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The cult of cheap construction

Portland Cement Association Chief Economist Ed Sullivan reported at the 2015 International Builders’ Show last month that housing starts will increase 20 percent this year—to 1.2 million units, up from roughly 950,000 units in 2014. The multifamily sector should see a 12 percent jump from last year’s levels, good for 400,000 unit starts. Apartment and condominium building will exhibit continued strength over the next five years, he added, as demographic trends reshape entry and exit patterns of the single-family unit market.

 

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Fly ash rightly averts hazardous label

True to a consent decree deadline finalized in federal court a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency capped five-plus years of rulemaking on coal combustion residuals (CCR) management and disposal in late 2014, tabling a contentious measure that would have hampered ASTM C618 fly ash specifications and prospects.

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Positive notes on a good year’s end

The industry entered 2014 with limited tailwind. Last year’s cement shipments and concrete output fell a few points from 2012, and prolonged, catastrophic winter weather hampered construction through the end of March. Before the snow melted, a) good market indicators supporting overdue plant and fleet investment were evident; b) one global and two domestic transactions surfaced, altering the top U.S. and Canadian concrete, cement and aggregate producer ranks; c) ready mixed and manufactured-concrete producers embraced new protocols for the LEED v4 era of green building; and, d) mobile device-suited information technology offerings surfaced, inviting the use of big data analytics to lower concrete production and delivery costs.

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Market conditions favor Hanson products business public offering

don-sqThe most recent proposed initial public offering of a business featuring U.S. and Canadian concrete production assets, Votorantim Cementos, was withdrawn with little explanation last fall. As presented by Brazil’s Votorantim Industrial S.A., the IPO encompassed a portfolio of cement and concrete operations in the Americas, Europe and Africa, and had a target value hovering $5 billion.

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