Cutting-edge Precast Concrete Technologies in the Market Today

The constant innovation of the precast concrete industry is a fact. This is attributed to changes in global markets, increasing customer demands, and pressure from rising labour costs. Manufacturers are continually looking for ways to enhance quality and productivity and maximize their bottom line. Increased environmental consciousness and a focus on project life cycles have increased the need for sustainable building practices, particularly those that reduce waste, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The development of improved concrete technologies in general, especially in the precast market, has been largely accelerated by the fact that concrete is the most prevalent component among building materials and the most manufactured in the world. Here are nine cutting-edge precast concrete technologies in the market today.

1. Building Information Modeling (BIM)

By combining digital technology, architecture, design, and project management, a Building Information Modeling tool makes building, managing, and designing structures much more straightforward. This software facilitates collaboration between architects, engineers, and construction firms by gathering and importing project data and building a cloud-based data environment. BIM helps manufacturers model precast concrete panels.

2. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented reality and virtual reality offer real-time scanning of job sites, allowing project managers to keep track of progress without having to visit the site physically. This not only improves communication with stakeholders but also boosts productivity. It also makes it easier for precast manufacturers to align concrete curing timelines with site progress.

3. 3D Printing

This technology is widely adopted across industries, and the precast concrete industry is no exception. In 3D printing, layers of material are created using computer software to build precise dimensional structures, eliminating room for human error. In precast concrete applications, 3D printing is a crucial aspect of creating reusable, durable formwork.

Structural designers and architects can more effectively communicate their ideas for models that are available in 3D format. This applies to precast plants as well. 3D factory models make evaluating the space and safety requirements easier. It also simplifies usability. Seeing components in 3D before manufacturing begins makes it easier to identify unique needs.

4. Loader Cranes

Enhancing site safety and organization should be a top priority. The loading, transporting, and placing of panels are challenging tasks for precast manufacturers. A lorry loader allows manufacturers to move and install precast panels safely and effectively. This type of crane can be used to seamlessly lift and move the panels into position, eliminating the need for a crane, a second truck on the job site, and an additional team to install the parts.

5. Bionic Exoskeletons

Bionic exoskeletons increase the average human’s lifting capability by acting as an extension of the body. This makes it easier for them to carry and move heavy objects. Currently, exoskeletons can be purchased as full-body suits or for individual body parts, such as lower body, upper body, or back braces. When performing heavy lifting or repetitive motions, this reduces strain on the body, lowers the risk of injury, and maximizes efficiency. This can be useful for the labour productivity of different parts of the construction process.

6. P24 Delta Tie Insulation System

This system is made of a non-conductive, non-corrosive fibre composite. It’s used as a wythe connector in concrete sandwich panel construction. The final product is manufactured from a two-dimensional geometric truss made of continuously wound fibreglass and embedded in an alkali-resistant resin. This design results in a connector with remarkable strength and durability.

7. Retractable Enclosures

Retractable enclosures create a protective environment for concrete manufacturing, aggregate storage, indoor and outdoor curing, and dust control. This technology helps regulate curing temperature, maintain humidity, and prevent temperature gradients to avoid weather-related product flaws and shrinkage cracking.

8. Crystalline Waterproofing Agents And Corrosion Inhibitors

Steel corrosion in reinforced concrete is a sticky issue, particularly in areas where de-icing chemicals are heavily used on roadways. Corrosion inhibitors can be used as an additive or placed over existing concrete to greatly reduce corrosion activity (usually up to 65%) without negatively impacting the characteristics of hardened concrete, which include permeability, compressive strengths, and others.

This is particularly useful for precast constructions where connecting hardware may come into contact with chlorides and other corrosive substances. By adding hydro-reactive micro-crystalline structures to the concrete, which, when exposed to moisture, seals the capillaries, crystalline waterproofing agents prevent the movement of water and soluble chlorides. This effectively reduces the concrete’s permeability. When paired with corrosion inhibitors, crystalline waterproofing agents can more than double the useful life of the concrete.

9. Blended Cement

This technology repurposes industry with products such as blast furnace slag and fly ash, which would otherwise require land for disposal. Blended cement also uses less natural limestone and produces less CO2. To enhance the performance of concrete, standard blends consist of 20% fly ash, 30% slag cement, and 50% Portland cement. In some jurisdictions, the use of blended cement attracts tax credits.

Precast concrete products offer a multitude of design options. They’re practical, long-lasting, versatile, and can be manufactured in any size and dimension for simplicity of installation. The cutting-edge technologies mentioned above allow precast concrete manufacturers to operate more effectively, efficiently, and sustainably.

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