It seems there is no getting away from constant improvements in the construction industry. The world of concrete alone has seen further changes, as companies battle it out to get on-board with the latest trends to improve technologies in the concrete market.

Firstly, Reckli saw Europe’s first solar concrete wall constructed at its headquarters in Herne, Germany. The façade − which was designed by Reckli − fits the solar film from Heliatek. Reckli and Heliatek are demonstrating the next step towards a sustainable, net-zero energy building, according to Reckli.

The solar active concrete wall has an installed power of 1 KW, and will supply around 500 kWh of electricity per year. The energy produced will be used directly by Reckli, it confirmed. The annual energy output is expected to be about 25% above the yield of silicon technology. Heliatek has already shown that its solar film, HeliaFilm, delivers more energy under overcast sky conditions and at high temperatures compared to traditional solar cells, said Reckli.

The solar active concrete façade in Herne comprises three rows of concrete modules with vertically mounted integrated solar film, and peak power at standard test conditions.

Peter Henning, sales manager of Reckli, said, “We focused for this pilot installation on how to combine the solar film and concrete modules in a reliable and aesthetic manner. We want to demonstrate to architects, planners and investors, how the solar concrete future looks like.”

Thomas Bickl, Heliatek’s VP for sales & product development, added, “We are very happy to see the progress of our joint development project. The unique features of our solar films like ultra-thin, low weight and flexible layout fit this application perfectly. About 130 million m² of concrete façades are installed every year worldwide - this is our target market.”

First company

Tyrolit was the first company of many to introduce a power tool for the concrete market. The company announced its new easy and cost-effective dry drilling of reinforced concrete this year. The dry drilling system consists of the DME19DP drill motor with soft impact function and the TGD dry drill bits that have been specially developed for dry drilling.

Selected partners have been benefiting from this system solution since early 2015, said Tyrolit. For the very first time, the combination of the DME19DP dry drill motor and the TGD dry drill bits allows easy drilling of reinforced concrete without water, making it a cost-effective, clean additional drilling solution.

The new dry drill bits featuring TGD technology are vital to the success of the drilling process for reinforced concrete, setting new standards with its intelligent distribution of the diamonds. “Our TGD dry drill bits have proven their worth in a variety of situations, including decommissioning nuclear power plants. We’re not at all surprised that our customers on smaller construction sites also achieved excellent results,” said Sergiy Avramenko, product manager at Tyrolit.

The company said it is also an affordable product as the system does not need any expensive, unhandy accessories such as air compressors. In addition, any conventional dry vacuum cleaner can be attached to the integrated vacuum cleaner connection. The drilling system can be operated as a handheld tool or mounted on the drill rig. Tyrolit also offers its customers a carefully compiled range of accessories, such as a handy centering aid and, for especially tough jobs, high-quality granules for sharpening during the drilling process.

Fast & clean work

Adding to the list is Chicago Pneumatic which has unveiled the first of its new products in its range of concrete equipment with the addition of new surfacing tools.

The new SCS 32 spreader wagon and STG power trowels deliver fast and clean work for the layering and smoothing of concrete, said the company. The new product is ideal for a range of surfacing applications including concrete slabs, industrial warehouse floors, residential housing, car parks and alleyways.

Chicago Pneumatic has updated its STG line of power trowels with the introduction of the new STG245 for small slabs, and the STG365 and STG465 models that are ideal for larger slabs. With high speed rates from 40 to 140 rpm, coupled with low hand and arm vibrations, the new range of trowels can be used for an extended period of time without the risk of user injury, claimed Chicago Pneumatic. The new trowels are equipped with an ignition kill-switch when the dead man handle is released and include a twist pitch allowing up to 22° of blade angle adjustment. Equipped with lifting devices for the safe movement of equipment, the new trowels are easy to store and maneuver, ensuring maximum flexibility and productivity.

The new product is designed to evenly distribute all types of granolithic concrete material while pressing it into the upper layer for a long-wearing surface. Instead of wheels, the spreader wagon features a mesh screen roller that carries the weight of the machine at the same time as it presses the granolithic material into the concrete. This helps the material bond with the concrete for increased wear resistance and provides a reliable, even finish, it claimed. The SCS 32 is easy to operate and includes flow adjustment on the handle to enable users to determine the exact quantity of material needed with a lockable feature for a consistent, even flow.

Another is Swedish contractor Corvara which is using an Aqua Cutter 410A remote controlled robot to remove decayed concrete from pylon foundations. According to the company, an Aqua jet hydro-demolition robot is being used on the pylon foundations in the Swedish ski resort of Åre to cut away decayed concrete on the massive blocks and allow replacement concrete to be laid.

Åre’s ski lift system, which takes skiers up the side of the 1,420 m high Åreskutan mountain, was built in phases starting from the late 1970s and has helped turn the previously small village into one of Sweden’s leading winter sports resorts, it claimed.

The contract to renovate the foundation blocks on the pylons has been awarded to Corvara Industri & Skadeservice − a specialist in repairing damage to industrial installations and a supplier of high-pressure, suction, hydro-demolition and blasting services throughout the Nordic region, said Corvara. An Aqua Cutter 410A − a remote controlled machine specially designed for applications in confined and inaccessible areas − is being used on the concrete foundation blocks.

Spraymec 5070

And, Normet has introduced its new concrete sprayer Spraymec 5070 VC with a Tier 4 Final engine this year.

