ICCX Oceania took place from February 22 - 24 at the Sebel Albert Park Conference Centre, Melbourne, Australia. The ICCX was preceded by 3 technical courses on February 21, covering the topics of precast concrete design, health and safety, and sandwich panels. The 2-day conference on February 22 and 23 included 46 technical presentations on a large range of topics relating to precast concrete production and more than 60 local and international companies participated as exhibitors. The ICCX Oceania further included a welcome reception, a colourful dinner party in beautiful surroundings, a lucky draw with great prices, as well as tours to precast production plants on February 25. In total, more than 400 delegates attended the event.
The ICCX Oceania was supported by the main industry associations of Australia and New Zealand. Besides the NPCAA (National Precast Association of Australia), also CMAA (Concrete Masonry Association), CPAA (Concrete Pipe Association of Australasia), PCNZ (Precast New Zealand, NZCS (New Zealand Concrete Society), SRIA (Steel Reinforcement Institute of Australia) and AWIA (Australian Wire Industry Association) invited their members to attend the conference.
Reid Australia, Hollow Core Concrete and Austral Precast sponsored the event, especially the Technical Courses and the Welcome Reception.
The first ICCX Oceania was held in Sydney in 2009 and was received as the most comprehensive and resourceful event for the precast and concrete manufacturing industry of the region. Since then, the precast and concrete industries of Australia have seen a relatively consistent recovery from the global financial crisis, by which they were affected, however to a much lesser extent than their European and North American counterparts. Especially since the end of 2010, most sectors of the local and regional precast industry have again been very busy and are experiencing very high demand for high-end top quality products. ICCX Oceania 2011 therefore came just at the right time to expose the regional industry to latest production trends and technologies.
Australia’s precast industry: consistent growth in recent years
The general tendency in the Australian precast industry leans towards an increasing involvement of globally active companies in the local market. This results from global players recognizing the potential that precast concrete technology has in Australia, in connection with the potential increase in market share over more conventional construction methods.
Thanks to a relative consistent performance of the local precast industry, and due to the minor effects that the global financial crisis had on the market, many companies consider to rationalize their production procedures, which also included investments in modern technology from overseas. Victoria, the state in which Melbourne is located, has always been the most active region in Australia in terms of production and use of precast technology, with a lot of small production plants and a good number of very advanced modern precast factories being located in and around Melbourne and Victoria. Consequently, the choice of the location for ICCX Oceania 2011 proved to be a good one as many decision makers of the industry attended the event and facilitated useful exchange of information.
Participation at the ICCX Oceania was good although it did not fully meet the expectations that were set by the remarkable success of the Sydney event 2 years ago. Nonetheless, given that the majority of the delegates were decision makers from precast and concrete production companies, the event offered good opportunities for networking and the establishment of business partnerships.
Technical courses on various aspects relating to precast manufacture
The ICCX was preceded by 3 technical courses, covering the topics of precast concrete design, health and safety, and sandwich panels and aiming mainly at precast producers and engineers.
fib Course on Precast Design – Best Practice Solutions
The fib Course on Precast Concrete Design – Best Practice Solutions, presented by Arnold van Acker (Belgium) and Barry Crisp (New Zealand) dealt with construction detailing, design of structural connections, and fire resistance of precast structures. The requirement to design connections between individual precast elements, as well as connections between precast members and their supports, is one of the main challenges of structural precast design, as specific rules and methods which are different to those for in-situ structures need to be applied. Consequently, a major part of the course focussed on this issue, discussing the design of bearings, connections of various types for different precast systems such as floor slabs, beams, walls and columns, and rebar anchorage principles. The other main topic of this course was fire resistance of precast concrete elements and structures, covering basic requirements, member analysis, global analysis of the structure, fire resistance of precast components and fire resistance of structural connections.
Health and safety in precast plants
Helmut Ehnes (Germany) presented a well attended seminar on health and safety in precast plants and addressed the relationship between occupational safety and over- all production cost savings, explaining the different roles that individual parties, such as employer and employee, play in respect to this aspect. Based on experiences in Germany, it was outlined how strategic implementation of safety regulations has resulted in a steady decline of work accidents in the precast concrete industry during the past 60 years. The principles of risk assessment, accident prevention strategies, contamination management, protection against potentially health hazardous agents and substances such as fines and fumes, and other aspects relating to health and safety were discussed.
