Author Archives: Enrique
For the past two weeks I have been at Hosei University here in Tokyo attending this years Youth Encounter on Sustainability course. This course unites young people from all over the world and from very diverse backgrounds to learn and talk about sustainability issues. So far it has been a great experience for me. Everyday we have had lectures, activities and discussions about this topic. Besides all these interesting things, we had the opportunity to see how Sika is involved in Sustainable development as a global company and here in the Japanese local market. People from Sika Japan went to Hosei University and gave us a presentation on how Sika is innovating in terms of Sustainability. After their presentation we were given the task to come up with ideas on how Sika could help in the near future and these ideas were projected on a painting. Some of the main ideas were bio-mimicry, green buildings & the use of renewable energy. The very next day we had the chance to visit a plant of Sika Japan. There we were welcomed by the local staff and given a brief tour through the facilities. Before the visit ended we presented our paintings to the people of Sika and offered them as a form of gratitude for all the support that this company gives to sustainable projects such as the YES Course. To finish off I would like to invite all of the Sika Experience participants to enter the next YES Course, it is truly an unforgettable experience that will change your way of thinking in positive way of course :p .
It has been more than a month now that this year’s Concrete Experience took place, but my experience with Sika did not stop there. Once I was back at my home town I received an invitation to visit the main facilities of Sika Mexicana in Queretaro from the manager of BU Concrete; Carlo Rocha. I could not say no to this inquiry, since I was interested in knowing how the company works in my country. So, this past Wednesday I hopped on a bus and traveled 7 hours to Queretaro.
The very next day Mr. Rocha picked me up from my hotel and took me to Sika Mexicana. I was warmly welcomed by the staff there and afterwards I was shown a brief presentation of how the company has developed since it was established here in Mexico almost 50 years ago. Later on I received a guided tour through the main production plant which is quite an impressive one. I saw firsthand how the additives are mixed, stored and bottled in one simple process. On the afternoon I had the chance to visit the marketing department. This department is pretty extense and very important for the development of the company here in Mexico. I got to meet the creators of Sikaman; a comic super hero, whose main enemies are water leaks and humidity. lol.
During my visit I also had the opportunity to see how the R & D department works on adapting the composition of certain products to the local materials. This is quite an exhausting process, because Mexico is an extense country and the materials vary within its territory.
On the evening I was given a short tour of Queretaro’s downtown. I was impressed by the colonial architecture of the historical buildings which gave birth to this beautiful city. I got to stand right in front of the house of “La Corregidora” which was the place where the Mexican Independence from Spain started.
On the second day of my visit to Sika Mexicana I went to the Concrete Testing lab. This is where all of the new and existing concrete related products are tested. The people there work pretty intense around the clock, because everything has to be tested and confirmed before it’s presented to the client as a possible solution.
To finish off I would like to thank all of the Staff at Sika Mexico who made this short experience possible. It was nice to see how Sika keeps the same positive and enjoyable atmosphere even in its subsidiaries.
Enrique I. Ochoa
Everything has to come to an end and this year’s Sika Concrete Experience was no exception. This past friday we had to say goodbye to all the Sika staff that guided us throughout the week. It was not a pleasant thing to do, since we all had such a great time during our stay but now we move on, leaving with much more knowledge than before. Much more important, we leave with plenty of new friends, that even though were from different cultures got along very well.
From a personal point of view I have to say that this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was a perfect combination of technical visits and information, with cultural exchange. For example, we had the chance to visit the Hagerbach tunnel on thursday morning, which is mainly a testing facility for companies involved in the development of tunnels and later on that evening we had dinner in a typical Swiss restaurant located in Luzern. In a week I had the opportunity to see first hand what it was like to work with concrete admixtures, waterproofing membranes, sealants and even how Sika develops new products through its research department.
I have to say we closed the week with an awesome event, this time it was not a construction site visit or a guided tour of a pvc membrane production plant, it was a visit to a body-flying facility. Even though today I woke up with a bit of soreness on my lower back it was definitely an extraordinary experience :) .
I would like to thank everybody at Sika who made this week a one to remember.
This year’s Sika’s concrete experience is in the mid point, having spent 4 days already in Zurich and getting to know the company a bit more. Tuesday was quite an interesting day, we got to see first hand how sika products were made in the Kirchberg admixture plant. It was very astonishing to see how the final product is made, even though there isn’t many people, lots of machines are working thoroughly to complete the production goal, which is set daily by the plant manager. Later on, we had a chance to work a bit on our mix design calculation at Sika’s Concrete BU headquarters. In the evening we took a short trip to the Aliva machine factory, which is part of Sika. There we had a chance to take a look on how such machines as simple concrete dosification pumps, to huge shotcrete machines were asembled.
On Wednesday we took a trip to the Weinberg tunnel construction site, where we were given a short presentation of the whole project and afterwards had a tour of the tunnel section, which is partially finished. Actually this day was the last day to see the waterproofing membrane in place, because by Thursday all the sections of the tunnel would be covered with concrete. After this amazing trip, we headed back to Sika where we made a Self Compacting Concrete with Sika Viscocrete. I can’t say we had the best results on our first try, but after making some adjustments and maybe using a bit of Sika Stabilizer, we managed to get quite a good concrete in my opinion.
So as you can see, our days have been packed with lots of interesting information as well as lots of hands on experience :) . I am looking forward for the last two days, which promise to be as interesting if not more than the first ones.
Monday went really fast for me; I barely woke up this morning to meet the guys for breakfast since I’m still suffering from a bit of “Jet lag”, but somehow I managed to get up. Later on we met Juerg at the reception and after a quick introduction we were on our way to Sika’s Concrete BU where we met some of the people who made our experience possible and to which we are very grateful. We had a brief presentation on Sika’s history and a guided tour of the facilities here in Zurich which I thought were very interesting and impressive. We also took a first glance on what we will be working on the next few days; “Concrete Mix Design for Self Compacting Concrete”. Afterwards we headed downtown for a quick walk and had dinner with Juerg and Oliver. I had a great experience today, not only did I learn impressive things about concrete products but also I learned a lot about Swiss culture.
Finally the day has arrived; it’s time to start the Sika Concrete Experience. I have said bye to my country and welcomed this new adventure in Zurich. I arrived early in the morning this Sunday after flying 9 hours straight from Atlanta, US and 12 in total from Guadalajara, MX. At the airport I met up with Alex, one of the other participants and after asking around a bit we found our way to the hotel, traveling by train. Luckily our hotel is just one block away from Zurich HB so it wasn’t hard to find. After checking in and catching some rest we went out to the station’s plaza in search for some food, which was not an easy task for two foreigners with no idea of Swiss cuisine. After a while we managed to grab something to catch a bite on and went on for a little walk on the Bahnhofstrasse shopping street, but unfortunately most of the stores were closed. Even though it’s only been a day, I am impressed with the friendliness of the citizens of Zurich, they kindly offer to help and everybody speaks English so it’s easy to get around.
At the moment we are back in the hotel waiting for the 3rd participant to arrive and hopefully get some dinner. Tomorrow we will be meeting up with the Staff at Sika, so I am really looking forward to it.