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Dayang Afiqah Binti Awg Othman1, Syahrul Fithry Bin Senin2

Faculty of Civil Engineering

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)

Pulau Pinang, MALAYSIA

Email: 1 dayangafiqah@outlook.com, 2 syahfith1@yahoo.com

The manual approach to perform an automated program for concrete mix design based on international codes which
includes British Standard (BS)and American Concrete Institute(ACI) . This approach requires interpolations on
determining the intermediate values of the variables for the concrete mix design, which is prone to human errors when
tracing out, estimating and recording values. In this work mathematical equations for concrete mix design in
accordance to the guidelines of British Standard(BS) and American Concrete Institute(ACI) were formulated to replace
the tabulated data, figures and graphs in the DOE concrete mix design charts. .This application was developed as a tool
for automated concrete mix design according to BS and ACI. The application was developed by using the tool of
WEBPLOTDIGITIZER , MICROSOFT EXCEL and MATLAB as programming language. When executed and used
for concrete mix design, the application is able to reduce the computation time ,human error and energy which were
inherent in the manual process. The developed application was intended to ensure a user friendly environment and do
a proper adjustments for the final mix proportions. This application is useful to produce an optimum of a normal
concrete mix design that served the required compressive strength.

American Concrete Institute Method of Mix Design

(ACI 211), DOE (British) Mix Design Method and
1. Introduction Australian Standard to mention but a few. Mix design
is needed to minimize the cost and produce the most
In construction sector, concrete is the primary material
practical of concrete mix design, to achieve the
in the construction industry along with steel. Concrete
desired workability in the plastic stage, to achieve the
is the second largest material used after food and water
desired minimum strength in the hardened stage and to
(Adegbola and Dada, 2012). It is made by mixing
produce a concrete with the desired durability in the
cement, water, fine and coarse aggregates and
given environment conditions. If the property of
sometimes admixtures in their right proportions to
workability is not achieved, it cannot be properly
obtain the specified property. Concrete mix design is
placed and compacted.
the process of selecting the appropriate ingredients
such as water, cementitious material and aggregate On the other hand, improper concrete mix design may
along with the correct proportions using suitable lead to design proportion issues, material issues and
method according to each standard that has been external issues. This is because when the concrete mix
selected by each country. However to achieve an is being made, the concrete mix will be assessed and
optimum design is something that need proper tested based on its slump. However , these inspection
method, wide knowledge and with the help of good may face failure in trial mix, where it need to be
calculator or software that can produce an optimum designed and mix again which lead to high cost of
design. Optimum means economical such that cost of labour and issues of material. Thus, most of the
all ingredient of concrete mix design is to be construction process the engineers will skip this step
minimized but has a good workability and desired or continue with the mix design even though the
strength. There are several methods that has been desired workability is not achieved. This is the reason
produced and improvised to meet the desired aspects why software is needed to aid the user so that the user
such as Concrete mix proportioning guidelines can use less time, less cost and labour.(Gendaij &
(Bureau of Indian Standards -I.S.10262-2009), Juris,1998)
There are few cases of structure failure in Malaysia developing mathematical nonlinear regression