Professor Peter Lieblang (Germany) presented a course on precast concrete sandwich panels, addressing the issues of production, energy efficiency, and acoustics. The production technology for precast sandwich panels was discussed, providing information on material selection and concrete mix design, reinforcement detailing, insulation systems, production technology (formwork systems, element manufacture, curing, handling, etc). In a subsequent lecture, technical features of sandwich panels were presented, including anchor design and connection detailing. The principles of building physics and thermal insulation were discussed to highlight potentials, limitations, and requirements for sandwich panels.
Trade exhibition with close to 70 participating companies
Close to 70 companies from Europe, the USA, Asia and Downunder took part in the exhibition 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. Due to the recent increase in demand for modern concrete and precast technology in Australia and New Zealand, exhibitors were generally able to make useful new contacts. Especially companies from overseas were pleased with the turnout of high profile members of the local concrete and precast industries, who showed considerable interest in foreign production and materials technology.
Technical conference with 50 presentations
Most of the exhibitors made use of the new conference concept of ICCX, which follows and industry-approach by giving exhibiting companies the opportunity to give a 15-minute technical presentation on the properties and application of their products. The conference programme included a total of 50 presentations, which were arranged in 13 different sessions with the following themes:
- Machines and plants for mixing and distributing concrete in precast production facilities
- Batching and moisture measurement technology and test and inspection equipment for concrete
- Concrete technology - additives, admixtures, colours and fibres
- Production machines for concrete products
- Machines and plants for surface enhancement of concrete products
- Accessories and complementary machines and plants for manufacturing concrete products (moulds, production boards, curing systems, etc.)
- Machines and plants for manufacturing concrete pipes and manholes and accessories
- Production plants for precast (stationary production, circulation plants, moulds and formwork)
- Extruders and slipformers plus complementary machines and plants for producing prestressed precast components
- Software and planning instruments for precast components
- Erection and construction systems, accessories and complementary machines and plants for producing precast components
- Machines and plants for mixing and distributing in-situ concrete
- Machines and plants for reinforcementprocessing machines
Lottery and price giving
Delegates at the exhibition were given the opportunity to participate in a lucky draw with exciting prices. Every delegate was given an Exhibition Card, on which stamps from every exhibitor at ICCX needed to be collected at the respective exhibitor’s stand.
The draw took place at the closing session of the ICCX and drew together most of the attendees of the event. Brad Boardman, Maccaferri, Australia won the first price, a travelling package for two to visit ICCX Europe, which will take place in Bologna, Italy in October 2011. The second prize, a holiday package for two for a Pacific Island, went to John Blacklow, Stresscrete, New Zealand, and Vishal Padwal, Advanced Precast, Australia took home the third price, an iPad. Another 7 winners were each presented with a concrete pen, as well as a one-year free subscription of CPI and Opus C (James Kiezenberg, EPC Australia, Nicolas Araneda, Australia, Jason Yoo, Rocla, Australia, Colin Skead, Brickworks, Australia, Aaran Duncan, Krystol, Australia, Ray Crump, Parchem, Australia, and Gretchen Flynn, Stresscrete, New Zealand). This part of the event was well received as an appropriate closing of procedures.
Visits to precast production plants
On the last day of the ICCX, delegates had the opportunity to attend visits at two local precast production plants, Hollowcore Concrete and Westkon Precast.
As the name suggests, Hollowcore Concrete started their business producing hollow core concrete slabs but has in subsequent years expanded to also manufacture other products such as precast/prestressed beams and columns, stairs and landings, wall panels, precast/prestressed piles and acoustic panels. Hollowcore slabs are produced in various depths up to 400 mm and span length of up to 18 m. Additional services include design and installation of precast elements. Large office buildings in Melbourne are often designed as full precast structures including columns, beams and slabs, as well as sometimes concrete facade panels, giving producers of such a variety of elements a clear advantage in the market.
During the plant visit, ICCX delegates had the opportunity to see manufacture of various elements, including 400 mm deep hollow core slabs, architectural wall panels, prestressed beams, and reinforced inverted T-beams.
Westkon Precast specialises in the production of prestressed concrete bridge beams, commonly of 40 m length, as well as concrete parapets and balustrades. During the site visit, the rebar cage manufacture and the prestressing of strands could be observed. The complete production process, including concrete design and manufacture was explained by the technical staff.