The Power of the Checklist

ChecklistDo you want to know what makes me cringe? Usually when I walk into a concrete producer’s facility I ask, “Who is in charge of quality control?” Sometime I get a glib answer, “Everyone is in charge of quality control.” When I hear this I want to grab the person I’m talking to and shake some sense into them, because their answer means that there is no one in charge of quality control. I’m sure you have heard the story of Everybody, Somebody, Nobody and Anybody, but it is a good story so I will repeat it.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. Continue reading The Power of the Checklist

New survey on the use of checklists in a ready mix plant

I have just created a 14 question survey on the use of checklists to monitor quality aspects of the operational processes in a ready mix plant. Please take just a few minutes to fill it in. You can find it at

Results of this survey will be used in a presentation I will give at the 2015 NRMCA Concrete Works.

Thank you,

Jay Shilstone


Naming Concrete Mix Designs

P35DDHGPOne question I am frequently asked is, “What is the best way to name my concrete mix designs?” The simple answer is “the way that works best for you.” Unfortunately most people don’t find that to be a satisfying response. I have my own ideas about the best way to name mix designs, but I decided to turn to the real experts – you. I crowdsourced the question (doesn’t that sound more modern than “put out a survey”) and got 62 responses back from people around the world. What you are about to read is a summary of the results, with some of my own commentary thrown in. I need to warn you in advance, this blog post is much longer than my usually post, but I didn’t want to split it into two posts, so here it is in all its glory. Continue reading Naming Concrete Mix Designs

Mix Design Naming Convention Survey

One question I get asked frequently is, “What is the best way to name my concrete mix designs?” While some people use sequential mix codes for new mix designs, most people think the mix code should describe the mix design in some fashion. Usually each digit in the mix code will reflect a different aspect of the mix design. For example, 35F6765N would mean:

35 – 3500 psi
F – Fly Ash
67 – #67 (3/4” or 19mm) maximum aggregate size
6 – 6% air entrainment
5 – 5” slump (125mm)
N – Normal water reducing admixture

Of course everyone has a different naming convention depending on their needs. Also, different people have different numbers of characters available depending on the batching system they use.

To try and get a better idea of what people think is important for naming their mix designs, I have created a survey that you can find at

If you are a concrete producer I would appreciate it if you would take the survey. If you do and you provide me with your email address at the end of the survey I will send you a copy of the complete results after I compile them (probably around the middle of July, 2015). I will also publish a summary of the results in this blog then.

I greatly appreciate your willingness to share your mix naming philosophy with the readers of this blog.

Yours truly,

Jay Shilstone

Just hit 50,000 pagesviews!

Here we are, only a week after my 3rd anniversary with my blog and I have another milestone to announce. My blog has just hit 50,000 pageviews. FYI, it took 22 months to get 20,000 views, but only 14 months to increase to 50,000. I owe it all to my readers, so thank you very much. If you want a summary of my recent posts check out my previous entry about my 3rd anniversary.

Thanks again,


Year 3 and Counting!

Hello, world!

jay_shilstone_HSI begin this post the same way I began my first post, three years ago today. Who would have believed I would have lasted this long writing a blog. My father was always the one who enjoyed writing magazine articles, while I preferred to play with computers. It seems that I found a way to do both, so the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. I thought today I would give you a view of the results of this blog. Continue reading Year 3 and Counting!

Concrete Production – Changing to Ready Mix 2.0

When I first started this blog almost 3 years ago I posted an article entitled “If I Ruled the Concrete Industry”. The article presented 5 changes that I felt needed to be made to the concrete industry. Responses that I received to my most recent post on the fact that concrete producers are not being sent concrete tests as required by the Building Code have pushed me to recognize that the 5 changes I suggested are really symptoms of the same thing, at least here in the U.S. That conclusion is that in the U.S. we are operating under an inappropriate paradigm when it comes to designing, specifying, manufacturing, constructing and testing with concrete. We need to change the paradigm so that the entire design and construction industry takes a more professional approach to the design and use of concrete. Continue reading Concrete Production – Changing to Ready Mix 2.0

Concrete Testing – The Elephant in the Living Room

An elephant in the living room

If you were to walk into an Engineer’s office and tell him to reduce the reinforcing steel in a structure or to cut back on the design strength he would probably think your were crazy (or part of the Mafia). However, many Engineers, Owners, Contractors and Laboratories routinely violate the Building Code and possibly endanger workers and the public. It is time to put an end to this unsafe practice and comply with the Code. What heinous crime am I referring to that endangers the public? It is the practice of not providing concrete test results to the concrete producer.

Continue reading Concrete Testing – The Elephant in the Living Room

Concrete Mix Design: Art and Science – Statistical Overdesign Conclusion

I had really planned on stopping the section with my last entry on “Statistical Overdesign by EN-206” but quickly realized there are still a bunch of bits and pieces about this topic still floating around that need to be pinned down. Since the series started there have been updates on ACI 318 and EN-206. Also, there are considerations for other documents, including ACI 301, “Specifications for Structural Concrete” and ASTM C94, “Specification for Ready Mixed Concrete”. Continue reading Concrete Mix Design: Art and Science – Statistical Overdesign Conclusion

Meet Rocky and Learn about Particle Packing

RockyAt the American Concrete Institute Fall 2015 Convention in Washington D.C. I delivered a presentation entitled “Particle Packing from a Rock’s Perspective”. ACI has just posted the presentation on YouTube at If you are looking for a stuffy presentation filled with facts and figures, this presentation isn’t for you. If you want to find out what rocks think about particle packing, drop by and meet Rocky. Hey, its only 12 minutes long. What can you lose?