Blog

Technology Across the Generations

During the last few decades the human generations have experienced a huge growth in the development of technology. Baby boomers and Millennials have experienced a huge change in technology that has had an effect on their behavior and lifestyle.

 

Baby Boomers born between 1945 to 1965

  • Grew up to the development of technology and are classified as “digital immigrants”
  • Saw the first IBM and Apple PC’s
  • Used Pre-mobile technology
  • Lived with the main technology breakthroughs of the rotary phone and tube television
  • Experienced entertainment outdoors with other kids learning conversation skills and life lessons

In the early 60’s when technology was first introduced to the boomers it had little impact on their daily lives and didn’t play a pivotal role in that era. In the 70’s technology had little impact because it was seen as something that only the academics used.  It was in the 80’s that technology invaded people’s homes and changed their behaviors.

Millennials born between 1979 to early 2000’s

  • Are “Digital Natives” who lived through the technological evolution
  • Grew up in a time of rapid change
  • Connect to people globally because by the 1990’s technology was everywhere
  • Adapted quickly to the explosive change
  • Called the“ Always-on” generation with Internet and smartphones

 

Today boomers and millennials have access to the same technology but their behaviors are different. Boomers use technology to assist them with getting information and increase their conveniences where Millennials use technology for connections, recognition and self-expression.

Generations will come and go. Technology on the other hand will always stay and continue to evolve in the hands of the current generation. Technology in the future is going to shape the newer generations and among 81% of children will have a digital footprint by the time they are only two years old.

Depending on who you are, sometimes that rotary phone doesn’t sounds so bad.

 

Jeff Holt
Sales – Iowa/Southern Minnesota

The Evolution of Technology Across Generations. (2016, November 10). Retrieved from https://nordic-it.com/evolution-technology-throughout-generations/

 


Simplicity in the workplace

 

In today’s fast pace world, with deadlines and responsibilities always looming over heads, it’s easy to lose track of the most efficient way to solve problems and accomplish tasks – simple face to face communication and utilizing past successes. I think at times we could all take a step back and get back to the basics of what got us all into the positions that we are in. After all, it started with an interview and communicating with another individual, expressing to them the value you can bring. We tend to get caught up in the corporate world and shy away from the most essential piece of the whole picture, good communication and moving forward from past experiences. Without taking these first steps, all steps after that will be for nothing. It is easy to make things more complicated than they need to be, but slowing down to reason will often lead to success. As stated by someone more clever than myself, “Simplicity is language and design that makes the complex clear.”

Reed Hudson
Sales – Iowa/South Dakota


A World of Precast

The precast concrete industry offers an incredibly diverse range of building and infrastructure products to architects, engineers, DOTs, contractors and homeowners. From structural frameworks and architectural flourishes to septic tanks and bridges, no other building material is as dynamic as precast concrete. You can find precast in many projects all over the world, some of them truly stunning works of art.

Lotus Temple – New Delhi, India

The temples of the Baha’i Faith are well known for their architectural splendor, and the Temple constructed in Delhi is a continuation of this rich tradition. Before undertaking the design of the temple, the architect, Fariborz Sahba, had traveled extensively in India to study the architecture of this land and was impressed by the design of the beautiful temples, as well as by the art and religious symbols wherein the lotus invariably played an important role.

 

Inspired by the lotus flower, the design for the House of Worship in New Delhi is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. The nine doors of the Lotus Temple open onto a central hall slightly more than 40 metres tall that can seat 1,300 people and hold up to 2,500 in all. The surface of the House of Worship is made of white marble from Penteli mountain in Greece, the same marble from which many ancient monuments (including the Parthenon) and other Bahá’í Houses of Worship are built. Along with its nine surrounding ponds and the gardens, the Lotus Temple property comprises 26 acres (105,000 m²; 10.5 ha).

 

The temple complex consists of the main house of worship, the ancillary block which houses the reception center, the library and the administrative building, and the restrooms block. The temple proper comprises a basement to accommodate the electrical and plumbing components, and a lotus-shaped superstructure to house the assembly area. The structural system includes a concrete frame and a precast concrete ribbed roof, with the entire quantity of white cement coming from Korea. Specially graded dolomite aggregates were procured from the Alwar mines near Delhi and white silica sand from Jaipur.

