Published on 7/16/2018
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Why do we bother working with concrete?
Concrete is a complex being that takes on a life of its own
Why do we bother working with concrete
From a distance concrete appears somewhat boring doesn’t it? Grey, sticky, heavy stuff that breaks your back to shovel and does your head in while placing it. It has a hard unsexy look about it, as more often than not it is ‘plain Jane’ on the surface. So why do we bother working with it? Where is the appeal? There must be an x factor surrounding concrete, for many people in the concrete industry have devoted their lives to this grey, unappealing, hard faced substance that cops more flak than it does accolades.
The truth might lie in fact that that when in its plastic state, concrete is a complex being that takes on a life of its own. In the beginning aggregates (rocks), sand, cement, chemical admixtures and water all come together to create what is one of, if not the most utilised mixtures in the history of the planet. Yet despite possessing similar ingredients, concrete finishes vary depending on how they are made. Factors such as the time of day in which it is batched, the conditions within which it is poured and most importantly, how it is placed, all play a role in the concrete finish. And thats not to mention the life concrete takes on after it is placed and finished. As concrete transforms from its plastic state, hydrating to a solid, the material undergoes shrinkage. Therefore your concrete is still living and breathing, hopefully not cracking, long after it is placed.
There are just so many cogs in the wheel when it comes to an everyday concrete pour. And each moving part has a clock on them. From the loader driver at the plant who is required to condition and load appropriate materials, to the plant batcher who is required to press all the right buttons. To the concrete mixer driver, who has to mix and add water in accordance with the mix design, not to mention find their way to site on time. To the concrete pumper, the concreter, the concrete cutter and all those manufacturers who made the raw materials that comprise your concrete mix in the first place, a burden of responsibility is present.
You might not need an alma mater of degrees in education to create and place concrete, though anyone that works with this grey unforgiving material shall tell you it is a difficult beast to master. The best concreters on the map have lost slabs, or stayed on until the wee hours finishing concrete, (often under lights).These same concreting professionals have had to live with cracking, flaking, discolouring, scuffing, crumbling surfaces and just about every other imperfection you can imagine. Yet tomorrow the same batcher that takes the blame for yesterdays concrete mix design, the same chemical company whose mix retarded and delayed setting, as opposed to accelerating it, and the same concreter who couldn’t finish their slab before it “got away”on them, is going to step back up again into the firing line again. How can this be you ask? Why do we even bother with concrete?
The reality is that for those in the industry concrete is exciting. Anything and everything that could and can go wrong, often does. You have a limited time frame within which to conquer the beast, and in between time your mind takes on a mixture of its own. Fear, nervous energy and adrenalin all contrIbute to what at the time is an unknown, how your concrete shall turn out. Is it going to have a clean finish? Is it going to be fit for purpose, durable and long lasting? Is it going to be the right colour? Is it going to crack? Is the client and customer going to approve?
Until your concrete sets, hardens and is finished, cured and cut, you don’t have the answers. And therein lies the mystery of concrete. The very reason we love this indomitable creature so much. For only those whom have had the pleasure of mixing, pouring and placing this ever changing material, between the time of creation and the time of setting, only those who have held, played with and earnt a living from this unruly beast, can live to tell the tale of their journey. Only they can tell you whole heartedly why we bother working with concrete. And just when you thought you’d seen and heard from them everything when it comes to concrete, think again. There's always another story. And that is the truth.
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Tags: aggregates batcher concrete concrete finish concreter concreting mix design truck driver
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