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Half of concrete mixers inadequate

JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com
Friday, June 29, 2012

MORE than half of ready-mix concrete producers in Jamaica are inadequately trained to make the product properly, said a senior engineer at Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ).

The majority of the practitioners are particularly substandard with their testing methodology in seeking to verify the strength of concrete, said the BSJ’s David Allen.

“What you find happening is that the persons on-site are not testing according to any prescribed standards, they themselves don’t have the training and are appointing persons who are untrained, and are making their samples with non-standard procedures,” said Allen.

“In the end, what you have is a test that would have not verified the quality of the concrete in the structure,” he said.

The upshot is that you have buildings being put up for which the strength are not really known, Allen revealed. It contributes to the uneasiness over the readiness of Jamaican buildings for a major earthquake.

Allen said, due to the seriousness of the problem, the BSJ last year enforced a registration programme, that has been on the books since 1999, to monitor producers of ready-mix concrete.

The BSJ senior engineer was addressing contractors at a concrete seminar hosted by Jamaica Pre-Mix Concrete at the Courtleigh Hotel on Wednesday. Jamaica Pre-Mix is the largest suppliers of readymixed concrete in Jamaica.

Jamaica Pre-Mix Managing Director John Valentine said the company decided to host the event due to “escalating incidents” of failures within the industry due to a breakdown of the systems and procedures which govern proper concrete testing.

“There has been a gradual but noticeable deterioration of the quality of concreting in general with failures due to improper consolidation, curing, placing, etc, all being laid at the supplier’s feet who more often than not have supplied a good product,” said Valentine.

The seminar included a presentation by Trinidadian concrete technologist Danny Jairam, who gave contractors a lesson on the properties, installation and testing of concrete.

Valentine said the attitude that concrete is simply cement, sand and stone mixed up is to be dispelled.

“Many highly trained professionals have made their life’s work out of research and development of concrete resulting in tried and proven specifications being created by every developed country governing the raw material, manufacture, delivery placing and finishing of concrete a lot of which is abondoned now in Jamaica,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jamaica Pre-Mix used the occasion to introduce its latest product, lightweight concrete, which the company said will benefit consumers in special applications when conventional concrete would be too heavy.

“It is a new product in Jamaica, we tried to do it here (before) but couldn’t because one of the component was very expensive because we had to import it,” said Jamaica Pre-mix Production M*anager Noel Ricketts.

The material is comprised of lightweight aggregate, which acts as a replacement for the normal sand and gravel portion in conventional concrete, Ricketts said. The production manager stated that Jamaica Pre-Mix is the only company in Jamaica with the technology currently to produce lightweight concrete.

“It costs a little more than conventional concrete but it works back where you would use less steel and concrete,” he said.

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