All posts by Tim Dwyer

Nine Sources of Cracking in Concrete

Nine Sources of Cracking in Concrete

Concrete is regularly used for its tried-and-true endurance, so when concrete begins to crack it is a serious issue. Cracking in concrete is usually brought on by one of the following sources.

Using Low-Grade Materials

cracking concrete

A major source of cracking is using low-grade materials which includes both concrete and steel in reinforced concrete structures.

Shrinkage

concrete shrinkage

If not controlled during the mix design and curing stage, shrinkage can cause cracking. Shrinkage can become critical in high strength concrete because of a low water/cement ratio as well as the use of Mineral Admixtures.

Quality and Type of Aggregate

shrinkage

The quality of aggregate used in concrete determines the overall strength of concrete. If the aggregate is of poor quality, it will not make a proper bond with cement.

Overloading of Structure

overloading

Especially at younger age, overloading of structure is a common source of cracking. This can happen if formwork is removed before time or more construction load is present.

Mistakes at Design Stage

design stage

With errors at the design stage, it is only logical that problems will occur at site – Concrete cracking included.

Improper Curing

Improper Curing

Curing done inappropriately for given time span will cause cracking.

Early Formwork Removal

Early Formwork Removal

There will be cracking if formwork is removed before concrete has achieved its strength.

Congested Reinforcement in Lean Concrete

Congested Reinforcement in Lean Concrete

If heavy reinforcement is used in average quality concrete, stress distribution between steel and concrete can become non-linear causing cracking.

Mistakes at the Site or During Erection

Erection of Formwork

Lack of proper and trained labor and workmanship during concreting can cause cracking.

Link to original article

A Chronicle of Cloud Computing

A Chronicle of Cloud Computing

EARLY 1960’s

The computer scientist John McCarthy, came up with concept of timesharing, and enabling Organization to simultaneously use an expensive mainframe. This computing is described as a significant contribution to the development of the Internet, and a pioneer of Cloud computing.

IN 1969

The idea of an “Intergalactic Computer Network” or “Galactic Network” (a computer networking concept similar to today’s Internet) was introduced by J.C.R. Licklider, who was responsible for enabling the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). His vision was for everyone on the globe to be interconnected and being able to access programs and data at any site, from anywhere.

IN 1970

Using virtualization software like VMware. It become possible to run more than one Operating System simultaneously in an isolated environment. It was possible to run a completely different Computer (virtual machine) inside a different Operating System.

IN 1997

The first known definition of the term “Cloud Computing” seems to be by Prof. Ramnath Chellappa in Dallas in 1997 – “A computing paradigm where the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic rationale rather than technical limits alone.”

IN 1999

The arrival of Salesforce.com in 1999 pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via simple website. The services firm covered the way for both specialist and mainstream software firms to deliver applications over the Internet.

IN 2003

The first public release of Xen, which creates a Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) also known as a hypervisor, a software system that allows the execution of multiple virtual guest operating systems simultaneously on a single machine.

IN 2006

In 2006, Amazon expanded its cloud services. First was its Elastic Compute cloud (EC2), which allowed people to access computers and run their own applications on them, all on the cloud. Then they brought out Simple Storage Service (S3). This introduced the pay-as-you-go model to both users and the industry as a whole, and it has basically become standard practice now.

IN 2013

The Worldwide Public Cloud Services Market totaled £78bn, up 18.5 per cent on 2012, with IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) the fastest growing market service.

IN 2014

In 2014, global business spending for infrastructure and services related to the cloud will reach an estimated £103.8bn, up 20% from the amount spent in 2013 (Constellation Research).

Vision of Cloud Computing

We have seen how far Cloud computing has progressed in the short time since its initiation. Now let’s have a look on what may become of Cloud computing technology in the future.

