Author Archives: Alex
I remember it was a cold Sunday Steps Of Text Your Ex Back morning when I first landed in Zurich. I met Enrique and Serkan for the first time. Strange feeling but didn’t took us long to get acquainted while having a week of fun filled educational journey onto the concrete world with Sika. That was about a year ago!
There were some significant changes in my career after the last Sika Experience episode. And I thought it would be good to share my story which I see from different angle after my involvement with Sika.
Sometime in late 2011, I was involved in a geotechnical exploration project in the tropical island of Borneo for a proposed dam. I was lucky enough to experience the last few pieces of pristine rainforest of Borneo by trekking on foot and camped for a week while carrying out the field studies. It was an amazing untouched virgin forest with some of the oldest and largest trees and home to unique rainforest biome in the South East Asia. The development plan is underway, and substantial area within the vicinity of the river basin will be transformed into massive water retaining structures. Trees will be chopped down to make way for access road. Ultimately, it is for the benefit of the people, it provides continuous water supply and alleviate flood problem to the growing concrete city. But come to think of it, the conflict between social need and our environment is bound to happen. When I relate, it makes sense that Sika watertight and concrete durability solutions would ease this case.
Fast forward to this year, I got an employment opportunity in Australia where I experienced a different landscape. While working in consultancy predominately in the mining industry, I had the chance to visit some of the largest iron ore mine sites in Pilbara. I thought its worth to mention a bit of this arid and tropical part of the continent. Most of the inland are plains, occasionally covered by sparsely grown spinifex and underlying the Pilbara are mostly basalt rock formed from volcanic activity with banded iron formation and some localised areas characterised by sedimentary rock surfaces and red sand dunes. It’s like a piece of desert blessed with hidden treasures you can think of that way.
There are massive expansion projects going on and studies are underway. Fret not, these guys take serious considerations in every aspect of the land development including impact on the environment, heritage sites and social (aboriginal). Therefore you could still experience the outback, some preserved oasis in the middle of the desert, turtle nesting on sandy beaches and abundance of national parks worth some visits.
This industry has started long time back but with the technology we have today, mass extraction of mineral deposits from the earth is made possible. While it is good for the economy (ignore current dip of iron ore prices at this time of writing), we know that the depletion of resources is inevitable and is going on fast rate.I am interested to discover how Sika contributes to the mining industry, how South Americans operate their mine and looking forward to read more posts from the winners of Sika Mining Experience 2012. Perhaps we can learn something from different perspectives we never thought or imagine before.
I would say we are very lucky to live in this era when its only require a few clicks to get connected with the outside world and get to see what our global peers are doing. I would encourage young professionals & students to participate Sika experience as you could gain understanding on its sustainable business and operation models. This blog itself serves as a platform where participants from different culture and background could express their views and learning outcomes. I hope to read more posts from new comers of Sika Experience as well as updates from its alumni. Cheers!
A one whole week of Sika concrete experience is now over. It has been a packed week but absolutely worthwhile for me.
We got a chance to an underground at the Hagerbach Tunnel in Sargans. It is an experimental tunnel where companies and agencies get to conduct tests in the facility that has close resemblance to the site in question. I personally think this was a good visit as we were provided with details on the major works involved in tunnel constructions such as blasting, drilling, shotcrete-ing, membrane installations and laboratory testing.Sika has quite a good stretch of section in there too.
I just love this photo! It’s an old wooden truss bridge in Lucerne.
Juerg and his wife took us to the mountains this morning. It was pretty impromptu as we decided to go Mt. Titlis in Engelberg after much discussion (and votes) inside the car. Lovely couple they are :) After experiencing breathtaking views up to the 3km alt peak and a cup of coffee infused liquour, we left with sheer satisfaction. Did your party win the election today, Juerg? hehe.
Well, besides the technical info we received from Sika experts, this trip was also interesting in term of cultural learning as we exchanged our way of living amongst Swiss, German, Mexican, Turkish and Malaysian. Although we came from distinctive backgrounds and cultures, the bridge of thinking and interaction that we have built within a short period of time is just amazing. This trip has been very fruitful for me and I must admit that this is one of the best experiences I ever had. This would be my last night in Switzerland for this trip and i will definitely come back again one day :)
Day 2 & 3 passed in a blink of an eye…..