 

Architect: Fariborz Sahba
Structural Engineer: Flint & Neill
Contractor: ECC Construction Group of Larsen & Toubro Limited

Megan Nesius
Marketing Coordinator


Insist on Certification

Wells Concrete operates in five states and one province, and we are PCI (Precast Concrete Institute) and CPCI (Canadian Precast Concrete Institute) certified. If you are a building owner, engineer, architect, or in any other position of being responsible for acquiring precast, a question you may have is, “Why bother? What difference does it make? It’s all the same when it’s finished.”

I’m here to tell you that it does matter, and that you should absolutely insist that the precaster providing your product is PCI or CPCI certified. To understand why you should insist on this certification you need to understand what we do as precasters.

Precast concrete is a complex amalgamation of high performance concrete, high quality steel, and other components that are engineered and incorporated into structures where its proper performance is critical to life, safety, and long term durability. The process we use to fabricate, transport, and install our product is elaborate, including design software, computer-controlled batch plants that produce the concrete, and modern casting equipment. The process is driven by the design calculations and drawings produced by our engineers working within the guidelines set out by PCI or CPCI as well as the architect, engineer of record, and local codes. It is imperative as we manufacture each component that the correct concrete is used, the prestressing is done to specification, and the concrete is cured properly. In addition it is equally important that each individual piece of precast is stored, moved, and installed within the certification guidelines.

We are able to accomplish this by the dedicated, hard work of all Wells Concrete employees working in harmony with our Quality Control department. Prior to casting, during casting, and after casting, forms are inspected, concrete is tested and each piece is checked for conformance. Should any test result not be within specifications, the issue is rectified or the piece is re-made, and detailed records of all the test results are kept.

Not only does certification set the bar for best practices, the entire process is audited by an independent third party. These audits are conducted randomly and include review of records, procedures, and observing operations in the plants to assure that everything is in compliance. By using a certified precaster you will know that your precast is the best available, providing confidence in its safety, and that it will perform well its entire service life. Without PCI or CPCI certification there is no way of determining that the precast is manufactured, transported, or installed properly. There will be no assurance with respect to life, safety, or the long term performance.

Simply put, without certification, there is no peace of mind.

PCI or CPCI certification, insist on it.

Art Macaw P. Eng.
Wells Concrete Canada


Business Process Mapping and Root Cause Analysis

What is business process mapping?

Business process mapping refers to activities involved in defining what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a business process should be completed, and how the success of a business process can be determined.

What is root cause analysis?

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems.

So what does this all mean?

It is the heart of what we do in our everyday lives and what we do at our jobs every day. Everything we do has to do with process, whether it’s picking out your clothes in the morning or how you do your job. From a business standpoint, flow chart mapping is critical for everyone involved in the process to know their responsibility and to know who will be doing the next step in the process. It becomes the roadmap, if you will, to how we should be doing our jobs and in what time frame.

Constructing a process flow map at a high level for your business is something a lot of companies never do. It is time consuming and you have to think of every step along the way. This sounds easy, but now introduce the many different departments into the process and it becomes increasingly complex. However, what it does for employees is gives them clear vision of who is doing what part and when.

So, why do we need root cause when we have a process flow chart? We use the root cause analysis to make the flow chart better. When a mistake is made or a step is missed, it comes out during the root cause analysis phase. The most important part is to make sure when the mistake is made or the step is missed that you go back to the process map, make the changes needed and make sure those changes will be sustainable.

Steve Kloos
VP – Quality Control


Building Materials: Precast vs Steel

When choosing the structural component of a new building, the decision may come down to either steel or precast. In the past, many owners and users looked only at short-term construction costs. The least expensive building to construct typically was the preferred choice. Now this is shifting with more attention on building a better building. So, why consider using a precast concrete wall panel system over steel?

