Opened in January 2010, the 818-meter Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. Our subsidiary Turner's construction management services contributed materially to the success of this mega-project in the Arab emirate of Dubai. For example, a process was developed for pumping concrete vertically for around 585 meters without it solidifying on the long way up. It could not be pumped any higher than that, so the upper floors were built with prefabricated components made of reinforced concrete. A pioneering system ensures evacuation of the giant tower in case of emergency. The builders of the facade also set a world record: Never before has an aluminum and glass facade this high been installed before. In total, workers spent 22 million hours constructing the project, which consumed 330,000 cubic meters of concrete and 142,000 square meters of glass, among other materials.
Our company HOCHTIEF ViCon was formed in 2007 out of a former focus of our R&D activities, virtual construction. The company is successfully concentrating on the growth market for virtual design and construction (ViCon), also known as Building Information Modeling (BIM). In the HOCHTIEF Group they increasingly form the basis for sustainable and effective performances in the entire building life cycle. Our Australian Group company Leighton has set up a BIM Center that works constantly to update the method, thus continuing to ensure Leighton’s position as a pioneer in this important field of technology. The BIM Center also benefits from the expertise of our U.S. subsidiary Turner, which boasts USD 43 billion in BIM project experience to date. Turner has completed 683 projects with BIM since 2002. Turner has over 250 BIM experts and provides its employees with training in this field in its in-house academy. In the HOCHTIEF Europe division, too, increasing numbers of employees are being given training in BIM, enabling us to offer even more BIM applications in the future.
3D printing technology opens up new possibilities for many sectors, including the construction industry. Digital CAD designs can be used to print stable 3D models suitable for presentations to project participants. In communication with stakeholders, 3D models provide significant added value – construction options and challenges can be visualized clearly in the planning phase without clients requiring dedicated CAD knowhow.Thiess, for example, used a 3D model for building the Wynyard Walk pedestrian tunnel in Sydney.
Our Group company Thiess has developed a new, portable gauge for environmental monitoring. In contrast to conventional fixed systems, the Portable Automated Logger System (PALS) saves AUD 40,000 and collects a broader range of environmental data. Developed in response to shortfalls identified in flood monitoring in the state of Victoria, the system has already been successfully deployed in three other flood events. PALS, which can be installed in 30 minutes, eliminates the need for manual water level readings. In addition, the new system features a camera and can be combined with other monitoring systems. Whenever evacuation becomes necessary, government offices and rescue stations receive early warnings from PALS. The data can also be sent to mobile end devices. Environmental monitoring using the new, efficient system improves Thiess’s range of services in mining as well as the construction and service segments. The government of Victoria has already ordered 20 systems.
Our Australian Group company Thiess is breaking new ground with a method of conducting site surveys for mining and infrastructure projects. The company developed an innovative solution with two components: a remote-controlled model aircraft and a customized software program. Instead of sending surveyors into a project, which is dangerous and labor-intensive, the aerial vehicle follows a programmed flight plan to collect the data. The photos recorded along with GPS data are combined into volumetric data by computer. Whereas surveyors often require several weeks to collect the required information, the aircraft provides a full set of data in just a few days. In addition to the massive time savings, risks to safety are avoided, and the quality and quantity of data are improved. The overwhelming advantages of this method lead us to believe that this technology will become the standard for this type of application.
Additional innovation project for nuclear power plant decommissioning
HOCHTIEF has been an expert in planning and executing nuclear power plant decommissioning since the mid-1990s. Deployed in this work are in-house decommissioning concepts as well as planning tools and implementation technologies, including the HOCHTIEF heavy-duty undercut anchor system, which can be used to transport very tall pieces of debris, and the DECON surface removal system, a high-powered tool for the cost-effective removal of contaminated surfaces. HOCHTIEF is one of only a few suppliers to possess all of the relevant certifications for planning and executing the nuclear power plant decommissioning process. The R&D project conducted from 2012 to 2013 to establish a nuclear power plant decommissioning business was completed successfully. Another innovation project has been launched: HOCHTIEF is planning to join partners in offering a complete decommissioning service from plant and structural engineering planning through decommissioning to permanent storage. The still relatively young trend toward plant closures and decommissioning technologies enables us to seek out new and alternative methods as well as offer clients innovative solutions. This will help HOCHTIEF to go on improving its market opportunities in this segment.
HOCHTIEF ViCon is the partner of the EU research project “Insiter” which was launched in December 2014. The project is involved with the construction, refurbishment and maintenance of energy efficient, prefabricated buildings. The aim here is to close the gap between planned and realized energy efficiency by improving the quality of prefabrication and installation, and avoiding construction mistakes. To this end, the research project is to develop both methods and the necessary hardware and software. The given structure and its energy performance will be evaluated on site using laser scans, sensors and digital forms with tablet computers. Energy efficiency key performance indicators and detailed instructions on construction and maintenance will then be displayed in a 3D model and matched with real-time images from cameras on site. The development results will subsequently be evaluated on real projects to test their practicability. HOCHTIEF ViCon is part of a 14-member consortium which also includes HOCHTIEF’s sister company Dragados, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation. Seven work packages will be processed over the coming four years. ViCon is in charge of package 4, “BIM” which provides the 3D model and infrastructure for connecting the relevant data to support the methods being developed. The project is being funded out of the EU’s “Horizon 2020” program. Further information is available at www.insiter-project.eu
Since 2012, HOCHTIEF has been contributing its structural engineering and operations organization expertise to the Skribt Plus project on safety with regard to critical bridges and tunnels. Skribt Plus is a three-year joint research project by ten German partners, including government agencies, universities, and private-sector companies under the leadership of the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt). The main goal involves developing and evaluating innovative ways to protect road bridges and tunnels in order to reduce the vulnerability of this kind of critical infrastructure and its users. In the course of the research project, HOCHTIEF developed and applied for a patent for a new type of explosion protection material in the form of concrete sandwich facing. The fire resistance of this element was also optimized and its effectiveness proven in explosion and fire tests. At the same time, we developed a measurement technique for tunnel linings exposed to explosions. The research project, in which HOCHTIEF Engineering as an official project partner formed a joint project team with HOCHTIEF PPP Solutions, offers an excellent opportunity to further enhance our market position by growing our expertise in the safety and operation of bridges and tunnels.
Differing geological strata slow down tunneling progress considerably because of the need to switch between mechanical excavation and blasting. To address this, HOCHTIEF joined with manufacturer Liebherr in developing an innovative excavator bucket that increases the digging force of a tunnel excavator. The bucket has been adapted so that even hard rock can be removed using a tunnel excavator. Blasting is thus avoided, eliminating the time and effort involved in switching between blasting and mechanical excavation. Model calculations for a 550-meter tunnel showed savings of roughly EUR 320,000. The tunnel excavator featuring this novel bucket has been on the market since early 2015.
With radar technology, our Australian Group company Thiess ensures greater operating efficiency and workplace safety at the Burton Coal Mine in Queensland, Australia. The system monitors slope movement around the clock. As soon as movement is detected, teams and equipment can be evacuated from the area without delay. That makes the radar system one of the most important technologies currently available for mining safety. The measurements are also used for long-term planning, for instance, to calculate batter angles and position barriers. The technology is already being used in other Thiess mines.