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Concrete Casting News from the Hill and Griffith Company

Employees drive safety and product quality in American precast concrete pipe plants

Posted by Hill and Griffith Company on Jul 5, 2019 3:25:38 PM

Producer members of the American Concrete Pipe Associa­tion empower their employees to introduce new ways to elevate the safety of workspaces and improve product quality.

As published in the March 2019 issue of CONCRETE PLANT INTERNATIONAL, by Russell Tripp, P.E., President, American Concrete Pipe Association, USA

Qualtity Precast Concrete Pipe 2

The O-ring guard developed by Forterra Pipe and Precast (Lorena Texas Plant) improves control when installing or removing O-rings following production

Each year, employees and their companies are celebrated at the ACPA's Pipe School/Pipe Show with safety and quality awards. At the 2019 Pipe School/Pipe Show, top awards were presented for a clip gun guard; O-ring snap band guard/remover; visual job task analysis; batch plant operator training, product tags, and a lift hole spreader. The Chairman's Safety Award recognizes plants and/or companies that have implemented successful safety initiatives that result in a safer and more productive workplace. The Chairman's Quality Award recognizes member plants and/or com­panies that have implemented successful innovations result­ing in higher quality products and more efficient production processes. 

Chairman's Safety Award - Company-Wide
Winner of the 2018 Chairman's Safety award was Rinker Materials - Dallas, TX for the Clip Gun Guard. The guard devel­oped after several employee's received injuries to hands and fingers when using the tool. Development of the guard in­cluded the manufacturer of the clip gun and plant personnel. The Clip Gun Guard is now used at all Rinker Facilities and a safety feature for the manufacturer.

Chairman's Safety Award - Equipment-Related - O-Ring Guard
O-ring snap bands, that can be very large in diameter, are no­torious for their uncontrolled springing action. When they are removed, they are awkward and can spring in many direc­tions. The O-ring guard developed by Forterra Pipe and Pre­cast (Lorena Texas Plant) improves control when installing or removing O-rings following production.

Chairman's Safety Award - Individual Facility - Visual Job Task Analysis (JTA)
JTA is a very difficult system to incorporate in heavy manufac­turing. There are many activities occurring simultaneously. The visual JTA introduced by Rinker Materials - Pipe Division (Cor­porate) uses a tablet to allow leaders to easily access video of safe processes in the work area and provide training to new or transferred employees. Documenting training for Job Task Analysis is digital and accessible.

Qualtity Precast Concrete Pipe 3

The Clip Gun Guard was developed after several employees received injuries to hands and fingers when using the tool.

Chairman's Quality Award - Company-Wide Best Practice - Batch Plant Operator Training
Production of high-quality products begin with batch plant operators. The company-wide quality goal of Rinker Materials - Pipe Division (Corporate) is to achieve a "Batch Plant Oper­ator Training Certificate." Training provides further under­standing of the batching system features. Batch Plant Training also serves to train backup operator(s) at each plant who pos­sess a much stronger understanding of the control system and "concrete science."

Chairman's Quality Award - Company-Innovation (Product Tags)
Northern Concrete Pipe, Inc. was looking for a way to ensure that cages produced in advance of production would be used for the correct project and/or product. The company wanted to be certain that any reinforcing that is unique is easily iden­tifiable, and to ensure that no reinforcement cages would be placed into production before inspection and release by qual­ity control personnel.

Product tags are now fastened to pre-assembled reinforcing cages and color coded when reinforcing is unique, such as, when a cage has a block out, anchors, no spigot, or is pro­duced to a specific lay length. The information on the tags en­sures that when reinforcing cages are produced for similar projects or products, the reinforcing will not get mixed. Ac­countability and the ability to track repeat mistakes and pro­vide training is assured when the person that assembled the reinforcing signs the ticket. Tags eliminate cages from being placed into production without pre-pour inspection. Color coding makes everyone aware that reinforcing is unique and what is unique about it.

Chairman's Quality Award - Individual Plant Process Improvement - Lift Hole Spreader
Lift holes in heavily reinforced products are challenging to place. Northern Concrete Pipe, Inc. does not allow the use of torches on cages and wanted a better way to keep cages specified without sacrificing safety or increasing employee ex­ertion. The lift hole spreader accurately places lift hole openings in reinforcement cages and eliminates wire showing in lift holes while reducing worker stress. By eliminating exposed wire in lift holes, contractors use their lifting apparatus correctly and efficiently. This innovation reduces the chance for leakage around exposed wires to penetrate the wall of the product.

QCast Plant Certification Program
Both the safety and quality awards are reinforced by the ACPA's QCast Plant Certification Program, which is the recog­nized standard for quality assurance in America's concrete pipe industry. Plants may be certified in storm sewer and cul­vert pipe, sanitary sewer, box culverts, three-sided structures, manholes, and precast structures.

Qualtity Precast Concrete Pipe 1

QCast is a voluntary program to continue the advancement of quality in the precast concrete pipe and products industry. Each year the manual for the program is reviewed and when necessary updated to accommodate industry-wide standards revisions, and changes in production technology. The manual requires that management ensure that the supervisory and production personnel immediately responsible for product quality are properly trained. The training results in innovation in safety and quality that is recognized industry-wide.

The safety and quality awards, and the QCast program are el­ements of the ACPA's Quality School held each year at the be­ginning of the heavy production season. The 4-day school is attended by veteran employees and new hires alike. Employ­ers encourage their production staff to attend and return to their workplaces with certificates attesting to their compe­tence in modern production techniques, reinforcement, con­crete mixing, batching and transport, self-consolidating con­crete, consolidation, pre and post-pour inspection, curing and fundamental calculations.

The high quality of concrete pipe and the production facilities of member companies are represented by ACPA's safety and quality awards, QCast certification program and Quality School. But it is the friendly competition between members for the awards, and then sharing the knowledge associated with the entries that result in safe workplaces and greater ef­ficiencies in production. There is no doubt that the Chairman's Safety Award and Chairman's Quality Award drive innovation that is characteristic of the concrete pipe plants of ACPA's pro­ducer members.

American Concrete Pipe Association
8445 Freeport Parkway, Suite 350, Irving, Texas 75063-2595, USA T +1 972-506-7216, F +1 972-506-7682

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Lightweight Precast Concrete Roof with Optimized Load-Bearing Design

Posted by Hill and Griffith Company on Mar 14, 2019 3:56:33 PM

3D Sand printing for formwork manufacturing and showing oil based precast concrete form release agent application

Researchers at ETH Zurich have fabricated an 80 m2 light­weight concrete slab at the DFAB House, making it the world's first full-scale architectural project to use 3D sand printing for its formwork. Just 20 mm thick at its thinnest point, decoratively ribbed and not even half as heavy as a conventional concrete ceiling: with "Smart Slab", the name says it all. The slab combines the structural strength of concrete with the design freedom of 3D printing.

Developed by the research group of Benjamin Dillenburger, Assistant Professor for Digital Building Technologies at ETH Zurich, Smart Slab is one of the core elements of the residen­tial unit DFAB House at Empa's and Eawag's research and in­novation platform NEST in Dubendorf. The 80 m2, 15 t ceiling consists of eleven concrete segments and connects the lower floor with the two-story timber volume above.

3D Precast Concrete Forms Release Agent 1

The Smart Slab segments being placed piece by piece on the 12 cm wide mesh mould wall.

(Thanks to CPI - Concrete Plant International May 2018)

Only as much concrete as needed

3D concrete printing is currently experiencing a boom in ar­chitecture, and entire houses have already been printed layer by layer. However, for the Smart Slab project, the researchers did not produce the building components themselves with 3D printing but rather the formwork - i.e. the mould. To achieve this, they used a large-scale 3D sand printer, which means the resulting moulds consist of a kind of artificial sand­stone. One of the advantages over the layered concrete print­ing process is that high performant fibre-reinforced concrete can be used and the structure can be fabricated in the preci­sion of millimeters.

Formwork production is the most labour-intensive step in con­crete construction, particularly for non-standardized compo­nents. Since concrete is relatively cheap and readily abundant, the temptation is for the construction industry to produce the same solid ceilings over and over again, but the disadvantage is excessive material consumption and implicitly, a big carbon footprint. Digital fabrication methods can make a key contri­bution here: components can be optimized, enabling the necessary stability with far less material. The geometric com­plexity of a component does not matter in 3D printing, nor does it cause any additional costs - the printer simply prints what it is told to.

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The 3D sand printer used for the fabrication of the form work. The printer has a build volume of 8 cubic meters and a reso­lution of a fraction of a millimeter.

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Post-processing of the 30 printed form work parts. Unconsol­idated sand particles are being removed from the print bed.

