Boost for the use of Barcelona test as a method to evaluate FRC post-cracking behaviour

Boost for the use of Barcelona test as a method to evaluate FRC post-cracking behaviour

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ASTM International (Americal Society for Testing and Materials) has recently posted that it is working towards the implementation of a new standard to evaluate the performance of fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC). This standard introduces a double-punch test on cylindrical specimens as a method for FRC characterization. Along the same line, UNE 83515 standardized the double-punch test known as Barcelona test  (developed at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) as a test to determine the toughness and residual strength of FRC.

ASTM’s concrete and concrete aggregates committee C09 is in charge of developing this standard. The organization itself emphasizes that the double-punch test allows the FRC characterization based on a method with less variability and more efficiency than beam-type testing. It is an indirect tensile test that only requires regular compression testing equipment and small specimens.

Thus, the standardization of the double-punch test by ASTM International will represent an important boost for the implementation of Barcelona test as a characterization method of the post-cracking behaviour and energy absorption of FRC. Barcelona test offers important advantages over other types of essays. On the one hand, it can be straightforwardly carried out in regular compressive testing equipment and it uses light and easy to handle specimens. On the other hand, its use reduces the dispersion of results, which is a substantial advantage in its application as a quality control system of the FRC.

For all this, the use of Barcelona test as a quality control system for FRC provides a more reliable and robust characterization and allows a reduction in the cost and time associated with other testing types. In this field, Smart Engineering has already successfully employed Barcelona test, along with the inductive method, for addressing the optimization of the quality control system for FRC in projects such as the Follo Line tunnel (Norway), developed by the Joint Venture AGJV, or the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade (UK). Furthermore, Barcelona test will be introduced by the Joint Venture SCS as a control method for one of the sections of a great European project, HS2 “High Speed Two” (UK). 

Monsec sensors are using in the SCS Railways concrete setting trials of the S1 and S2 sections of the HS2 project

Monsec sensors are using in the SCS Railways concrete setting trials of the S1 and S2 sections of the HS2 project

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Monsec wireless sensors, developed by Chatu Tech and Smart Engineering, are using in the concrete setting trials of the S1 and S2 sections of the HS2 project (United Kingdom) assigned to the JV SCS Railways. Smart Engineering also collaborates with the HS2 project in the field of quality control of fibre-reinforced concrete with the implementation of the Barcelona test in combination with the inductive test, carrying out with the SmartFibreC equipment. These two collaborations with the HS2 “High Speed ​​Two” project, the largest infrastructure construction project in Europe, strengthen the presence of Smart Engineering in large international projects in the construction sector.

Monsec sensors, a result of the collaboration agreement signed in 2018 between Chatu Tech and Smart Engineering, are a solution for online monitoring of the process of concrete setting. Embedded in the concrete, during the setting and hardening phase, Monsec sensors measure key parameters such as temperature, humidity, and compressive strength, and advanced software provides real-time graphs of these parameters. The information provided allows greater control of the setting process and reliable data on which to base decision-making.

The use of the Monsec wireless sensors is very simple. Once they are arranged in the measurement points and activated, they send the records via radio signal to the Monsec Station. This station transmits the information via a Wi-Fi network or data connection to the Monsec services, where the data is processed by a precise calculation algorithm and visually presented. Also, the mobile app allows you to control different formworks in a unique solution, customizing the frequency of measurements, and setting automatic alarms if the records deviate from the established parameters.

Monsec is a great support in determining the optimal timing for stripping on construction projects and offers many possibilities. The sensors can be adapted for measurements at depths of up to 50 cm, the frequency of taking measurements can be adapted according to the project and the battery of the sensors lasts up to three months. Besides, the reading distances are up to 2000 m2 in the open air or 700 m2 when sensors are located inside metal specimens.

The development of the Monsec sensors means the success of the agreement between Chatu Tech and Smart Engineering. The start of its use in large construction projects such as HS2 shows the high interest and potential of new technological developments in the construction field. Smart Engineering continues to bet on innovation in the Civil Engineering sector, acting as a union between knowledge and business.

ACCIONA and Smart Engineering renew their collaboration in the field of 3D concrete printing.

ACCIONA and Smart Engineering renew their collaboration in the field of 3D concrete printing.

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ACCIONA has renewed its collaboration agreement with Smart Engineering in the field of 3D concrete printing. This collaboration between ACCIONA and Smart Engineering, which has remained since 2016, is aimed at the development of 3D printing technologies and the mechanical and economic optimization of cementitious materials. The agreement shows the firm decision of ACCIONA to promote innovation, advancing on the way towards the improvement of the sustainability of construction procedures and the materials used for printed concrete using 3D technology.

