Bauma Munich - the world’s leading trade fair for construction machinery, building material machines, mining machines, construction vehicles, and construction equipment was held from October 24 to 30, 2022. Over 50% visitorship was international and exhibitors from countries other than Germany comprised nearly 65 percent. The top 10 exhibitor countries were (in order) Germany, Italy, Turkey, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, France, the U.S., Austria, Spain, and China.
Many manufacturers used the fair to present their innovations for digitalisation and automation for construction sites and mining. For the first time, 50 start-ups were represented, including a wide range of new projects and research work.
Everything revolved around the topic of the future. “We are already in the middle of a profound phase of transformation. Exhibitors are offering solutions to address current challenges related to CO2 neutrality as well as tackling the issue of skilled worker shortages with automation and digitalization this is the future,” said Joachim Schmid, MD, VDMA Construction Machinery and Building Material Plants.
Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer and Stefan Rummel, co-CEOs of Messe München, described bauma 2022 as an exhibition that offered “new perspectives and traditional stabilities.”
“Bauma is always an absolute highlight for us. Every three years, the entire international construction equipment industry meets here in Munich – a hometown game for us – and sets the trends for the coming years,” said Alexander Greschner, Chief Sales Officer of the Wacker Neuson Group.
Discussions & Presentations at bauma FORUM
As part of the trade fair’s supporting program, the bauma FORUM focused on current and future trends. Franz-Josef Paus, Managing Director, Paus Maschinenfabrik GmbH and Chairman of bauma Advisory Board, stated: “Digitalization and automation are topics that dominate the trade fair, and this trend is irreversible.”
Andreas Klauser, CEO, PALFINGER, aptly put it, “As the world’s leading trade fair, bauma gives exhibitors and visitors an opportunity to already experience the future today.”
Construction methods and materials of tomorrow
Luc Rudowski, Head of Innovation at thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, Business Unit Cement Technologies, noted that the task of lowering the CO2 emissions during the cement-production process ranked among the most crucial challenges facing the industry. In this context, he talked about Polysius Pure Oxyfuel Technology - a pioneering process that enables CO2 concentration in the kiln exhaust gas to be increased to up to 100% during clinker production. The CO2 that is subsequently separated can be used industrially or stored.
3D concrete printing
One very promising construction technique is 3D concrete printing, or additive manufacturing. Will, who holds a professorship in construction machinery at the Technical University of Dresden, talked about monolithic, or full-wall 3D printing. He noted that the process was capable of using even coarse materials and significantly reduce work hours. The hardware necessary to perform the job was practically touchable at the bauma booth of Putzmeister. Visitors to the booth got to see Karlos - the prototype of a 3D printer based on a truck-mounted concrete pump.
3-D contour printing
PERI, a company that specializes in framework and scaffolding, had developed know-how in 3-D contour printing. Alexander Bettenmann, business development manager at PERI 3D Printing, sees tremendous potential in the integration of various trades into the printing process. He noted that his company is already capable of integrating empty pipes into the printing process as well as parts of interior design like bathtub edging, kitchenettes, and wood-burning stoves. “We are open to new ideas and are looking forward to making contacts,” he said. Peri’s 3D construction team was taking part in bauma for the first time.
Sustainability of building 3D printing
In her talk, Claudia Eugenin of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, suggested ways to improve the sustainability of building 3D printing by integrating the huge amounts of waste materials produced by Chile’s mining industry into the print compound. “Roughly one-fourth of families in Chile live in poorly constructed buildings,” she said. “3D-printed houses would certainly help.”
Carbon prestressed concrete
Holcim GmbH (Germany) won the award in the construction category for its CPC (carbon prestressed concrete) elements. In this process, concrete is reinforced with prestressed carbon fibers instead of the traditional steel. The process creates thin, high-performance concrete plates that enable up to 80 percent of material to be saved and the carbon footprint of the construction element to be lowered by up to 75 percent.
Road to autonomous machines
During his talk at the Forum, Fabio Carluccio, Head of Quarry Decarbonization at construction-materials producer Holcim, said: “Automation is clearing the way to net-zero quarries and is enhancing the appeal of the business model.” he noted that autonomous and digital mining processes were initially facilitating increased employee safety and the centralization of operational oversight. He also highlighted the close connection amongst autonomous solutions, the use of smaller vehicles, and electromobility. In his view, the huge trucks used in quarry activities (machines whose capacities are only partially utilized during many operational phases) could be replaced by much smaller autonomous vehicles, which are easier to electrify. Plus, the smaller e-vehicles were more cost-efficient, produced less dust and noise, generated lower CO2 emissions, and they could also use the narrower roads in quarries.
Productivity in mining
Professor Dr. Martin Sobczyk, Institute for Mechanical Engineering at the Technical Mining Academy of Freiberg, Germany, in his talk pointed out that productivity in mining could be increased with automation and autonomization, new traction designs, as well as the coupling and uncoupling of traction and operations. He said that problems in mining operations included locating machines without GPS availability and transmitting data in almost real time.
Smart construction equipment
One extraordinary innovation from the area of “smart construction equipment” at bauma 2022 was the exosystem made by Built Robotics Inc. Gaurav Kikani, Vice President for Business Development and Strategy at the company, presented the retrofitting system that he said could be used to easily turn any excavator into a totally autonomous trenching robot. Equipped with robust hardware and an eight-stage safety system, the upgrade facilitates autonomous trenching in various types of soils and depths as well as under a range of conditions. The exosystem can be installed on an excavator and then calibrated in less than a day. The new product developed by Built Robotics was nominated for the bauma Innovation Award 2022 in the category of mechanical engineering.
