I am now back in my office after 4 weeks of travel. Since the last week of September I have been to Las Vegas twice, Birmingham (the home office) and Phoenix. It is good to be home. Now, like a good blogger, I want to fill you in on my findings at the NRMCA ConcreteWorks, Command Alkon’s Customer Conference and ACI’s Fall Convention.
ConcreteWorks was traditionally the venue for the NRMCA Operations Committee and the Business Committee to get together and discuss their issues. The Truck Driver Rodeo was, and still is, a highlight of the event. The Research Committee met in the Spring with their Advanced Concrete Technology meeting. The ACT meeting has now become the “Sustainability Forum”, leaving advanced technology issues not relating to sustainability without a home. I am pleased that ConcreteWorks has added a Technology Track that provides an avenue for presenting these other issues. While a couple of the presentations still dealt with sustainability, other topics, such as performance specifications and new equipment and admixtures, were presented as well.
One of the biggest items presented was the new NRMCA Concrete Quality Certification – http://www.nrmca.org/research_engineering/quality_certification/default.htm. This certification program was beta-tested by Chaney Enterprises and Argos (in S. Carolina). To qualify for certification the concrete producer fills out an extensive survey, which is reviewed by a third party examiner. Upon fulfilling the requirements of the program, the producer’s QC program becomes certified. This differs from ACI certification in that it certifies the QC program while ACI certifies people.
Also at ConcreteWorks, the winners of the NRMCA Quality Award were announced – http://www.nrmca.org/research_engineering/Quality_Award.htm#winners . Gary Mullings, of NRMCA, was the winner of the Richard D. Gaynor Award.
While ConcreteWorks isn’t the technical Mecca that the Advanced Concrete Technology conference used to be, it is coming along. If you want to present a technical paper, you should probably still submit it to the Sustainability Forum. Anything that enhances the efficiency of concrete can be considered sustainable. Also, the next Forum will be in Boston in conjunction with MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub and Industry Day. http://www.nrmca.org/Conferences_Events/icsc/index.asp
Command Alkon Customer Conference
I don’t mention it often, but I am a full-time employee of Command Alkon, a manufacturer of hardware and software for the production of concrete and aggregate. I primarily work on the COMMANDqc software, but sometimes provide input on other products. I am excited by the fact that working with Command Alkon provides me with resources and access to data that was not available to me previously.
The annual Customer Conference was held in Las Vegas again this year. The Conference was composed of presentations covering all of Command’s product lines, including COMMANDqc. Attendance at the Conference was up by over 40% over last year’s attendance. Not only is the economy improving, but peoples’ perception of the economy is improving.
On the day before the Conference I conducted a Workshop entitled, “Enhancing your Quality Control Department”. This workshop covered 4 different levels of QC departments (Residential, Light Commercial, Heavy Commercial and Advanced) and discussed the requirements of each level of QC department. If you are interested in having this workshop presented to your company, feel free to contact me for more information.
In my opinion there were two highlights of the Conference. The first was the announcement of Command Alkon’s new MOBILEconnect products for tablets. These programs are designed for concrete producers to enable electronic ticketing, sales analysis & e-commerce. Stay tuned for more information
The second highlight was a private concert by Sheena Easton. You remember the James Bond theme, “For Your Eyes Only” and her other hit “Morning Train”, don’t you? Well Sheena sang those, along with a bunch of other songs I remembered once she started singing them. I had a great time walking down memory lane that night.
Of course my purpose in being at the conference was to help people use COMMANDqc better. As I understand it, the COMMANDqc sessions were the 3rd highest attended sessions at the conference. It appears that QC is finally becoming legitimized in the eyes of management and operations. We got to show off a bunch of new features, as well as explain how to better operate COMMANDqc. Lab time enabled customers to get one-on-one advice and training. I think our customers got a lot out of their attendance at COMMANDqc sessions.
ACI Fall Convention – Phoenix
A lot goes on at ACI conventions – much more than one person can attend. Below are some of the things that I was involved in.
For the first time I attended the pre-convention “Concrete in the Americas” session. This two-day mini-conference brings together people from across Latin America to talk about issues in ACI that affect them. This year the main talk centered around the upcoming release of ACI 318-14, the Building Code. I learned a lot about the plans for the revised Building Code, plus gained a better appreciation for how ACI affects Latin America.
I attended a lot of committee meetings in Phoenix. I am on 118- Use of Computers, 235 – Electronic Data Exchange, 303 – Architectural Concrete, 211 – Concrete Mix Design, 214 – Statistics, Marketing, International and Publications. I am also a member of the Terminology committee and a new Task Group on “Communication Platforms”. While I find them interesting, most of the committees I serve on would probably be boring to the outsider. However, I do want to mention a couple of things.
I presented a session on “A Comparison Between Apple/Android/Windows8 Tablets” at the 118 session on “Tablets in the Workplace”. If you are an ACI member you can download my handout here – http://www.concrete.org/Convention/Fall-Convention/PresentationDetail.asp?EventId=ZSESS36. I’m not certain if non-ACI members can get to this page or not.
Committee 235 is attempting to create a format for exchanging materials data between two different computer programs, such as from a laboratory LIMS to a concrete producer’s QC program. As the BIM concept (Building Information Modeling) gets closer to the Materials Supplier, transmitting this kind of information will become more and more important. I was selected as the new chair of the committee. Be on the lookout for a couple of surveys I am working on to help identify the factors that are important to both the concrete producer and the laboratory.
The Communications Platform Task Group has been created to determine how ACI can best communicate with its members, customers and the rest of the concrete world. Social media, blogs, YouTube, the website (which should be totally updated by the end of November) and other communication platforms were discussed. Is there any particular way you would like to communicate with ACI or find out more about ACI? Please let me know.
A lot more went on at ACI, but I am already well over my 1,000 word target, so I had better stop. If you know about anything new and different in the concrete industry, feel free to pass it on.
For any of you going to the ASTM C09 meeting in Jacksonville, FL, look me up. Maybe we can have a drink.
Until next time (next Monday for my next installment on “Concrete Mix Design: Art and Science”)