The needs and desires for fulfillment of its Members has led Odebrecht to develop, over the 70 years of its operations, innovative techniques that have been adopted generally in the market. Technological pioneering is an essential part of the Group and has always guided its Businesses.
Innovation opens and consolidates markets, aids in overcoming challenges, reduces costs, increases productivity, creates new competencies and generates sustainability.
The effect of an innovation extends far beyond its practical application and the efforts of Odebrecht's teams are also employed so that knowledge is preserved, shared and reutilized. The Spirit of Service guarantees that this cycle is constant and worthwhile.
Background and History
Ever since the first days of the Group, in the mid 1940s, Odebrecht teams have been characterized by their revolutionary construction methods. The work methods at the company were completely different from common practice at the time.
Up to then, for example, the entire concrete structure was first built and walls were built when the last slab was in place, only then moving on to plaster, window and door frames, plumbing and electrical wiring. Construtora Norberto Odebrecht began the practice of doing all the work practically at once. When the first slab was finished and the concrete crew moved on to the second, the walls of the first floor were being raised.
The Belo Horizonte building was the main accomplishment during this period. It was erected in nine months, when the normal building period at that time was three years.
The proposed innovations required a significant change in the work routines commonly practiced in the industry. In the Group, the foremen were responsible for orders, purchases and hiring, previously the responsibility of the main offices. It was a way to motivate people and stimulate creativity. Full delegation and decentralization of decisions made it possible for the company to carry out a larger number of projects.
Some examples of the Group´s pioneering innovations:
- Introduction of reinforced concrete structures in Brazil: the new system changed the panorama of Brazilian civil construction;
- The execution of one of the first precast concrete works in Bahia: The Funil Bridge, connecting the Island of Itaparica, in the Baía de Todos os Santos, with the rest of the continent, in 1968.
- For the first time in the world, concrete was transported on overhead conveyor belts – in less than 90 seconds – from the mixing centers to the pouring points on the Los Huites Hydroelectric dam in Mexico. This solution was later reutilized on other projects such as the Tocoma Hydroelectric dam, in Venezuela;
- In the field of offshore engineering, for the first time in the world, a self-raising rig was launched into the water from another floating structure. This operation was carried out on the P-59 jack-up and repeated, successfully, on P-60, in 2011, in Bahia;
- World-class development of the first polyethylene from sugar cane, a 100% renewable source , known as "green plastic". Technological innovation has given Braskem the leadership role in the biopolymer market;
- Pioneering use of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), the “tatuzão”, in drilling the Midmar Tunnel in South Africa. This technique has benefited numberless projects in Brazil and abroad. Presently, it is used on a large scale by Odebrecht in subway building projects;
- In Peru, repair work on the Tingo María-Aguaytía Highway has guaranteed productivity, even during the rainy season. A portable structure was created with a covering of sheet plastic that allows the work area to operate normally inside it. The paving cover became standard for similar projects in Peru, such as the construction of the Southern Interoceanic Highway, which was also built by Odebrecht;
- Development of the Aquapolo project, for the production of reuse water for industrial purposes which supplies the ABC Petrochemical Complex in São Paulo. The treatment plant created by the Group is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the fifth largest in the world. Following normal treatment, the effluent is transported to a tank with bacteria that feed on organic wastes. Afterwards, the material goes through an oxidation ditch in the form of a labyrinth, the design of which was awarded a prize in Europe, with ultrafiltration membranes. Finally, it goes to reverse osmosis membrane equipment that use pressure to extract any matter of high conductivity and solid particles, ammonia and other elements that make the effluent unsuitable for industrial use.