due to poor concrete mix design. Though most failure equations relating concrete properties parameters fck,
in the building caused by various factors, wrong w/c/ slump, etc to facilitate the prediction process of
concrete mix design also may contribute to the failure. concrete properties using MATLAB. Specific
When the concrete mix design does not achieve it commands and method on designing the programming
compressive strength, this directly cause the concrete code for concrete mix design will be applied based
cannot accommodates the strength which it supposed upon the guidelines and procedure for each design
to resist. codes. In this research, the most crucial stage is during
the determination of free water cement ratio as it
There are few failure cases in the world that resulting affects the whole concrete mix design calculations.
from improper concrete mix design such as
Bangladesh Building Collapse in Dhaka and 2000 The developed nonlinear regression equations will be
Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. (Norbert,2009) fitted by power law function and compared with the
stated that improper concrete mix design and not manual calculation. Using the
prequalified concrete mix design were one of the WEBPLOTDIGITIZER software, the points that lies
significant findings done by a commission that had on the curves can be digitized.
been appointed by the mayor of Boston which the
components used were not allowed by the designers This steps is focused finding the relationship which
specification such as calcium chloride as accelerator includes relationship between compressive strength
and the result from the chemical analysis were low of and free water cement ratio ,estimated wet density of
cement content .Poor quality concrete is one major fully compacted concrete and recommended
reason to low strength of concrete .(Okoloekwe & proportions of fine aggregates according to percentage
Okafor,2007). However an inspection conducted passing a 600m sieve The data points will be
showed that the concrete amount was sufficient but the adjusted so that it will follow the curve of the graphs
amount of water ratio is too high leading to high and the gap of each points are adjusted so the accuracy
workability property. From the authors point of view, will be improved. This step will only be applicable for
Bangladesh Building Collapse in Dhaka collapsed graph that possessed nonlinear relationship. Even
may be attributed to low amount of cement though estimated wet density of fully compacted
(Gavin,2013). These two failure cases are enough to concrete graphs and recommended proportions of fine
prove that how important is concrete mix design to aggregates according to percentage passing a 600m
achieve structural safety and integrity. This is crucial sieve graphs are nonlinear graphs, points are digitized
as it will determine the life span of the elements, fire to be used for further coding in the MATLAB.T he
resistance and serviceability of the concrete upon the decimal points of the output are set to 4 decimal places
purpose of the building to be built which directly to on obtaining a better precision interpolated values by
save budget and time. Thus, this application will allow MATLAB. The first step is to convert the actual
the user to design concrete mix based on the graphs into digital image before being analyzed by
international codes with less errors, less time and cost Microsoft Excel. The format of the graph must be in
savings. It is important to aid the professionals and image format. The picture will be converted into jpg
the researchers in the process of designing the format after taking a screenshot of the graph. The
concrete mix. The trend on using the computer for scale is set for y and x axis. In this software the points
most computations, a computer-aided approach to the must be draw over the curve in order to digitize the
design of concrete mixes is becoming a welcome data. These data points will be used to develop a
practice.(Okoloekwe & Okafor,2007) mathematical equations by using EXCEL.

