On-Site Magazine

Relearning our rules of thumb

By Adam Freill   


Adam Freill

Over the span of several weeks earlier this year, I spent a fair bit of time immersed in the concrete segment of On-Site’s areas of coverage. Not unlike many sectors of Canada’s construction industry, it too is undergoing some significant challenges and changes, which is why I am grateful for events like the recent Concrete Paving Seminar, presented by Concrete Ontario and the Cement Association of Canada, as well as major shows like the Canadian Concrete Expo and World of Concrete, all of which are featured in our April edition.

These events help keep the industry on top of new technologies and tools, as well as regulatory and best practice issues that are constantly evolving.

While listening to discussions about new approaches to concrete mixes at the paving seminar – changes to materials that are becoming more of a focus as the industry seeks to reduce its carbon footprint – a comment from years ago came back into my head.

When the refrigeration sector was moving away from R-22 gas, the industry was hit with a wide array of replacement options, and more complexity. It prompted an industry veteran I knew to quip, “It is time to rethink your old rules of thumb.”


Hearing about cement alternatives and the need to focus on the performance of the finished product brought back a flood of memories.

It is never a bad thing to re-examine our processes. And this rethinking of our old rules of thumb is not just for the cement and concrete sector. The words, “That’s how we’ve always done it,” are killers of evolution and efficiency, after all.

As technology advances throughout the construction industry, we would be well served to re-examine the assumptions that many of us use in our daily activities. Apps are changing our task lists and new building materials are impacting everything from cost expectations to labour needs and timeframes.

It’s not a bad thing to recalibrate our tools every now and then, and the best tool any of us brings to our worksites is the one between our ears.

Until next time, stay safe and do good work.


Adam Freill




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