We often write about UPCH in technical terms: what it is, how we calculate with UHPC, the aesthetics, the possibilities etc. I would like to take you through the journey of a Sales Manager and the obstacles that I met as Hi-Con entered the Dutch market back in 2013.
The Building Fair 2013
We were very fortunate that soon after the establishment of Hi-Con NL we could participate in the Building Fair: we could show our new product to the Dutch market. We could not imagine a better timing for a product introduction.
Despite the fact that we were in the middle of the building crisis, there was a lot of interest in the slender Hi-Con balconies. Especially from the architects: slender and a new concrete type. During the exhibition days, the foundation was made for Hi-Con NL. The interest was enormous, mainly due to the beautiful, slender balcony slab standing in our booth. A nice trigger for potential customers and after a few days we had many good contacts…. After that year these contacts led to the first large projects, for example Kokon Architects from Rotterdam: the renovation project Heilig Harn in Den Helder.
The material UHPC was relatively unknown in the Netherlands in the area of housing construction, it was not applied in a large scale. Many clients and contractors were surprised about the applications of CRC, in particular the slenderness of the material. In the initial phase we have done a lot of presentations and visits to architects to share our knowledge and to tell the advantages of CRC, not only in the aesthetic area, but also in freedom of design and sustainability.
Contractors were initially critical of the first designs in CRC, the first projects on the NL market were often laborious because of unfamiliarity with the material and the pricing. The builder could often make a break through in this process and was often decisive in the entire process. Therefore, you should not forget the relationship between architect and builder.
The contractor was often convinced of the advantages of the material during the process. In the last two years we have noticed that we have made large steps in the promotion of CRC and Hi-Con among the contractors in the Netherlands. Often they contact us in an early stage and ask the right questions about our material and applications. So mission succeeded!
Taking the price into consideration
Since the establishment of Hi-Con Netherlands in 2013, 66 projects have been completed. Some of them are currently in the production phase. The first years of our existence, we were often confronted with low volumes in the market because of the crisis in the construction industry. As you are probably aware of, the pricing of the Hi-Con material (CRC®) is higher than traditional concrete – at least if you only take the cost of the material into consideration.
However, the Hi-Con product should rather be regarded as a component of the overall-structure that can solve many problems in practice, such as weight, aesthetic appearance, increased durability, extreme loads or forces that have to be absorbed by a small cross-section.
In practice, we often notice that the information about our product is used in the wrong way. For example, the m3 price is sometimes compared with the m3 price for ordinary concrete, which is understandable if you are used to consider unit costs and not overall solutions.
Huize Het Oosten in Bilthoven.
You get a better indication of the cost if you consider the total cost of the entire project phase. UHPC can often even get cheaper with this comparison. There are many factors that actually lower the total cost when using UHPC. In other words: CRC can be used as a solution. The cost of the material is compensated by the value created from the total solution. This means that there is no direct comparison with balconies of other materials.
Part of the additional cost is compensated by the lower volume needed. UHPC is clearly stronger (50-60% lower in weight), which make us able to design solutions that are easier to install and with fewer connections. This can lead to savings in the foundation; fewer piles, reinforcement and less material. In some cases, using UHPC can even result in fewer supporting points.
Highlighting the great Dutch projects
By using the above advantages, we have convinced many Dutch customers to use our solutions and understand the advantages of our CRC.
Our most important milestones over the past years are posted below. We see that the applications for renovation and transformation have made a huge step forward in the recent years. On the Dutch market, the advantages of our products are said to be the best option in terms of: weight savings, lifespan, simple anchoring technique and slenderness.
Winner of the Concrete Prize in 2013: Poptahof in Delft – The first projects with CRC balconies in The Netherlands
Winner of the concrete prize 2017: Catharinabrug in Leiden.
Nice example of an extreme cantilever of 3000 mm in Utrecht: Woontoren de Verkenner
Renovation of large-scale apartment complexes in Den Helder: the Heilig Harn (L) and the Baljuwstraat (R).
If you have comments, questions or want to share your own experience with UHPC. Respond to this blog or contact us!