Data points that had been extracted from the graph of

2. Methodology
relationship compressive strength and free water
This section will focus on the activities planned for cement ratio will be saved in EXCEL. A scattered
this work from the preliminary stage to the final stage graph will be chosen as this points produced a
of concrete mix design software application based on nonlinear graph. The data points of the graphs plotted
international codes. The approach adopted for this with EXCEL were selected by right-clicking on them.
study is by accumulation of data from the literature The Add Trendline, Display Equation and
review and self conducting of proportioning concrete Correlation (R-square) Values option was then
mix design. The software that be used for conducting selected to generate and display the equations.
this study is using MATLAB, WEBPLOTDIGITIZER Exponential equation is chosen as it has the best curve
and EXCEL . This study focuses on the method of fit.
ACI is a standard that has many tables and has no content
graphs while BS has many graphs and tables to
produce a proportion of concrete mix design.There are
ACI standards are simpler compared to BS standard as
many commands will be required in MATLAB which
it has many tables which will only requires simple
will determine the proportions of concrete mix
interpolation and a few data are standard. Thus the
designs. The input command for strings can be used to
values taken are already stated and ready to be used
allow any valid combination of letters, numbers, and
such as estimation of mixing water and air content.
symbols. Therefore input command to obtain titles of
The command will be frequently used in this standard
plots, file names, and other words or collections of
is conditional statement, interpolation, simple
characters which may want to be used later. Each
mathematical equation and input. ACI standard has 9
conditional statement requires the end keyword. Non
simple steps that will be used to develop code in the
linear equation which will be used to solve free water
MATLAB which are material information, choice of
cement ratio will use eval command. The eval
slump, maximum aggregate size, estimation of mixing
command is one of the most powerful and flexible
and air content, water cement ratio, calculation of
commands in MATLAB. eval is short for evaluate,
cement content, estimation of coarse aggregate
which is exactly what it does; it evaluates MATLAB
content, estimation of fine aggregate content and
expressions. Any command can execute from the
adjustment for moisture in the aggregate.
MATLAB prompt, eval can be used to execute the
command from an M-file. Some of the more common In order to validate the developed program, five
uses for eval are to load and save files with variable examples for each of the BS concrete mix design code
filenames, shell out (!, not supported on the and ACI standard. Each example will be done for
Macintosh) to the operating system, and concatenate different strength class which are 25 MPA,30 MPA, 35
strings. MPA,40 MPA and 50 MPA with changes made in the
surface condition of the aggregate, were run separately
BS standard required user to input characteristic
both manually (using the BS and ACI code) and the
strength of concrete, days of the cement strength,
generated equations program. The time taken for each
proportion defective, margin if required, standard
concrete mix design examples were recorded and
deviation if specified, cement strength class, aggregate
analyzed for determining the effectiveness in terms of
type for fine and coarse aggregate, maximum water
time reduction of the program.
cement ratio, cement content, maximum size of
aggregate, relative density of aggregate and per trial 3. Results And Discussion
The developed application is to be run with MATLAB
ACI standard required user to collect data such as 28
which will print the output of the concrete mix design
days characteristics compressive strength, bulk density
for BS code and ACI code.
of crushed aggregate, free surface moisture of sand,
absorption capacities of coarse aggregate, fineness The time execution is done by manually and by the
modulus of fine aggregate, proportion defective, past program approach for all five examples of each the
records of standard deviation if specified, the presence codes. It is as represented in Table 1 and Table 2.
of air entrained, slump value, maximum size of Example 1 in Table 1 which required the most time
aggregate and water cement ratio by exposure to run compared to the other 4 examples is because more
the application. input and information are required to be input by the
user which take the most time. Contrary to example 3
BS standard procedures are divided into 5 stages
which the input for the program and specified
which includes several calculations and data collection
information less. Here means that example 1 has more
which shown as below:
calculation required with more information such as
1 stage: margin,margin,
Characteristics strength, standard deviation, standard deviation
target mean and cement
strength, content while
cement strength
example 3 has the information of margin
class, type for fine and coarse aggregates, free water cement ratio, maximum free waterand cement
ratio. MATLAB will done the calculation.

ACI standard time execution is in the range below

2nd stage: Slump or Vebe time, maximum aggregate size, free water content
3rd stage: Cement content, maximum cement than 1 minute. Thiscement
content,minimum is because the calculation
content, run by
midified free water
cement ratio the MATLAB is much easier where it only need to do
4th stage Relative density of aggregate, concretesimple
density,interpolation from
total aggregate the tables. The most time
5th stage taken
Grading of fine aggregate, proportion of fineisaggregate,
from example 2. Table content,
fine aggregate 1 and Table 2 shown
coarse aggregate
that by using the program approach it is more efficient 2 7:40.58 0:48.72
with percentage error is within the permissible limit.
3 7:11.11 0:40.28
The percentage errors of the results of variables of
4 7:05.19 0:39.11
concrete mix design calculated with the program to
those of the values available in the BS concrete mix 5 7:35.04 0:47.84
design code with the highest value of 4.5627% which
is cement content occurring in application in Table
3.Contrary to ACI standard the percentage error is Table 3. Percentage Error of Program Results
very small with the highest is only 3.625% and the Compared to BS Code Values for Application of
lowest percentage error is nearly 0 %and 0.02%. The Concrete Grade 30
main reason for this difference between the results
generated by the program and those available in the


