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Briefs September 2012

PRODUCERS
On the heels of last year’s strategic investment in fly ash binder specialist Ceratech, Argos USA is preparing to offer carbon-neutral concrete mixes in major markets from the Carolinas to Texas. With expanded product offerings based on the ekkomaxx binder—fly ash plus a handful of proprietary liquid admixtures—Argos will reaffirm its industry leadership by offering portland cement-free mixes with two to three times the durability of regular concretes when exposed to extreme corrosive and high temperature environments, Ceratech notes.

As the country's fourth largest ready mixed concrete producer, Argos is building a competitive advantage based on sustainability and innovation, notes Ceratech CEO Jon Hyman, adding, “The investment in Ceratech shows how important innovative, sustainable construction products are to [Argos’] goals as an industry leader.”

Separately, Ceratech has signed a multiyear, fly ash sourcing agreement with Midwest Generation LLC. “The quality of the ash is excellent,” affirms Ceratech Executive V.P. Mark Wasilko. “Unlike conventional portland cement, we have no issues with carbon activated ash, which enables us to [Midwest’s] highly reactive ash in all our cements. In combination with the fly ash sourcing in Michigan and Ohio, we are well positioned to support a broad range of projects across the Midwest.

“[Midwest Generation] compliments established fly ash procurement agreements with Headwaters Resources at power plant locations throughout the U.S. We are actively involved in identifying, developing, and even enhancing fly ash sources in the U.S. and Canada.”

New York's Turner Construction safety managers were set to suspend work September 4 to deliver a message—Lean and Safe: Material Management for a Safer Work Environment—timed with the general contracting giant’s annual Safety Stand-Down.

The event is an opportunity to introduce 40,000-plus subcontractors to the principles and methods of lean construction, which Turner describes as an operating philosophy a) emphasizing the use of provenmethods and tools in a cycle of continuous improvement; b) seeking to deliver client the greatest value through reduction of activities that waste time, material and other resources; and, c) capable of delivering results with better collaboration and communication, jobsite organization, and scheduling.

Stand-Down presentations focus on how project team members can improve overall site safety with Lean methods, including how equipment, tools, and materials are delivered, received, distributed, and stored. "One adaptation of Lean is a program we call 'Nothing hits the Ground' where subcontractors use rolling carts and racks, dollies, and pallet jacks in order to prevent many of the strains, sprains and repetitive motion injuries associated with material handling. At the same time this increases worker productivity, which can lead to improved schedules and lower costs," says Turner Director of Integrated Building Solutions James Barrett.

"Being a leader in the construction industry is more than just programs, procedures, metrics and initiatives,” adds Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety Cindy DePrater. “It's about continuous improvement, empowering people to find and suggest solutions, and an unwavering commitment on part of every project team member to sending every worker home safely every day."

ORGANIZATIONS
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
Vice President, Technical Resources, Karthik H. Obla, Ph.D., has been honored by the American Society of Testing Materials for his leadership on developing standards for pervious concrete. The award was given during an ASTM meeting by ASTM Committee E06 on Sustainability for Obla’s leadership of Subcommittee C09.49 on Pervious Concrete, part of Committee C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates.

Under Obla’s leadership, four standards for pervious concrete have been developed since the first meeting of the subcommittee in June 2007: C1688/C1688M (density of fresh concrete), C1701/C1701M (infiltration rate of in-place pervious concrete), C1747/C1747M (resistance to degradation by impact and abrasion) and C1754/C1754M (density and void content of hardened pervious concrete).

Obla joined NRMCA in 2003 as a staff engineer and was named vice president in October 2009. He oversees NRMCA’s concrete laboratory and research program, having increased the laboratory’s participation in funded research through federal and other funding agencies and contract testing for NRMCA members. He has made contributions in the Association’s P2P initiative and focused on improving quality in ready mixed operations. Obla is a Fellow of the American Concrete Institute and a winner of ACI’s Young Professional Achievement Award. He has published over 70 technical articles in journals and magazines and has presented in several international conferences.