Following are few forecasts of what we might expect in the coming future of Cloud computing:

  • Cloud computing will become even more prominent in the coming years with rapid, continued growth of major global cloud data centers.
  • 50% of all IT will be in the cloud within the next 5 – 10 years.
  • There will be a greater use of cloud technology as a whole across emerging markets such as in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as they continue to develop and progress. The uptake will be particularly evident in Asia where there is already a trend to stay on the edge of the latest technology.
  • Data for companies and personal use will be available everywhere in standardized formats, allowing us to easily consume and interact with one another at an even greater level.
  • The security and reliability of cloud computing will continue to evolve, ensuring that data will be even more secure with numerous techniques employed.
  • We will not even consider ‘cloud’ as the key technology, instead we will focus on the services and applications that it enables.
  • Combining cloud technology with the Internet of Things (IOT), Wearables and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will become the norm in personal and working lives, so much so that the presence of cloud technology as an enabler will be overlooked. An estimated 50% of organizations will require employees to use their own devices by 2017.
  • The total global cloud computing spend will reach $241 Billion in 2020.

The future of the cloud is far from certain. The rapid pace at which technology has changed in the last 5 years makes the next 5 near impossible to predict. However, it must be said that ultimately the cloud is growing exponentially and will continue to do so for some time to come.

Link to original article

Businesses Moving to the Cloud

The Cloud’s Benefit to Business

Businesses of all sizes, industries, and geographies are turning to cloud services. Cloud adoption is accelerating faster than previously anticipated, leading Forrester to recently revise its 2011 forecast of the public cloud market size upward by 20 percent. The predictions are the fast growth of workloads placed in the cloud and an increased percentage of the total IT budget going toward cloud computing.

According to a study by the Cloud Security Alliance, 33% of organizations have a “full steam ahead” attitude toward cloud services and 86% of companies spend at least part of their IT budget on cloud services. IT leaders at 79% of companies receive regular requests from end users each month to buy more cloud applications with file sharing and collaboration, communication, social media, and content sharing topping the list of the most-requested cloud services.

According to a study conducted by market research company Vanson Bourne, there are numerous factors driving cloud adoption. The report “The Business Impact of the Cloud” compiles insights from interviews of 460 senior decision-makers within the finance functions of various enterprises. The report recapped 11 drivers of cloud adoption along with measurable improvements the companies have achieved by deploying cloud services to enhance productivity, lower cost, and improve time to market.

While not in IT positions, the majority of financial executives are actively involved in their organizations’ discussions about cloud strategy. Their perception of cloud computing includes benefits to the business as a whole. Companies that adopted cloud services experienced a 20.66% average improvement in time to market, 18.80% average increase in process efficiency, and 15.07% reduction in IT spending. Together, these benefits led to a 19.63% increase in company growth.

The Vanson Bourne report identified eleven benefits of cloud computing that organizations are experiencing today, leading to quantifiable improvements in their businesses:

1. Fresh Software

With SaaS, the latest versions of the applications needed to run the business are made available to all customers as soon as they’re released. Immediate upgrades put new features and functionality into workers’ hands to make them more productive. What’s more, software enhancements are typically released quite frequently. This is in contrast to home grown or purchased software that might have major new releases only once a year or so and take significant time to roll out.

2. Do more with less

With cloud computing, companies can reduce the size of their own data centers — or eliminate their data center footprint altogether. The reduction of the numbers of servers, the software cost, and the number of staff can significantly reduce IT costs without impacting an organization’s IT capabilities.

3. Flexible costs

The costs of cloud computing are much more flexible than traditional methods. Companies only need to commission – and thus only pay for – server and infrastructure capacity as and when it is needed. More capacity can be provisioned for peak times and then de-provisioned when no longer needed. Traditional computing requires buying capacity sufficient for peak times and allowing it to sit idle the rest of the time.

4. Always-on availability

Most cloud providers are extremely reliable in providing their services, with many maintaining 99.99% uptime. The connection is always on and as long as workers have an Internet connection, they can get to the applications they need from practically anywhere. Some applications even work without the Internet.

5. Improved mobility

Data and applications are available to employees no matter where they are in the world. Workers can take their work anywhere via smart phones and tablets — working in the field, at a plant, etc.

6. Improved collaboration

Cloud applications improve collaboration by allowing scattered people to meet virtually and easily share information in real time and via shared storage. This capability can reduce time-to-market and improve product development and customer service.

7. Cloud computing is more cost effective

Because companies don’t have to purchase equipment and build out and operate a data center, they don’t have to spend significant money on hardware, facilities, utilities and other aspects of operations. With traditional computing, a company can spend millions before it gets any value from its investment in the data center.

