FHWA Reaches out to Contractors at WOC

Jan. 24, 2024
Mobile lab travels the country to help with concrete performance

By Harlee Hewitt, Associate Editor 

Tucked away in the corner of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Silver Lot, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Mobile Concrete Technology Center might be one of the most important features at this year’s World of Concrete.

Some contractors might see the word ‘Federal’ and think getting them involved with a project is indicative of a misstep. However, the Mobile Concrete Technology Center (MCTC) exists to be a resource to help industry professionals improve their concrete performance.

The unassuming trailer travels across the country each year at the request of state departments of transportation, construction companies, and contractors to visit applicable job sites where the MCTC team have the capability to conduct conventional destructive tests as well as nondestructive tests to provide insight to maintain material consistency, durability, and quality.

According to Senior Concrete Engineer, Mike Praul, he and his team are called out to do “the good stuff for pavement.”

On day one of the trailer arriving on the jobsite, Praul said the team takes a fresh concrete sample for testing. Once an initial test is performed, a series of tests for durability of the concrete can then be performed on site. This includes a box test to assess how well a mixture will be consolidated with a given amount of energy and a surface resistivity test that tests the concrete’s resistance to chloride ion penetration.

Another function of the MCTC is education. During the second and final week of the MCTC’s site visit, the team hosts an open house for local agencies, contractors, suppliers to demonstrate the technologies they use to promote the use of underused and unknown technologies that can save time and money on site.

Outside of the four to five visits the MCTC makes to jobsites throughout the year, the team also conduct “technology tours” out of the vehicle to promote underused and unknown technologies they use that can save time and money on site.

Any department or independent can request to borrow the MCTC’s technology to test for themselves on any jobsite before any investments are made.

Praul’s hope for their appearance at World of Concrete is for contractors to understand them as a resource to be utilized. Whether that includes helping them upgrade their concrete specifications or educate them on technology and tests to utilize.

Looking ahead, Praul said the team is excited to receive and show off a new mobile technology center later this year at the ACI Concrete Convention in Philadelphia. The new center will enable more educational events which the team hopes to expand.

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