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Pick a mix Free copies of a powerful concrete specification program are on offer. NCE reports.

ConSpec is a Windows-based computerised concrete specification system currently based on BS 5328. It was developed under a Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Partners in Technology scheme by the Ready-mixed Concrete Bureau using Posford Duvivier and the Concrete Research & Innovation Centre at Imperial College.

It enables specifiers to select concrete mixes for individual structural elements, to examine the effects of different environmental and exposure conditions on the mix and to check whether a designated mix would satisfy the requirements as an alternative to a designed mix.

In addition to this, the specifier has the opportunity to compare the range of mixes specified for any group of elements and to rationalise the number of mixes on the basis of similarities or volumes. Finally, the program will output mix specifications in the familiar format of Forms A to D of BS 5328 as appropriate.

On entering the program, the user selects an existing project, or defines a new one, and then selects or defines an element group (such as '1st Floor'). Elements are then chosen from a built-in table and can be modified and/or added to a user table if required.

Basic element data is entered, for example dimensions, required design concrete strength and so on, and this is followed by environmental data. The user selects an exposure class and, if required, a sulphate class. Alternatively, test results can be input together with details of groundwater mobility, and the program will apply this and other data to BS 5328-1 : Tables 7c and 7d to determine sulphate class modifiers if appropriate.

For designed mixes, the users can specify the rates of sampling and can give information on the method of placing and on workability. In addition, there is a facility to add project specific notes.

Once all of the data has been entered, the 'specific mix' option is selected. At this stage the program checks for missing data and gives advice. The type of mix is selected and the appropriate form is generated (Form A for designed mixes, Form D for designated mixes).

Certain parts of the forms can be edited if desired and they can then be printed for inclusion in tender documents or use with order forms for fresh concrete. The program also handles prescribed and standard mixes.

As well as handling all the nuances of BS 5328, ConSpec also has the facility to invoke the mix limitations of BS 8007 and BS 6349-1 for water- retaining and maritime structures respectively.

ConSpec has been written in such a way as to enable the introduction of EN 206 (with all of its complexities) to be incorporated in a relatively straightforward manner. Development work is under way for providing updates via the Internet.

ConSpec includes a Help system, accessible from within the program, which makes substantial reference to an electronic version of the publication The essential ingredient, available from the RCB.

Copies of ConSpec are available free of charge from the RCB until 31 December.

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