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From India to America, concrete innovation is big around the world

Concrete is big business globally, and contractors must embrace the sector’s new innovations to improve their margins

HEM equipment has been put to work at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, India.
© World of Concrete
HEM equipment has been put to work at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, India.

The global industry for concrete and related products, such as cement, is worth billions of dollars. According to a report published by research house Technavio in October 2018, the global market for concrete and cement will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 8% in the run up to 2022, with incremental growth of $337.8bn expected between 2017 and 2022.

Fifty-four percent of the concrete and cement market’s share was taken up by the Asia-Pacific (Apac) region in 2017, with demand notably high in countries such as India; Indonesia; the Philippines; and China, where a new airport is due to open in Beijing this year. According to the report, the “rapid growth” of construction players in the Middle East and Africa is “also attracting several investors”, with the region second on the list behind Apac in terms of growth and demand. 

Concrete is clearly big business, and its ubiquity in the construction process is also supporting the growth of related industries, such as equipment. As innovation and technology-driven overhauls become more feasible for contractors, the concrete sector is also fostering greater international collaboration opportunities for construction companies.

Take the example of US contractor HEM Paving, which recently procured, manufactured, and transported a three-machine concrete paving ‘train’ for the United States Armed Forces, in tandem with Fed Harmony. The latter firm, based in Arlington, Virginia, works as a broker between equipment manufacturers and federal government agencies in the US.

Concrete is ubiquitous across the construction industry, be it for architectural or infrastructure projects.

HEM’s PS12-28 Placer Spreader, SFP 4-37 Slip-Form Paver, and TC12-28 Texture Cure machines were prepared at the firm’s Iowa headquarters and transported to the Middle East for an “in-theatre” project in an unnamed country. The PS12-8 can unload a 10-yard dump truck in under five minutes, while the SFP14-37, powered by the Auto Float system, reduces the need for manpower by providing fine, high-quality finishes.

The TC12-28, meanwhile, will be used to apply “a tined finish to the concrete or a full coverage of liquid curing compound, ensuring that the freshly paved concrete cures properly in the Middle East temperatures”.

While the US Armed Forces is a respectable client to have in any portfolio, it is not HEM’s only high-profile customer. India’s Abhishek Concrete is also using HEM equipment to upgrade the aircraft parking apron at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, India

Contractor Abhishek Concrete is working on the 60,000m2 ramp for main contractor Vijay Nirman Co. Two HEM SFP 10-17M units, installed with dual sidebar inserters and electronic sensors, are being used for the two-phase project. Phase 1 of the aviation project comprises the paving of 5m-wide slabs at a height of 0.46m, while Phase 2 includes 120ha of ramp paving.

HEM was one of the exhibitors at the World of Concrete 2019 exhibition, which was held at the Las Vegas Convention Centre on 22-25 January. Innovation was a key theme of the show, where tech-savvy products – such as Sakrete’s augmented reality (AR) based application and the world’s “only battery-powered roller screed” – were also unveiled.

The AR application launched by the US business allows contractors to calculate the number of bags required for projects by “taking a photo of the space”, according to a company statement shared with World of Concrete. The app, according to the company, can make “the lives of contractors easier”, and offers benefits such as cost and time savings.

Equally likely to promote efficiencies is Curb Roller Manufacturing’s Batt Screed, which operates using a rechargeable 60-volt lithium ion battery. As the firm explains, “unlike gas, electric, and hydraulic roller screeds, the Batt Screed eliminates exhaust fumes, power cords, and hydraulic power sources”.

In a statement, Curb Roller Manufacturing says the patent-pending product, when rolled out, could benefit contractors pursuing increased production in “an ever-fluctuating economy and variable labour market”.

It is not unforeseeable that concrete and related industries will steadily grow in the coming years. Regional and international contractors seeking economical ways of doing business must now explore how concrete innovations being developed around the world can help them to achieve their desired results.

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