The collaboration between ACCIONA and Smart Engineering consists of a project in which the D-Shape and Contour Crafting manufacturing systems will be the main 3D concrete printing technologies involved. These printing methodologies allow greater freedom of shapes and geometries, as well as numerous productive, economic and architectural advantages. However, for its successful implementation, it is necessary to develop materials adapted to 3D printing procedures given the particularities of this technology.

In this line, one of the main objectives of the project is the mechanical optimization of cementitious materials to overcome certain current limitations and ensure that the materials used for 3D-printed structural elements achieve the required strength. Besides, the project also considers developing an economically competitive material using materials from local suppliers, which allow reducing costs associated with production and transportation.

The agreement with ACCIONA entails the continuity of Smart Engineering in a line of work of great interest and business potential in the construction field. This project allows promoting the development and expansion of 3D printing technology and consolidates the positioning of Smart Engineering and ACCIONA as companies committed to incorporating sustainable and pioneering solutions in structure and construction technology.

Smart Engineering starts manufacturing new SmartFibreC equipment

Smart Engineering starts manufacturing new SmartFibreC equipment

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Smart Engineering has started the manufacture of three new SmartFibreC equipment for commercialization in the international market. The Spanish-made SmartFibreC equipment is the only non-destructive evaluation system (NDT) on the market that allows the determination of the content and orientation of metal fibers in fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC) specimens. As it is NDT equipment, the analyzed specimens can be used in other tests, such as the Barcelona test, which characterizes the residual flexural strength of FRC. The combination of both tests enables a simple and robust FRC quality control system with fewer uncertainties than those currently used.

The equipment being manufactured will be used in different international projects of high relevance. One of the equipment has been acquired by the Bekaert company, a world leader in the manufacture and commercialization of structural metallic fiber for use in concrete, which will implement it in the Asian market. Likewise, another of the equipment will be introduced, together with the Barcelona test, as a control method for one of the sections of the HS2 “High Speed ​​Two” project, the largest infrastructure construction project in Europe, which aims to improve the railway network high-speed train from the United Kingdom linking London with the north of the country.

The use of the SmartFibreC equipment allows the determination of the content and orientation of metallic fibers in concrete specimens, both cubic and cylindrical, with an accuracy of up to 3%. Thus, its use increases reliability and reduces the uncertainty associated with traditional FRC characterization tests. In combination with the Barcelona test, it provides a competitive advantage in the field of quality control and characterization of FRC and increases the overall sustainability of the projects thanks to the fiber content optimization that can be achieved from the statistical analysis of the data obtained from both tests.

The SmartFibreC is a compact and robust device, suitable for use both on site and in the laboratory. It is made up of a measuring cell, an electronic inductance measurement and data recording system and the coaxial connection cables. The internal battery of the electronic system allows an autonomy of more than eight hours and the USB connections allow sending of data to other devices for analysis and treatment. Its operation is based on the alteration of the magnetic field generated inside a measuring cell when introducing a concrete specimen with metallic fibers, which results in a variation in inductance. This variation allows the measurement of impedance, which is directly proportional to the content of metallic fibers, and is also influenced by its orientation with respect to the field.

The SmartFibreC equipment is already used, together with the Barcelona trial, as a FRC quality control system in different international projects, such as the Follo Line in Norway or the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade Project in London. The commercialization of the SmartFibreC equipment is one more example of the firm will of Smart Engineering to strengthen its support activity for large companies in the construction sector, providing them with new technological developments in the field of Civil Engineering and new materials and acting as a link between knowledge and business.

Smart Engineering expands its staff with the incorporation of the engineer Andrea Monserrat

Smart Engineering expands its staff with the incorporation of the engineer Andrea Monserrat

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In the middle of last June, Andrea Monserrat, Engineer of Roads, Channels and Ports for the UPV, joined the Smart Engineering staff. Andrea is finishing her doctoral thesis and has joined the company to strengthen the areas of Structural Engineering, Materials and the area of ​​R D i. This incorporation represents a firm commitment on the part of Smart Engineering for the growth and consolidation of two of the company’s strategic lines.

Andrea has a solid background in Structural Engineering, the result of master’s and doctoral studies carried out at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. His doctoral thesis, entitled Behavior in front of shear of continuous reinforced concrete beams: experimental study of the resistance mechanisms and the influence of the kinematics developed in combination with the bending forces, has been directed by professors José Luis Bonet and Pedro Miguel Sosa, from the UPV. It is expected to defend it in the last quarter of 2020.

