„Sustainable construction with concrete” – under this heading, the BetonTage returned as a face-to-face event from June 21st to June 23rd in 2022, after a digital version replaced it last year due to the pandemic. For the participants, not only the June date was new, but also the location: Europe’s largest trade congress of the precast concrete industry took at the Congress Centrum in Ulm for the first time.
The light-flooded rooms in the foyer offered enough space for the accompanying exhibition of the supplier, machine and software industry, which was completely booked out with 122 booths. The available room capacities allowed simultaneous podiums in the afternoon. A new feature was the daily streaming of the contributions in the plenary and the afternoon session from the Einstein Hall by the organizer’s own digital team, making it possible to participate live in the presentations even from a distance.
Visionary goals for the future
The mood of those present at the traditional industry get-together was very good, and for the approximately 1,800 participants it was an important step towards normality. After more than two years, they were pleased to be able to engage in personal exchange with each other again, something that the digital alternatives cannot replace. Additionally to networking, impulses and inspiration were again provided by the specialist presentations and keynote speakers.
The latter included Prof. Dr. Pero Micic, FutureManagementGroup AG, Eltville. The expert for future markets and strategy shared his master plan for securing the future of the industry with the audience at the opening. Using numerous practical examples, he showed what needs to be done, especially in uncertain times, to equip a company for the years ahead.
A vision for the future of construction was presented by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Manfred Curbach, Technical University of Dresden. Two new large-scale research centers are to be established in the lignite mining regions of Lusatia and Central Germany. Among the candidates still in the run for the billions in federal and state funding, is the “Lausitz Art of Building” research center, or LAB for short, which he presented. Around 1,500 scientists are going to work together on an interdisciplinary basis and revolutionize building. “5.3 % is the share that construction has in the gross domestic product, 25 % is the share that construction and the use of the built environment contributes to CO2 emissions, and only 0.26 % is the share that construction receives of the total funding from the Federal Ministry of Research. The ratio urgently needs to change,” says the expert. Research is not only to be carried out into reducing CO2 emissions. The aim is to build more energy- and resource-efficiently with fewer and also new materials such as lightweight concretes, as well as to further advance digitalization in the construction industry.
The topic of resource efficiency will remain a dominant one in the coming years. Therefore, it was a recurring theme for the technical program of this year’s BetonTage. Forward-looking presentations showed where the journey is heading. New generations of concretes, low-clinker binders, alternative reinforcements and the use of RC aggregates are just a few examples. Innovative precast concrete components for building construction and civil engineering were also presented. Updates on the latest advances in carbon concrete and 3D printing were not to be missed.
Know-how for the industry
Important impulses for the day-to-day operations of precast concrete manufacturers were again provided by the product-specific podiums in the afternoon, which were planned with the relevant trade associations. The spectrum ranged from lectures on structural precast concrete construction, on the production of concrete products for road construction, landscaping and gardening, on cast stone as well as for sewer construction, to lightweight concrete. This year, there was also a special training offer for production employees. The practical workshop included lectures and live demonstrations, for example, on the use of carbon reinforcements, CO2-reduced concretes and recycled aggregates.
In the “Innovation Forum”, exhibitors were able to present their new products and services for the precast concrete industry in short presentations. The best new developments were awarded the 2022 Innovation Prize of the supplier industry at the opening ceremony. This year, two companies were delighted to receive the award: Dyckerhoff GmbH won the award for its new CO2-efficient CEM II/C cements Cedur and Eco Comfort. Master Builders Solutions Deutschland GmbH, Mannheim, was rewarded for its new development MasterProtect NFF 2000, an innovative foam technology.
New impulses for architecture and planning
The BetonTage see themselves not only as an advanced training platform for the industry, but also as a platform for market partners of the building material. For many years, therefore, the podium “Concrete in Architecture” has been organized jointly with InformationsZentrum Beton and Deutsche Bauzeitschrift. Well-known, but also young architectural offices present their realized projects here and report on their experiences with the building material. Among other things, the first building made of carbon concrete - the Cube in Dresden - was on the program.
Furthermore, award-winning examples from Switzerland and a housing estate in Denmark made of precast concrete elements, which were already used in the 1960s and 1970s and are currently being reconstructed, were presented. Exciting insights were also offered by the host region of South Tyrol, which has always cultivated a creative approach to concrete as a building material. Around 250 architects took advantage of the event for further training. Interesting architectural object reports for this target group were also provided by the panels “Concrete Block” and “Structural Precast Construction”. The latter focused on the topic of “architectural concrete”.
3rd Zukunftstag Bauwirtschaft/
Future Day of the Construction Industry
This year’s Zukunftstag Bauwirtschaft/Future Day of the Construction Industry focused, among other things, on digitization in construction. The use of BIM, virtual and augmented reality as well as the implementation of digital quality checks in construction site management were discussed. An engaging insight into the future of construction with all its facets was offered by the managing partner of Wolff & Müller Holding GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart, Dr. Albert Dürr. Thomas Möller, Managing Director of Bauwirtschaft Baden-Württemberg e. V., also gave an update on the construction industry. Price explosions and shortages of materials have characterized the market not only since the Ukraine-War and have also caused prices for construction services to rise sharply. Due to the extreme cost development, there is an increasing threat of cancellations of construction contracts, especially in building construction.
Market in view
The precast concrete industry is also looking at the market with concern, according to Friedrich Gebhart, President of the Fachverband Beton- und Fertigteilwerke Baden-Württemberg and representative of Deutsche Betonbauteile at the BetonTage press conference. Although last year was again positive for the industry - its sales rose by 6 % to around € 7.3 billion - a decline of around 3 % is expected for 2022, he said. “Material and supply bottlenecks, in some cases drastic price increases for construction steel, insulating materials and cement, but also the greatly reduced subsidy package from the public sector for residential construction, as well as rising interest rates, will lead to a reduction in construction volume,” he predicted. The first signs of this, he said, are the declines in building permits in the first quarter of 2022.
This makes it even more important for the industry to get involved in initiatives such as Solid Unit - the network for innovative solid construction. It is important to position oneself in politics with objective arguments and to establish construction with prefabricated concrete components as the most sustainable alternative in the long term compared to lightweight construction methods. Serial and modular construction is currently experiencing positive support, as it contributes to fast, affordable housing. Nevertheless, concrete construction must continue to develop - and this is exactly what the many practical examples at the BetonTage will convey.
Demonstrating the innovation potential of concrete as a building material and driving the transfer of knowledge from research to practice remain the goals of the industry event. “We are delighted with the successful premiere at the new location and have no regrets about the move to the Congress Centrum Ulm. In order to have planning security, we will also stick to the date in June next year,” says Dr. Ulrich Lotz, Managing Director of FBF Betondienst GmbH. The organizer is already extending the invitation to the 67th BetonTage in Ulm from June 20th to June 22nd in 2023.
FBF Betondienst GmbH
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