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Deutscher Stahlbau. Gut beraten. Deutscher Stahlbau. Gut beraten.

28.06.2017

International Construction Conference met with great interest

The first International Construction Conference from 29.5.2017 - 1.6.2017 in Düsseldorf, organized by Worldsteel Association, met with great interest. Around 100 contractors, producers and suppliers from Western Europe, Central Europe and CIS took part in the event.

The conference was an opportunity to gain unique insights into the international and national steel construction market and its possibilities, to hear expert opinions and see some of the most architecturally impressive buildings.

“The introduction of wide flange beams and marketing activities for steel construction date back over 100 years”, said Dr. Roger Schlim of Salzgitter AG, who delivered the opening keynote. Schlim cited the famous photo from 1932, Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, as “evidence that the skyline of New York City is made of steel beams”.

Schlim, who is in charge of sections and heavy plates at Salzgitter AG, reported that construction market conditions in general are favourable. However, during the last decade, sales of structural steel in Germany have dropped, possibly as a result of the increase in reinforcing bars. According to Schlim, the present challenges for the steel industry lie in not enough technical marketing, too little innovation, a fragmented steel industry, regulations and complicated standards for steel structure design, like Eurocode 3.

Strong support for IPO (the steel network for marketing in steel construction) and for the EasyCode Initiative, more collaboration and global thinking will be necessary to change the recent developments, Schlim pointed out. Digitalisation such as Building Information Modeling and the automated fabrication processes of Industry 4.0 would bring new opportunities. Schlim closed with a comparison of concrete and steel construction, claiming that there is no such thing as a better construction material when it comes to safety, costs, scheduling and design possibilities, but steel has one key argument in its favour: it can be recycled and reused endlessly.

“If we want to make a significant change, we cannot do it alone”, said Prof. Oliver Vassart from Arcelor Mittal, confirming the need for more collaboration. But regarding complicated standards or regulations that are still too high, he added that, for example, fire protection is no longer complicated, but that it remains so in the minds of people.

Mark Seidel, Head of Product Management Office Building, presented the turnkey concept of GOLDBECK GmbH, addressing the client’s need for building solutions rather than communicate specific construction materials.

The role of architects in steel construction was the focus of Jost Vos from BENTHEM CROUWEL ARCHITECTS, who presented large-scale projects built with steel beams for technical and elegant design feasibility.

During the panel discussion, chaired by Dr. Bernhard Hauke from the national organization bauforumstahl, the need for innovation was again mentioned. “BIM is a good idea to build the future”, stated Rolf Heinnecke from Christmann & Pfeiffer Construction. The fact that the steel industry is too traditional and should learn from innovative markets like the tech industry was affirmed by Bob Soetekouw, Manager of GB Steel Group.

Edwin Basson, Director General at World Steel Association closed the day with an invitation to exchange ideas and work on global concepts. “More needs to be done to promote steel in construction. We need to strengthen the value chain by cooperating internationally.”

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