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Handling Concrete Specifications,

Low Strength Problems and Mixture Submittals



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Dealing with concrete specifications, troubleshooting low-strength problems and ensuring proper mixture submittals can be expensive and time consuming. This one-day course will get into the code and specification requirements (ACI 318, 301, ASTM C94) governing ready mixed concrete, including the new ACI Building Code 318-08 exposure categories. It will suggest specification revisions for all around benefits in performance and cost based on a specification guideline document. The guideline document is the result of reviewing numerous concrete specifications (Section 03300) belonging to large owners, and it has been reviewed and supported by the NRMCA Research, Engineering & Standards (RES) Committee.





Producers and contractors who attend this seminar will benefit in their discussions with design professionals. Equipped with in-depth knowledge about improving concrete specifications, they will better be able to address performance issues, avoid conflict, and save money. Producers, contractors, engineers and testing labs will learn much from the discussions on investigating low-strength problems, helping them to avoid issues that impact partnering, project cost and schedule. For concrete producers, understanding how to do a proper mixture submittal is an essential skill, and it will be thoroughly covered during this seminar.





Troubleshooting low strength problems is perhaps the primary reason for back charges for a concrete company. This could be almost entirely avoided by knowledgeable concrete technical personnel. The course will cover the analysis of strength test results to identify the causes of low-strength problems, including technician competence, and will provide guidance in tracking compliance with specification requirements. Other topics to be discussed include non-destructive testing techniques (such as the Rebound Hammer), core testing, evaluating core test results for acceptance, and the assignment of responsibility.

Another part of this course provides the necessary details required for an efficient concrete mixture submittal following the ACI 318 flowchart for Selection of Concrete Mixtures. Analysis of a typical mixture submittal will be conducted as a group exercise.




  1. Print-out of the presentations

  2. NRMCA Publication: Guide to Improving Concrete Specifications

  3. NRMCA/ASCC Pre-Construction Checklist

  4. Flowchart: ACI 318 Mixture Submittal Process

  5. CD-ROM of P2P (Prescriptive-to-Performance specification) documents

  6. CD-ROM of computer program for analyzing concrete test results

  7. NRMCA Publications:

    • No. 133: In-Place Concrete Strength Evaluation: A Recommended Practice

    • No. 179: Review of Variables that Influence Measured Compressive Strength

    • No. 185: Understanding Concrete Core Testing

  8. Related Concrete In Practice topics – CIP numbers 9, 10, 34, 35, and 41

  9. Selected publications by Mr. Luke Snell

Worth Over $350 Total!



The course will be taught in a one-day format.


7:30 am: Registration

8:00 am: Code and Specifications governing ready mixed concrete (ACI 318, 301, ASTM C94). (K. Obla)

9:15 am: Specification Revisions for all around benefits. (K. Obla)

10:15 am: Break

10:30 am: Mixture Design SubmittalsWhat does the Engineer want? Group Analysis of Typical Mixture Design Submittal. (L. Snell)

12:00 pm: Lunch

1:00 pm: Concrete Test ReportsWhat do they tell me? (L. Snell)

1:45 pm: What causes low strength tests and how does it affect my business? (L. Snell)

2:30 pm: Break

2:45 pm: Who is responsible for the low break (testing, construction, manufacturing). (L. Snell)

3:30 pm: Using the computer program to analyze concrete strength results. (L. Snell)

3:45 pm: Investigating concreteWhen to use NDT, coring, load test, petrography? (L. Snell)



  • Luke M. Snell, P.E., FACI, FASCE, is a Senior Materials Engineer at Western Technologies, Phoenix Arizona and is an Emeritus Professor from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He has done extensive consulting work on construction and concrete problems throughout the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, and Algeria. He has also written over 200 articles on concrete, construction materials, and construction education. Snell is the Chair of the ACI International Committee. He has been instrumental in stating ACI chapters in Mongolia, Algeria and Ethiopia and has worked with India and Saudi Arabia to start concrete certification programs. He is or has been a member of several ACI Committees. He is a Past Chair of ACI Committees 517, Accelerated Curing of Concrete; E702, Designing Concrete Structures; the ACI Chapter Activities Committee; ACI 120, History of Concrete and the Educational Activities Committee. He is also a past member of the Board of Direction. Snell is an ACI Fellow and received the ACI Joe W. Kelly Award, the ACI Chapter Activities Award, and was the ACI Educational Committee Member of the Year. He has received various other awards and was named one of the Ten Most Influential People of the Year in the Concrete Industry by Concrete Construction and Concrete Producer magazines, Construction Laureate of Mongolia, and the Henry L Kennedy Award from ACI. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Missouri, Illinois, and Arizona.


  • Karthik Obla, Ph.D., P.E., FACI, is Vice President, Technical Services at NRMCA. With nearly 25 years of experience in concrete technology, he is responsible for NRMCA’s concrete producer quality initiatives as well as various educational and technical programs. He supports NRMCA’s P2P initiative and manages all the research and testing projects at the NRMCA research laboratory. A Fellow of ACI and a winner of ACI’s Young Professional Achievement Award and ASTM Award of appreciation from the Sustainability Committee, Dr. Obla is an active member of various ACI, ASTM, and TRB technical committees. He has served as chair for ASTM 09.49—Pervious Concrete, and ACI 232—Fly Ash and Natural Pozzolans. He has published a book on concrete quality and a chapter in a book on concrete sustainability and has over 75 technical articles in journals. He holds a B. Tech in civil engineering from IIT (BHU) Varanasi, India and a MS and Ph.D from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Maryland and has served as Vice-president and President for the ACI San Antonio Chapter.



Architects and engineers will earn 8 Professional Development Hours upon completion of this program. A certificate of completion will be provided to all attendees. This program also fulfills some of the requirements for NRMCA’s STEPS Certified Concrete Professional program.




$295   (Members & Non-Members)




For more information, contact Jessica Walgenbach, NRMCA meetings director.



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