Concrete Products

JUL 2014

Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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40 • JuLY 2014 As slow, controlled, steady economic growth has dared to allow those in the drainage products business to be hopeful for state and federal construction budgets advancing long-delayed capital investments, the Amer- ican Concrete Pipe Association has been hir- ing regional engineers to put more boots on the ground and help members promote the benefits of structures to state department of transportation officials and other prospects. As far as personnel changes at the associ- ation, according to new Chairman Rick Tray- lor, Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division/ Cemex USA, the focus is almost exclusively on building up the roster of engineers, and that will continue to be the primary concern for the foreseeable future. "Presently, ACPA uses fve state and fve regional engineers. We defnitely see some improvement in the market that is helping us to increase our activity in the association, including add- ing regional engineers and engineers that work a specifc geographic area that are paid through either the ACPA budget or a shared budget with the member companies in that area. These folks have an engineering ed- ucation or background, but also serve as a marketing person in those areas to promote our products to the engineering community as well as major municipalities and DOTs." Traylor adds that the pipe industry's cur- rent market share surge in reinforced con- crete box culverts has kick started engineers to educate potential users on the effective qualities of such structures versus cast-in- place products to speed project completion. "We're focusing on educating the market on these benefts," he says. "Our structures can speed the project, lower the time you have an open trench, and reduce the amount of time traffc is diverted, which is when safety concerns are at a peak." When looking at the pipe industry's re- covery from a regional perspective, Traylor sees "spotty" rebounding across the coun- try. "Residential has seen solid growth in areas such as northern Florida, California, Arizona and Texas," he says. "Some of the DOTs in other places are beginning to release some projects that have been on the shelf for a number of years, but didn't have the funds to release. We're starting to see a great number of design-build projects across the South." Even in the toughest of times, ACPA was able to maintain membership numbers. But Traylor explains that in the last year, there has been something of a surge in new mem- bers. "When you look at the total number of producers, compared to the number of mem- bers, we're probably at the highest percent- age of members I've seen in 15–20 years," he says. "I think a lot of that has to do with ACPA focusing on the marketing and pro- motion side of the business. That's yielded some positive gains in market share that's being recognized by previous non-members who have since joined up with us." WHAT LIES AHEAD Coming out of the "the Great Recession," ACPA members have a positive outlook and sense of optimism about the future of the industry, according to Traylor, who views 2014 as a true turnaround year for concrete pipe production. "We're seeing the first lasting positive signs since about 2007," he affirms. "The outlook is up for the next sever- al years. There's a lot of pent-up demand that should kick in and generate further growth for the next few years. "One of the things ACPA engineers have been spending time on in the last year has been educating the market about MAP-21 [the $105 billion Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century highway bill that ex- pires October 1, 2014] and the changes to the regulation requirements," Traylor says. "They have helped various departments of transportation staff—such as state materi- als engineers, hydraulic engineers, construc- tion and structural engineers—and major municipalities understand that this change in the transportation bill has put the de- cision-making process for what products should be used in particular projects back in the hands of the engineers, as opposed to politicians who are typically not educated about those type of decisions." With the growing popularity of post-in- stallation inspections (PII) becoming a part of the specifcations for pipe work, ACPA has begun to put a great deal of resources into encouraging these below-the-ground fol- low-ups that often reveal most dramatically the differences among various pipe materi- als. "When contractors see the performance of other products via laser-video inspection, which a lot of states are beginning to re- quire, they receive a lot more education about how these products perform once they're out of sight; they're not so much out of mind now because of this new technolo- gy," Traylor explains. "As a general rule, the association does promote and encourage PII to be written into specifcations. Certainly when that oc- curs, we don't only encourage that our com- petitors be inspected. We feel that the more facts people learn about the products prior to and after installation, the more people will want to use concrete." RESEARCH UPDATE More available funds in the last year or two has translated into more investment in research, particularly work done with The University of Texas at Arlington, which is close to ACPA's national headquarters in Dal- las. "We're looking at the long-term strength of fiber-reinforced pipe, examining vari- ous diameters and fiber content in terms of pounds of fiber/cu. yd., and evaluating the performance mechanisms that occur in fiber-reinforced pipe," Traylor explains. "Obviously it's used as a replacement for con- ventional steel reinforcement, but we're also looking at combinations of steel and fiber reinforcement. We're also looking at using those with thinner walls, which makes the product lighter and makes it easier for our customers to handle, install and carry more on a truck. CHAIRMAN'S REPORT BY STEVEN PROKOPY ENGINEERING GROWTH Rinker Division/Cemex USA's Rick Traylor chairs American Concrete Pipe Association Rick Traylor

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