Michael Lombard, chairman of the board of The Lombard Company, Alsip, Illinois is a general contractor who operates his own precast concrete plant to produce panels and other members that help improve the efficiency of his jobsite concrete operations. Concrete Construction magazine interviewed him to find out what advice he might have for contractors who cast all or most of their concrete in place. Michael Lombard is also executive director of the American Society for Concrete Construction.

Q. Do you consider it an advantage to be able to work with the architect and engineer ahead of time and suggest ways to cut the cost of his job by using precast molds and facilities that you already have? A. Yes; in fact, we try to limit our work to jobs where we have the opportunity to work with the designers ahead of time. Concrete is a manufacturing operation. It's so illogical to manufacture concrete by starting out with a designer completely isolated from the production experts, so that the designer has to try to imagine the way they will do their work. If you could let them work together so the designer could understand what production operations mean in dollars and cents, the entire process would benefit.

Q. What do you think are the major pitfalls that a contractor would face if he were considering precasting? A. Handling, loading and shipping require a lot of experience. Most often additional reinforcing is required to guard against damage from handling and shipping stresses. Using the proper kind of pickup hardware and using it at the right location are important. Reducing bugholes to a minimum is an art in itself. Using a retarding agent successfully, placing of aggregates with proper distribution of particles, working with closer tolerances than are usually required for cast-in-place concrete these are only a few of the special skills required for successful precasting of concrete.