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July/August 2009

Vital Partners

After more than 100 years, the ASTM International/ACI partnership
continues to thrive

Partnership is an integral part of nearly every human endeavor, with a strong union yielding benefits for everyone involved. The partnership between ASTM International and the American Concrete Institute exemplifies this concept.

“In terms of influence on the concrete industry, it’s huge,” says Tony Fiorato of the longtime relationship between ASTM and ACI. Fiorato should know, as he is a past chair of ASTM’s board of directors as well as a past president of ACI.

The partnership between ASTM and ACI dates back to the beginning of the 20th century with the development of the ACI Building Code. By 1920, the ACI Code was already citing ASTM material standards. An official memorandum of understanding between the two organizations was signed in 1936. In this MOU, ASTM agreed to address material specifications and test methods, while ACI would cover concrete design and construction practice. ASTM Committee C09 standards often reference ACI standards, while ASTM standards are referenced in ACI standards, including ACI 318, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete.

In a January 1999 SN interview, then-ASTM Chairman of the Board James Pierce, also a past ACI president, noted that ASTM and ACI signed the 1936 agreement in order “not to reinvent the wheel. A convenient split was arranged. ACI would handle design and construction standards and ASTM would handle test methods and materials standards for ‘off the shelf’ products.”

“The ASTM/ACI partnership lays the groundwork for the standards that are used for design, construction and quality assurance of concrete construction,” says Fiorato. “Without ASTM and ACI standards in this arena, you’d have some serious problems in building.”

Pierce said that the arrangement has lasted because it is member-driven. “It has been a very equitable and workable agreement, easily followed, and it has withstood the test of time.”

Fiorato feels a large shared membership contributes to the strength of the ASTM/ACI collaboration. As an example of how the work of the two organizations benefits the construction industry, Fiorato points to the way that ASTM and ACI standards facilitate the development and use of new technology.

“By either revising existing ASTM standards or developing new standards, new technology can be adopted and reliably used in construction specifications,” says Fiorato.

ACI’s manager of engineering, Dan Falconer, notes that the concrete industry needs both material and construction standards to allow firms to bid projects with confidence. “All bidders on construction projects know they need to base their bids according to ASTM and ACI requirements,” says Falconer

An example of this is self-consolidating concrete. ASTM standards developed by Subcommittee C09.47 on Self-Consolidating Concrete, such as C1610/C1610M, Test Method for Static Segregation of Self-Consolidating Concrete Using Column Technique, and C1611/C1611M, Test Method for Slump Flow of Self-Consolidating Concrete, have provided the standardization necessary for measuring performance of this new technology, while the inclusion of these standards by reference in ACI standards permits appropriate use of the technology.

Fiorato also notes that both organizations continue to contribute to their partnership, with regular meetings occurring between the leadership of ASTM Committee C09 officials, and the ACI Technical Activities Committee. These meetings allow for discussion of issues, help ensure there is no overlap of standardization work and identify opportunities for collaboration.

Ultimately, what binds ASTM and ACI together is simply a shared dedication to excellence in standardization of technical information. “The key to development of infrastructure is having world class standards to assure performance and that’s what ASTM and ACI produce,” says Fiorato.