Appointment as professor emeritus of the UPC of Antonio Aguado

Appointment as professor emeritus of the UPC of Antonio Aguado

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On July 2nd 2020, the Governing Council of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) approved the appointment of Antonio Aguado, founding partner of Smart Engineering and member of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as professor emeritus of the UPC for a term 3 years, extendable. The appointment as professor emeritus is granted annually and represents a recognition of the professional career and contribution to the Polytechnic University of Catalonia for at least 10 years in the field of teaching, research, management and technology transfer to the University.

Antonio Aguado, University Professor since November 1987 (https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.uri?authorId=7005541270), retires at the peak of its production and with all the official recognitions, having of the highest levels of recognition in teaching five-year periods, research and transfer six-year periods. He is awarded the Jaume Vicens Vives 2008 award for his career and its innovative aspects, counting on the warmth and recognition of the students he has taught.

In the research field, he has a similar career, being the author of many articles in scientific journals and technical books. He has been director of more than 55 doctoral theses; of which more than 50% have resulted in successful careers within the university environment, which highlights the role of Professor Aguado as a trainer. As a result of all these activities, it has received various awards and recognitions from scientific and professional associations, both national and international (ACI, ACE, ACHE, ALCONPAT, CANMET, CICCP, RILEM, SPANCOLD).

Within the search for balance in his activity, he has had a relevant work in the field of knowledge transfer to the private and industrial sector, being a paradigm in the university sector his strategy of combining applied research with transfer in the same direction technological. Its activity in technology transfer agreements, developed through the UPC, as well as its participation in the Industrial Doctorate programs of both AGAUR and MINECO, is noteworthy, being a pioneer in this sense in the introduction of these programs. In 2013, he was a co-founder partner of Smart Engineering, a technology-based company and spin-off of the UPC.

BASF and Smart Engineering renew their collaboration in the field of fiber-reinforced concrete

BASF and Smart Engineering renew their collaboration in the field of fiber-reinforced concrete

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The Spanish subsidiary of the company BASF Construction Chemical (Master Builders Construction Chemicals Group – MBCC) and Smart Engineering have renewed this collaboration agreement that they have maintained since 2013, to collaborate jointly in the field of plastic fiber reinforced concrete this past May.

Smart Engineering has been collaborating with the company BASF Construction Chemicals since 2013 in various aspects related to the quality control of plastic fiber reinforced concrete, the calculation and design of structural elements of plastic fiber reinforced concrete, and the carrying out of training and diffusion about the use of plastic fiber reinforced concrete. This collaboration has been decisive in promoting the use of structural plastic fibers for concrete reinforcement as an alternative to traditional steel reinforcement, not only in the Spanish market but in the European market.

The renewal of the collaboration contract shows the ability of the Smart Engineering company to be a spearhead in the structural use of plastic fiber reinforced concrete. In this sense, this collaboration will allow activities to disseminate the use of structural plastic fibers in reinforced concrete, carry out characterization tests on the behavior of plastic fibers developed by MBCC, provide support in carrying out unique tests on structural elements manufactured with plastic fiber reinforced concrete and technical support in works and strategic clients.

In this way, Smart Engineering continues a strategic business line and renews the trust of one of the most important clients since the creation of the company. Likewise, it allows to continue developing a support activity for large companies in the construction sector, providing them with the know-how and new technological developments incorporated by the Smart Engineering company in the field of Structural Engineering and the development and characterization of new structural materials.

Smart Engineering will develop a model guide for the evaluation of public tenders

Smart Engineering will develop a model guide for the evaluation of public tenders

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Smart Engineering together with the company Constraula carried out since last February 2o2o a project to develop the conceptualization of a project evaluation model in public tenders carried out by the different Public Administrations. This project aims to serve as a guide for the technicians of the AAPP, so that it allows them greater ease and transparency in the classification, evaluation and prioritization of the different offers. The project focuses above all on maintenance contracts for public roads and buildings, as well as development projects and new buildings.

The current Law 9/2017 of September 8 of Public Sector Contracts on the procedures for the award of public contracts for works, services and supplies was aimed at achieving greater transparency in public procurement and achieving better value for money. . For this, the law indicates that the design of the award criteria must ensure that the highest quality works, supplies and services are obtained by including qualitative, environmental, social and innovative aspects related to the object of the contract.

