Fritz-Pak's Prepackaged Admixtures Offer First Aid for Concrete
Anyone who has worked with fresh concrete knows how time-sensitive and perishable it can be, especially when unexpected delays occur. Fritz-Pak Corporation manufactures and sells admixtures that can restore loads of concrete that might otherwise be rejected due to delays or other complications.
But what really distinguishes Fritz-Pak's admixtures is the packaging, which offers the ultimate in dispensing convenience. The handy water-soluble bags of quick-fix powders are ready to use whenever and wherever needed. Simply toss a bag or two into a batch of concrete, whether it needs first aid at the plant, on the road, or at the jobsite.
"The main value of our products is their application versatility, which allows users to modify concrete anywhere more efficiently," says Gabriel Ojeda, Fritz-Pak's owner and president. "For example, a truck carrying a load of concrete may get stuck in a traffic jam, and the ready-mix producer will need to extend the life of the concrete with a retarder. Or the concrete may arrive on time, but one of the contractor's employees decides to quit or a bull float handles breaks, so the contractor will need to retard the concrete to make it workable longer."
Ojeda acquired the Dallas-based company, formerly named Fritz Industries, in 1998. Originally, the company specialized in producing powdered admixtures for cement grouts used in the oil-well industry but decided to diversify into the construction market after discovering the potential applications of its products for modifying concrete. To successfully enter this market, however, the company had to set its products apart in an admixture industry largely dominated by companies supplying products in liquid form. "We had powders, they had liquids. And we were competing against some very large companies. That's how the concept of the water-soluble bags came to be. The idea was to provide the same chemicals, previously available only in a liquid form, as a powder—preweighed, premeasured, and easy to use," Ojeda explains.
Extensive research went into the development of the patented water-soluble bags. The first materials introduced in this innovative packaging were Mini Delayed-Set and Standard Delayed-Set for retarding the set of concrete and for overnight stabilization of wash water from ready-mix operations. After the successful introduction of these products, Fritz-Pak added air entrainers, water reducers, and superplasticizers to its admixture line. Further research led to the development and patenting of Slick-Pak and Slick-Pak II concrete pump primers and pumping aids. Other products include Fill Flow for the production of flowable fill, Air-Minus for reducing the amount of entrained air in concrete and cement-based materials, and Super Slump Buster for decreasing slump at the jobsite.
Three notable new product offerings from Fritz-Pak are Expo-Rock concrete surface retarder, NCA non-chloride accelerator, and Rescue-Pak, a first-aid kit for solving common concrete problems.
Used for producing decorative exposed-aggregate finishes, Expo-Rock is the only surface retarder available in a dry form rather than as a bulk liquid. Packaged in the 1-pound water-soluble bags, the concentrated retarder is easily mixed with water in the field for application by low-pressure sprayer. The bags also are less hassle to store and haul to the jobsite than heavy drums of liquid surface retarder. "Instead of buying a 55-gallon drum weighing 500 pounds, a contractor can buy one case (50 bags) of Expo-Rock weighing only 50 pounds and make what he needs when he needs it," says Ojeda.
Fritz-Pak introduced its NCA non-chloride accelerator at this year's World of Concrete. Added at a dosage rate of one to three bags per cubic yard of concrete, the powdered accelerator is a convenient solution for contractors who need to shorten the set time of concrete at the jobsite. It does not contain calcium chloride, which can promote steel corrosion, or calcium nitrite, which can be hazardous to the environment.
Rescue-Pak, which made its debut at the 2001 World of Concrete, contains six of Fritz-Pak's most effective admixtures for solving problems in the field. "Rescue-Pak is a new way of solving the most common problems that can occur with concrete at the jobsite, whether your slump is too high or low, your air is too low, you can't pump it, or you need additional placement time," says Ojeda.
Fritz-Pak sells its products worldwide, through a network of about 40 distributors. They are marketed to ready-mix producers, concrete contractors, pumpers, and small precast companies. "We don't differentiate," says Ojeda, emphasizing that the bagged admixtures can meet the needs of a broad spectrum of users.
The challenge, he says, is to educate customers in all markets about the potential applications and benefits of the admixtures. "We're getting a lot of demand now for our admixtures in the decorative stamped concrete market, primarily for retarders. These contractors have a very narrow window of time in which they can make their impressions. If they have a very large area to cover and not enough workers, they aren't able to do it. Using our retarders, they can place half of the concrete and retard the remaining half. This gives them time to work on the first half before the second half begins to set."
Ojeda says that it costs about $10 to purchase enough Fritz-Pak set retarder to treat a truckload of concrete, or less than a penny per square foot. And it gives decorative contractors the ability to control the concrete, rather than let the concrete control them.
To help contractors understand just how much control they can achieve, Fritz-Pak is stepping up its educational efforts. "Often contractors don't know that you can change the concrete," Ojeda explains. "Their expertise lies in the placing techniques rather than the properties of concrete. We are developing a series of less-technical bulletins explaining how concrete works and how you can modify it."
Fritz-Pak also provides easy access to product bulletins and Material Safety Data Sheets for each admixture. These materials are available for immediate download from the Fritz-Pak website and on a CD-ROM.
"The more people know about our products, the greater their ability to use them to make better concrete," says Ojeda.
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Anne Balogh writes feature articles each month for The Concrete Network ( www.concretenetwork.com). She is a freelance writer based in Glen Ellyn, Ill., and a former editor of Concrete Construction magazine.