Construction Advantages

  • Concrete panels can be built simultaneously in a manufacturing facility, then erected in a short period of time. This manufacturing process allows design and construction to overlap, reducing the delivery cycle of a new facility.
  • Includes structural capacity, insulation, and architectural exterior in one 8”-12” panel which eliminates coordination and construction schedules of multiple trades.
  • The aesthetic versatility of precast concrete allows designers to achieve many different looks.
  • The precast panels do not need intrusive structural steel columns at the perimeter of the building.
  • Precast panels can be installed immediately after the installation of the foundations. Having the building enclosed and protected from the elements quickly means you can allow more trades on-site installing more materials.
  • The time savings can also be considered a cost benefit. A shortened construction schedule means a reduction in job-site overhead (salaries, trailer and utilities) that results in significant savings.

Thermal and Environmental Capabilities 

  • Precast consistently outperforms conventional steel panel construction by reducing air infiltration and moisture build-up – reducing overall operating costs.
  • The increased thermal mass of precast walls also reduces temperature swings, which can reduce heating and cooling costs. These maintenance cost reductions may make the life-cycle comparison of using precast walls competitive even if the initial costs are higher.
  • Precast panels are an all-weather system compared to installing fiberglass insulation in wet weather as you would with steel. This significantly reduces–if not eliminates–the transfer of air and moisture through the structure.
  • Concrete exteriors can provide better security than steel.
  • Precast also delivers superior sound abatement and resistance to a variety of natural forces, such as high winds and fire.

Jace Rossow
Sales


OSHA regulation will have a dramatic effect on construction

As of September 23rd of this year, OSHA silica dust regulations will be applied to our field operations. Any operation that produces free silica dust into the air will be a violation. This rule will send ripples through our entire organization. For the last two decades, we at Wells have taken pride in the fact that we can produce wall panels with no lifters in the face of the product which require patching after installation. Our ability to provide odd shaped panels to create wall openings allowed us to reduce piece numbers, speed up field services, and lower costs to the customer. Our customers have come to expect C, E, and F shaped panels

placed back to back to create openings that are larger than possible in “punched” openings in a full width wall panel. We were able to manufacture, finish, and ship these odd shapes due to our use of concrete “bridges” through the openings.  These bridges provided temporary support until the panel was in its final position at which time the bridge was simply cut out and hauled off site. As of September, this will no longer be possible. We are currently experimenting with a number of other options, none of which offer the simplicity or effectiveness of the concrete bridge. Rest assured, Wells will continue to experiment with lifting products to provide the best possible solution for our customers.

What does this mean for you? The main effect is going to be increased costs. The number of lifters used to handle wall panels is going to increase and, in many cases, the lifters are going to have to be in the face of the panel which leads to patching, which wasn’t previously required.  If the wall happens to be furred out, this isn’t an issue but the majority of projects we do today rely on the wall panel to provide the wall finish. Another effect will be an increase in the piece numbers. Instead of setting 2 panels back to back to create openings, we may be forced to set mullion panels and headers to create the desired look. This increase could result in two panels becoming anywhere from four to seven panels. That means extra pours, extra handling, extra crane time, etc.

I don’t believe, however, that the new regulation will have any effect on our flexibility in terms of providing the aesthetics that our customers have come to expect.

Ryan Garden
VP – Drafting & Engineering


How to get design economy with precast

I often get calls from people who are looking to use precast on a building and want to know “how much is the precast panel”.  Fair question, although it is difficult to know unless you have enough information.  There are numerous factors that affect the cost, such as openings, colored concrete mix design, cast-in items, etc. In this blog post, I am going to speak about the two main factors that affect the cost.

Impact of Repetition

Precast pricing is primarily determined by size and repetition.  Think about repetition in regards to form or mold costs.  Let’s say you have a form cost of $25,000 for a 12’x30’ panel and you pour only one panel. 12×30=360 square feet.  Take $25,000 and divide it by 360sf=$69.44 per square foot just for the forming cost and nothing has been produced yet.  Now let’s pour ten panels on that same form. $25,000 divided by 3600sf=$6.94 per square foot.  The more repetitive the panels, the more economical it becomes.

