Umesh Soni, Corporate Head, Customer Support Services, Ambuja Cement, speaks on the services offered by the ‘Concrete Futures Laboratory’ (CFL) that his company has developed for its customers.
Which is the most popular service for the construction fraternity offered through CFL? Please explain quoting some numbers.
Concrete mix design is the most preferred service among the construction fraternity. Through CFL, we provide concrete mix design as per the performance need of the customer. In the first six months of 2016, we have provided 89 concrete mix designs through CFL.
Tell us about a few services which may not be very popular, but are offered only by CFL.
The service of analysing the fine aggregate in terms of particle shape and clay content is a unique test offered only by CFL.
Tell us about the Holcim Cone test. In what way will it help the site engineer?
Holcim Cone is an application-based testing methodology developed to assess the rheological and mechanical performance of concrete. In a simplified approach, Holcim Cone testing helps to assess the workability and strength development of a concrete by testing its mortar. This test is also helpful in understanding the compatibility of cement and chemical admixtures. It is useful to a site engineer for analysing the fresh concrete properties quickly with less volume of concrete in the laboratory and to derive the concrete mix proportioning.
How has been the response of your customers to the services you offer for high performance concrete and self-compacting concrete? Will customers increasingly ask for more such services in the future?
There is very encouraging response from our customers since usage of high performance concrete and self-compacting concrete is increasing day by day in metros and megacities. Both these advanced concretes are becoming inevitable for high-rise constructions. Since both concretes are special concretes involving more number of concrete materials and there is great influence of material properties on the concrete performance, customers are seeking help for developing mix design and conducting the trials in the laboratory. CFL is the enabler for developing such advanced concretes. As it is becoming more popular, more customers will ask for such services.
Do you produce slag cement in any of your plants; is the user of slag cement expecting some different service?
At present, we do not produce slag cement in any of our plants. There will not be any difference in services in case of using slag cement. The user mainly requires the services of testing the fresh and hardened properties of concrete as well as concrete mix design, which is applicable for users of slag cement also.
Is the expectation of service different between a trade customer and a non-trade customer?
There is difference in the expectation of service from trade and non-trade customers, mainly in terms of grade of concrete as well as performance of concrete at different stages. We have developed services and solutions for both the segments separately. For example, for the trade segment, we have developed the scientific tool of concrete mix proportioning as well as modular curing solution. The non-trade customers are mainly looking for a customised concrete solution as per their performance requirements as well as for analysing the concrete materials.
An endeavour from Ambuja Cement, the ´Concrete Futures Laboratory (CFL)´ is shaped to be one of the most innovative and exhaustive places for testing, learning and experiencing cement and concrete for architects, engineers and the construction community. Ambuja has a network of eight CFLs across India, set up in line with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2005. All these centres possess NABL accreditation.