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Cause and Effect

Unintended Consequences, Part II

In Part 1 of this 2-part blog, Orange Ain’t Tan!, Ty wrote about unintended consequences resulting from a new product that didn’t quite meet expectations. Here’s another twist on the same topic.

Ty Gable, President, National Precast Concrete AssociationThere’s an old parable from my hometown that goes something like this: Man and his wife are planning to go on a long car trip to see family over the holidays and spend a little quality time together. Wife has a long history of carsickness. So the man, as any caring husband would, goes to see his pharmacist buddy down at the neighborhood drugstore.

The pharmacist says, “You know Fred, these carsickness pills are awfully expensive, and I’m not supposed to do this, but since you’re a friend, let me tell you a little secret: I’ve got some carsickness pills for dogs that I can sell you for one-third the price. It’s the same basic medicine, we just sell it cheaper because it’s for dogs. You don’t even have to mention it to your wife.”

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Stay Connected at The Precast Show 2014

The Precast Show AppThe Precast Show, the largest trade show for the manufactured concrete industry,  provides you with a wide array of networking opportunities, top-tier educational programs, access to the experts with the latest tools and technology for the precast concrete industry and much more.

With so many things to do and see, you need a powerful tool to make the most of your trade show experience. NPCA has you covered.

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Meet a Precaster-Carr Precast Concrete Inc.

This month we are pleased to feature Carr Precast Concrete Inc. as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. Answers were provided by Tracey Sprague, vice president of Carr Precast Concrete Inc.

Don’t forget to check out all of our Meet a Precaster blog posts and if you’re an NPCA producer member and would like to be featured in a future Meet a Precaster post, please send an email to NPCA’s communication coordinator, Mason Nichols.

Carr Precast Logo

Carr Precast ProductQ: Where are you located?
A: Carr Precast is located approximately 30 miles southeast of Raleigh, N.C.

Q: How long have you been in business?
ACarr Precast was started in 1976 by Robert Carr and is now into its second generation with Robert’s daughter Emily Sprague and son-in-law Tracey Sprague.

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Oldcastle Precast Constructs First-of-its-Kind All-Precast Air Station Hangar

Photos courtesy of Oldcastle Precast

Oldcastle Precast Air Station HangarOldcastle Precast of Bartow, Fla., recently completed work on a first-of-its-kind U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) air station hangar project, which included a 20,000-sq-ft CAT 5 aircraft hangar, HAZMAT storage building and residential building structure for U.S. security forces. The new CAT 5 aircraft hangar was constructed from the ground up using Oldcastle Precast’s new Titan Wall system.

The entire aircraft hangar structure, including the patent-pending motorized hangar doors, was fabricated with engineered precast concrete. The new facility allows the USCG to base helicopters and aircraft flying in support of OPBAT on Great Inagua, Bahamas, replacing a steel hangar destroyed by Hurricane Ike in September of 2008.

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Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: Unless There’s Precast Concrete!

By Claude Goguen, P.E., LEED AP

Jersey Shore Boardwalk FireAs businesses on the famous boardwalks along the Jersey Shore were on the road to recovery after the extensive damage of Hurricane Sandy, fate dealt them another blow.

On Sept. 13, a devastating fire engulfed dozens of businesses in Seaside Heights, reducing the buildings and boardwalk to ash. Some of the businesses had just reopened in July. Many of these structures were landmarks.

Also prominently in the news in recent weeks are the forest fires in western states. Already this year, 35,440 reported fires have burned a total of 3.9 million acres, including a significant portion of the iconic Yosemite National Park.

Fire, of course, isn’t isolated to rural areas. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,375,000 fires in 2012. These fires resulted in 2,855 civilian fire fatalities, 16,500 civilian fire injuries and an estimated $12.4 billion in direct property loss. There was a civilian fire death every 3 hours and 4 minutes and a civilian fire injury every 32 minutes in 2012. Home fires caused 2,380, or 83%, of the civilian fire deaths.

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A Destructive Marriage: All You Need to Know About ASR

By G. Terry Harris Sr., FACI

Figure 1. Severe ASR-induced cracking viewed on the end face of a 20-year-old reinforced (portland cement only) precast concrete bridge beam. The reactive aggregate component was a river gravel containing a reactive chertii (flint) and quartzite component. Photo by Dr. Ted Sibbick, W. R. Grace & Co., www.grace.comBefore addressing alkali-silica reaction (ASR) in concrete, let’s start with what you already know. Concrete is essentially a mixture of two components: aggregates (stone, gravel and sand) and cement paste (water, cementitious materials, air and admixtures). The paste contains interconnected microscopic pores through which water can migrate. This pore water in concrete is a highly alkaline solution.

