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Sat 1 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

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Concrete report

The construction market in the Middle East demands the presence of every major player within the construction chemical sector and the latest advancements in products and technology.

The construction market in the Middle East demands the presence of every major player within the construction chemical sector and the latest advancements in products and technology.

The UAE and the Middle East host every major name among the international players in the construction chemicals industry. These companies have invested heavily in these markets to strengthen their positions.

"Such moves were attributed to a high demand for concrete in terms of volume and performance, as well as the presence of multinational design and engineering firms.

Technology transfer is the key. Construction chemical firms should ally at a certain stage to exchange their knowledge for the ultimate sake of construction industry rather than exclusive competition.

This is why the construction chemicals industry has developed innovative chemical admixtures and mortars to accommodate the hot and aggressive marine environment," says Rabih Fakih, managing director of Grey Matters, and secretary for Advances in Concrete Technology conference.

These advances have resulted in the rapid development of the construction industry. As a result, the UAE and Middle East is witnessing the latest practices in advanced concrete technology such as workability (self-consolidating concrete), pumpability (reaching up to 600m), durability (almost impermeable concrete), sustainability (more than 100 years service life) and environmental properties (use of supplementary cementitious materials). 

"Some of the latest admixtures, like nano-techology, are being used on world leading structures, including the Burj Dubai where high-performance concrete was pumped more than 610m (the highest concrete has ever been pumped in a building).

"Moreover, advances in the chemical admixtures have speeded up the construction cycle where it is noticed in the slip-forming construction and pre-cast industry. Moreover, engineers are more flexible with designing structures; taller and thinner structures are designed and extra spaces are gained," says Fakih.

Dealing with advanced technologies requires continuous awareness and education. The market has to react to fast changes by keeping its knowledge updated. Education and talent retention is a major challenge for the market to keep up with those advances.

"Technology transfer is the key. Construction chemical firms should ally at a certain stage to exchange their knowledge for the ultimate sake of construction industry rather than exclusive competition.

It is apparently noticed that current specifications for major projects do not adhere technically with those changes. Major reviews on domestic codes (if available) are to be made to accommodate for the latest technologies in the construction industry. Several codes from different nations are been implemented with no proper classifications," says Fakih.

Conmix is known in the market for ready- mix concrete and pre mix plaster and has also been manufacturing construction chemical products for more than a decade. Eventually, the demand in the market drove the company to form a dedicated division with a complete range of construction chemical products in 2004.

Conmix construction chemicals offer a wide range of products including concrete repair products, waterproofing systems, floor hardeners, epoxy and PU flooring, self levelling compounds, non-shrink grouts, joint sealants, bonding agents, tile adhesives, mould release agents, curing compounds, and concrete admixtures for the ready-mix concrete industry.

"Concrete admixtures are one of the most important constituents of the concrete mixes. These are used to enhance the properties of the concrete in plastic and hardened states, increase the efficiency of the cementitious materials and improve the economy of the concrete mixes," says Vishal Sharma, general manager, construction chemicals, Conmix.

"The use of high range water reducing and retarding additives in concrete mix is the only solution to have the right workability at the pouring point, which will finally ensure good quality of concrete in the structure that is well compacted, durable, with no cold joints," says Sharma."Most of the new technologies in case of admixtures have come up in the past few years. We have in our range advanced poly carboxlate based (better known as PC admixtures) to cater to the requirements of self compacting and high strength concrete.

"With a large number of fast-track projects coming up in the region, the demand for pre-cast elements has gone up tremendously. We have specially formulated admixtures for speedy production of pre-cast elements."

Conmix has products such as MoyaProof HF - polymer modified highly flexible cementitious waterproofing membrane. As it is in a liquid form after being mixed, it is easy to apply over the concrete surface.

Rabih Fakih, managing director, Grey Matters, and secretary for Advances in Concrete Technology conference.

After setting, this forms a highly flexible membrane without any joints ensuring a perfect waterproofing solution. It eliminates the problems of overlapping present in pre-formed membranes and satisfies the green building requirements.

"Our R&D team is constantly developing new products or modifying the existing processes for ease of application and ensuring better quality jobs at the site. One of such products introduced by Conmix is NanoGrout CFG - ready to use pre-mix grout for the post tension cable ducts for bridges, slabs, sonic tubes, etc. As this product is pre-mixed, only water has to be added at site during application," says Sharma.

"For such grouting operations,contractors buy bag cement from the local market, mix it with water and a very small quantity of special additive.

"It is always a concern at site whether proper dispersion of the small amount of chemical in the mix has taken place. Further, in most of the cases, cement is being procured from different sources; it is very difficult to ensure the consistent quality of cement throughout the duration of the project.

"Hence, compatibility of chemical with different sources of cement needs to be checked at site regularly.

"The fast-track projects put a lot of pressure on consultants, contractors and manufacturers. Which is why we have installed additional production capacities to ensure the timely delivery of the material to our customers," says Sharma.

The committee for the organisation of CANMET/ACI International Conferences (ACI Council) has been associated with transfer of technology in concrete for the past 30 years.

The committee has organised international conferences in the areas of superplasticisers and chemical admixtures, durability, fly ash/slag/silica fume, concrete for marine environment, NDT and sustainability.

In recent years, the committee has started organising focused short seminars on current issues affecting the concrete industry.

Organised by the American Concrete Institute (ACI) in collaboration with Grey Matters, a conference on ‘Advances in Concrete Technology in the Middle East' will be held on November 19 to 20, at the Le Meridien hotel in Dubai.

This conference is a part of this series, and covers recent advances in concrete technology. World-recognised authorities from UAE, Canada, the US, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Denmark, together with local experts from the industry and academia will be presenting papers at the conference.

The event has been organised in several countries and will feature key speakers and concrete technologists from around the world. The main mission of the conference is to transfer concrete technology and set the event as the destination for continuous development in this regard.

The conference will address the latest technologies in concrete especially for the Middle East market with its severe environment and fast-track projects.

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