However, the reality of the sector indicates that, today, public tenders have failed to introduce, in a transparent, objective and traceable manner, the aforementioned issues. Based on these issues, the project proposes a new evaluation model that incorporates aspects related to transparency, freedom of access, non-discrimination, as well as the consideration of social and environmental criteria and attributes.

The methodology of this study is based on the MIVES multi-criteria methodology, developed by the UPC. This methodology allows taking into account economic, environmental and social factors, as well as the different circumstances and specific parameters of each work or contract, promoting the different offers and alternatives, their best approaches, those of their employees and teams, and their conditions of social implantation and environmental of the project and / or the work in the territory.

The model incorporates a decision tree that will include as indicators the context of the work, the experience of the company, the characteristics and technical conditions, the plan of works and innovation, as well as the impact on the social and environmental environment.

Smart Engineering continues with this project its line of business oriented to the development of tools to help decision-making, sustainability assessment and investment prioritization, all based on the MIVES methodology. Examples of this business line are the Avalua project developed for the Barcelona City Council, the sustainable prioritization model of the AGBAR distribution network or the investment prioritization model for the Zonal Plan of the Barcelona Provincial Council.

Smart Engineering works on the development of tools based on autonomous learning

Smart Engineering works on the development of tools based on autonomous learning

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Smart Engineering has started a new project at the beginning of the year for the development of tools based on autonomous learning and massive data analysis, with application in different areas of civil engineering ranging from the precast sector to construction. This project is part of a Torres Quevedo grant for the incorporation of doctors to private companies, from the Ministry of Science and Innovation (PTQ-18-90877). Thanks to the aforementioned help, Tai Ikumi PhD has joined Smart Engineering.

Nowadays, data is positioned as one of the most dynamic sources of economic benefit in many economic sectors. Data analysis has shown that it has the ability to improve the performance and productivity of any economic activity. However, its use in the civil engineering sector still remains marginal. In fact, it is often openly recognized that in many cases the registered data is not even analyzed. This is due to the difficulty of allocating highly qualified human technical resources to tasks that are still carried out very manually today in the field of civil engineering. These types of practices run counter to current trends, as they disregard the enormous potential of the data.

The general objective of the project is the development of data-based products for the optimization of construction processes. To meet this technological and scientific challenge, models based on machine learning are currently being developed capable of predicting the evolution of the mechanical properties of different concretes (conventional, ultra-high resistance, sprayed, fibre-reinforced) based on dosage and curing conditions. This line of activity encompasses the existing project with Chatu Tech for the development and commercialization of chips with RFID technology for use in concrete structures and elements.

The integrated sensor solution together with the intelligent algorithm allows real-time wireless monitoring of the resistance evolution in concrete elements. This is a critical piece of information that enables the optimization of a multitude of construction processes, such as the formwork stripping time, the opening pavement to traffic, the tensioning time of the prestressed cable, etc. Any reduction in construction / manufacturing times translates directly into a minimization of the environmental impact of the activities and the associated costs. Currently, the first tests on an industrial scale are already being carried out, both in the field of civil works, underground works and precast, resulting in very promising results.

Smart Engineering collaborates on the Iberpotash Cabanasses mine ramp project in Súria

Smart Engineering collaborates on the Iberpotash Cabanasses mine ramp project in Súria

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Smart Engineering collaborates with ICL Iberia – Iberpotash on the “Cabanasses Mine ramp” project, in Súria. This project is the longest mining tunnel in Spain. It is a ramp with a length of five kilometers and that will reach 900 meters deep. The “Cabanasses Mine ramp”project will allow the direct transport of salt and potash from inside the mine to the treatment plant, without having to transport the mineral through the urban center of Súria as it is being done today.

The works of the “Cabanasses Mine ramp” project are carried out using the New Austrian Tunnel Construction Method (NATM) and using shotcrete to support the tunnel. The “Cabanasses Mine ramp” project represents a technical challenge, given the operating conditions and the characteristics of the tunnel (length, depth, slope). This together with the salinity conditions and the mechanical requirements for the depth reached, puts the level of demand on the materials used at a very high peak.

Smart Engineering has been collaborating in the “Cabanasses Mine ramp” project since 2018, providing technical advisory services to the company ICL Iberia – Iberpotash. Smart Engineering advises on aspects related to the design of projected concrete mixes, quality control and optimization of the performance of shotcrete.

Smart Engineering thus strengthens its position as a technical advisory company in advanced aspects of Structural and Materials Engineering. Smart Engineering engineers have high experience in the use and characterization of shotcrete, having also participated in the elaboration of different national and international regulations related to this material.