FBF BETONDIENST

63rd BetonTage – Resource efficiency in focus

German manufacturers of precast concrete components are once again looking back at another positive year. They were able to increase their turnover by around 3 % to nearly 6.2 billion euros. This positive mood was also in evidence at the BetonTage in Neu-Ulm, Germany. The industry event took place from 19 to 21 February 2019, for the 63rd time. Around 2,200 participants gained valuable information there on current developments in concrete technology and manufacturing processes, as well as on industry-relevant legal and commercial aspects.

Presentations on sustainability and energy efficiency, resource-preserving cements and innovative concrete played a significant role in the technical program. The presentations demonstrated the efficiency of concrete as a construction material, in addition to new applications and potential for structural concrete components. The accompanying trade show of the supplier, machinery and software industry provided a survey of the latest developments in their fields.

Success through change and innovation

The congress was opened by Dr. Peter Kreuz, of Förster & Kreuz GmbH, Heidelberg. “Instigating change while success lasts,” is his motto. The bestseller author, consultant and maverick thinker dares executives to show “courage to change.”

Prof. Harald S. Müller, formerly of KIT Karlsruhe, as co-keynoter and concrete specialist, picked up on the thoughts of the speaker before him. “Rethinking construction with concrete – Innovation and change of a whole field of building” was the title of his presentation. Following a brief look into history, he demonstrated where innovations in concrete would lead in the coming years – with one main topic being reduction of the “CO2 rucksack” by alternative binding agents and recycled materials.

Strong media presence for resource preservation

Innovative concrete also took center stage in the technical programs. Presentations on cements, cements made of crushed sand, concretes made with limestone flour and recycled initial constituents as well as geopolymer concrete were examples of the topics brought up at the podium on “Application-oriented research for concrete.” An update to current progress in the field of carbon concrete and the various processes featured by 3D printers were discussed in the podium “From research to practice.” Additive production offers a technology that is capable of revolutionizing the manufacture of precast components by integration of reinforcement. The podium “Potential of concrete components of tomorrow,” introduced innovative precast concrete products such as binder-free concrete sandwich elements, unbonded prestressed precast floor slabs made of carbon concrete as well as micro-reinforced precast members and multi-functional lightweight concrete members.

One of the primary reasons that the 63rd BetonTage aroused such great interest, also among the media, was the sustainability topics brought into focus. In its evening news, the SWR TV channel, for example, sent a report of several minutes from the BetonTage on resource preservation and recycled concrete, including voiceovers by Prof. Harald S. Müller, Dr. Ulrich Lotz from the congress organization as well as a statement from Hagen Aichele, Head of Concrete Southern Germany at Holcim GmbH, which has already used recycled concrete in considerable quantities in a number of projects.

Impetus for everyday business operations

The afternoon product-specific podiums, as usual, treated questions concerning the everyday operations of precasters, the core target group of the BetonTage. The spectrum ranged from presentations on structural precast construction to concrete products for road, landscape and garden construction. They likewise covered lightweight concrete, pipeline construction as well as small wastewater treatments plants. As usual, the program was prepared in collaboration with the relevant trade organizations. 

The Practice Workshop was very well attended. The training courses offered for production personnel consisted of presentations and live demonstrations for determining the characteristics of fresh concrete, on reworking architectural concrete surfaces and on manufacturing low-shrinkage and rapidly hardening concretes.

Serial construction as opportunity for structural concrete members

The topic on the morning of the second congress day was serial and modular building. Peter Hübner, President of the Federation of the German Construction Industry, opened the day and signaled stronger orientation to the construction of precasting in order to quickly make sufficient and affordable living space available. In his presentation he not only demonstrated the advantages of precasting, but also made specific demands on policymakers to sustainably improve basic conditions for housing construction. Appropriate to the topic, two practical examples from the practice with precast components demonstrated the performance capability of this sector.

The construction industry in Russia has been experiencing attractive development in recent times, which has gone largely unassessed in Western media. Following a market survey, the young architect Kirill Pernatkin showed interesting precast housing construction projects, and Denis Gershin presented the fascinating high-speed urban motorway in St. Petersburg. The audience was put in the right mood for the guest county by an atmospheric balalaika presentation by Stefan Bolshakov, the 12-year-old son of the Russian event partner Dr. Eduard Bolshakov.

Impetus for architecture

The podium “Concrete in Architecture,” which has for many years been presented jointly with InformationsZentrum Beton and the German construction magazine “DBZ” on the third day of the congress, presented exemplary buildings. Notable architects such as Sergei Tchoban, of Tchoban Voss Architekten GmbH, Berlin, as well as young architectural firms presented projects that they completed last year. Around 400 architects once again made use of the event for continuing education. Sergei Tchoban established the link to the guest country Russia, where he is one of the leading urban developers in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The “Cast Stone” podium had also presented an interesting architectural project report on the day before. The Darmstadt Innovation Center, the Theresienwiese shopping center in Munich and the RhineMain CongressCenter in Wiesbaden are examples that were presented here by Informationsgemeinschaft info-b.

Skilled workers in focus

The podium “Economy and Law” focused on personnel management. What measures can a company take to counter the current shortage of skilled workers? How can one keep workers in the company who are on the verge of leaving? What must be considered in the use of social media at the workplace? These were just some of the questions discussed here, and many participants recognized that much still needs to be done in this area.

    The accompanying trade show provided a survey of the products and services from the supplier, machinery and software industry in the concrete sector. The show, with 160 participating companies, was once again booked out. This year, the company Top Mineral GmbH from Breisach, Germany, received the “Exhibitors Award” for the most beautiful stand.

Performance show by the supplier industry The Halfen GmbH from Langenfeld, Germany, was distinguished for the best innovation 2019. The company was presented with the Innovation Prize of the Supplier Industry for Concrete Components for its HTU self-anchoring sheet metal installation channel. The new reinforcement technology replaces the lateral profiling of conventionally welded anchors. The new design enables installation in the structural member, regardless of the position of the reinforcement. Collision points with the existing reinforcement are prevented. The self-anchoring construction met-hod facilitates erection and, in addition, enables cutting to nearly any desired lengths. This likewise enables adaptation to the individual requirements of a customer. The new channel, moreover, saves storage space as well as indirect costs for procuring the products by minimizing variety.

Communication platform for the industry

In addition to continued technical training, networking was, of course, a priority topic at the congress. Occasions for this were the industry meetings, in coffee breaks, at the exhibition itself, at lunch time in the café of the media partner BFT International and the exhibitors’ event “Fairbinden“ at the evening event.

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