8. Expenses can be quickly reduced

During times of recession or business cut-backs, cloud computing offers a flexible cost structure, thereby limiting exposure.

9. Flexible capacity

Cloud is the flexible facility that can be turned up, down or off depending upon circumstances. For example, a sales promotion might be wildly popular, and capacity can be added quickly to avoid crashing servers and losing sales. When the sale is over, capacity can shrink to reduce costs.

10. Facilitate M&A activity

Cloud computing accommodates faster changes so that two companies can become one much faster and more efficiently. Traditional computing might require years of migrating applications and decommissioning data centers before two companies are running on the same IT stack.

11. Less environmental impact

With fewer data centers worldwide and more efficient operations, we are collectively having less of an impact on the environment. Companies who use shared resources improve their ‘green’ credentials.

 

*link to original article

Industries Destined for Technological Transformation

Industries Destined for Technological Transformation

We’ve heard tales of technological transformation for a while, and those stories are moving into their next chapters. The International Data Corporation suggests that 60% of global GDP will come from digital organizations by 2022. These players are benefiting from big data, powerful analytics, artificial intelligence, and other advances to drive growth. Check out some of the industries destined for technological disruption.

Every business that’s interested in rising to the top of the corporate food chain will need some technology included in the business – Technology is a necessity for any business to survive.
Four of the five most noteworthy organizations in the world are tech companies, and it’s a category everyone is insisting to dip into.
The technology category is easily seen in WeWork’s 2019 IPO filing, which used some form of the word “tech” to describe the company 110 times. Clearly, leadership was pushing to show investors that it’s much more than a real estate company and should be shown as a player in the tech world, too.

So Is Everybody Truly a Techie?

Until this point, the effects of technology have been far-reaching, and that’s not scheduled to stop anytime soon. The difference is that now, traditional industries are about to be disrupted, too.

Five Industries Destined for Technological Disruption:

1. Healthcare

If you think everything is fine in the healthcare space, you probably haven’t been to the doctor recently or reviewed your medical bills. The industry is plagued by inefficiencies and issues. For instance, manual processes that should be automated, like billing and scheduling, require the use of an ancient Egyptian development known as paper when done by hand while it should be streamlined and optimized with tech.
On top of that, booking an appointment with your doctor can sometimes take months, and when your time slot finally rolls around, you’ll be in the waiting room for four hours watching HGTV reruns and thumbing through old magazines. The problems lie in the sheer complexity of the healthcare system and the fact that only a few players make the rules. Healthcare has historically stood in the way of innovation, but companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google are entering the fray and changing that narrative. You can expect block chain medical records, on-demand care, and new drug development all driven by AI in the years to come.

2. Construction

The multitrillion-dollar world of construction hasn’t changed much in the past century.
By and large, builders still rely on outdated materials and methods. This will be changing seeing as an investment in construction tech startups grew by 324% between 2017 and 2018. New potential technologies are shaking things up.
Self-healing and energy-generating building materials like solar shingles and AI-powered software that can instantly calculate the most efficient schedules for construction will soon become a regular part of operations.

3. Real Estate

Real estate is the largest industry in the U.S., contributing $3.5 trillion to the GDP, it is also kind of stuck in the dark ages. It relies on real estate agents, title companies, pen and paper, and numerous service providers for every transaction. Like in many other industries, however, that’s changing.
Zillow has emerged to provide a wealth of information to prospective homebuyers and even uses a feature called 3D Home to let users conduct a virtual walkthrough of a house.
Fancy tech features in the industry extend just beyond viewing homes. For example, Built is a company that digitizes what has long been a manual loan management process for banks. As a result, the role of real estate agents is likely to become less in-demand as users are empowered to buy and sell on their own with the power of technology.

4. State and Local Government

Unbeknownst to many people, state and local governments encompass the second largest industry in the U.S. Government is turning to technology to become more effective and efficient. San Francisco developed a chatbot called PAIGE that helps government departments facilitate and smooth out what used to be a complex IT procurement process.
An egg-shaped robot security guard patrols a gas station on a crime-ridden corner to help local police. As Internet of Things devices take hold, we can expect to see even more government investment in this technology. Technology has the potential to make the governments functions and processes much stronger on the local, state and even at a national level.

