ICCX Oceania 2009

The ICCX Oceania took place in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from 31 March – 2 April 2009. With the delegate numbers reaching 400, this event showed that even in times of economic crisis the precast industry is not loosing its focus on new developments in material and production technology in Oceania. Preceding the ICCX, three technical courses on the topics of self compacting concrete, design of precast building structures, and modern precast production planning were presented. The conference itself included sessions on selfcompacting concrete, concrete products, precast technology, concrete pipes, sustainability, modern concrete materials, concrete durability, and architectural concrete. In the trade fair, about 70 national and international exhibitors showcased their machinery, services and goods. Set against the backdrop of Darling Harbour in the touristic centre of Sydney, the first ICCX Oceania was considered a great success by delegates, exhibitors and organizers alike. Comments from members of the Australian precast industry about the ICCX were extremely positive. This event has brought more international expertise to the region than any other concrete conference ever did and this was well received.

The first ICCX Oceania attracted delegates mainly from Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. The conference themes were designed to present a focused yet comprehensive overview on topics relating to design, manufacture and application of concrete and concrete products. In addition to practical aspects presented during the conference and exhibition of the ICCX, theoretical backgrounds were discussed during the workshops that were designed to suit the interests of structural engineers and concrete producers. The variety of topics covered during ICCX, which focussed on concrete production and application evaluated both from a practical and theoretical viewpoint, makes this event very unique and explains its success even in times of economic slow down, during which many other concrete production related events suffer from poor participation. Australia turned out to be a particularly well chosen location for the event. The precast industry of the region is well developed but is not yet using its full potential.

Delegates indicated that the reason for this partly relates to the remote location of Australia and New Zealand, which does not support a strong exchange of information between overseas suppliers and local members of the precast industry. Consequently, local interest in ICCX was very high, which was also reflected in the number of delegates attending the event, the efforts that local precasters made in building relationships with international exhibitors, and the feedback given on the technical presentations during the conference.

Technical courses, designed to suit local interests

Special design aspects for precast building structures
The topics of the workshops were carefully selected to address the specific needs of the precast industry in Australia and New Zealand. In many parts of the two countries, structural precast elements are the preferred method of construction for buildings, especially for wall panels and architectural cladding. In addition, precast frames are common systems for the construction of large office blocks and industrial buildings. As a consequence, local interest in advanced design of precast building structures is large.
Arnold van Acker, one of Europe’s leading precast specialists and former chairman of the fib Commission on Prefabrication, presented a one-day course on advanced design of precast concrete building structures. Design aspects that commonly need to be considered especially for precast structures are structural connections and constructional detailing. In addition to these two topics, the course sponsored by Reid dealt with the special aspects of accidental loading and fire resistance.

Self compacting concrete “super workable concrete”
Like many other regions around the world, Australia has started to adopt self compacting concrete especially in the production of precast concrete elements. In contrast to their overseas counterparts Australians have decided to give SCC a new name and call it “super workable concrete”. Although applied in a number of precast plants, especially around Melbourne, which hosts the most advanced precast industry of Australia, implementation of SCC is still somewhat slow compared to some European countries or North America. One of the reasons for this is a lack of knowledge and practical experience especially in Readymix production. Consequently, the interest for the course on SCC, sponsored by Grace, was large and the course well attended.
Co-presented by Olafur Wallevik, Iceland, and Kamal Khayat, Canada, the course aimed at highlighting the advantages that SCC holds especially for the production of precast concrete elements. The topics covered during the one-day course included the design, manufacture and application of SCC, including constituents and mix designs, properties of fresh SCC mixes and testing methods, engineering properties and durability, construction process and quality control, standards and specifications and practical applications.

Concrete product production technology
The technical courses were complimented by a half-day seminar on modern precast production planning, held by Christian Pril-
hofer and Joerg Reymann. Various production techniques and manufacturing facilities were discussed, including tilting tables, caroussel lines, battery moulds, upcrete systems and shuttering systems. The seminar aimed at helping delegates to identify the best choice of manufacturing equipment and production plant layout with respect to the specific needs of their precast production plant.

Welcome Reception

A Welcome Reception at the evening preceding the ICCX conference was an excellent opportunity for the international speakers, exhibitors and delegates to get together and to make first contacts. Blue Circle Southern Cement NSW manager Ross Harper, sponsor of the Welcome Reception,
was very positively surprised by the international attendance and the interest people showed for ICCX.

ICCX Day 1: SCC, sustainability, precast concrete, concrete products

The conference was opened by ICCX CoChairmen Michael Khrapko, Holger Karutz and Gerhard Klöckner, followed by the first technical session on self compacting concrete. General aspects relating to new developments in SCC technology were discussed by Michael Khrapko, New Zealand. Olafur Wallevik and Kamal Khayat discussed the special aspects of modern testing methods for SCC and economical SCC technology respectively. SCC is more demanding and susceptible than conventional vibrated concrete technology, which of special concern for the implementation of SCC technology in Readymix and precast plants. The choice of constituent materials, mix design, mixing process, formwork, and casting methods presents a challenge and some effort is necessary to meet the challenges and to gain the benefits SCC technology offers. Based on these aspects the presentations identified strategies and technology for successful manufacture and application of SCC. “Green building” is one construction area that continues to expand – even in a down economy. As a result, precast concrete manufacturers may be faced with winning (or losing) projects based on how well they implement sustainability initiatives. The session on concrete sustainability included overviews on the concrete industry of North America (Ty Gable, USA) and New Zealand (Rob Gaimster), as well as a presentation on sustainability issues relating to concrete housing in Europe (Peter Lieblang, Germany). The presentations gave an overview on how the concrete industries in various regions of the world tackle the issue of sustainability and identified that sustainable concrete technology relates mainly to energy efficient production methods, the use of supplementary cementitious materials and recycled aggregates, and the durability of the built structure.
Several presentations featured precast concrete technology, with special focus on the topics of energy-efficient concrete sandwich panels (Mikael Calstrom, Australia), economical and innovative solutions with precast concrete (Thomas Friedrich, Germany), treatment of imperfections in precast structural elements (Jaime Fernandez, Spain), and modern precast planning (Yousef Mesri, Austria).
Modern trends and production techniques for concrete products were discussed, covering the current market characteristics of North America (Ty Gable, USA), the enhancement of concrete pavers (German Madrid, Colombia) and the colouring of concrete products (Lutz Kohnert, Australia). The variety of production techniques and architectural solutions presented left the delegates with a good idea on how to expand their product range to suit clients expectations.

