day agenda at the Edwin-Scharff-Haus Congress Center in Neu-Ulm covered a wide range of topics centered around concrete and the prefabrication of precast elements.
This year’s BetonTage provided a wealth of information in over 100 presentations delivered in 14 panels and plenary sessions, the major part of which ran simultaneously. As usual, the event covered all relevant precast market segments, including structural precast, concrete products for road construction, landscaping and gardening, pipeline construction, lightweight concrete, and small wastewater treatment systems. The agenda also included information about latest revisions of standards, guidelines and codes of practice relevant to these areas, whilst hands-on workshops offered solutions to problems encountered in day-to-day operational practice.
Visions centered around concrete
Many speakers from industry and research presented ground-breaking advancements in concrete technology, process engineering, and production equipment. They gave an indication of “where we are heading”: more slender, lightweight, resource-saving and energy-efficient – these are the attributes of the precast elements of tomorrow. Presentations on fiber-reinforced or thermally activated precast elements, recycled concrete, additive manufacturing methods and 3D printing pointed attendees in this direction. Another major topic was BIM because it is precisely the industrial prefabrication of structural components that opens up a huge potential due to its long-established networked approach that interconnects process planning, scheduling and production via standardized interfaces.
In keeping with the long-standing tradition of the event, the opening keynote on the first day provided the proverbial “look outside the box”: Dr. Dr. Saskia Biskup, a renowned human geneticist, explained how novel diagnostic methods will revolutionize the treatment of diseases.
What is going wrong with the German “Energiewende”? Renowned industry expert, Prof. Carl-Alexander Graubner, raised this provocative question at the beginning of the second keynote entitled “Well meant – but well done, too?” to then elaborate on his very own thoughts on the sustainability of the German energy transition.
Guest country Australia
Australia was invited to this year’s BetonTage edition to showcase itself as the first non-European guest country. Sarah Bachmann, of the National Precast Association, Adelaide, George Spiropoulos, owner of Euro Precast, Melbourne, and architect Adrian Stanic, of Lyons Architects, Melbourne, provided valuable insights into their home market. One of the major projects they referred to in their presentations was the newly constructed building of the Australian Institute of Architects in Melbourne – needless to say that it is comprised of precast elements.
Participants in the panels on cast stone and concrete in architecture got convinced of the technical and aesthetic design potential that concrete offers. About 400 architects and designers attended the latter panel on the third congress day. The morning session was jointly opened by Moritz Auer, architect, of Auer Weber Architekten BDA, Munich and Stuttgart, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Knippers, of the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at Stuttgart University. In the afternoon, both renowned international practices and junior architects presented their completed projects. As previously, this part of the event was held jointly with Informations-Zentrum Beton and Deutsche Bauzeitschrift (DBZ), the sister magazine of BFT International.
Not just engineering
The BetonTage congress continued the tradition of complementing its technical and engineering program with presentations in the business and legal fields. The panel on business and law concentrated on topics such as cybercrime, IT security, and the legal pitfalls of supply consortia and contesting insolvency. For the first time, the congress included a panel on the future of skilled employees, with particular emphasis on the increasing digitization of vocational training, employee retention, and new opportunities to acquire pertinent skills in the precast and concrete industries.
An integral part of the BetonTage is its accompanying exhibition. All of the 160 stands were booked well before the event. Companies from the supplier, engineering and software industries showcased their products and services.
The Innovation Prize of the Supplier Industry was again awarded to the best innovations (see pages 16 to 32). This year’s winner was solidian GmbH based in Albstadt, Germany. The company was awarded the prize for developing a specially designed sandwich façade panel consisting of textile-reinforced concrete. The second prize was awarded to CPC AG, a company based in Andelfingen, Switzerland, for its large carbon-prestressed concrete slabs. Both innovations impressed with their resource-efficient utilization of materials.
“Concrete Future” was once again the heading under which the best junior skilled employees of the industry were rewarded. The Berufsförderungswerk für die Beton- und Fertigteilhersteller (Association for the Promotion of Vocational Training in the Concrete and Precast Industries) honored the efforts of six former trainees jointly with the Eberhard Schöck Foundation by handing the Precast Award for Junior Skilled Workers to them. They were handed a certificate and a cheque in recognition of their outstanding performance demonstrated at the final examinations in 2017. Etienne Alder, Oliver Bieber, Sebastian Egbers, Danny Krake, Michael Thiermeyer, and Carlo Thomsen proved to be the best in their occupation.
The Cast Stone Design Prize was awarded to the most beautiful masterpiece crafted by alumni of the Meisterschule für Betonwerker in Ulm. Young master craftsman René Hartmann, from Ulm, convinced the jury with his elegant, modular light shelf. The “Fireplace with Seating” built by Simon Nies got an honorable mention from the Förderverein der Bundesfachschule für Betonwerker (Association of the Friends of the Federal Vocational School for Skilled Concrete Workers).
Yet the BetonTage congress also underscored its reputation as a major communication platform. The leading industry event again provided ample room for networking – at the exhibition as well as during coffee breaks, over lunch, at the BFT Café, during the “Fairbinden” exhibitor event or at the evening get-together.