Innovation in infrastructure construction

Discover our main lines of research for construction projects and major works

CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY CENTRE

The Construction Technology Centre, located in Madrid, Spain, serves as a mega-innovation laboratory where ACCIONA designs sustainable infrastructures prepared to deal with the worst effects of the climate emergency.

Our employees and people design solutions to optimise construction processes, as well as new technologies and materials that are more efficient at the work site, to reduce the potential impact on nature.

The main lines of research for construction projects are:

  • Digitization of construction processes
  • Improvement of the environmental parameters of the works
  • New materials

Main lines of research for construction projects:

CONSTRUCTIVE PROCESS DIGITALISATION

As part of our strategy for constructive process digitalisation, we developed an Intelligent Platform for Land Movement that can carry out comprehensive control and monitoring of the equipment involved in the land movement, to optimise operations and improve the productivity of any project. The benefits of this development include real time asset viewing, advanced production and performance calculations and analysis, alerts and reporting, progress monitoring, and more.

For its part, our Tunnel Boring Control Centre, with the capacity to collect information from more than 65,000 sensors every 250 ms (milliseconds), allows us to simulate the tunnel machine's progress, perform predictive maintenance, get real time operation reports and get TBM trace history.

We innovate with a new short-range (4 m) geological survey technique for tunnels with TBM. This allows us to reduce geological uncertainty by viewing results in real time, without any impact on the tunnel machine's productivity.

In tunnels, we also innovate by designing and patenting a laser to avoid over-digging in conventional tunnel boring and to adjust the excavation section to the project's design section. In real time, the laser continuously projects and geo-references the excavation section over the front of the tunnel. This enables up to 65% improvement in digging accuracy and reduces cost overruns in materials, time and personnel.

Our collaboration with startups also allows us to incorporate new skills more quickly. One of the projects developed as part of the I'MNOVATION Startups programme used drones in tunnels to optimise and digitise the construction process. Using different sensors on board, we obtain volumetric calculations, 3D modelling for later integration into BIM models, and track work and safety conditions for employees. The use of drones also allows us to simultaneously use other outdoor applications such as landfill calculation, site control and photogrammetry.

IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENTAL PARAMETERS OF THE WORK

To improve the environmental parameters of the work, ACCIONA focuses innovation on searching for circular economy solutions.

Often in the work, material is discarded that is under the layout of the infrastructure and that does not meet the necessary technical or constructive characteristics. In order to use these trace materials, we have developed solutions that allow the use of available soil in the layout of linear works, especially roads promoting industrial symbiosis through agreements between companies that are a part of the value chain.

Thanks to these agreements, we use waste as secondary raw materials, such as paper waste in soil stabilisation, or steel waste to eliminate the problem associated with acidic soils in Australia. 

New materials

The most important constructive solutions we innovate in are composites and concrete with improved performance.

ACCIONA has accredited experience of more than 15 years working with composites both in the design phase of the infrastructure with these materials, in its subsequent construction, and in conducting quality controls of these parts. Some projects completed include the bridge over the A 67, the Almuñecar footbridge, the Port of Valencia lighthouse and the twin bridges over the M 111.

We also innovate in concrete with initiatives related to solutions to corrosion problems and increasing the durability of infrastructures in adverse climatic conditions. ACCIONA focuses its efforts on the use of hydrophobic coatings and the combination of synthetic fibres to increase concrete's structural capacity.

We innovate in pavements and soils through the use of self-repair technologies in pavements and alternative soil treatments for the use of trace materials.

Innovation with a collaborative approach

ACCIONA's Construction business takes a collaborative approach in its Technological Centre activities, cooperating with public and private institutions, both universities and research centres, as well as industries and companies providing public and private services.

Innovation projects in construction

Key figures

Accelerating innovation

We have collaborated with more than 500 institutions on different projects, with more than 100 universities in the last 10 years and have participated in more than 100 cooperative R&D projects supported by the European Commission through the previous FP7 framework programme (2007-2013). Currently, with its successor H2020 (2014-2020), we are involved in more than 50 community initiatives to promote and support R&D in the European Union.

+100

Cooperative R&D projects supported by the European Commission

50

community initiatives to promote and support R&D in the European Union

+500

Institutions

+100

Universities in the last 10 years

2019 Highlights:

Solutions based on the circular economy

We encourage industrial symbiosis between companies in the construction value chain that allows the use of waste as secondary raw materials, improving efficiency and having positive economic, environmental and social impacts on the work.

Paper waste for soil stabilisation has been applied as well as steel waste to eliminate the problem associated with acidic soils in Australia.

The use of waste materials from other industries as substitutes for raw materials such as lime and cement in construction work has enabled us to achieve significant savings in construction projects in terms of soil stabilisation.

Sustainable material solutions

We are studying sustainable concrete solutions that perform better in extreme climates.

One example is the wind farm in Reynosa, Mexico, where we reduced the structure's foundation cost by 5 % because it required less concrete.

We adjust concrete mixes with a low carbon footprint and evaluate their impact using a life cycle analysis.

We develop solutions for sustainable road surfaces based on using secondary raw materials to substitute virgin materials in different layers and increasing durability by using different solutions, such as self-healing technology. The self-healing road surface technology has been tested on the A44 Santa Fe-Las Gabias motorway.

We have developed tools to evaluate the environmental impact of road surfaces and concretes from a life cycle standpoint. This can be seen in the adjustment of the concrete mix in the MossIA Project or the evaluation of the E6 Ranheim-Vaernes surfacing.

New geological survey technique for tunnels

We developed a new technique of geological recognition over short ranges and in real time for TBM tunnels that reduces geological uncertainty without affecting the production cycles or tunnel digging yields.

In addition to a laser to avoid over-digging in conventional tunnel boring.

Land Movement Platform

We developed the digital platform for monitoring work units to meet all works needs in real time.

This allows us to accurately track the main work units that work on a construction project: land movement, conventional tunnel construction, tunnel construction using a tunnel boring machine, road surfacing work and structures. It is also possible to make digital reports using tablets and apps, so that this information can be consulted and managed by different work units: production and supervision, geology, auscultation, topography and demolitions. It can also carry out production calculations and performance analyses, as well as generate reports.

OUR OWN TECHNOLOGIES

TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS FOR CONSTRUCTION

In our construction technology centre we bring to life solutions that strengthen infrastructures against the effects of global warming.