The Spraymec 5070 VC is designed for medium capacity spraying works and it can be seen as a “little brother” of Spraymec 8100 VC as it uses the same high performance carrier but comes with somewhat lower capacity spraying features as the “big brother”, explained Normet.

New features include the new spraying boom SB307 providing good reach in tunnel profiles up to 7 m. The boom is equipped with self-lubricating slide pieces and roller to minimise wear and tear. All the boom movements are pressure compensated and have proportional functions allowing the operator to create a smooth and homogeneous tunnel lining structure.

The Spraymec 5070 VC uses Normet’s low pulsation concrete spraying pump with a theoretical concrete output screw –type compressor which gives reliable and sufficient air supply for medium capacity spraying works.

The same intuitive nozzleman’s interface is available for the Spraymec 5070 as is standard for the Spraymec 8100. This includes operator being able to carry out all spraying functions from the radio remote control and follow spraying process parameters though a turntable and movable multi-coloured display placed on the front of the machine. Service easiness is arranged through open access to all service points, according to Normet.

A highly accurate accelerator dosing system, either with mono-type screw pump or optional low-pulsation Normet LPP-D peristaltic pump, is synchronised automatically with concrete output.

NorSmart control system can log all spraying processes and carry data such as concrete and accelerator volume, dosing percentage, pumping speed, and change of process parameters. The NorSmart system also provides full fault diagnostics. The recorded data can be delivered to supervisory checks via USB drive, or machine data can be sent out to an external server via WLAN and GPRS, it said.

The available engine options for the Spraymec are Tier 3 and Tier 4 Final. The Tier 4 Final technology uses Selective Catalytic Reduction and Diesel Exhaust Fuel urea technology for exhaust after treatment.

Growing demand

Meanwhile, mixers remain a key product in the market, and Rapid International has announced the launch of its latest product, Trakmix.

Trakmix is a track mounted, mobile and self-contained, fully-weighed high volume mixing plant, said Rapid. The product was designed in response to the growing demand for a mobile continuous mixing plant that provides easy, cost effective transportation and eliminates the need for special transportation permits. Customer demand also indicated a need for a machine providing more options on outputs on a different platform, offering flexibility for a wide range of site types and applications.

The new Trakmix tracked continuous mixing plant is the first of its kind to market, said Rapid. Patent pending features include a superior controls system that weighs all materials and double hopper cement weighing system. Other features include low friction surface lining on hoppers, bottom conveyor for easy cleanout and out-loading conveyor for easy discharge.

The Trakmix has been designed with total ease of mobility and set-up in mind. The machine possesses an entirely self-contained design mounted on tracks including on-board genset, providing the ultimate in mobile flexibility, claimed Rapid.

The product also offers outputs of up to 250 tonnes per hour via a high volume continuous Rapid twin-shaft mixer and 12 m³ aggregate hopper, which includes a division plate for two different types of aggregates. The Rapid designed continuous twin-shaft mixer is the largest and fastest continuous mixer on the market. The mixer’s specially phased shafts and paddles offer an outstanding homogenous mix for a variety of applications within the concrete, construction and environmental industries.

Also, SBM Mineral Processing has been responsible for the complete concrete production at the large-scale construction S10 project, financed by ASFINAG in the north of Linz, Austria. The powerful plants Euromix 2000 and Euromix 3000 are producing up to 30,000 m³ high-quality concrete per month, ensuring smooth operation at the construction site, said SBM.

The express road building includes four tunnel sections, four underfloor sections, and various engineering structures at a total length of 22 km. The centre piece of the new road is the tunnel Götschka which has been constructed in mining technique with two tubes. With a length of 4,400 m and a gradient of 3.6 % it is the longest three-lane tunnel in Europe, claimed SBM.

As the modular, space-saving plant systems are completely autonomous and do not require concrete foundations, they fit into every construction site infrastructure. According to the plant concept, the concrete logistics is positioned in front of the plants and the material logistics is behind the plants. The high-performance mixing plants are already prepared for heating and cooling operation, therefore they are ready to produce concrete after only one week of assembly time. The centrally controlled systems work together and fulfil the complete package of performance requirements even under most extreme conditions in all-year operation, said SMB.

The mobile plants series Euromix makes an important contribution to assure profitable and eco-friendly concrete production at the S10 project. A major part of the excavated material of the tunnel is newly processed directly on the site to achieve high-quality grain sizes for the subsequent concrete production. This avoids long distances as well as high amounts of noise, dust and air pollution, said SBM.

New range

Meanwhile Wirtgen has developed a number of new machines, including the SP 15i, which is its smallest slipform paver.

It is suitable for paving areas up to 1.8m wide, as well as monolithic profiles up to 1.3m high. The model can feature a hydraulic vibrator, folding conveyor and the Wirtgen Autopilot 3D machine control system.

As the company’s most compact model, the SP15i, which is powered by an EU Stage IIIB/Tier 4 Interim Deutz engine, is capable of working in confined areas. It can be used for a number of offset concrete paving jobs, and is also said to be easily transportable.

Finally, GOMACO has also made improvements to its Commander III multi-application slipform paver.

Powered by a Tier 4 Final engine, it operates with the GOMACO G+ control system, which is part of improvements made to machines’ hydraulic performance. It also has a redesigned frame and operator’s platform with a new pivoting operator’s control console.

For the first time, the paver will be available with an optional on-board camera to monitor designated areas of the slipforming process.

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