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Setting the scene for San Antonio

World Cement,


This year’s venue for the IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Conference is San Antonio, Texas. It’s the first time the annual conference has been staged in this historic city and as the publicity states, delegates arriving for the five-day event will receive “a warm Texan welcome!”

As with every IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference, it simply would not be possible without the dedication and hard work undertaken by the members of the local committees. The 2012 committee, led by Corinne Prince-Fields, Chair, together with Clifton Stapleton, Vice Chair, has promised a new technical format that includes concurrent sessions. In addition to over 30 presentations and tutorials (included in the conference fee), all delegates will once again want to hear the PCA’s Ed Sullivan as he delivers his thoughts on the state of the industry and predicts what lies ahead in this American election year and into 2013 – 14, while a global perspective will be provided by Paul Roger of Exane BNP Paribas. The 160 booths in the exhibition area are destined to attract many visitors, especially as for the first time the exhibit hours have been increased from 8 to 12 hours.

Once again, delegates have been invited to visit two cement plants: TXI’s Hunter plant and the Cemex Balcones plant. At the TXI plant, visitors will be able to see work in progress on the installation of the new line 2, which is on course to be commissioned in October of this year. The Cemex plant is considered to be one of the company’s most modern facilities in North America. Full descriptions of both plants will appear in the May issue of WORLD CEMENT.

Interview with Corinne Prince-Fields, Chair, 2012 San Antonio Committee.

There are two firsts in relation to this year’s IEEE-IAS/PCA Conference: it’s the first time that San Antonio, Texas, has been selected for the venue and a first for Corinne Prince-Fields as she occupies the Chair.

Corinne has certainly been very involved with IEEE/PCA work since joining the West Coast IEEE Committee as its secretary six years ago. She also joined the PCA’s Manufacturing Technical Committee (MTC) and became a member of the Environmental, Energy and Sustainability working group in 2007, and then the Executive Committee in 2011. Most recently, she served as Vice Chair for the site selection working group. In addition to being actively involved in organising the regional conferences, Corinne served as secretary for the 2011 St. Louis local organising committee.

It is well known that the North American cement industry is still experiencing difficult times. This is an election year, so I asked Corinne whether she thinks that the Administration will be able to conjure up some infrastructure investment to aid the cement industry’s recovery? “The economic downturn has impacted manufacturing across the nation and beyond,” says Corinne. “As a result there are multiple industries vying for the same business/markets. The cement industry is employing a multi-pronged effort to position cement and concrete as the most cost-effective, viable and sustainable construction material for state and municipal construction projects. Although there appears to be a consensus among politicians that major infrastructure projects will have a significant impact on job creation, it remains to be seen whether Congress will pass any relevant and impactful bills during this election year.”

The proposed NESHAP regulations still cast a long shadow across the cement industry. Corinne meets many clients as she travels around the country. How are the cement producers responding to the implementation of these regulations? Corinne confirms that the entire industry is deeply concerned about the impact of the NESHAP regulations. “Cement manufacturers are having to plan for a moving target, but plan nevertheless. The final result of these regulations may or may not be impacted by pending legislative and legal actions.”

“The activity we are seeing is a flurry of data-gathering and budget scope development. Cement producers are responding very differently from company to company and from region to region. There is an important geographic component to the competitive landscape in this industry. Implementation of NESHAP strategy may include shutting down certain operations, which means that most of these organisations are not publicising details of their compliance plans. The technical content of this year’s conference will focus on NESHAP compliance to address many concerns and offer solutions to compliance challenges.”

There was a very emphatic reply from Corinne to a question about whether the local Committee was planning any specific change in the format for this year’s Conference. “Yes! The IEEE/CIC and the PCA organisations are seeing somewhat of a shift in their strategy for this conference. With the understanding that attendance by producers drives the success of the conference, the goal is to provide a relevant and viable product that will promote attendance even during economically challenging times. If the attendees obtain valuable and usable information, travelling to the event will have a measurable return on investment for their respective businesses.”

Interview with Clifton Stapleton, Vice Chair, 2012 San Antonio Committee

Clifton Stapleton, this year’s Vice Chairman for the San Antonio Conference, started out in the cement industry 30 years ago. Clifton has been attending the IEEE/PCA Conferences for years. Prior to this Conference he had never been involved in planning any such event. As he says: “It has been a very challenging and educational experience. I have a very strong and experienced team working with me and I am sure this will be one of the best conferences. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other members of our team, many of whom are from other companies and from different areas. With the conference being held in San Antonio, it brings a unique regional flavour.”

The IEEE/PCA has positioned itself as one of the major cement conferences in the world. This has been brought about by dedicated and enthusiastic individuals in the North American cement industry who have successfully organised the event for 54 years. I asked Clifton what he considers will be the major challenges facing the industry in the coming years? “As with recent developments, environmental regulation and sustainability will continue to grow in its importance to our industry. Some examples include the recent actions by the EPA in establishing new regulations for the industry, the pending regulation of waste materials as fuel, consideration of materials such as utility flyash for additional regulation, and the greenhouse gas ‘tailoring’ rule. From a sustainability standpoint, the industry is continuing to find ways to utilise alternative fuels and raw materials to improve efficiency and I believe this will continue to grow in the coming years. Finally, as the world economy seeks to return to growth, process efficiency and technological developments in our industry will also be seen as highly important and I believe will be significant features to future conferences.”

In response to questions about what Clifton would most like to get out of the 2012 Conference, he says: “In this downturn economy, I believe our industry becomes much stronger through working together and through collaboration. Putting all of our knowledge and expertise together under one roof in this format, we are bound to come up with some unique and innovative solutions to the many challenges facing the industry. This is really summed up well in our conference motto: ‘Sustainable Strength through Innovation’.”

This article is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the March 2012 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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