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The formwork parts are assembled seamlessly and prepared for concreting.

Computational design coordinates parameters

Dillenburger's research group developed a new software to fabricate the formwork elements, which is able to record and coordinate all parameters relevant to produc­tion. In addition to basic data such as room dimensions, the researchers also en­tered a scan of the curved wall, accurate down to the last millimeter, which acts as the main support for the concrete ceiling. With the software, one could adapt the geometry of the slab so that at each point it was applied only as thick as structurally necessary to support the force flow. "We didn't draw the slab; we programmed it," says Mania Aghaei Meibodi, Smart Slab project lead and senior researcher in Dil­lenburger's group. "It would not have been possible to coordinate all these aspects with analogue planning, particularly with such precision."

If you look at the ceiling from below, you see an organic ornamental structure with different hierarchies. The main ribs carry the loads, while the smaller filigree ribs are mainly used for architectural expression and acoustics. Statics and ornamentation go hand-in-hand. The lighting and sprinkler systems are also integrated into the slab structure. Their size and position were similarly coordinated with the planning software. In this way, the building technology disappears elegantly into the slab to occupy very little space. This saves only a few centimeters in the DFAB House proj­ect, but in high-rises this may mean a few extra floors could be fitted into the same height.

Fabrication at the push of a button

After planning on the computer is completed, the fabrication data can then be ex­ported to the machines at the push of a button. This is where several industry part­ners came into play for Smart Slab: one produced the high-resolution, 3D-printed sand formworks, which were divided into pallet-sized sections for printing and trans­port reasons, while another fabricated the timber formwork by means of CNC laser cutting. The latter gives shape to the upper part of the Smart Slab and leaves hollow areas that reduce material and weight and at the same time create space for electrical cables.

3D Precast Concrete Forms Release Agent 3

An oil-based release agent facilitates the removal of the formwork once the concrete hardens.

The two types of formwork for the concreting were then brought together by a third company, which first sprayed the fibre-reinforced concrete onto the sand formwork to produce the finely ribbed surface of the lower concrete shell and then casted the remaining concrete into the timber formwork.

3D Precast Concrete Forms Release Agent 2

Glass-fibre reinforced concrete being sprayed on the 3D printed formwork in several consecutive layers.

Strong thanks to prestressing

After a two-week hardening process, the eleven individual concrete segments were ready for transport to the NEST. Thanks to the precise planning and prefabrication, the installation time at the construction site was reduced to a minimum: a crane hoisted the concrete elements onto the load-bearing wall, where the prestressing took place. Workers pulled steel cables lengthwise and crosswise through the concrete sup­port and into the channels already inserted in the formwork. Tensioning the cables massively increases the system's load capacity.

3D Precast Concrete Forms Release Agent 5

The hierarchical grid of structural ribs of the Smart Slab.

"It was spectacular to see on the construction site how seam­lessly our elements fitted with each other and with the existing components of the DFAB House," says Dillenburger. "We owe this in part to the outstanding interdisciplinary collaboration with our partners. The meticulous work that we had invested into planning completely paid off."

Smart Slab partners

ETH Zurich research groups: Chair for Digital Build­ing Technologies, Benjamin Dillenburger (lead); Chair for Building Materials, Robert Flatt; Chair of Structural Design, Joseph Schwartz

Industry partners: Burgin Creations; Frutiger AG; voxeljet AG; Georg Ackermann GmbH; Stahlton AG; Christenguss AG; Fischer Rista AG; Rudolf Glauser AG; Gorn International AG

See here a video about "Smart Slab."

Hill and Griffith Customer Service

We're known for our hands-on approach. Let us visit your plant and recommend concrete release agents, packerhead concrete form releases, concrete form seasoning, potable water and non-petroleum concrete form release, biodegradable releases, rust inhibitors and concrete dissolver products that suit your needs.

Hill and Griffith Samples

Product Samples

We are pleased to provide samples in quantities large enough to allow you to "try before you buy."
Contact Us »


Hill and Griffith Customer Service

Technical Services & Support

On-site casting defect investigations, product testing, machine start-ups and much more. Also, lab facilities are available to provide testing upon request.
Contact Us »


Bulletins and Technical Papers for Concrete Casting Products 

Tags: Concrete Form Release Agents, Concrete Release Agents, Concrete Forms, Concrete Casting Supplies, Concrete Form Release, Concrete Plant International Magazine

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