After 18 years of providing turnkey production packages from limited facilities in Portsmouth, Advanced Concrete Technologies has dedicated a new corporate headquarters and training center in Greenland, N.H. Located 45 minutes north of Boston, the facility will serve as the North American hub for all customer service, training, technical support and parts warehousing operations, as well as corporate offices for management, administrative, sales, and technical support staff.
Through the building's state-of-the-art features and facilities, we have made a present and future commitment to provide the most advanced customer service and training possible, says ACT President E. Max Hoene. We have plenty of room for support staff, training facilities, extensive spare parts inventory for overnight delivery, and a technology infrastructure to support our strong growth.
The June 1 grand opening was a full-day event, complete with activities for customers and their spouses, including a golf tournament and historic tour and harbor cruise of Portsmouth. Completed in May after six months of construction, the new 10,000-sq.-ft. headquarters is about three times larger than ACT's original home in the Pease International Tradeport, a former U.S. Air Force Base. Ricci Construction Co., Portsmouth, was the lead contractor on the Greenland facility.
The North American division of German equipment manufacturers, Wiggert + Co. and W∏rschum GmbH, ACT is a single-source supplier of turnkey concrete mixing, batching, and automatic color-metering systems that draws on 40-plus years' experience and more than 4,000 installations worldwide. This past year, Wiggert marked a milestone with the installation of its 1,000th HPGM series countercurrent mixer.
Guests at the open house included representatives from key ACT customers, among them Hanson Pipe & Precast, U.S. Precast, New England Concrete Products and Arrow Concrete; Martin Weiland and Volker W∏rschum, managing directors of Wiggert + Co. and W∏rschum GmbH; and, Greenland town officials.
In the evening, guests convened at the new office for a cocktail reception and tours, followed by the official dedication of research equipment recently donated by ACT to the University of New Hampshire's civil engineering school in Durham. An authentic New England lobster bake, plus live music and dancing, capped the day's activities.
The ACT donation to UNH, valued at more than $100,000, includes a SmartMix 375 fully automatic mixing and batching plant, featuring a high-speed Wiggert HPGM 375 planetary countercurrent mixer capable of producing 9 cu. ft. of concrete in every batch. The compact plant comprises an integrated hoist loading system, PLC programmable controls, aggregate storage, automatic water metering system, and the latest frequency drive system enabling mixing speed and intensity adjustments.
We can do things that we've never even considered before, explains Professor David Gress, Ph.D., P.E., associate director of the UNH Recycled Materials Resource Center. We can produce and easily reproduce any concrete mix we like. Our students will not only learn the latest mix design procedures in these concrete classes, but also gain valuable experience in running equipment identical to that used in the most modern concrete product plants.
Our first lab covers the properties of aggregates, Dr. Gress adds. In our subsequent labs, we actually design and mix concretes and make concrete cylinders and beams which, after curing for 28 days, we then analyze in our extensive testing lab.
According to Gress, in the past, students were required to create concrete batches by hand or use small portable electric mixers. One drawback of the new batching plant is its relative size. It's the smallest plant that ACT offers, but it's still pretty large for us, he says. Whereas before we might mix a 200-lb. batch, now we'll be mixing 1,000 lb.
One new project he hopes to introduce is the creation and testing of a concrete beam. The extra volume we can produce with this mixer will enable us to take on larger, more challenging projects, Gress explains. For instance, we will cast beams at the same time we do the basic concrete testing, let them cure, then hold a competition to see which student teams can more accurately calculate the potential load and/or deflection of their beams. The mixer will also be available for our annual concrete canoe competition.
Gress expects the new batching capability to make it easier for students who wish to pursue graduate degrees in civil engineering, with a focus on concrete research. UNH is initiating a five-year program in which the civil engineering undergrad stays an extra year and earns a Master's of Science in Civil Engineering.