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Digital concrete testing system helps HS2 cut carbon

by Mark Cantrell
A ground-breaking digital measuring system for concrete is being rolled-out across multiple HS2 sites after a successful trial revealed it helped to drive efficiencies and cut carbon

A ground-breaking digital measuring system for concrete is being rolled-out across multiple HS2 sites after a successful trial revealed it helped to drive efficiencies and cut carbon.

Verifi is a pioneering technology that enables real-time monitoring, measurement, and management of fresh concrete properties during transportation.

The technology makes use of on-truck sensors linked to proprietary patented algorithms to provide the first digital solution to replace manual consistence (slump) and temperature testing of fresh concrete.

In simple terms, this means the concrete truck-mixer tracks itself to the point of delivery, tests itself prior to discharge, and auto generates pour records for quality assurance purposes.

The system optimises planning and coordination through GPS tracking of vehicles equipped with the technology. This real-time tracking capability improves the management of concrete delivery, enhancing logistical processes on-site.

Jon Knights, HS2’s materials and durability lead, said: “This is a fantastic example of how HS2, working collaboratively with supply chain partners, can provide the ideal test-bed for cutting-edge technologies.

“As the UK’s largest infrastructure project, it’s a great step forward for HS2 Ltd to formally supplement this digital surveillance technology with manual consistence and temperature testing of fresh concrete to reduce waste and increase safety and productivity.

“We have set big ambitions to drastically cut carbon as we build HS2, and digital surveillance solutions support us on this journey, not only bringing multiple benefits to the project, but paving the way for a new era in the construction industry.”

Over the last two years, HS2’s main works contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) has worked with supply chain partner Saint Gobain Construction Chemicals, whch developed Verifi, and its concrete supply partners Tarmac and Aggregate Industries to test and validate the system.

A full-scale site trial involving over 20,000m3 of concrete demonstrated accuracy and confidence in the technology. One of the key benefits of the system is the elimination of concrete waste, which would have been produced from manual sampling and testing.

When the solution is rolled out across BBV’s section of the route, this could result in cutting 1,500 tonnes of carbon, HS2 said.

Digital solution

Furthermore, analysing the entire volume in the truck instead of spot samples is said to result in improved quality control and more accurate readings. Safety is also improved due to less plant-person interface and manual handling on site.

In addition, it enhances productivity and efficiency by delivering clear digital readouts, eliminating delays associated with sampling and testing processes, which allows for better scheduling and reduces potential bottlenecks in the construction timeline.

Steve Phipps, head of materials engineering at BBV, said: “The initial concept of using this technology to reduce manual testing has been developed into a fully integrated digital monitoring and reporting system between producer and customer.

“It’s very rewarding to have finally implemented this digital solution after a process of trials, validation and approvals, made possible by great teamwork. Now that implementation is underway across our HS2 sites in the Midlands, we will start to see the significant benefits.”

Power of collaboration

Frederic Guimbal, EVP at Saint Gobain Construction Chemicals, added: “We’re delighted that the adoption of Verifi represents a significant step forward for the HS2 project, bringing tangible benefits in terms of quality control, productivity, safety, sustainability, planning, reliability, and digitisation.

“This innovative solution demonstrates the power of collaboration and paves the way for the integration of digital methods in future concrete standards across the construction industry.”

Ryan Griffith, HS2 technical and quality manager at Tarmac, said: “The concrete industry is truly modernising. The carbon benefits and transparency from plant to pour are now a reality with the acceptance of Verifi digital consistency measurements for the concrete we supply for the construction of HS2.

“Having worked closely with BBV and Verifi on implementing this technology, it is a huge step forward to have a complete digital concrete quality system that is improving outcomes for customers.”

Joseph Hartley, HS2 technical manager at Aggregate Industries, said: ‘’Working with Verifi is a monumental step change in supplying quality assured concrete to our customers. The visibility it gives to ourselves and to our clients is unprecedented. The ability to monitor, maintain our product and track vehicle movements allows significant environmental and cost benefits for us and HS2.

“We have been able to work closely to BBV and the Verifi team to fully understand Verifi and get the maximum out of the system giving us the opportunity to collaborate with everyone on the project. Having worked in the ready-mixed concrete business for 36 years, Verifi is one of the most significant upgrades to our operational capability I’ve seen.’’

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