Sources: National Concrete Masonry Association, Herndon, Va.; CP staff
NCMA has taken a quantum leap in testing and engineering capabilities with a small-scale, commercial grade unit masonry production line, dedicated during a mid-May open house that drew upwards of 250 to the northern Virginia headquarters. The centerpiece of an expanded and upgraded NCMA Research & Development Lab, the plant enables producers, material suppliers, agencies and other stakeholders to test a wide variety of current or prospective mix designs, unit shapes and curing methods.
NCMA officials note that the production line, anchored by a three-at-a-time machine, is especially suited to testing commercial viability of new generations of admixtures; recycled materials in mix designs formulated for LEED rating points or green-building goals; and, an evolving variety of aggregates and cements funneling into markets across the industry. Adding to the testing and R&D possibilities is a unique, two-chamber kiln affording comparison of such curing methods as ambient room, staged low-pressure steam, cold mist, and heat-of-hydration, plus hot air circulation. Beyond testing a multitude of mix design and curing combinations, NCMA officials cite among critical lab benefits the production and testing uniformity realized by involving the same staff throughout a project or contract.
In addition to the lab dedication, the open house provided NCMA an opportunity to celebrate its 90th anniversary. Association President Mark Hogan and 2008 Chairman Bill Holden (Block USA) oversaw festivities and recognized in attendance 11 past chairmen and representatives from key allied organizations. Special acknowledgement went to the associate members who donated plant equipment or provided installation and design services: Alabama Pallets, Columbia Machine, CTI/Masa-USA, D&M Welding, Hydronix Ltd., KF Controls, Kraft Energy, Rampf Molds, Standley Batch Systems, WAM Corp., and Wauhop & Associates. Major producer member, Oldcastle APG, was recognized for its donation of 25,000 sq. ft. of Belgard paving stones spanning the association headquarters' new parking lot plus outdoor lab service areas.