Peab and Cementa’s test bed project addresses three focus areas:

  1. Automated information chain from drawing to robotic masonry wall construction
  2. Digital technologies that automate the drying process and real-time updates of concrete forecasting
  3. Digital sensor systems for temperature measurement and better monitoring of strength development in new eco-friendly concrete

Automated information chain from drawing to robotic masonry wall construction

About the test bed

Test bed hosts: Peab and Cementa
Test bed supervisor: Robert Larsson, R&D Project Manager at Cementa
Academic supervisor: Micael Thunberg, Assistant Senior Lecturer in Construction Logistics, Linköping University

In the first test bed focus area, a robot is used to automate masonry wall construction. The question at issue is what we need to connect to the information chain for automation to work, or more specifically which information systems need to be integrated and what information needs to be sent between the systems for the automation to work. Providing the robot with correct information is a specific job, above all to avoid a return to manual work.

The problem that the test addresses primarily concerns how the efficiency of the construction process can be improved using automated processes. An additional consequence of the work is a better understanding of how different computer systems need to be integrated for optimum support of the construction process.

Concrete sensors improve efficiency

In the second area, the focus of the test bed is on how drying processes can be improved using digital technologies to measure temperatures and humidity in both air and concrete as well as energy usage in drying equipment. The questions asked concern how connected equipment and sensors in a building can be used to create as efficient a drying process as possible. Drying of building materials during the production phase is a critical process, and supervisors and site managers are in great need of accurate information. This applies both to facts about the current moisture levels in materials and data that will enable energy usage and the costs of maintaining the desired drying climate to be monitored.

The hope is that the sensors will enable more efficient processes where real-time information can regulate the measures that are applied in the drying process. There are also hopes that it will be possible to validate forecasting tools so that they become even more precise going forward.

Climate-enhanced concrete

In the third area, the test bed also focuses on concrete hardening and sensors are used to measure air and concrete temperatures in bridge structures. The temperature measurements are then used to calculate the current strength of the concrete.

This testing is particularly relevant because the concrete that is under examination is climate enhanced and as such has not been used to any great extent in previous Swedish infrastructure projects. As a result, it is extremely important to measure and document how the critical properties of the new concrete type are affected by different conditions. As concrete accounts for a significant proportion of a bridge structure’s CO2 emissions during the construction phase, the use of climate-enhanced concrete may result in a significantly reduced climate impact. However, it requires that construction clients have the “courage” to order this type of concrete, i.e. that the concrete has good casting properties, does not give rise to increased susceptibility to cracking, and has durability properties that are at least as good as traditional concrete. Hence digital technology that can verify this and thereby accelerate the demand for the concrete is important.