The 2nd day of Sika concrete experience started with a lovely sunny morning. Oliver picked us up for an hour road journey to Kichberg where a Sika admixtures plant is located at. We met Walter there and he explained the production of concrete admixtures from raw materials to the final products ready to be transported throughout Switzerland. We were quite impressed with the automated approach that has enabled such a scale to operate by less than 10 crews.
In the afternoon, we headed back to Sika BU concrete office in Zurich and worked on SCC mix design. It was quite a bit of a challenge as we have to strike the balance between targeted performance and the cost incurrence. The software developed by Sika came handy but the mix design for SCC does require understanding on the individual material properties and their relationships in the composition. It was a good exercise as we realise the difficulties in hindsight. Credit to Oliver for sharing his technical know-how in this.
We then went to Widen and had a tour in Aliva-Sika workshop where all the fabrication and manufacturing of Sika machines such as pumps, dosing units, concrete spraying systems and etc are taking place. In fact, before this, I did not know that Sika is producing mechanical products. These guys in Aliva can virtually fabricate all sorts of part that would meet the clients’ requirements. Brilliant. The day was ended with a gratifying moment at typical Swiss dinner.
This morning (3rd Day), we went to the Weinberg tunnel project site in Zurich with Juerg. It was an interesting and a challenging job site as it is located below a dense part of Zurich. Among many other major constraints for this project were the tunnel passage under Limmat river and the logistics for burrow materials. Essentially impermeable concrete is required and no prize for guessing which company plays this pivotal role. Thanks Andreas for the insight!
From the SCC mix design that we came out yesterday, we finally have the chance to test it at the laboratory in the afternoon. The first trial was lack of cohesiveness and the flow slump was slightly lower than what we have expected. We made an adjustment by adding more water and superplasticizer (Viscocrete 25MP) which had yielded better outcome. The density of the fresh concrete that we got was relatively good and it also indicates the self-compacting was working. Oliver was kind enough to demonstrate the use of Sika stabilizer admixture that improves the characteristics of SCC when it is really necessary.
We’ve got our free time for the evening and we have arrived at a common consensus to dine in an Italian restaurant and had a couple of drinks. Its pretty late and I have to stop for now as we have to get up early tomorrow for a trip to Lucerne. Good night :)
The Sika Concrete experience started today at the BU concrete’s office where we received warm welcome from the affable staffs of Sika. We were given a quick overview on the company history and its operations through presentation slides from Juerg. The company makes a lot of progress since its inception 100 years ago, no doubt about it. We then moved to technical discussions especially on the self-compacting concrete (SCC) and it followed by a tour to the laboratory where we got to see a fraction of superplasticizer power produced excellent flowability and virtually no vibration or whatsoever required after the placement of SCC. Amazing invention to facilitate the casting of concrete in difficult conditions (Like the thin concrete wall of prison toilet :p ).
The rest of the day was spent on the introduction of concrete mix design software that we will be using tomorrow before we get our hands on the concrete ingredients. The day was concluded with Zurich city tour and dinner with Juerg and Oliver. Thanks guys :)
After 13 hours of flight journey, I finally disembarked in the beautiful city of Zurich. Met Enrique at the airport and headed to the Hotel where it is located next to the Zurich HB. Excellent connectivity! As it was still early in the morning, we both amble along the Bahnhofstrasse Street and its surrounding areas. The city features well-maintained historic buildings and relics. Coupled with the chimes of church bell, it was a perfect setting to the reminiscent of the past. Shops were closed on Sunday, probably an indication on how important spending time with family is for the local people. People who we get to talked with were extremely friendly and helpful.
Serkan joined us in the evening and it’s pretty interesting to note that the three participants are from considerable different sides of the world, Enrique from the west, Serkan from the mid whereas myself from the East. Anticipating the kick-off of Sika tour and concrete experience tomorrow!