This year has seen the construction industry change in a number of ways. Many companies have had to adapt to the pandemic as in-person work and socializing became a potential safety concern. As a result, at least 70% of businesses in the industry have increased or maintained their current investment into digitalization. That has allowed them to work remotely in some cases and complete work faster. Some business leaders have even noted that what used to take up 10 months of their time is now only taking 10 days.
With this newfound efficiency, companies have become even more open to embracing new technology. For instance, recently, this past August, On-Site Magazine noted that more and more contractors are starting to use wireless concrete monitoring sensors to minimize the labor and costs involved in their work.
A few sensor brands in particular seemed to catch the magazine’s attention. And one of them happened to be the Maturix® Smart Concrete® Sensors.
Describing how the Maturix® Sensors are not only designed to be reused, the publication went on to discuss how these sensors combine the ability to monitor concrete temperature and strength wirelessly with the ability to transmit that data anywhere using cloud-based technology. With these two features, there’s no need to go on-site to physically collect data. And when granted access to that data, anyone on the team from anywhere can receive it so long as they have a connected device. They can even set up alerts so that anyone involved knows if the concrete is going over or below certain temperature and strength thresholds.
In short, it’s a game-changing type of technology, giving construction workers better awareness of how well their concrete develops and was even labeled as the “next evolution for the concrete industry” in On-Site Magazine.
But out of all this progressive technology, why did Maturix capture their interest? How will it help the industry evolve? And what can we expect next from the company that created it?
To help us see into this future of construction, I spoke with Casper Harlev, the co-creator of Maturix and Sensohive Technologies ApS’ CEO.
So, your Maturix Sensors have recently been called the next evolution for the construction industry. What got you and your team interested in making such revolutionary technology?
We are on a mission to improve how the construction industry works with concrete. Currently, the industry spends a lot of resources (e.g., time, materials, and energy) on manufacturing and casting concrete. And this industry is also by far one of the least digitized industries out there. Because of that, our team does see many opportunities to bridge the gap between new, advanced technology and the needs of the traditional market. In short, we believe in building awesome products using modern technology and smart sensors to boost the industry’s efficiency.
In your own words, could you describe just how the Maturix Sensors work to help construction projects across the world?
Our Maturix Sensors enable precast factories or general contractors on jobsites to monitor the concrete curing process in real time. The sensors work as an extra pair of eyes placed in the critical spots of a concrete structure.
The use of new Internet of Things (IoT) technology enables these sensors to act remotely and tell the right person at the right time what happens inside the concrete. They can even help predict future data, so our clients will be able to foresee any problems that might occur in advance.
This enables the concrete manager or operators to better plan their time, reduce the cost of rented formworks, reduce the risk of cracks, and take advantage of an overall boost in efficiency, ensuring they provide high-quality work based on IoT data.
What makes these sensors so unique compared to other concrete monitoring devices?
We believe we have a unique offering when it comes to two key central parameters:
1. Truly remote real-time data collection
Many wireless sensors currently offered on the market still require an operator to collect data using short-range technologies like Bluetooth. In contrast, we believe devices should act independently and send data directly to the cloud without the use of manpower. This gives the construction team the ability to constantly follow the curing process of several castings on multiple sites at the same time in the cloud.
2. Affordable and flexible sensor probes
Our sensors use thermocouples to measure the temperature inside the concrete. These kinds of probes are standard products and used worldwide in many industries. This means they don’t cost much and they are easily available around the world. They’re also the only part you lose during monitoring, as the transmitter itself is reusable.
Which construction projects have already benefited from those unique aspects?
Since their introduction on construction sites, our sensors have been used in more than 400 projects. These include some major construction projects, such as the Karla Tower. Constructed by Swedish contractor Serneke Group, it is expected to be the tallest building in Scandinavia. Our sensors have also been used in office buildings by LM Byg A/S; Norwegian infrastructure projects, which include several tunnels, bridges, and dam projects; and a few large metro constructions worldwide.
In addition to helping cast-in-place projects, our sensors have also proven advantageous for several precast factories. The real-time data they’ve provided has significantly improved efficiency and performance. For example, using insights gained from Maturix monitoring, Contiga A/S, a subsidiary of the HeidelbergCement Group, learned how they could shorten their work cycles and improve their productivity.
Based on what you’ve talked about so far, it sounds like your company will change concrete construction for the better. However, we’ve also heard that you plan to introduce another game-changing sensor to North America in 2021. What should the construction industry expect to see?
We have just introduced our new concrete monitoring solution — and this time, it’s for wireless humidity monitoring. The reason for this is that we have identified the second crucial factor in the curing process next to the concrete’s strength development: its relative humidity, which is a part of the concrete drying process. It is a challenge to gain cost-efficient insight into this process, although it is a deciding factor for project management. For workers to be able to start with coatings or flooring, the concrete must reach a certain relative humidity level (often 85–90%).
We see a huge potential in helping contractors and subcontractors (e.g., floor companies and painters) get reliable data on concrete humidity to determine when they can start working with concrete flooring, paint, or other areas. This will help them reduce the costs associated with specialists visiting the site and taking probes several times, avoid reworking and expensive rehousing, and speed up the process.
We have therefore made a flexible and affordable solution that can monitor the relative humidity in both fresh concrete and hardened concrete. The latter of which uses the hole measurement method (i.e., ASTM F2170).
How do you expect construction to evolve from there?
Companies in the construction industry have been notoriously behind when it comes to improving their efficiency with the use of new technologies and digitalization. Some research even indicates that the effectiveness of construction, including jobsite competency, has been going down.
However, we do see a trend where the adaption of new technologies in the construction industry has sped up, and general contractors, precasters, and all others involved in construction have become eager both to try and implement new proven solutions. It is a challenge, but we are working hard to boost efficiency in the construction industry and to digitalize the market using real-time data technology.