5. Finance and Insurance

Insurance and finance companies are some of the oldest businesses in the world — and in many cases, it shows. In the finance industry, cash was always king until the advent of credit and debit cards. Now, mobile payments are on their way to someday reigning supreme. Some countries like Sweden and China are already moving toward being cashless societies. Banks and cash will disappear, and mobile payments authorized by facial recognition will likely become the norm.
When it comes to insurance, major players are being forced to play the tech game, too. State Farm recently announced a new version of its Drive Safe & Save mobile app. Great, another way to charge us more insurance money. The app analyzes data collected by sensors and Bluetooth from smartphones that have the app installed. Tech-driven personal information is already determining rates, and that information will become even more common and accurate with time.

Technology has been changing the way companies create value for a long time. Technology still has changes that have yet to sweep across every industry. However, disruption is headed for sectors like construction, healthcare, and real estate. It’s on par with the modernization of transportation and hospitality that we saw with the rise of Uber and Airbnb.
As investors look to be a part of the next big wave of innovation, rapid developments, and more innovations will leave slow-moving organizations behind if they don’t get on board, too.

Juan’s Ready Mix

Producer Profile

Juan’s Ready Mix
2016 revenue: $475 million
Locations: 85 plants
EBITDA: 10.4%

The expense of a ticket

Juan’s Ready Mix was concerned about the costs associated with IT support for the quote-to-cash process. The CFO reviewed the spending on IT support and made a list of the process:

 

• Hardware
– servers
– data center
– installation
– configuration
– switches
– routers
– security fees
– energy (power and cooling)
– maintenance and annual support
• Software
– Systems for dispatch
– DB
– security
– mix management
– quality control
– annual support
– other
• Connectivity
– Systems for dispatch
– installation
– configuration
– support fee
– T1
– trunk
– modem
– router
– wiring
– internet line between server locations and remote sites

• Servers, switches, routers, security fees

– installation
– configuration
– maintenance
– annual support
• Labor
– Employee support, maintenance and configuration of software and hardware
– Contractors for configuration, training, support and maintenance
– Training expenses

 

The CFO recognized that any equipment or software that was 10 years or older represented a tangible risk of failure, and planned to re-purchase these items. He calculated a reasonable, ongoing amortization amount for purchasing new equipment and software. In 2017, the producer delivered 602,410 loads at an all-in cost of $2,620,000. The IT “tax” on operations totaled $4.35 per ticket or 0.55% of revenue.

The cost of the Cloud

The CFO created a technology focus group to scour the marketplace for SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings to improve the quote-to-cash process. Given the extreme age and technical obsolescence of the core dispatch software, it was difficult to find suitable “plug-in” alternatives for functional areas such as CRM. However, several component packages were identified as well as a promising quote-to-cash offering.
The SaaS offerings were found to have several key features, first of which was Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The pricing model was based on usage and thus scaled with the seasonal volume. Further, there was no need for servers, data centers, support software, or the hoard of staff required for support. Finally, and somewhat unexpectedly, data exchange and security were much better since the SaaS offerings were all based on modern tools.
As a result of the focus group’s findings, Juan’s Ready Mix began migrating away from outdated, client-server tools to modern, Cloud-based systems. The economics justified the change; but more importantly, the modern tools enabled Juan’s Ready Mix to improve business processes to reduce costs for the producer and its customers. Customers loved being able to see daily activity on mobile phones, salesmen could quote on tablets, and so much more.

Economic impact

Juan’s Ready Mix has started the process of switching from client-server based software to SaaS. The first target was an isolated group of five plants and included a complete transition to SaaS. The all-in costs of the SaaS, prior to staff training, amounted to $2.50 per ticket. This equated to a savings of $1.85, with the (invaluable) bonus of empowering better business processes. The CFO plans to complete the company-wide transition in 2019, anticipating a $1,115,000 savings, or 2.3% EBITDA improvement.

Some Concrete History

The Age of Concrete

Al-Khazneh, aka. The Treasury Monument in Petra

Proven to last thousands of years, concrete is currently one of the most popular building materials. While it’s been well studied with the Ancient Romans, they were not the first to use concrete. The Romans (~300 BC) may have used concrete in larger amounts and more regularly, but were certainly not the first.

