04 August 2020

Table of Contents for Special Focus: Concrete & Concrete Equipment

Special Focus: Concrete & Concrete Equipment

A concrete future


The remarkable building material – Concrete – the rock-solid material that makes up our bridges, buildings, sidewalks, streets and more, has become a construction staple for its low cost to put together and ability to mold into just about any shape. Giving a boost to this growth is the new construction and repairs to existing infrastructure,
which currently require vast amounts of concrete.With the consumption expected to escalate dramatically in the future, there seems to be promising times ahead for concrete & concrete equipment manufacturers globally.


Since a lot has been read and written about the concretes future and fortunes, in this story we aim to bring you new age concrete materials that have found an edge over the conventional yet long lasting concrete.



With changing times, we have seen the composition of concrete changing for good. Today, it is being produced using permutation and combination of various chemicals and other ingredients, what we call as admixtures. These superplasticisers have been the central elements to develop high-strength concrete, which is economical and workable. Increasing customer awareness and durable civil structure are the major factors responsible for driving the concrete admixtures in the Asia-Pacific region. The fact that admixtures make concrete structures cost effective for both contractors and stakeholders have also added to the popularity of the ingredient. Besides this, established infrastructure in many developed nations coupled with recent fluctuation in economic cycles has hampered the growth of the market. On the other hand, demand for paramount surface finishing as well as resistance to combat adverse weather conditions is likely to create greater opportunities.



Recycled concrete

Recognising the critical need for concrete, Roland Pellenq, senior research scientist in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and research director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and his colleague Franz-Josef Ulm, professor of CEE and Director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub), have been working to reduce its environmental footprint. Their goal is to find ways to do more with less. “If we can make concrete stronger, we’ll need to use less of it in our structures,” says Ulm. “And if we can make it more durable, it’ll last longer before it needs to be replaced.”


Surprisingly, while concrete has been a critical building material for 2,000 years, improvements have largely come from trial & error rather than rigorous research. As a result, the factors controlling how it forms and performs have remained poorly understood. Today, methods of recycling concrete generally involve cutting it up and using it in place of gravel in new concrete. But that approach doesn’t reduce the need to manufacture more cement. The researchers’ idea is to reproduce the cohesive forces they have identified in cement hydrate. “If the micro texture is just a consequence of the physical forces between nanometre-sized particles, then we should be able to grind old concrete into fine particles and compress them so that the same force field develops,” says Ulm. “We can make new binder without needing any new cement — a true recycling concept for concrete!”


In some countries where they have too much slurry, they also employ a method called filter press where they filter the excess cement particles out and reuse the water.So, with this system, you not only eliminate the problem of effluents, but also save precious resources like water and other raw materials. Also as manpower becomes more expensive, reliance on machines like these will be more profitable in the future. Because they are not only more efficient and safe, they also waste less and pollute less.


Companies like Ultratech, Lafarge have already been setting up concrete recycling plants at their RMC plants for some time now. Others like JK Lakshmi are following suit. Also, all green building ratings especially Leed platinum ratings now insist on the installation of concrete recycling plants at the RMC plants. Gradually concrete manufacturers are beginning to understand both the ecological and economic benefits of concrete recycling plants. Typically, in two years, you can expect to get back the entire return on your investment.



3D printing concrete

Currently, the market size for 3D concrete printing sits at $24.5 million. According to the study, this is expected to grow to $56.4 million by 2021. Many construction companies around the world are already using some form of 3D concrete printing and will continue to use it in the future, expanding on the practice as technology becomes less expensive and its uses grow. As more places around the world begin to urbanize and industrialize, the demand to build a wide variety of structures will increase.Asia Pacific region will lead the way in 3D concrete printing with China being, perhaps unsurprisingly, the fastest growing country in terms of its use of 3D printing with concrete.



Precast concrete

Precast concrete is a smart way to build any type of buildings, safely and affordably. Originally developed in the Nordic countries, modular precast is one of the world’s most common and resource-efficient ways to build. It ensures fast construction times, high profitability and excellent quality. Still, requirements for beautiful, modern buildings are not compromised. Precast concrete is an industrialised way to build. It means transfer of work from sites to factories. This improves productivity and quality and shortens construction time of a building. In short, precast concrete lowers total construction costs considerably.


Precast also has lower lifetime costs than any other building solution. It is possible due to consistent high quality of industrially produced products. Precast minimises e.g. structural and facade maintenance needs during years.With precast, logistics needs are minimal. Precast floors, walls, frames and foundations are transported to a construction site ready-to-install. Logistics to building site is arranged with just one delivery vehicle instead of several raw material transfers back and forth.


