The start-up alcemy and the building materials manufacturer Rohrdorfer are testing how the carbon footprint of ready-mix concrete can be further improved in a joint pilot use phase. This is to be achieved with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). This predicts the quality parameters of the concrete already during production, using special sensor data from the mixing plant and truck mixer. The information obtained is intended to help monitor the concretes closely, identify optimization potential and ensure consistent concrete quality even under difficult conditions. These are important basics for further improving the CO2 balance of the concretes. The pilot use phase started at the Rohrdorf ready-mix concrete plant in Chiemgau at the beginning of September.
Improved concrete formulations for significant CO2 savings
Rohrdorfer has set itself the goal of producing cement in a climate-neutral way by 2040. To achieve this, the raw materials, the manufacturing process and ultimately also the product cement with its properties will have to change. In addition, a rethink is needed in the handling of concrete, because it too has a great deal of CO2-saving potential. In order to leverage this potential, action must be taken in many areas: Concretes of the future will place higher demands on production, quality monitoring and processing on the construction site. The aim is to optimize the formulations in such a way that the clinker content of the concretes is kept as low as possible while maintaining the same quality. In the field of normal concretes, intensive concrete technology support can be expected in the future, as is already standard today for high-strength concretes.
AI predicts concrete quality already during production
With the pilot project, Rohrdorfer and alcemy are already facing up to these challenges. At the Chiemgau ready-mix concrete plant, production facilities and truck mixers are being equipped with sensor technology that can seamlessly record data from the mixing process to unloading at the construction site. AI software evaluates the data and predicts the quality of the product already during production – without the alcemy technology, such a forecast would take extensive testing procedures and 28 days. The first step of the pilot project is to focus on controlling the consistency of the concrete: Via an app, the mixing foreman and the concrete technologist will be shown in real time whether upward or downward deviations are to be expected that require adjustments. Variations in consistency can thus be reduced by up to 50%, according to alcemy. As a result, significantly less manual intervention by the mixer is required, leading to a steadying of compressive strength and, consequently, reduced stockpiling and material savings.
“The use of artificial intelligence cannot replace the demanding work of the concrete technologist and the mixing foremen, but it is an important building block in maintaining the high quality standards that Rohrdorfer demands of its products,” says Dr. Saskia Bernstein, concrete technologist at Rohrdorfer. “At the same time, we can make a decisive contribution to the decarbonization of concrete.”
“Our AI software has already been used to control five million tons of cement and has already saved 80000 t of CO2,” says Leopold Spenner, founder and CEO of alcemy. “We are pleased to be able to apply our successful model to concrete production and to develop it further together with Rohrdorfer.”