European Concrete Societies Network

Projects

Index




Project partners

The Netherlands - United Kingdom - Germany - Sweden

Discription


General

Innovation by the Concrete Impulse Package (ICIP) is based on four methodologies which encompass successful and proven national methods of concrete use and innovation. These aim to support two aspects of the building industry with reference to innovation in the concrete sector;

  • Access to and collaboration with other networks
  • Improving awareness, knowledge and binfluence behaviour of SME's

Elaborating these four methodologies and making direct contacts with SME's, the project has contributed to improving knowledge flow and subsequent implementation of ideas with respect to concrete, the most important building material in today's society. Within the ICIP project 12 Concrete Societies worked together under the banner of the European Concrete Society Network (ECSN) to approach and influence SME's in their own national concrete sector.
These methodologies are:

  • Determination and publication of 'best practices on concrete design and construction'
  • Multidisciplinary connections, workshops & model programme for SME's
  • Linking demonstration projects within Europe
  • Help-desk/advisory services for SME's

These methodologies enhance the knowledge, position and behaviour towards technical innovations in the concrete sector.
The four main problems associated with innovation and SME's, are:

  • Difficult access to finances for SME's
  • Insufficient co-operation between SME's and the scientific R&D sector
  • Lack of structured communication between SME's and public authorities, universities and research institutes
  • Quality of management and workforce (skills)

It is important to state that the projects considered within ICIP all follow a market driven approach. Only then is a successful implementation possible as earlier experiences have often shown a failure of a top-down approach to innovation. That is why the work within ICIP started with a general study and questionnaire on needs of SME's in the concrete sector in three different EC countries.

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1) Best practices on concrete design and construction

Guidelines and leaflets were gathered in each participating country on various subjects. The results from a questionnaire survey showed a clear preference on items which have to do with execution of concrete structures (tolerances, surface finishing, regulations, joint/connection etc.), durability, the environment and aesthetic performance. The following characterisation of how the 'best practice' information should be disseminated was evident from the questionnaire responses:

  • preferably in a textbook or computer program/database
  • focus on technical aspects of execution process
  • specific products and how to meet the different standards
  • newspapers and special magazines in the sector are an important source of information for SME's

The final deliverable are shown in the products section of this Web page

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2) Connections/workshops & model programme for SME's

Literature on innovation in the concrete sector and involvement of SME's show that, depending on the branch e.g. contractor, architect, supplier, consultant, control-engineer, very different situations occur and that each branch acts differently. Currently, for example, big changes are taking place in all countries with reference to contractors (you have to choose of a large overall-service provider or specialised contractor). Other elements are the (renewal of) focus on end-users and the lack of innovation strategy within SME's etc. These are important issues for development of a model programme.

A draft report on changes in the building industry, related to opportunities, threats and position of SME's has been produced. A list of relevant networks on innovation has also been compiled. Based on the questionnaire it can be concluded that courses are not the most popular means of information exchange, according to SME's. This may be caused by lack of time small companies have for gathering information and/or the availability of tailor-made knowledge. For any development of a model programme, networks related to SME's should be directly involved.

The final deliverable is outlined in the products section of this Web page

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3) Demonstration projects within Europe

An inventory study and a list of possible subjects and contacts is available. The selection was made on the basis of the qualification 'ready for industry', which means that all fundamental and applied research has been performed, and the product/technique is ready for broad introduction (complying with all Standards etc.)

Information material on all listed demonstration projects has been gathered, e.g. brochures, CD-ROM's, posters, books and leaflets

It can be concluded from the questionnaire that specifically this kind of information is very well suited for both networks on concrete knowledge and innovation and SME's themselves (quick and direct 'tools').

The final deliverable is outlined in the products section of this Web page

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4) Advisory service/Help desk for SME's

A basic inquiry into existing help-desk systems was undertaken. The development of web technology has increased the access to concrete related 'help'.

From the questionnaire and literature it became clear that there is a need for a help desk for SME's (60% do not have an organisation to turn to with questions on innovation). It was noted that the availability of experienced senior engineers to give direct independent advice by fax or telephone is preferred. Also, a well known independent organisation providing an umbrella for internet links to company-owned web-sites was considered useful as a 'portal' to information and products. It was considered that the service should mainly be technology focussed (not organisational) and keep you informed on latest developments and present techniques. The service should be offered by branch-organisations or independent umbrella-organisations, not linked to the Government or single companies, thereby preserving independence.

The final deliverable is outlined in the products section of this Web page

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Products

The project has produced five main products in the form of a 'package'.

This package contains:

  • This internet site with message board
  • A poster to promote the project
  • The book "Concrete Best Practice", Guidance from a European perpective
  • "State of the Art" report on concrete innovation in the Europe
  • A data map, listing demonstration projects, internet links, innovation literature and networks.

Concrete Best Practice State of the Art Data Tables