Progress work

Ingo Helbig works as a concrete technologist at TPA and, among other things, conducts research with his team on the building materials of the future. In this interview, he provides insights into the topic of recycled concrete and reveals what particularly appeals to him about his job.
Image of an employee at work in the laboratory with colleagues
  • I try not to close myself off to new topics and to be open. I try to deal with new concrete technology topics and materials, to learn and to pass on my knowledge within the Group.

    Ingo Helbig
    Concrete technologist at TPA Society for Quality Assurance and Innovation

In which field do you work and what are your tasks?
My main field of activity is concrete. I work for TPA GmbH in the Concrete Technology International division and, as a test center manager, I supervise the concrete construction sites of the Züblin Karlsruhe directorate. Together with my colleagues, I also supervise major international projects worldwide. Another focus of my work is the R&D laboratory (Research & Development) in Stuttgart-Möhringen, where we work on the building materials of the future, but also investigate current concrete technology problems on construction sites. TPA Concrete Technology International is a small team consisting mainly of engineers specialized in this field. The laboratory is also staffed by well-trained building materials testers who have an affinity for concrete.

What is special about recycled concrete?
Recycled concrete or resource-saving concrete (R-concrete) uses crushed construction waste (e.g. old concrete and bricks) from demolished buildings instead of natural aggregates (gravel from dredging lakes or chippings from quarries). In this way, natural resources can be conserved. On the one hand, R-concrete thus helps to systematically reduce the consumption of primary resources that were previously heavily used. On the other hand, the use of recycled concrete in building construction is a significant step on the way to cycle-oriented planning and construction - with ideally closed material cycles.

What particularly appeals to you about your work?
Concrete is not just gray. Concrete is incredibly versatile. Even during my studies, concrete fascinated me. There are hundreds of recipe variations, where sometimes small changes determine success or failure. You are regularly presented with new problems or challenges to solve. Every project has its own peculiarities, so it never gets boring.

How has your job changed over the years?
The field of activity has grown over the years. In addition to concrete technology, there are, for example, subject areas such as durability or repair. For some years now, the topic of sustainability has been added with increasing speed. You get the feeling that every few months a new product or a new start-up company comes onto the market that you have to deal with in order not to miss the boat. This always makes the work exciting.

In what way do you contribute to the change towards sustainable construction in your work?
We are in the fortunate position of being able to work on R&D topics in our laboratory in order to carry out development work. Accordingly, we can test and evaluate new materials. On this basis, we generate know-how for the Group and one has a decision-making aid as to whether the use of new materials in future projects is possible and sensible or not.

What does Work On Progress mean to you in relation to your job?
Life is a constant learning process. "Anyone who stops learning is old. Anyone who learns stays young" (Henry Ford). I try not to close my mind to new topics and to be open. To deal with new concrete technology topics, new materials, to learn and to pass on the knowledge within the Group. There are problems with concrete on construction sites every day and new questions about the future of concrete every week. Solving the problems and answering the questions is my motivation and my mission.


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