ICCX – Day 2: HPC, durability, concrete pipes, architectural concrete

Viktor Mechtcherine (Germany) started the second day of the conference with a presentation on new types of high performance fibre reinforced concrete which hold the potential to substantially improve concrete material properties, design possibilities and construction procedures. Specification and design of precast concrete elements for durability properties were discussed by Hans Beushausen (South Africa), covering design philosophies, test methods and quality control. The South African durability index philosophy, which has led to a significant improvement of the durability of concrete structures in Southern Africa was discussed. The specific aspect of durability considerations for concrete pipes was addressed by Mark Alexander (South Africa).
The second session covered the aspects of concrete pipe production and installation techniques (Helmut Nagl, Thailand), acid resistance of concrete pipes (Roland Huettl, Germany) and sealing systems for pipes and manholes (Charles Leeflang, Australia).
The conference concluded with 2 sessions on architectural concrete, in which Juergen Glaesle, Germany, Editor-in-Chief of opus C – Concrete Architecture & Design, covered the aspect of architectural concrete trends around the globe. Exceptional projects completed with architectural precast technology were highlighted. Other aspects covered in the presentations related to production details of architectural concrete (Arnold Van Acker, Belgium), architectural concrete in Europe (Patrick DeClerck, Belgium) and architectural precast trends in North and South America (Diane Laliberte, Canada). All of these presentations gave an eye-opening overview on what can be achieved with architectural concrete if high quality precast manufacturing technology is implemented. The variety of architectural designs, surface textures, colours and shapes are virtually endless. Based on impressive case studies the last session of ICCX identified precast concrete as the ideal material for buildings with high aesthetic demands.

Quality beats the economic crisis

Owing to the current economic crisis, conferences and exhibitions related to concrete production technology are often either cancelled altogether or generally poorly attended. The organizers of ICCX Oceania had learnt their lesson from other international trade fairs that they had recently attended and made every effort to make the ICCX a worthwhile event for both visitors and exhibitors. Next to the focussed and comprehensive conference programme and exhibition, memorable evening functions were organized. As a result of extensive marketing efforts, which were strongly supported by the leading associations in Australia and New Zealand, a large number of delegates from the local and regional precast industries attended the ICCX, presenting excellent networking and marketing opportunities for exhibitors and sponsors. Delegates were encouraged to visit each exhibition stand and were in fact forced to do so if they wanted to qualify for the lottery draw, in which the lucky winner was presented with a Toyota RAV 4 vehicle. In fact, Glenn
Degenhardt from Humes, Brisbaine, celebrated his birthday exactly that day, so the surprise to win this car was even bigger. Second and third prizes were a visit to the next ICCX conference for 2 persons, including airfare, hotel and entrance fees, and a helicopter ride through Sydney, respectively. Seven more prizes were given to winners, including one year free subscriptions of CPI and opus C, as well.
These efforts of the organizers helped to ensure good participation in the event and facilitated communication between delegates and exhibitors, which was very well received from all participants.

ICCX Dinner Party: cruising through the Sydney harbour bay
Living up to ICCX’s reputation for unconventional evening events, the dinner party took place on the Starship cruiser, on which delegates enjoyed a ride through Sydney harbour with seaside views of the famous Opera House and the city skyline. The combination of excellent catering, great entertainment and magnificent scenery made this function a truly memorable event.

Trade fair with close to 70 participating companies

Close to 70 companies from Europe, America and Downunder took part in the exhibition in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre and presented a comprehensive overview of the current developments amongst suppliers and service providers for the concrete and precast industries. The range of products and services presented related to the fields of plant technology, mixing and formwork technology, transport and handling systems, special concrete products, cement extenders, admixtures, pigments, connection and fastening systems, placing technology, and reinforcing steel. The exhibitors were generally very happy with the high profile of the conference delegates, most of whom were decision makers from precast concrete production plants.

Plant visit at the end of a successful ICCX

At April 2, Sasso Precast, one of the most modern precast plants in the Oceania region that was designed by Reymann Technik and that is supplied with machinery and equipment from Avermann, Lap Laser, Dudik and Ratec, as well as automation and software tools from SAA, ConEng and IDAT, was open for visitors. Nearly 100 participants showed huge interest in the modern caroussel line producing architectural precast concrete wall panels there. In one of the upcoming issues of CPI, the Sasso Precast plant will be presented in a separate article, again.
Looking at the long term economy and the strength of the concrete industry in Oceania, the number of modern production facilities will definitively rise in the upcoming years. Due to the very positive feedback both exhibitors and delegates commented on this ICCX event, the organizers already announced a repetition in two years with ICCX Oceania 2011!