Posted by: nedpelger | February 6, 2009

Conceptual Thoughts on the World of Concrete

At the World of Concrete Exposition in Las Vegas this week, I walked miles past exhibits of concrete batch plants, ready-mix trucks, pumpers, assorted tools, rebar bending machines, forming systems, chemical companies and related equipment. The word of the day seemed to be green. Contrary to Kermit the Frog, it turns out it is easy being green…just use concrete. I suppose since concrete gets produced from mostly local materials (aggregate from the nearby quarry), there is a sustainable aspect.

Going a step further down the green path, lots of manufacturers of rigid foam stay in place form systems showed how their walls can be stacked by workers with no experience and provide a highly insulated and inexpensive wall. Having evaluated these systems a few times, I disagree. The stay in place foam forms look great, but can’t compete with traditional framing on either first cost or life cycle cost.

An amazing assortment of products related to concrete get displayed at the Expo. One firm demonstrated a massage system that provided electrical stimulus to relieve wrist and lower back pain. As I walked by the booth, I saw the demonstrator placing the stimulus pads quite low on some guys lower back area. Another fellow walking past commented, “That’s a great place to stimulate him because he’s a real pain in the ass!” I busted up.

All over Las Vegas, we heard lots of languages indicating international visitors. The World of Concrete Expo had many international visitors and many international exhibitors. The inter-connectivity of our current marketplace seems clear. One firm from New Zealand offered a foam pad for hydronic floor heat piping that both held the pipe in place and provided insulation from the ground. They were looking for American distributors.  Another floor florming system from Australia knocked-off the Hambro joist concept but used cold formed steel joists for better camber control. Again, they were looking for American distributors to get their product to a mass market, so they could then manufacture it here.

My last World of Concrete visit was about 25 years ago. I was wide-eyed with enthusiasm then, a bit less so now. I’m more skeptical of the wonderful new products. Experience teaches to look at options from more sides, with a more critical eye, because things rarely proceed exactly per the plan. On the other hand, I never want to be an old fogey who lives the mantra, “That’s the way we’ve always done it”.

I’m glad I took the time to explore the World of Concrete. I’ll write later about a couple of amazing seminars I attended.

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