Concrete Research Roadmap

09 Jan 2017

In partnership with BRANZ, CCANZ has developed a research roadmap for the wider concrete industry under the unifying theme of resilience.

Canvassing opinion from within the concrete industry, along with stakeholders in government, engineering and academia, the roadmap identifies common research areas, and articulates these as a series of goals. 

Specific research projects to achieve these goals form the final component of the Roadmap.

In drafting the Roadmap a methodology was also developed, one which examines a range of influencing factors such as resource availability and the current research landscape.

The methodology is holistic in that it studies the entire construction supply chain to ensure that concrete related research is considered across all stages.

A key problem with an overarching research strategy is to accept that possible demand exceeds the resources available. As such the exercise quickly becomes, consciously or not, one of prioritisation.

The Roadmap therefore acknowledges that prioritisation may occur, but it will be an outcome of understanding research needs.

A successful Roadmap will ensure everyone benefits, and that engagement will continue even if some sector needs don’t appear to be met immediately.

The international scale of the concrete industry is huge, as is its investment in research. For instance, prior to their 2015 merger LaFarge and Holcim spent close to 100M euro per annum.

There are a number of incentives for pursuing research ranging from academic interest right through to product development.

It’s critical in a small economy such as New Zealand with a small number of experts that our research efforts are suitably focused – we simply can’t afford to be working at cross purposes.

With an appreciation of the current global and domestic concrete research landscape the Roadmap proceeds under the assumption that New Zealand will not, and simply cannot, attempt to be world-leading in all possible disciplines, but rather a mixture of customer, innovator and in a small number of cases, a front-runner.

The Roadmap defines these roles as adopt, adapt and adept.

  • Adopt - a customer of products, expertise and technologies developed elsewhere. Examples include imported cement, admixtures, structural design innovations and software.
  • Adapt - informed selection of existing products and services but with a significant adaptation of their standard use or application. An example might include adapting concrete admixtures for New Zealand’s high UV levels.
  • Adept - widely acknowledged as domain specific experts. An example being capacity design principles developed by Paulay, Park and Priestley at the University of Canterbury.
To ensure the methodology for arriving at the Roadmap is inclusive, concrete related concerns across the supply chain were accounted for - from constituent materials, concrete supply, design and construction, ownership and maintenance, as well as end-of-life.

The complex interaction between these stages of the supply chain was considered, along with their relationship with investors, project managers and consultants.

A number of common themes based around security of supply, adoption of overseas technology and workforce demographics and capability were identified in the first phase of the project.

It became clear that a significant number of the views and suggestions by participants were looking to build and support expertise within disciplines and across stakeholders.

It was also clear that the sector appreciates that a quality outcome is the result of the efforts of everyone involved and that excellence in one link of the supply chain does not make up for weaknesses in others.

After all, quality fresh concrete is not what people want when they purchase concrete – they want the finished product!

These areas of concern were teased out under a unifying theme of resilience within and across the supply chain.

The final list of project areas identified is: 

  • Overseas Concrete Formulations/Practices
  • Carbon Pricing
  • Demographics
  • Investor Incentives
  • Stranded Assets
  • Specific Single Points of Failure in the Workforce
  • Materials Science

Each of these topics is a rich area of expertise and it should be noted the list is not prioritised. The hope and expectation is that the industry will take up the challenge of adopting the results of this project and begin acknowledging the feedback from the participants that was so generously given.

Download the Developing the Concrete Sector’s 10 Year Research Roadmap from the BRANZ website.