(round to 5kg) Program



(round to 5 kg) Manual

% Error
BS code is that some parameters in the code are
usually estimated in ranges and then a considerable
value within the range is picked. Also, there are
usually occurrences of double approximation or
rounding up in the manual or code method. The water Target 46 46 0
content, for example, when calculated is usually
rounded to the nearest 5Kg immediately. Thereafter, Free 0.46 0.468 1 .
this same value is divided by the free-water cement water/ceme 739
ratio to obtain the cement content. The cement content nt ratio
Proportion 27 26.70 -
also will be rounded up to the nearest 5kg. The
of fine 6 1.089
proportion of fine aggregate for example is usually aggregate
estimated in the range of a to b and then say c, Total 1892. 1906. 0.757
in which c is a value bounded by a and b. The aggregate 17 5 3
equations and the program, however, give exact values content
Free water 160 160 160 160 0
of these variables and parameters of concrete. content
Cement 347.8 350 342.1 340 -
Table 1. Time executed of the Generated Application content 3 9 4.562
for BS standard. 7
Fine 510.8 510 509.1 510 -
Applicati Manual Approach Automated Approach aggregate 9 4 0.342
on content 5
Example min:sec min:sec Coarse 463 465 465.7 465 0.600
aggregate 8
1 8:34.19 1:08.59 mm)
Coarse 926 925 931.5 930 1.140
2 7:53.97 0:48.72 aggregate 6 9
3 8:10.90 0:47.83 mm)

4 7:55.67 0:51.25
Table 4. Percentage Error of Program Results
5 8:27.36 0:53.85
Compared to ACI Code Values for Application of
Concrete Grade 30

Table 2. Time executed of the Generated Application

for ACI standard.

Applic Manual Automated

ation Approach Approach
le min:sec min:sec

1 6:59.99 0:35.18
Manual (Adjustment for water absorption and free surface moisture)
Program(Before adjustment for water
Program(Adjustment for water absorption and free surface moisture)
Concrete Variable

% Error
Ce 4 4 4 4 -

Manual(Before adjustment for water

me 4 4 4 4 0
nt 4 5 4 4 .
co . . . 1
nte 4 4 4 2
nt 4 4 4 5
Fin 7 7 7 7 -
e 2 3 1 2 1
ag 0 2 8 9 .
gre . . . 5
gat 8 5 3 2
e 6 3 0
absorption and free surface moisture)

co 8
absorption and free surface moisture)

Tar 3 3 - nte
get 7 7 0 nt
me . . . Co 9 9 9 9 1
an 4 3 1 ars 9 8 8 9 .
str 2 8 0 e 2 2 2 2 0
en 5 2 ag . 1
gth 2 gre 0 8
Fre 0 0 0 gat 8 3
e . . e
wa 4 4 co
ter/ 5 5 nte
ce nt
rati 4. ConclusionAnd
Co 8 8 - Recommendations
ars 8 5 3
e 2 0 . Mathematical Equations for concrete mix design,
ag . . 6 adjustments and optimization in accordance with
gre 7 7 2 British Department of Environment (DOE) and
gat 5 5 5
American Concrete Association method have been
co coded into computer programs written in Java
nte programming language using MATLAB The
nt developed software are presented as a replacement to
Fre 2 1 2 1 0
the tabular data, figures and charts available in the BS
e 0 9 0 9 .
wa 0 9 0 9 0 and ACI concrete mix design manual usually used for
ter . . 2 conventional concrete mix design. The need to:
co 1 1 0 minimize considerably the expended human energy
nte 0 4 and computational errors; reduce the time taken in the
concrete mix design process; eliminate interpolation of
data, and optimize the desirable constituents of
concrete to achieve optimum compressive strength at
minimum cost, necessitated this work. All these needs
were met in the developed programs. It is
recommended that, in future, the scope of this work be
extended from the design of normal weight concrete to
other types of concrete such as heavy weight, light
weight, pumpable concrete and to be developed with
other international codes. Also, it is desirable that a
thorough research into verification with laboratory
work to prove the reliability of this application.

5. References
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