On a beautiful May afternoon in Chicago, BASF product manager Joe Daczko had the full attention of 85 concrete aficionados as he compared placing self-consolidating concrete (SCC) to serving an adult beverage. “You’re not pouring a glass of beer,” said Daczko, as the group watched the fluid concrete fill a U-shaped plexiglass form. “SCC is not a cure-all. You still have to pour it correctly according to the form dimensions and mix characteristics, if you want to prevent bugholes.”

The demonstration and testing workshop wrapped up the Fifth North American Conference on the Design and Use of Self-Consolidating Concrete (SCC 2013), organized by industry experts representing concrete producers, universities, associations, and materials suppliers. About 200 researchers and practitioners attended the four-day event that was solely focused on one of the hottest topics in concrete today.

Workshop presenters demonstrated four different ASTM test methods to evaluate critical properties of SCC: filling ability, passing ability, and segregation resistance. Ara Jeknavorian, research fellow with W.R. Grace, summed up the spirit of the event he led with Daczko. “We’re setting competition aside today, to focus on the big picture: making high-quality concrete,” he said.

Since The Concrete Producer sponsored the first SCC conference in Chicago in 2002, our editors have seen the research presentations evolve from theoretical lab work to actual field test results. This year, Bill Palmer, editor in chief of our sister publication Concrete Construction, was a member of the steering committee; editor-at-large, Rick Yelton, moderated a technical session; and I was able to tour the University of Illinois, Chicago, testing lab and interview local producer Prairie Material about delivering picture-perfect SCC for the testing workshop.

The theme this year was “The New Normal: Innovation, application, and production.” In the April/May 2011 issue, we reported on ACI’s Strategic Development Council “15 by 15” goal, for the industry to use SCC in 15% of all ready-mixed concrete by 2015. We’ve been committed to helping make this happen.

In 2014, we hope to continue our efforts, including an SCC Live! event being planned for World of Concrete. The event will feature seminars, demonstrations, and real-time research. Led by Dr. Kamal Khayat from Missouri University of Science and Technology, a group of researchers will fine-tune their work on understanding the relationship between mix design and formwork pressure.

As you’ll read in this month’s issue, we are dedicated to supporting the technology and innovations that build this industry.