Alkali metal hydroxides in the pore solution chemically react with certain aggregates that contain silica. It is easier for these alkali metal hydroxides to combine with silica (quartz), which is in a more disordered, or reactive, form.

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In Any Weather

By Mason Nichols

Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, NPCA launched its first-ever Reader’s Choice Cover Contest seeking projects to be considered for the feature article in Precast Inc. magazine. Voting was open to all NPCA members, and after a close competition, Shea Concrete Products of Amesbury, Mass., came out as the winner with its floating docks project. The feature article below, written by NPCA staff member Mason Nichols, is followed by short descriptions of the other contest entries.

Precast Concrete DocksWINNER
Precaster: Shea Concrete Products
Project: Floating Docks and Dock Fingers
Location: Lynn Seaport Landing Marina, Lynn, Mass.

Stiff winds, brutally cold temperatures and severe storms are a fact of life in the Northeast, which can experience some of the harshest weather in the United States. Along the oceanfront, conditions are often more volatile, where the combination of crashing waves and swirling winds creates an environment seemingly unfit for any building material.

Late in 2012, the coastal town of Lynn, Mass., petitioned Marinetek, a Finland-based manufacturer of harbor products, to replace its aging dock systems located within the town’s seaport marina. An important question for both the town and contractor became, “Which solution will provide the durability and functionality necessary to withstand the elements and get the job done right?”

The answer? Precast concrete.

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How to Diversify: Part 1

By Sue McCraven

Editor’s Note: This article begins a three-part series for precast concrete producers who are thinking about diversifying their product line and modernizing production. Part 1 shares 10 steps to help precasters plan for future growth. In the January-February 2014 issue, Part 2 will discuss new equipment, processes, materials, formwork, software and integrated systems to maximize production efficiencies. Part 3 (March-April) will highlight small- to medium-sized producers who made the hard decisions and investments that led to expanded markets and a brighter future.

Thinking About DiversificationYou’re thinking of growing your precast concrete company by adding a new product and expanding your market niche. But where do you start? What’s the first order of business? According to industry experts, investing in a new formwork system or overhead crane is not the first step to upgrading your plant or diversifying into a new market. It doesn’t start when you see an ad for the latest mixer and think, “Hey! This would be a great fit for our operation.” And the decision to expand your business certainly won’t be born of management complacency or a doom-and-gloom attitude about our current economy.

NPCA asked leading precast plant designers, system engineers and equipment suppliers for the most important points to get across to precasters who want to branch out. Industry experts agree on the No. 1 message: If you want to diversify your company – whether or not it requires a new tool or an integrated batching/mixing/control system – a wise investment decision can only spring from your current mindset, or your outlook, as a businessperson in today’s world.

Here are nine steps to consider that will help you prepare for future growth:

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Is Your Website Overdue for an Overhaul?

By Bridget McCrea

Website TabletShea Concrete of Amesbury, Mass., has had an online presence since 2000. Every three to five years or so, the company takes a close look at its website, checks out the “latest and greatest” online technologies currently in use, and then figures out how to incorporate those tools – like social media, online video and other options – in a way that effectively meets the needs of its prospects and existing customers.

Greg Stratis, manager, says Shea Concrete’s most recent website upgrade was unveiled in January. He says the underlying goal of all site upgrades is to keep the company’s online presence fresh, relevant and useful for visitors. To achieve that goal, the company regularly makes slight changes to its online presence, typically on a quarterly basis. “This also helps our site move up the ranks with the search engines,” Stratis points out.

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The Future of Fly Ash Use in Concrete

By Sue McCraven

Fly AshMost people on the street have no idea what fly ash is or how it it is used. But for concrete manufacturers, fly ash and the current regulatory controversy spinning around it are a very big deal. After seven decades of beneficial use in concrete structures, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently reassessing the classification, storage, disposal and reuse of fly ash to ensure that it is properly managed to minimize potential harm to human health and the environment.

Structural engineers, infrastructure builders, fossil-fuel power generators, environmental activists and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are also invested in the ongoing debate over the EPA’s recently proposed ruling to reclassify fly ash – after years endorsing its positive contribution to the concrete industry – as a hazardous waste. A balanced discussion of the pros and cons of recycling fly ash (aka coal ash or CCP) in concrete from a global perspective is in order. Let’s start with the source of the massive amounts of fly ash: the world’s electrical power industry (i).

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