Erection Cost – Impact of Panel Size

So how about the size of the panel?  Two of the main factors that determine panel size is trucking and field erecting.  Once the panels are too big to get two per truck load, the old theory of bigger is better takes over.  If it costs $500 for each truck, the shipping costs per square foot go down as the panel gets bigger.  The crane and crew is a fixed cost and we will look at how that relates to panel size.  We will use the crane and crew at $1,000 per hour and a set rate of 8 panels per day/1 per hour.  8’x30’ panel=240sf and divide that by the $1,000=$4.17 per square foot.  12’x30’ panel=360sf and divide that by the $1,000=2.78 per square foot.

 

As I mentioned earlier, there are numerous factors that affect the cost.  We want the design team to be creative in their design and use architectural features as they see fit, but if you also want economy, consult your precast professional early to help with the panel size and repetition so that you may get the most out of your precast.

Steve Olson
Sales Representative


Wells – A Certified PCI Erector!

For those of you who do not know what PCI stands for, the abbreviation stands for Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. PCI was started in 1954 to help develop a body of knowledge as a technical institute regarding pre-tensioned bonded prestressed concrete. The Institution has grown considerably over the past 63 years and has put a heavy focus on education, quality and certification of precast companies that choose to be members of PCI.

One of the areas Wells has focused on, along with quality and education, is in certification. Ever since the qualified and certified erector programs were introduced, Wells has chosen to take on the more challenging certified erector status, in fact Wells was one of the first companies to become a certified erector in 2005. We are now entering into our 12th year as a certified erector and we have every intention of keep this going strong.

As we know, the erection process is the last critical piece to client satisfaction. The client and the architect have a lot of time invested in picking colors, finishes and openings – sometimes starting a year prior to erection. Customers should find comfort that as a certified erector, pieces are handled properly and are installed by well-trained erectors who understand every aspect of lifting, swinging and setting their designed components into place. Each field crew has their job site audited twice a year by a third party PCI-certified auditor. Corrective action must take place if deficiencies are found by the auditor. The managerial and administrative part of the erection process is also audited once per year by a third party PCI auditor to ensure that the proper paperwork, safety qualifications and reporting is documented and stored correctly for the audited projects.

Wells is a 12+ year certified erector, and with us the customer and architect can rest assured that their dream will be become an installed reality!

Jesse Hiller
VP – Erection/Field Services


How Precast Concrete can solve all of your Energy Code Problems!

As the energy codes seem to be a constantly moving target, there is one component of design that does seem to be constant. Everyone wants an envelope that is efficient and economical. At the same time it needs to be architecturally pleasing! This is where an insulated architectural precast sandwich panel becomes a very friendly building material.

Let’s first look at the footing to wall condition that has for so long involved the insulation changing planes as we pass from the footing to the wall. The new codes no longer allow this, so we are having to get inventive with how we turn foundation insulation and try to find a way to tuck it under the exterior skin, which is not always easy to draw or build in the field. With an insulated precast wall panel, the panel can be taken to a bearing elevation of -3’0” or wherever it is needed in your area of the country and the integral insulation stays continuous from footing to parapet!

Secondly, let’s talk about glazing and other wall penetrations. With other wall systems it is often that the thermal break in the glazing system is not in the same plane as the wall insulation. Even with a ‘rain screen’ system you have a step in the thermal break from the insulation that is outboard of the vapor barrier and the thermal break in the window frame. This is just another area in which a precast insulated wall panel solves the issue. With insulation being edge to edge and corner to corner in the panel and in thicknesses from 2”-6” you can set your window frames or other openings such that the thermal break in your glazing pocket will always be in the same plane as your wall insulation.