Archaeological evidence of concrete use dates back to 5600 BC in Europe, 3000 BC in China and 2500 BC in Egypt. The oldest structures Archaeologists have found were built by the Nabataea traders using a type of concrete material to develop a small empire in the regions of southern Syria and northern Jordan around 6500 BC. They created concrete floors, fire pits, housing structures, and underground cisterns.

That Manual Panel…

That Manual Panel…

“The upgrade to a portable solution that offers complete control with a detailed record of everything was simple”

A manual push button panel is no longer part of the standard package offered by majority of batch control providers. When needed, more and more concrete batch operators worldwide load concrete manually using computer batch screen. There are many benefits to replace manual push button panels with computers. A manual panel adds complexity and unnecessary risk factors to your operations. Everything that can be done with a manual panel can be done more effectively with a smart batch control software.

Cost Factor

An electrical manual panel costs 5- 10 times more than a backup computer tower. Some may argue that it’s difficult to replace a computer in the middle of a busy morning. How about if replacing a batch computer is as easy as turning on a laptop – all you need to do is just to plug in the power cord?

Risk Factors

Okay, so nobody wants to imagine employees stealing from their own company… it is however, always good to be prepared. A manual panel increases the chance for employees to steal from the company. Without a manual panel, there is no way concrete can be loaded without turning on the batch computer. With our Pioneer batch control, everything is tracked, monitored and recorded. Managers can actually access the program via web browser in order to review inventory reports, assess batch performance, and adjust settings as needed, allowing business operations to run much more smoothly.

There is No Guarantee

An electrical manual panel is not a guaranteed backup – at best it’s a false sense of security for the event that your computer goes down. The solution for this scenario is to have a backup computer; A backup computer would be just a fraction of the price of a manual panel.

The Question You Should Ask

So next time when you need to purchase a batch control system, we hope you will ask if you really need to spend that much money for something you barely touch while you can have all manual control functions on a batch computer.

 

How Does Going Paperless Save Money?

How Does Going Paperless Save Money?

“The paperless office is possible, but not by imitating paper.” – Ted Nelson

Businesses of all sizes handle a variety of documents every day, from contracts and tickets to utility bills and inspection sheets. Printed materials are costly to produce and tend to take up lots of space in filing cabinets and folders. Here’s how going paperless with concrete ticketing software and other digital platforms can help businesses save money, space, and time.

Less Money Spent on Paper

Going paperless comes with a few upfront costs, but the long-term savings and profits make it a wise investment.

Studies estimate that companies still using physical documents spend an average of $80 per employee on paper each year. By transitioning to a paperless system, businesses across industries will reduce or phase out these expenses. Beyond the cost of paper alone, other fees including cost of labor to scan tickets, scanner expenses, carrier payments, and the charge from lost tickets (which registers even more with customers), are entirely eliminated, which should be taken into consideration.

Increased Efficiency

Going paperless can also save businesses money by increasing their day-to-day efficiency.

Organizing, filing, and searching through physical paperwork takes up a lot of time and energy. With digital documents/systems, employees can process valuable information with just a few clicks. When staff members waste less time and energy managing paper documents, they have more time to take care of business.

Without depending on paper for transactions, customer interaction is enhanced as well. Billing is easier and faster without waiting for the tickets, and customers are able to access their tickets in real-time, which reduces calls and business time spent to deal with customer inquiries.

The iStrada Platform Helps Concrete Businesses

Sysdyne’s iStrada concrete ticketing software sets a new standard for ready-mix companies looking to go paperless. By monitoring and tracking deliveries in real time and producing hot tickets electronically, iStrada allows concrete producers to invoice quicker and collaborate seamlessly with customers instantaneously. It also frees drivers from the stress of dealing with physical tickets, instead focusing on getting to the job safely and on time using custom routing and geofence features. Clients can also track their deliveries as needed and avoid having to contact dispatchers directly.

Sysdyne’s mission is to develop cloud technology solutions that revolutionize everyday business for concrete producers. Through iStrada and other solutions, Sysdyne helps concrete businesses go paperless to lower costs, improve services, and create efficiencies in their day-to-day operations.

If you’re interested in a consultation, call us today at 203-327-3649.