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Here are five reasons why the concrete production industry will recover faster than other material suppliers in these tough economic times. If you combine these important trends with the incoming administration's promise of a robust infrastructure rebuilding package, there's a good chance that 2009 production volumes and margins may equal those of 2008. The stories Paving a New Way, Proving Pervious Concrete's Durability and The New White Powder are prime examples of how new innovations and technology will allow concrete to compete.
Designers, zoning officials, and code writers are accepting new building techniques, codes, and regulations that favor concrete. These modifications will result in more concrete being used on more construction projects. Examples include building codes that specify concrete for more life-safety building features and wind-resistance requirements. Stormwater collection projects are also concrete-friendly.
We have a plentiful source of domestic cement and alternative environmentally friendly ingredients. Producers can take on other markets that have been either wood- or petroleum-based.
Concrete has a good track record in giving a fair return on investment in research. For the past 10 years, producers and manufacturers have invested millions of dollars into applied research and are now seeing the payoffs. Innovations include improved seismic connections on precast structures, pervious concrete, blast-resistant masonry/insulating concrete form (ICF) structures, and effective ways to recycle concrete and cementitious ingredients.
Producers can maintain their profit margins by taking advantage of relatively inexpensive technology that provides real paybacks. Embracing technology does not have to be expensive. Several producers have increased margins without breaking their capital budgets. Examples include passive truck safety devices, GPS, and batching computers.
With their focus on sustainable construction, architects and building owners have rediscovered concrete as a durable, safe, and energy-efficient building material. Our industry's message describing concrete's environmental performance is being heard for the first time.