Lastly, and probably the most difficult, let’s look at the roof/parapet condition. In many of the standard roof to structural support walls we find small interruptions of the roof to wall insulation. In most cases there is a structural material that the roof insulation will terminate into and the wall insulation is outboard of that. This small break will allow for thermal transfer into conditioned space and often causes ‘sweating’ on interior walls. When we consider the makeup of an insulated precast wall panel (with an interior structural wythe, insulation layer, and exterior architectural wythe) we have the ability to create very simple transitions from roof to wall insulation. One very common and simple detail is to ‘hold down’ the interior structural wythe for the bearing of the roof deck material so that the insulation on the roof can continue over top of the integral insulation in the wall. Another commonly used detail is to continue the roof insulation up the backside and over the top of the insulated sandwich panel and then using blocking and a typical parapet cap to cover the top of wall.  The roof membrane and insulation is all tucked into/under that parapet cap and make for a thermally unbroken transition from roof to wall.

Even though the idea of an insulated precast sandwich wall panel is not ‘new’ to the design community, there have been several advancements in how the panels are tied together with different connectors, and the amount and types of architectural finishes that are available today for the exterior wythe are tenfold what they were even 15 years ago. So if you have a project you are working on and are struggling with how to solve the continuous insulation dilemma please contact your local precast and ask for some design assistance. You might find that this product is just the solution you were looking for!

Curt Gear
Director of Business Development – IA


A World of Precast

The precast concrete industry offers an incredibly diverse range of building and infrastructure products to architects, engineers, DOTs, contractors and homeowners. From structural frameworks and architectural flourishes to septic tanks and bridges, no other building material is as dynamic as precast concrete. You can find precast in many projects all over the world, and some of them truly stunning works of art.

Habitat 67 – Montréal, Canada

Habitat 67 began as a master’s thesis project in 1961 by Israeli/Canadian architect Moshe Safdie for his architecture program at McGill University. The driving idea and theme behind the design was that of providing a high density apartment building that would provide residents with privacy, along with peace and quiet. Eventually he was invited to develop his idea with his former thesis adviser, Louis Kahn, for Expo 67, the world’s fair that was set to take place in Montreal in 1967.
The apartment complex had 354 prefabricated units, initially forming 158 apartments; some units have since been combined for larger options and the complex now contains 146 residences. The project pioneered the design and implementation of three-dimensional prefabricated units of habitation. Every part of the building, including units, pedestrian streets and elevator cores, are load-bearing members, and units are connected to each other by post-tensioning, high tension rods, cables and welding, in order to form a continuous suspension system throughout the complex.

The project contains:

158 residences are located within the structure.
354 house units
18 street girders
6 cantilever girders
7 stair shafts
6 elevator shafts
24 precast columns
4 walkway bridges

Habitat 67 became a thematic pavilion at the world’s fair, visited by thousands of visitors who came from around the world, and during the expo also served as the temporary residence of the many dignitaries visiting Montreal.

Architect: Moshe Safdie and David, Barott, Boulva
Structural Engineer: Dr. August E. Komendant and Monti, Lavoie, Nadon
Mechanical Engineer: Huza & Thibault
Electrical Engineer: Nicholas Fodor & Associates
General Contractor: Anglin-Norcross
Precast Concrete: Francon (1966) Ltd.
Project cost: $13.5 million

Megan Nesius
Marketing Coordinator


Customizable for Your Job

Large-scale infrastructure demands usually include a unique look and feel for the building in order for it to stand out and fit the nature of the company paying for its new construction. These prerequisites allow precast concrete to shine, from small unique locations to custom large-scale construction, because it has the ability to make any design unique with its many different shapes, colors, and sizes.

LiftStation No. 12 – Dicksinson, ND

Precast construction is built with molds and forms, which are manufactured in all kinds of curves, bends, angles, and different designs. By working with a precast manufacturer during the planning stage, the customer/client can achieve the most cost efficient layout with the use of many different precast products. A construction project can turn to precast concrete for every aspect of a building, if desired, to streamline the drawing approval process as well as the overall construction process.

Custom molds allow the smallest and the largest-scale construction projects to have a custom element, and the use of master molds can allow for variance so a project has an appealing design that blends in with its surrounding areas. The molding process allows precast concrete to be a very versatile and cost effective product when panel repetition is achieved. It is always recommended when in the planning stage that you consult with your local precast consultant to achieve the most efficient layout and finishes that appeal to all parties involved

Scott Monzelowsky
Sales