29. June 2022
Hustle and bustle on the approximately 10,000 square meter reference construction site of the Center Construction Robotics (CCR) on Campus West: From June 20 to 24, the festival week “Open minds meet open Campus” took place. The CCR, which is part of the Construction Cluster, operates Europe’s first reference construction site. The construction site of the future serves as a real laboratory where new construction processes, building products and networked machines test the use of robots, software solutions as well as teaching, working and communication concepts under real construction site conditions.

The reference construction site is a platform for the establishment of a far-reaching European as well as regional network for research, industry and teaching cooperation in the field of the transformation of construction: not only partners from the European construction industry but also companies such as start-ups and public institutions or associations will be involved. Prof. Sigrid Brell-Cokcan from the RWTH Chair of individualized production in architecture says: “Only by combining the knowledge and expertise of different disciplines such as mechanical engineering, computer science, civil engineering and architecture will we be able to comprehensively develop a new digital construction environment and digitally transform traditional construction methods.”

Welcomed to the Center Construction Robotics were two new companies, which immediately received a membership plaque: RIEGL Laser Measurements Systems has been gathering experience in the field of research, development and manufacturing of laser rangefinders, distance measuring devices and laser scanners as well as in the field of 3D measurement technology for more than 40 years. The long-established Austrian company FunderMax is a manufacturer of high-quality wood-based materials and the world market leader for compact laminates for both indoor and outdoor applications. The two new members, together with all participants of the festive week, were given a guided tour of the impressive and diverse infrastructure of the reference site. All institutions can make use of the site equipment and outdoor areas provided by the industry according to the fair-use principle. Those who contribute something to the joint project or provide further infrastructure have the opportunity to use the site facilities at a reduced rate or even free of charge for a certain period of time under professional supervision.
Tom Wünsche, speaker from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) opened the closing ceremonies for the research project “Internet of Construction” (IoC) on the third day of the festival week. In the RWTH project headed by Prof. Brell-Cokcan, ten companies and research institutions conducted research on an IoC system for cross-value chain collaboration in the construction industry in the BMBF-funded project. From planning and pre-production to assembly on the construction site, digital solutions are being developed and networked to drive digitization and automation in the construction industry. The IoC includes the development of cyber-physical systems for construction process planning and logistics for construction site assistance, construction progress monitoring and construction documentation.


At the heart of these developments is the IoC system. It serves as a BIM extension and integrates – across companies – planning, prefabrication, transport and assembly processes. Thanks to the intensive collaboration of the research institutions and industry partners, the developments could be tested, further developed and validated under real construction site conditions on the IoC demonstrator.
On the fourth day of the “Open minds meet Campus” festival week, Prof. Dr. Markus Kuhnhenne from the Institute of Steel Construction – Sustainability in Lightweight Metal Construction at RWTH University, and Sebastian Möller (RWTH Aachen Campus GmbH) presented their findings on the conception and preliminary planning of the Reallabor Modulo in their talk “From modular to circular: Shift happens”. The presentation focused on answers to the questions of why modular construction is needed, what modular construction can do, and why circular thinking is needed in building. Project manager Sebastian Möller says: “For us, the Reallabor is an exciting opportunity to investigate what potential modular construction brings with it. At the same time, however, it is also an opportunity to explore the limits that are imposed on us in real construction operations. With the help of the findings from the real lab, we generate important improvement processes for modular construction.” In addition to the improvement processes, another focus is on sustainability in construction operations: “In modular construction, the sustainability aspect is of particular importance: industrial manufacturing processes can produce demountable connections and recyclable components. The area of tension between highly individualizable products and serial production to improve essential framework conditions such as costs, deadlines and quality is also highly interesting. And it is precisely such processes that we can investigate and try out in the real lab.”


The presentation by Prof. Markus Kuhnhenne and Sebastian Möller was followed by project meetings on current industrial projects, including “5G.NAMICO”. In this research project, 5G is to be used in the construction and mining sector of the future. Based on the findings of previous projects such as the 5G-Industry Campus Europe, a 5G network is to be installed at a reference construction site and in an underground structure to exploit the benefits of the technology. One challenge here is the adverse and changing environments: Dust, vibrations and humidity place demands on a dynamic 5G network that must withstand the harsh operating conditions. 5G technology, which was developed for use in industrial environments and open areas, must therefore be further developed. The use of 5G in construction and mining has the potential to automate processes and reduce personnel workloads. A prerequisite for this is the development of improved safety concepts to protect people in partially and fully automated processes while at the same time advancing the digital transformation. In order to use 5G on construction sites and in mining in the future, the project will first look at selected use cases that deal with the automation of individual work processes and safety aspects.