Loveland, CO -Sika’s mobile technical unit (MTU) is a high-tech laboratory on wheels. Marc Boudreau and Robert Kruck, the real Sika road-trippers, travel to ready mix and precast concrete customers across the country to optimize mix designs and troubleshoot problems. As you can imagine, mailing samples back and forth to a Sika lab can be a tedious process when testing a new mix design, especially for a new customer that wants to get up and running. Marc and Rob test samples onsite to find the ideal ratios between Sika’s concrete admixtures and the customer’s materials. While Marc and Rob’s combined experience have led them to recognize most issues, each stop provides a new challenge for the MTU.
The unit is deceptively well stocked with equipment. It has the capability to mimic and control a wide variety of variables that may affect the customer’s mix design. Marc explained that the most useful tool is the Calorimetry System (Sika named it Sika SemAment System) developed by Sika Technology AG. The system can relate the heat signatures between different samples throughout the curing process. Marc will use this information to alter the admixture concentrations until an optimal mix design is reached. As various types of aggregate and sand can react differently with Sika’s concrete admixtures, each customer will have a unique mix design. This process involves a great deal of problem solving, and so the MTU may be stationed at a site for an indefinite amount of time. Also, some customer’s may have specific requirements for their mix, such as sulfur resistance or a quick set time. As Marc mentioned, no stop is ever the same.
We were surprised by some familiar faces, Danny and Erica, from the Lyndhurst offices. Danny and Erica spent the week working in the MTU and helping Marc as needed. Extra hands are always helpful in the MTU, because many samples need to be tested to find the best design. Customers can also work on the design themselves with Sika’s SCC Mix Design Tool. Keep an eye out for the MTU on the road, the next stop is Bakersfield, California!