At the Start-up Area Psiori GmbH demonstrated a project in which a timber-loading crane used by a paper factory in Florida is being brought up to “level 3 autonomy.” With the help of cameras, laser scanners, internal sensors and an artificial intelligence developed by Psiori, the 350-ton crane can efficiently and safely unload tree trunks from trucks on its own – with the option of human intervention. It can also place them onto a conveyor belt for further processing, or add them to stacks for temporary storage purposes. Volker Voß, Managing Director, Psiori, informed that they had made a large number of contacts with interested makers of construction machinery and users from all parts of the world.
Making mining sustainable, efficient, and reliable
For Dr. Michael Schulte Strathaus, Board member of the German Mechanical Engineering Association (VDMA), digitalization, automation and interoperability are fundamental requirements for boosting efficiency and successfully decarbonizing mining production. The industry realized years ago that platform-independent data exchange was an important key to digitalization. In this regard, VDMA is committed to establishing the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA).
Making mining operations smart, green, and climate neutral
Professor Elisabeth Clausen, Head of the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies at RWTH Aachen University, is of the opinion that mining operations of the future would not only have to be smart, green and as climate neutral as possible, but also always focus on people.
She referred to the recently launched ELMAR project, funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, in which a consortium of research and industry partners is investigating how the decarbonization of the raw materials sector can be achieved and implemented in a holistic approach. The project not only involves the deployment of autonomous electric heavy-duty electric mine transport systems, but is also, in fact, about adapting the infrastructure it requires, and redesigning the relevant operational processes. “In other words, it’s far more than simply replacing diesel with electricity,” she said.
Digital building information and software
In his address, German Minister for Digital and Transport, Volker Wissing, announced that the German government would mandate building information modeling (BIM) across the board throughout the country for federal government projects starting in 2025. BIM is a method to optimize the management of construction projects across life cycles with the help of digital building information and software.
The digital construction site
“Construction machinery must meet the requirements of the digital construction site, and not the other way around,” asserted Ralf Lüddemann, Chair of the Committee for Construction Machinery Technology and Construction Logistics at the German Construction Industry Federation (HDB). “This would require, among other things, standardized interfaces. And this is exactly the point where the industry faces significant hurdles,” he added.
“A lack of standards and heterogeneous interfaces still frequently stand in the way of construction companies realizing end-to-end communication and further processing machine and process data to be beneficial,” explained Dirk Siewert, Head of Civil Engineering and Construction Machinery Technology at HDB.
Machines in Construction 4.0
To address this situation, the German Mechanical Engineering Association (VDMA) and HDB established the working group “Machines in Construction 4.0” at bauma 2019. “Our goal is to develop a uniform, cross-manufacturer, machinery-independent and data-law-compliant digital communications form for the entire construction process,” said Siewert.
The accessory equipment
Part of the MiC 4.0 working groups, the “accessory equipment” cluster posted remarkable success at this year’s bauma. Over the past two years, the team succeeded in developing an open, manufacturer-independent data interface that can be used to map all relevant use cases for communication between accessory equipment and construction machinery.
The MiC 4.0 BUS simplifies controlling excavator equipment such as buckets, claws, and hammers. Additional operating components and displays that are commonly used today are no longer required. The new data interface makes it possible to even use complex tools and equipment through “plug-and-work” — that is, without complicated conversions. This exceptional development achievement was honored with the bauma Innovation Award 2022 in the category “Digitalization.”
The way to zero emissions
“The way to zero emissions will be long and challenging,” said Eugen Schobesberger, the Chair of High-Level Technical Policy Advisory Group of the Committee for European Construction Equipment (CECE). The Managing Director of Technology at Liebherr-EMtec GmbH noted that the CECE thinks that the decarbonization of the construction-equipment industry in Europe consists of four pillars:
Optimized components can improve machinery efficiency. Specially trained employees and autonomous solutions can help increase work efficiency. Process efficiency can also be improved by selecting the best machine or machine combination. Alternative sources of energy can be used.
He said this process was being hampered, in particular, by the heterogeneity of construction equipment and the variety of jobs they have to perform. “It will take a long time for manufacturers to develop, validate and industrialize the appropriate solutions,” he said. “But the other side must start working today to create the necessary infrastructure. Otherwise, future machinery will never have an opportunity to find a home in the marketplace.”
John Smeets, Technical Director, Boels Rental and a member of the Technical Committee of the European Rental Association (ERA), informed the audience about the role that companies that rent construction machinery could play in the effort to achieve zero emissions. “We are increasingly investing not only in digitalization solutions like telematics and fleet management, but also in green, low-emission technology.”
The rental company offers workshops where users can learn about the equipment. “Even if huge differences exist among European countries, we are seeing increased interest in this area. He forecast a rise in demand for smart grids: “In light of fluctuating energy costs and grid capacities as well as of individual machinery usage times, the focus will be on determining which machine should be ideally recharged at which time.”
How can digitalization contribute to zero emissions in the construction industry?
Charles Bénard, co-founder and Managing Director of French IT provider Hiboo, offered a simple answer to this question: “We cannot optimize anything if we are unable to measure our current carbon emissions.” These measurements require construction companies to collect and interpret a number of data from sources that range from machinery manufacturers or telematics.
With the complete success of bauma 2022, the industry is setting an example against the general negative economic trend. It is finding solutions to the existing difficulties such as supply chain problems, skills shortages, and inflation. The event once again demonstrated that it is a powerhouse of the construction-equipment industry. Commented Steffen Günther, a member of the Board of Directors of Liebherr, “bauma has proved to be a very successful trade fair; it generated a lot of enthusiasm among the large audience, and the exchange of information was outstanding.”
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