Prestressed Concrete Slabs with System

Interview with Lutz Busching, Managing Director of DW SYSTEMBAU GMBH

Lutz Busching, Managing Director of DW SYSTEMBAU GMBH
Lutz Busching, Managing Director of DW SYSTEMBAU GMBH

Concrete is the super material of the construction industry, without which building as we know it today would not be possible. However, its production leaves a large CO2 footprint – a reason to handle concrete responsibly and conserve resources, as Lutz Busching, managing director of DW SYSTEMBAU GMBH from Schneverdingen, emphasizes. His company focuses on sustainability and CO2 reduction – with a very innovative product.

Economic Forum: Mr. Busching, since 1986, DW SYSTEMBAU GMBH has been producing prestressed concrete floor slabs at its Schneverdingen site – according to the company's website, as the most successful manufacturer of these products in Germany. What are important milestones in the company's history?

Lutz Busching: Concrete prefabricated parts have been produced here in Schneverdingen since 1966. Starting in 1978, in addition to conventional concrete floors, parts for BRESPA® prestressed concrete floors have been manufactured, which, as mentioned, have been fully produced on-site since 1986. Since 1985, we have been part of the Dutch VBI group. In 1989, DW SYSTEMBAU, along with VBI, was taken over by a Finnish company that has been operating under the name Consolis since 2002. Since then, we have been part of the Consolis Group as a European market leader for precast concrete solutions.

Economic Forum: What properties make your product so successful?

Lutz Busching: BRESPA® prestressed concrete floor slabs are different from conventional concrete floors in that we deliver them to the construction site already 90% prefabricated. A large part of the work is therefore already done and is omitted on-site, where ultimately only assembly is needed. This is very fast and saves construction companies significant time, costs, and labor. Emissions and construction noise are significantly reduced. Additionally, the prestressing we apply to the slab can replace a large part of the otherwise necessary additional reinforcement. This means: Compared to a conventional floor slab, 85% of steel can be saved. Due to the hollow core design of the slab, a lot of concrete is also saved, up to 50% compared to a solid slab. Moreover, our slabs can span over 16 m due to the prestressing. For example, in residential construction with floor thicknesses of 20 cm, they can span up to 8 m without support, compared to 5 m for conventionally reinforced solid slabs.

The installation of BRESPA® prestressed concrete slabs only requires a fraction of the time needed for traditional concrete slabs. Moreover, up to 50% of concrete and up to 85% of steel are saved due to the hollow chamber construction and the prestressing.
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Economic Forum: How does the market respond to the advantages your product offers?

Lutz Busching: In the Benelux countries and Scandinavian countries, our product's market share, depending on the economic situation, is already between 40 and 60%. In Germany, it is still well below 10%. To generate growth here, we are intensively focusing on marketing and sales: We proactively seek contact with new customers and inform them about the product and its application at events we organize. These events are regularly fully booked. It also plays into our hands that the legislature is further regulating the market towards sustainability, which we can serve excellently with our sustainable product. Therefore, we see a point in the near future when we will experience significantly higher demand in Germany as well.

Economic Forum: Speaking of sustainability and circular economy: Where do these aspects come into play in your company?

Lutz Busching: We have been focusing on a strategy of sustainability for a long time. We commissioned our first environmental product declaration, a so-called EPD, which provides information on these topics, back in 2010, because our products are absolutely sustainable. They not only save resources in large quantities, but they also significantly reduce CO2 emissions in the structure. In the last five years, interest in this topic has also significantly increased among our customers. Our approach is also sustainable in that the water needed for production is returned to our production cycle through our own water treatment plant. The leftover concrete is of such high quality that it can be recycled in production. In any case, we are intensively working on future topics such as circular economy, recycling, and CO2 reduction, not only at our location but also across the group, which we want to explore further: Consolis is researching new processes and concrete recipes. In a pilot project, a concrete recipe was developed that achieved an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions. In the future, our focus will be even more on increasing productivity and intensifying the issues of energy and resource conservation.