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Are you pondering what the year of 2019 brings to the precast industry? Or what kind of issues should be kept in mind during the future precast production? Here’s my view on some of the 3 trends in the precast business that have increased in importance during the past few years.
Climate change, lack of pure water, heavy storms, diminishing raw material resources are constantly all over the news. They guide us to appreciate green values and force companies to change the ways they do business – and our precast industry is not an exception. There is a growing demand for sustainable construction from different parties; the governments, citizens and global communities. This challenges the designers, builders and us in the precast industry alike. For us, this development actually presents a good opportunity as well.
We as a community should highlight the benefits of precast construction, share the information and fact, and convince authorities that precast concrete is the way to the future of building construction. After all, compared to cast-in-situ precast uses less of everything – less water, less steel and less cement. Less waste is also produced in the factory production process, together with lower logistics needs. In addition, precast plants can have a closed water circulation, which helps saving the vital clean water.
There are also many ways of making precast production even more sustainable. Here too, one of the major possibilities arises from the use of materials and new and modern machinery. Why? The answer is simple – new machinery is designed to be cost-efficient, which means that less material goes to waste. For example, our new Plotter draws required openings accurately on hollow core slabs. Thus, slabs are not wasted due to measurement or marking errors. Also, our Extruders are equipped with an efficient shear compaction technology, which results in minimized cement usage and consistent high quality production. Again, less slabs get scrapped so materials are not wasted because of production errors. Concrete recycling is an upcoming trend that will improve raw material efficiency in precast production.
Making safety the priority
Safety should be the priority whenever doing business, because it does not only impact the lives of the people, but also the reputation of the company. New employees are much more likely to apply for companies that care about the safety of their people and operations.
Whenever we here at Elematic further develop existing machinery or innovate something completely new, we pay close attention to the safety side of things. We want to support you in making your precast plant a safer place to work. I mean not only considering the instant dangers, but also the entire lives of the personnel and the factory life-cycle. Therefore, our latest machine models are equipped with various solutions to reduce occupational accidents and safety risks. For example, movement sensors, auto-stop function and tools for safe lifting increase safety. It is also crucial to limit the amount of respirable silica dust – as we know; silica dust is one of the major dangers at precast plants.
Traditionally, the precast industry has been behind other sectors when it comes to the safety of the factories. However, now that the future of precast business looks promising, there should be a good opportunity to get rid of the old, often dangerous solutions still existing in many plants around the world. Forerunners in the industry are investing in factory safety; hence it can also be seen as a competitive advantage. I believe that our industry should promote safety not only by using precast as the building construction technology, but also by using new and modern production solutions that truly make a difference.
Digitalization as an opportunity
Digitalization has impacted our lives on many fronts, for example, through the introduction of smart devices, electric cars and IoT. The precast industry has not been at the forefront in adopting new digital solutions, but now we see great potential for factory digitalization in the form of automated machinery and optimized production planning. If you want to take a step towards digitalizing your precast plant, the easiest way is to start with production planning, because it creates the basis for further digitalization. This may mean, for example, quality control, storage yard management or truckload planning. However, before being able to implement any one of them, production planning is required; to know what is produced, when it is produced and how efficiently you utilize the capacity available.
Digitalization is impacting the precast business and offers considerable savings not only by making the production more efficient, but also by taking care of the safety of the employees and supporting in attracting skilled labor. Automated processes are also ideal for ensuring consistent quality throughout the production chain. The benefits are not limited only to the precast plant, because the whole construction project can be digitalized from the original designs all the way to the construction sites, and beyond to the entire lifecycle of the building.
If you would like to further discuss the 3 trends in the precast business, we would be happy to hear from you.
CEO, Elematic Oyj