Sensor technology integrated into production
Sustainability and the efficient use of resources are becoming the necessities of the future. Precast manufacturers are being challenged today, and for the future as well, to work demonstrably on reducing CO2 emissions. Cement offers the greatest potential for savings and improvements due to its largest share in the carbon footprint of a concrete element. This is exactly where the MES Sensorics concept comes in. It aims to reduce cement consumption, lower CO2 emissions and thus offer savings both on time and money through precise curing times, improving concrete recipes and optimising production cycles. Precast experts from Doka and Concrefy and the RIB group’s prefabrication software specialists joined forces for its development. MES Sensorics is the product of joint work, years of experience and a courageous spirit of innovation.
Oberndorfer, the Austrian precaster, was won over as pioneer and first user in practice. As is usual for the developers (Doka and Concrefy), a solution was implemented in this case that was entirely tailored to the customer’s requirements. Oberndorfer, as precast specialists, have been employing Concremote for five years in manufacturing beams and columns. It has considerably simplified verifying prestressing strength. With Concremote, Oberndorfer benefits from prestressing safely at the earliest possible moment, as well as digital documentation of the measurement data.
How a sensor can impact sustainability
The Concremote solution, a digital measurement and control system developed in the Netherlands by Concrefy in cooperation with Doka on the basis of years of experience in concrete technology, plays an important role in savings in a production process. Concremote is very simple to utilise. Digital sensors are inserted into the concrete and transmit measurement data wirelessly to the Concremote Cloud. The measurement data is securely stored in the cloud and can be accessed by users at any time via computers and tablets. Users are notified fully automatically when the required target value has been reached, and lifting and/or prestressing can begin. The established maturity method, which has been made even easier to use by Doka and Concrefy, is employed to determine compressive strength. Concrete specialists from Concrefy and the Concremote calibration boxes support both initial calibration and regular verification of concrete quality. As soon as the target value has been reached, the required prestressing force can be safely applied and the component removed. During this process, the Concremote sensor is also removed from the finished element, cleaned and recharged at the charging station. The sensor will be ready for use again after only a few hours on the charger.
“We can celebrate the successful roll-out of Concremote today thanks to years of development and testing in real production conditions. We will continue to improve the digital Concremote service and are convinced that we have contributed to optimising the industry and have taken another step towards sustainable precast production.” – Stefan Scheuchelbauer
Smart use and analysis of sensor data
Concremote was integrated into iTwo Smart Production in cooperation with RIB Group (RIB SAA Software Engineering) prefabrication experts and the MES Sensorics concept developed. The data collected is passed directly to the master computer, which adjusts production planning in accordance with it. The smart use of sensor data and its analysis in ongoing production yields a great deal of optimisation potential. The process is started via a Smart Station, i.e. state-of-the-art monitors as information and operating control system terminals. A Concremote sensor is placed on the fresh concrete after the concreting process and scanning its specific element barcode. This process allows iTwo MES to exchange the sensor’s data with that of the Concremote Cloud and assign production-relevant Concremote data to the corresponding element. From this point on, the optimal curing time is continuously monitored and visually displayed in iTwo MES. The user thus receives live updates as well as information on predicted strength attainment. The master computer incorporates the data received into future production planning and can thus generate a more efficient process. The sensor remains on the pallet during the entire process until storage and pick-up, and does not interfere with production or the element itself. Touch screens are utilised as an operating solution in a factory environment to simplify and accelerate handling the production process. This makes the MES Smart Station an innovative solution that facilitates more efficient production and process monitoring.
“MES Sensorics is already proving to be a very successful project. We know that its full potential has not yet been exhausted. We are now intensively working on evaluating the data obtained in iTwo MES so that further optimisations can be made.” – Stefan Maier
MES Sensorics – innovation in practice
The new combination of Concremote and iTwo MES now enables Oberndorfer to utilise it in a circulation system. Together, Doka, Concrefy and RIB have now successfully adapted and implemented the MES Sensorics concept to customer needs. The first tangible successes in terms of savings and optimisation are already becoming apparent. In future, Oberndorfer plans to reduce its CO2 footprint significantly in precast production by adapting concrete recipes to its daily routine. Automated selection of the most suitable type of concrete facilitates more efficient, environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
“The Concremote sensor and its integration into iTWO Smart Production have once again demonstrated that the courage to innovate is needful and can also be very successful. The
savings are already noticeable after a comparatively short period in operation and we are convinced that there is still more to come with smart data analysis.” – Werner Pröll
Conclusion & Case Study
Using Concremote at Oberndorfer has so far clearly shown up the advantages of the concept. Due to its “simple and intuitive handling, the system was quickly accepted by the operators”, says Felix Mayr, Head of Production Technology at Oberndorfer. In addition, the company expects savings on cement “which can be determined and implemented thanks to the system”, as well as potential savings on additives. Successes in process optimisation have also already been documented. “We are able to carry out prestressing up to 90 minutes earlier in stationary production work,” Felix Mayr confirmed. Last but not least, manufacturers can benefit from the comprehensive reports that are attached to a respective project, on the basis of which further optimisations are possible. By analysing the curing chamber, Felix Mayr expects “room for optimisation in the heating and utilisation of different pallet positions”. Overall, the MES Sensorics concept has been shown to be a successful step towards reducing CO2 in their precast production facility and offers much potential for further optimisation.