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Thomas Concrete Group: real-time sensor tracking

Thomas Concrete Group, a world-leader organization in the construction industry with 150+ concrete plants and 2,100+ employees, uses CrateDB for its digitalization projects.

Thomas Concrete uses CrateDB in two different use cases, the first one being the tracking of their concrete delivery trucks. The concrete pouring is a critical moment in construction: any mistakes made in this phase can lead to higher costs in the future. With the tracking information being displayed in the online portal and a mobile app, construction managers can know precisely when the concrete truck will arrive at the construction site, which allows them to prepare accordingly.

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The customer can follow the exact position of the concrete delivery truck in the online portal or the mobile app, making sure everything is ready on-site for the pouring

Thomas Concrete also uses CrateDB to track the curing of the concrete in real-time. The concrete curing will influence the final strength of the concrete, and it is a phase that requires careful monitoring. To allow customers to remotely check its temperature and strength during this period, Thomas Concrete inserts digital sensors inside the concrete, measuring its temperature and sending this data stream to CrateDB. The concrete strength is calculated from this data using proprietary software developed by Thomas Concrete Group.

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Thanks to the digitalization of the curing-monitoring setup, customers can download PDF reports that include graphs like this one, showing the actual strength of the concrete and its evolution over time

The developers at Thomas Concrete Group chose CrateDB because of its scalability and high performance for both reads and writes. In global use cases, it is essential to use a database prepared to handle ever-growing data volumes; furthermore, the database must ingest and query this data with very little latency. On top of this, the Thomas Concrete team needed a resilient database, with a NoSQL foundation able to handle their JSON data structures. And the strength monitoring use case required support for edge modules, as internet connectivity is often of low quality in construction sites.

CrateDB happened to check all the boxes. After the first tests, the results were proved excellent. "The initial technical discussions with the Crate.io engineers paid off, as it helped us to verify the technical and business requirements," said Kristoffer Axelsson, Principal Solution Architect for Thomas Concrete Group. "CrateDB is now an integral part of our big data streaming architecture, and it is delivering as promised."

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Thomas Concrete integrates CrateDB in the Azure ecosystem for both projects. For example, this figure outlines the architecture of the strength tracking use case, with the raw sensor data being ingested by CrateDB through Azure IoT Hub. The services and CrateDB are hosted in a Kubernetes cluster with 3 nodes and 12 cores.

Thanks to CrateDB's great indexing, dedicated data types, and subsequent great performance, we could execute the optimal architecture and solution for the use case: an event and data-driven architecture, with the performance and scalability necessary for storing time-series data over time. The SQL query syntax capability of CrateDB also played a part in achieving this great outcome, as it made it easy for the team to write good performing queries using existing know-how."

Kristoffer Axelsson
Principal Solution Architect
Thomas Concrete Group

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WEBINAR

How real-time IoT data can optimize the supply chain with the Thomas Concrete Group

Learn how Thomas Concrete Group is using CrateDB to monitor crucial processes of their supply chain, such as the concrete delivery to the customer on-site or the concrete curing process

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How the Thomas Concrete Group is adding value to its customers with IoT projects powered by CrateDB

Thomas' customers in Sweden and Germany can now track their concrete delivery in real-time with the power of CrateDB.

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How the Thomas Concrete Group is adding value to its customers with IoT projects powered by CrateDB part II

Thanks to CrateDB Thomas Concrete Group customers have the possibility of monitoring the concrete curing process in real-time.

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