I will be closing out my Concrete Quality KPI survey the end of this week. If you want to fill it out, go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/H9GLWCP . This survey is only for people who make fresh concrete. I have 67 responses so far. Thanks to all who responded.

Jay Shilstone

About a month ago I posted a Mix Design Method Survey online. The purpose of the survey was to determine methods used by concrete producers to design their mixes. I have ended the survey, but not before 131 people responded to it. I would like to thank everyone for their participation.

Following are some of the highlights of the survey. FYI, the majority of the responses, 80, were from the U.S., with about 50 responses from international producers.

Thereby hangs a tale…

Last week I was in Nebraska speaking at the Nebraska Concrete & Aggregate Association’s “Quality Concrete Conference”. (“Thanks” to the members of the NC&AA who showed me the best of Nebraska hospitality.) My topic was “Everything Old is New Again” and I spoke about the “stories” behind some of the innovations in basic concrete. These were things like Duff Abrams and the w/c ratio theory, the origin of the statement “0.26 is the minimum w/c to hydrate cement” and how air entrainment was studied in the early days. My main theme was that concrete history is not made up of short and simple sound bites, like “concrete strength is determined by the w/c”, but is made up of “stories” that need to be understood to place their conclusions in context. Continue reading Thereby hangs a tale…

Are you involved in concrete production quality control? If so, then you need to attend “Quality Control as a Profit Center for Ready Mixed Concrete Producers”. This 1-1/2 day seminar will be held in Orlando, FL on February 21 & 22. For more information go to http://www.commandalkon.com/rps/QCtechseminar.PDF or call me at 205-879-3282, ext. 2320.

Make your hotel reservations directly with the Buena Vista Palace at https://reservations.ihotelier.com/crs/g_reservation.cfm?groupID=956131&hotelID=6579 . Deadline for room reservations at our special rate is January 21, so book your hotel room soon.

I look forward to seeing you in Orlando.

Jay Shilstone

Perfection not required!

Before I get started on today’s blog, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone “Happy Holidays”. I would also like to wish everyone a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

As part of our Christmas festivities this year, our whole family went down to the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science, www.perotmuseum.org , in Dallas, Texas. There are a lot of great things about this brand new architectural concrete museum that just opened on December 1, 2013, the best of which for most is that the place was packed with people. Both kids and their parents are clamoring to see the museum and explore science and nature. However, I must admit I will be glad to go back in about a year after the crowds have died down. Continue reading Perfection not required!

For all you concrete producers (including precast producers who do their own mix designs) I have created a survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z8LZLDC

I would appreciate it if you would answer these 10 questions and let me know the methods you use to proportion concrete mixes.


Jay Shilstone

Odds are if you are reading this you have already heard about EPDs, Environmental Product Declarations, and PCRs, Product Category Rules. For those who haven’t, an EPD is sort of like a food nutrition label, except it lists things like CO 2 generation, heavy metals content and waste water generation. The purpose of an EPD is to inform the owner/consumer of the impact his construction choices will have on the environment. The owner can then make more intelligent decisions about choosing construction options that will minimize a building’s impact on Mother Earth. This is an admirable goal, but …. (you can fill in your own concerns here). An even bigger potential problem is that some of the decisions about EPDs and their use are being made by people who don’t know anything about concrete. Members of the concrete industry must get involved in the process to avoid being governed by those who either don’t know about concrete or, even worse, those who compete against concrete.

Now We’re Cookin’ – Concrete and Temperature

I am currently at the ASTM C09 meeting for Concrete and Aggregates at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia. For the next 3 days I will be alternately bored and enthralled doing some of the most important work in the industry – helping decide what goes into our codes and standards. You would be amazed at how grown men (and a number of women) get downright hostile when trying to discuss the difference between “tap” and “rap” to describe how to consolidate a concrete cylinder. Even so, ASTM is a great place to learn about new technologies or advances in what many would consider old technologies.

Take, for example, concrete temperature. What is there to know about concrete temperature? You stick a thermometer in the concrete, wait a couple of minutes, then read the thermometer. If the temperature is under 42 degrees F or over 95 degrees, there is probably a problem. What more do you need to know? Plenty! Continue reading Now We’re Cookin’ – Concrete and Temperature

In this age of distance learning, remote classrooms and massive stores of data on a single subject, there is still nothing that expands a person’s education like a sit-down, face-to-face meeting. Sure, meetings are expensive and inefficient when it comes to transmitting facts, but a personal presentation conveys the story behind the facts. For today’s blog I would like to let you know about a couple of meetings that I have attended lately that have helped me understand concrete better.

I’ve heard it said that, “A Swiss Army knife can do a thousand and one things, but none of them well.” Trying to make one thing serve two purposes usually means that one purpose gets the short end of the stick. Spiderman is a hero, while Peter Parker is looked on as a nerd. Superman is another hero, but Clark Kent never gets Lois Lane. In the construction industry we are constantly told, “Use the right tool for the job.” A screwdriver doesn’t make a good crowbar. In fact, MacGyver is the only person I know who can turn a fountain pen into a nuclear detonator and have every assurance that it will do the job. So why do we make the abbreviation “f’c” try to do two things?