The 38th International Cement Seminar & Exhibition (ICSE) was held Nov. 19-21 in Atlanta at the Cobb Galleria Center. The show – produced by SEMCO Publishing, the owner of Rock Products, Cement Americas and Concrete Products magazines – was an unqualified success.
The theme of the show was Cement Technology and Transformation, and more than 400 attendees pursued just that, visiting the almost 100 exhibitor booths and taking in 18 educational seminars.
The Keynote Address, by Edward Sullivan, senior vice president and chief economist, Portland Cement Association, was attended by more than 120 people. "I did my first-ever forecast at a previous version of this show 18 years ago in Chicago," Sullivan said. "It's good to have the show back."
Sullivan warned attendees not to listen to dire warnings of a recession that some economists are trumpeting. While he maintains the economy may be slowing there are too many signals that point to stability and expansion, such as the coming economic impact of millennials and future population growth.
"Recessions typically occur because imbalances materialize, and there is a sectoral retreat in response to these excesses," Sullivan said. "Nothing lies on the near-term horizon that seems particularly threatening."
Sullivan cautioned attendees on the role of debt as an economic stumbling block, noting that debt is not as much of an issue as long as there is growth. He also pointed to the rising costs of healthcare and how that might impact the priorities of Congress. He said if it is a question of, "Are we going to vote for pills for grandma, or infrastructure," then grandma wins every time.
Sullivan also expanded on his fall Cement Forecast, which calls for cement consumption increases of 2.3% in 2019, 1.7% in 2020, 1.3% in 2021, 1.7% in 2022, 2.6% in 2023, and 2.7% in 2024.
ICSE Show Director Michael Schoppenhorst was pleased with the show, which is a reboot of an event that ran for many years before going on hiatus. "The manufacturers and service providers who serve the cement industry expressed a desire for a cohesive fall event heavy on equipment and technology with plenty of opportunities for face time, and we provided them with just that," he said. "They were very satisfied with the quality of the attendees, and the educational program was tremendous."
The 18 educational sessions covered critical areas such as plant automation, energy, logistics, artificial intelligence, process optimization, maintenance and more. There were also several sessions on how to navigate an MSHA inspection.
"Every educational session had something proactive to offer attendees," said Rock Products and Cement Americas Editor Mark Kuhar, who organized and moderated the sessions. "We wanted to convene a program specific to actionable intelligence so operators could take ideas of practical value back to their jobs with them, and this program hit it out of the park."
There was also a four-part Concrete/Cementitious Materials track moderated by Concrete Products Editor Don Marsh.
“Thanks to experts from Thomas Concrete of Georgia, Boral Resources, CarbonCure Technologies, Huber Carbonates and SEFA Group, attendees were updated on concrete technology developments driven by environmental or material supply chain concerns across architecture, engineering and construction,” said Marsh.
The show concluded with a special tour of Argos USA's Atlanta grinding facility. Located in the heart of Atlanta along the Chattahoochee River, a cement plant was first built on the site in 1962 and production following in 1963 with one kiln and one mill. After five years, a second kiln and mill were added and would produce for the Atlanta plant for the next 38years.
In 2006, kiln operations ceased as a result of environmental emissions. Despite no longer producing clinker, the Atlanta cement plant is a unique asset within the Argos universe of operations, since it hosts the company’s color lab and color blending operation, as well as its grinding capabilities.
In addition, the plant has the logistical capability to receive materials and ship to Argos’ customers by rail or truck. The plant employs 40 active, non-union employees with an average of more than 22 years of service who are highly dedicated to supporting Argos’ values of safety, community engagement and environmental responsibility.
Next year's International Cement Seminar and Exhibition will take place Nov. 10-12, 2020, again at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta.