Using data analysis to improve the quality of concrete, the Finnish company “Caidio” regards China as its main market

The world’s digital concrete quality inspection market is about 60 billion U.S. dollars, and China accounts for 60%

Reporter: Li Ziyue

Editor: Shi Yaqiong


Caidio was founded in Helsinki, Finland in 2018, focusing on solving various quality and efficiency issues in concrete production. Caidio is developing an artificial intelligence platform to analyze data collected from sensors and concrete production processes to help concrete plants improve product quality, save costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Caidio has offices in both Finland and China. The early US$200,000 turnover all came from Finland, but in the future nearly all turnover will come from the Chinese market. Currently, Caidio is expanding the Chinese team and is preparing to raise seed funds from European and Chinese investors.

Using data analysis to improve the quality of concrete, the Finnish company "Caidio" regards China as its main market

(Caidio Digital Concrete Production Quality Assurance Picture Source: Interview Courtesy Picture)

Through data collection and machine learning data analysis, Caidio can help customers solve the three problems of quality, cost and environmental protection in the concrete production process.

In terms of quality: Ready-mixed concrete production consists of four steps, including preparing raw materials (gravel, sand, cement and water), mixing the raw materials in a mixer, transporting them, unloading and building upon arrival at the construction site. At present, Caidio’s data analysis focuses on the concrete mixing stage, and plans to expand to the entire industrial chain in the future.

In terms of cost: the sand in the raw materials has different water content, and it is difficult to control the water-cement ratio after mixing with water. Therefore, many producers who use manual proportioning will increase the proportion of cement when mixing in order to ensure quality, which has caused an increase in the cost of concrete. Caidio said that its automated system can more accurately monitor the mixture ratio and reduce the amount of cement by stabilizing the water-cement ratio, thereby reducing costs.

Environmental protection: The current CO2 emission ratio of concrete production in Finland is 2%, while that of China is 15%, and its huge market size has increased the global average to 8%. Caidio can help reduce carbon emissions by accurately monitoring the mixture ratio.

Using data analysis to improve the quality of concrete, the Finnish company "Caidio" regards China as its main market

(Image source of the IoT device used by Caidio to optimize the quality of concrete: Photo courtesy of the interview)

Caidio’s business model is “SaaS driven by hardware”. It installs intelligent data collection units and sensors on the customer’s production line, and tests the system in the environment to ensure that it runs well. The profit model is a subscription system, and customers pay a certain monthly fee to use this system.

Using data analysis to improve the quality of concrete, the Finnish company "Caidio" regards China as its main market

(Caidio financing historical picture source: 36Kr sorted according to the information provided by the company)

The company’s funding mainly comes from founders and angel investors. In addition, the company also received 300,000 euros in R&D and internationalization funding from Business Finland, a government organization that supports Finnish growth companies to accelerate overseas business. Caidio is raising seed round funding from European and Chinese investors to improve current products and start sales in China.

Founder and CEO Aku Wilenius holds an MBA degree from Aalto University in Helsinki and a bachelor degree in computer science from Helsinki Metropolia University. He has worked in the US technology company National Instruments for more than 20 years in international engineering and business management positions. CTO Pasi Karppinen holds a master’s degree in physics from the University of Helsinki. After graduation, he has participated in many research and development projects, won many hackathons and engineering competitions, and is the co-inventor of seven patent applications, of which three Has been authorized. Mr. Juho Pättö, COO and General Manager of China Region, graduated from Aalto University Executive Education MBA in Helsinki. He once worked for the international food and beverage company Paulig Group and the communications giant Nokia. He has marketing and procurement in many industries, as well as Product and project management experience. The Caidio team has a total of 10 people, of which 5 are in Finland and 5 are in China. In order to expand the Chinese market, the company is looking for a sales director in China.

Comparison of similar companies

Using data analysis to improve the quality of concrete, the Finnish company "Caidio" regards China as its main market

(Image source of manual concrete inspection method: Caidio)

The most typical method to test the quality of concrete is to make manual measurements in concrete production, including visual inspection of mixture humidity, visual inspection of sand and gravel quality, slump detection and comprehensive strength testing.

In addition to Caidio, companies that currently provide concrete quality analysis capabilities for construction sites include Giatec Scientific in Canada and Hilti Concrete Sensors in the United States. As mentioned above, concrete production consists of four steps, including preparing raw materials (gravel, sand, cement and water), mixing the raw materials in a mixer, transporting them, and unloading and building upon arrival at the transport site. Caidio conducts quality inspection during the mixing process of concrete raw materials, and the two companies place sensors in the concrete poured on the construction site, that is, conduct quality inspection during the construction phase. Caidio believes that the testing and data analysis of concrete should start from the raw material mixing stage, otherwise the testing and repairing costs will be higher after the construction is completed in the later stage.

The moisture of sand and gravel can also be measured with hand-held probes, such as the moisture meter of Ecored and Jingtai Instruments. The advantage is low cost, but the disadvantages include the need for manual labor and only allow sample testing. Caidio’s solution is fully automatic and can monitor the production process in real time.

The same track also includes some suppliers of concrete batching plant automation systems, such as Austrian Simma. However, Caidio said that traditional mixing plant companies have limited capabilities in concrete quality management.

In addition, Caidio further pointed out other advantages of the product, including a large amount of data accumulated from various pilots in China, patents being applied for, and technical barriers of its products in materials science and machine learning.

Market outlook

The global concrete production market is approximately US$1 trillion, of which the Chinese market accounts for 60%.

Caidio further estimated the market size of the company’s products in concrete quality testing: China has 35,000 concrete production bases each year, with a total of about 100,000 concrete production lines. From this estimate, the potential total market for Caidio products in the global concrete quality inspection is about 60 billion US dollars.

Of the total number of production lines mentioned above, about 20% are capable of upgrading their digital quality inspection systems, and digital transformation is expected to accelerate further in the future. Therefore, Caidio’s global serviceable market is US$12 billion, and China has more than US$7 billion (accounting for 60% of the global market).

Caidio regards China as its main market

Caidio’s income was derived from Finland in the early days of its establishment, and later it turned to the Chinese market as a whole. In the early stage, the turnover before sales in China was about 200,000 U.S. dollars (about 1.3 million RMB), mainly from various pilot and proof-of-concept projects in Finland.

In the second half of 2019, the CTO came to China to carry out related scientific research projects with the Tsinghua team, and began to establish pilot projects in Xi’an. Cooperative pilot projects include Xi’an Dongdayang Concrete Co., Ltd., Shaanxi Fengsheng Deyuan Industrial Co., Ltd. and Xi’an Gaoke Xinda Concrete Co., Ltd. Caidio said that more companies have already indicated their intention to cooperate.

In March 2021, Caidio stood out among more than 3,000 candidates and was admitted and invested by Qiji. In June 2021, with the help of Qiji Innovation Forum and Zhongguancun Chuangye Street, Caidio completed company registration in Beijing. Caidio emphasized that not all industries require its partners to register companies in their own country, but in the field of construction, Chinese licenses are particularly important.

In the same year, the company’s first commercial product, Caidio Water Content Optimizer, began to be sold in China. With the strong support of the government, Caidio has successfully connected with one of the largest cement producers in China, and has now begun to cooperate in two pilot projects.

In 2021, Caidio plans to sell 10-15 sets of systems, and it is estimated that MRR (Monthly Recurring Rate) will reach 20,000-30,000 U.S. dollars. China has become Caidio’s most important market, and the company expects that almost 100% of its turnover will be generated in China in the near future. The company’s short-term target market share is about 10-20%.

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