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The Formwork Working Group visits to PASCHAL and planitec

In May, the Formwork Working Group (“Arbeitskreis Schalung”), a group of experts including professors and lecturers in specialist technical areas with degree courses in structural engineering from German universities met at the company PASCHAL in Steinach, Germany. Alongside current information for practical relevance in the degree courses, there should also be contacts created between universities and formwork manufacturers by the working group.

The Formwork Working Group has existed since 2015. It was created as part of the "Technical Committee for Construction Companies and the Construction Industry" of German universities of applied sciences (FHs), under the leadership of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Roswitha Axmann (Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin). Since its formation, the Formwork Working Group has met at regular intervals in two-day seminars with the objective of collecting the latest information and experiences from the formwork construction and formwork planning sectors and to then pass this information on to students in the lectures. "The seminars are a practically oriented further training course for us", according to Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Malpricht (Jade University of Applied Sciences Oldenburg), spokesman and coordinator for the Formwork Working Group.

Formwork Working Group
The Formwork Working Group inspecting the PASCHAL headquarters factory in Steinach.

As PASCHAL is one of the most important medium-sized manufacturers of formwork, both in Germany and internationally, the Formwork Working Group decided to carry out its seminar this year in the headquarters of PASCHAL-Werk G. Maier GmbH in Steinach, Germany. Alongside the company's own formwork systems, the corresponding company philosophy with regards to its products is always of particular interest in terms of content for the professors and lecturers, announced Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Malpricht beforehand. Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Peter Steiner (Manager of Technical Documentation PASCHAL-Werk) provided the seminar participants with much information on both of these subjects on the basis of numerous practical examples. "To be able to carry out formwork in the system precisely to the centimetre and to be able to find economic system solutions even for complicated geometrics - that is the PASCHAL company philosophy", stated Hans-Peter Steiner. Since the foundation of the company in 1964, all PASCHAL systems have been developed based on this philosophy. Certified engineers Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Melanie Krug and Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Jan Skipka demonstrated that even major projects with complex requirements could be implemented using formwork solutions from the medium-sized company PASCHAL on the basis of current project examples for formwork planning, cycle planning and schedule planning of two complicated engineering construction projects.

Of particular interest for the professors and lecturers was the visit to planitec, PASCHAL's IT service provider. There, Managing Director Gerhard Schmitt and Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Ralf Schmider presented the PASCHAL formwork planning software, including the cloud-capable PASCHAL-Plan light 11.0 (PPL 11.0) and PASCHAL-PLAN Pro (PP Pro). "For us as lecturers and professors, it was particularly fascinating to see that there is a very attractive and BIM and IFC capable formwork planning program in PPL that is also very suitable for use in teaching," Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Malpricht replied in answer to a question about what important lessons the participants had learned from their seminar with PASCHAL and planitec.

Alongside the practical experiences of formwork engineering and formwork planning, the professors also saw in the working group an important platform for promoting the exchange of information between formwork manufacturers and universities and hence to create an important basis for collaboration. Both sides can profit from this, as the Formwork Working Group has confirmed what medium-sized companies, such as PASCHAL, have known for a long time: There is a shortage of structural engineers. The professional situation for structural engineers has developed very positively in the past few years, and the demand for their services has remained uninterrupted. Often, the trainee structural engineers have received their first employment contract even before completing their degree, according to the participants in the Formwork Working Group. "For medium-sized companies, particularly those that are still located in rural areas, it is becoming ever more difficult to find young structural engineers", said Barbara R. Vetter, Managing Director of PASCHAL in a conversation with the teaching staff. Therefore, the opportunities arising from cooperation with universities, such as via the Formwork Working Group are particularly important in order to develop contacts that will enable the students to carry out their research papers or apprenticeships at formwork manufacturers. This would also give students the chance to recognise the many various career opportunities the formwork sector can offer, according to Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Malpricht.

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