Prior to joining NRMCA, Obla was technical manager at Boral Material Technologies in San Antonio. He holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Maryland. He served as vice president and president for the ACI San Antonio Chapter. Obla has more than 20 years of experience in concrete technology and has interests in quality control, mix optimization, specifications, use of recycled materials and durability.

Baltimore-based specialty-contracting firm Structural has announced that their Nuclear Division Quality Assurance Program (QAP) has been deemed compliant with the requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) standard. The compliance is a result of a complete internal audit of the Structural Nuclear Division (SND) QAP by Theseus Professional Services as it relates to the ASME NQA-1, and 10 CFR 50 Appendix B—Quality Assurance Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants and Fuel Reprocessing Plants.

For the energy markets, Structural helps customers improve infrastructure by combining specialty construction, repair and maintenance services with proprietary technologies. The firm performs services in various power generation and distribution facilities including fossil fuel, nuclear, hydroelectric and renewable, as well as transmission and substations. Specifically for the nuclear industry, Structural provides services that assist customers in the following areas: corrosion control, primary and auxiliary cooling, new plant construction, license extension, aging of plant structures as well as buried pipe integrity.

The QAP is a system of management controls used to assure that all equipment, materials, services performed and items shipped are of a high degree of quality and conform to contract requirements. The Structural QAP applies to nuclear activities such as new construction repair, reinforcement, protection, restoration and maintenance of nuclear structures. The QAP assures that all activities affecting nuclear quality are planned and accomplished under controlled conditions such as the use of appropriate equipment, suitable environmental conditions for accomplishing the activities, and that prerequisites for the given activity have been satisfied. Further, the QAP provides for any special controls, processes, test equipment, tools, and skills needed to attain the required quality.

The ACI Foundation Concrete Research Council (CRC) has announced $10,000 commitments to four projects: “Developing an Information Delivery Manual for Cast-in-Place Concrete Building Information Modeling (BIM)” and “Precast National BIM Standard – Phase III” under Georgia Tech School of Architecture Professor Charles Eastman, whose work is supported by ACI Committee 131, Building Information Modeling of Concrete Structures; “Round-Robin Test Series to Evaluate Models Developed to Predict the Lateral Formwork Pressure when Using Self-Consolidating Concrete,” under Swedish Cement and Concrete Research Institute’s Peter Billberg, an ACI member active on Committees 237 and 238, Self-Consolidating Concrete and Workability of Fresh Concrete; and, “Modeling Parameters and Proposed Acceptance Criteria for Rehabilitated Columns using Concrete, Steel, or FRP Jackets,” under Sergio Breña, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who is active on ACI Committees including 318, Structural Concrete Building Code.

The CRC advances knowledge of concrete materials, construction, and structures through research. In coordination with ACI technical committees, it solicits and selects research proposals, assists in financing and guiding research, and helps publish results. The CRC provides direct co-funding for research projects and recommends projects to other industry foundations for supplemental funding.

Project funding depends on organizations that participate as CRC Sponsoring Members. In 2011, the council was able to leverage $33,000 of its research funds into well over $700,000 of concrete industry research work.

MANUFACTURERS
Ace-Co
, a division of Libra Systems in Harleysville, Pa., has announced the addition of two new exclusive sales representatives located in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Central regions of the United States.

For more than 12 years, Plant-Tech Concrete Solutions has been a leading provider of concrete plants, automation, and production equipment for the Mid-Atlantic States. PTCS will be the exclusive representative for Ace-Co’s concrete batch plant control products throughout Southern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Mead Equipment is an established distributor of concrete plants and equipment that has been servicing a wide range of concrete producers in the Southern Central States for over 45 years. Mead Equipment will be Ace-Co’s exclusive representative throughout Texas and Louisiana.

“These two exceptional companies represent outstanding product lines and both excel in customer service that has symbolized Ace-Co’s long term commitment to the industry,” said Ken Cardy, Libra’s president. “We are excited to have them on-board and look forward to their continued success.”