Looking at the bullish market potential, Schwing Stetter will be launching precast equipment through an acquisition or a manufacturing license or a joint venture to cater to the growing precast construction market. The company currently has a revenue of around Rs.1,200 crore and expects a better growth over next couple of years, as the road construction industry has started growing again, said Anand Sundaresan, chairman, Schwing Stetter Sales & Services.



Self consolidating concrete

The global self consolidating concrete (SCC) market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.56 per cent by 2020. SCC, a high-performance high-flow construction material, is manufactured just like traditional concrete, sans the addition of super-plasticizers and viscosity modifying admixtures. The SCC was developed around 25 years back, and has since been gaining popularity among the contractors and architects in the developing countries, primarily for use in precast and repairing applications. However, its usage has also increased in the new construction application segment.


SCC has the unique ability to settle and flow into even the most congested crevices and to-be-reinforced places purely on the basis of self-weight. Its aforementioned characteristic reduces the need for vibration equipment and large labor force; thereby, resulting in noise-free and low-time consuming construction. The precast concrete segment accounted for the majority of consumption in the global SCC market in 2015.


This market is driven by a number of factors, such as the non-requirement of vibration process in laying SCC, the improved air quality and significant reduction in MRO costs, and the reduced environmental footprint in SCC-based new construction and repair activities. However, this market faces certain drawbacks, primarily the high costs associated with using SCC, and the limited usage of SCC in construction activities in emerging economies. The scenario in developing countries in Asia-Pacific, especially in India, is expected to change drastically in the coming years, primarily because of the development and introduction of SCC by UltraTech in the country.


The increased consumer emphasis on low-noise construction activities, the growing popularity of Low-fines SCC (Smart Dynamic Concrete), and the gradually recovering construction and housing sector in Europe in the recent years, are some of the major growth opportunities for the players in the global SCC market.



Equipment expanse

According to recent Technavio’s market research, the global paving and concreting equipment market is expected to grow steadily during the forecast period and post a CAGR of about 12 per cent by 2021. The growth of the construction industry across the world is one of the major factors that will have a positive impact on the growth of this market in the coming years. Owing to the rapid urbanization and economic growth, there is an increase in the construction of ultra-high-rise buildings in several large and medium-sized cities across the world. This in turn, will increase the demand for paving and concreting equipment, consequently aiding market growth.


Since paving and concreting equipment are quite expensive, they often require a large down payment for purchase. As a result, small and medium-sized enterprises will start renting paving and concreting equipment. This will reduce their operating costs and will in turn, lead to the growth of the equipment rental business.During 2016, the compactors segment accounted for the major market shares and dominated the market. Due to their usage across a wide of operations such as road construction, site clearance, and landscaping, this segment will post significant growth in the coming years.APAC will be the major revenue contributor to the market till 2021. This is mainly due to the rise in urbanisation in the countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which will fuel the growth of construction market in this region.


Rock solid foundation ahead

The global market for concrete and cement is estimated to grow steadily at a CAGR of nearly 8 per cent by 2020. The recent rise in the preference for prefabricated construction will aid in the growth of this market until the end of the forecast period. Prefabricated structures can be constructed off-site and helps to avoid the chaos and congestion caused due to on-site construction. Since it helps to increase the construction speed and reduces the cost and time taken in the process, they are increasingly being preferred for a wide array of construction activities.


Elaborating on challenging times and opportunities ahead, Wilfried Theissen, MD, Putzmeister Concrete Machines, says,“We foresee positive trends for the next 5-10 years for the construction equipment industry, provided the goal post will not be moved again. The major challenges continue to be macro-economic in nature, with the lack of easy access to credit, un-friendly legislation, and low pace of projects per annum continuing to derail the growth process. Moreover, more than 80 per cent of the concrete in the industry is still transported manually by unskilled labor. With the absence of many large-scale projects, the speed of execution is of little importance and therefore, mechanization of construction is low priority. The sector continues to be plagued by lack of skilled contractors and poor access to basic amenities like water and electricity, making construction a difficult business in India. The Central and State governments must gear up to fulfill the basic needs of the industry.


Also, the government needs to provide easier access to funding to promote investment by established players. Secondly, the government along with industry should rapidly intensify the skill development to leverage the opportunity offered by growing markets. Thirdly lowering of interest rates to make funding cheaper, so that double digit ROI is no longer necessary. The fourth one is to budget the correct amount of funds for each project. Currently, the project cost is nearly always underestimated which pushes the contractors to play with the specifications of raw material and equipment just to survive.”


Going by the latest developments and research augmentation, it's a matter of time that we see newer and newer concrete innovations setting stage for world-class construction projects across the country. With industry upbeat about the new age advances, time has come for concrete to take center stage in construction owing it its inherent advantages such as durability and eco-friendliness.

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