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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

BBV cleared to roll out concrete monitoring tech

S2 Ltd has approved the use of new concrete testing technology by main works contractor Balfour Beatty Vinci.

Concrete technology developed over the last two years by Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV) with Saint Gobain Construction Chemicals, Tarmac and Aggregate Industries has been trialled and validated on the HS2 project.

It is now being rolled out across several sites, enabling real-time monitoring and measurement of fresh concrete during transportation.

Verifi In-transit Concrete Management was developed by US company GCP Applied Technologies before its acquisition by St Gobain last year.

Verifi automatically adds water and admixture within pre-set limits to achieve and maintain the ordered slump. The data is available in real-time and stored for later viewing. 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 – no more manual testing, with the waste that that involves, no more bad loads arriving on site and no more waiting for a new batch.

There are other users of Verifi in the UK. Slipform concrete contractor Extrudakerb (Maltby Engineering) has Verifi on its trucks and reports an increase in paving productivity from 10-12 loads per shift to 16-20 loads per shift.

HS2 has now followed National Highways in giving Verifi its approval after BBV’s full-scale site trial involving more than 20,000 cubic metres of concrete demonstrated the system’s accuracy and built confidence in the technology.

One of the key benefits of the system is the elimination of concrete waste that 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, it reckons.

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

BBV head of materials engineering Steve Phipps 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 under way across our HS2 sites in the Midlands, we will start to see the significant benefits.”

Ryan Griffith, Tarmac’s technical & quality manager on HS2, 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.”

Aggregate Industries’ technical manager for HS2, Joseph Hartley, added: ‘’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. 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.”

HS2’s materials and durability lead, Jon Knights, said: “This is a fantastic example of how HS2, working collaboratively with supply chain partners, can provide the ideal testbed 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.”

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