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ACI MATERIALS JOURNAL

TECHNICAL PAPER

Title No. 112-M34

Optimization of Lightweight Concrete Process by GrayTaguchi Method


by Mariam Farouk Ghazy and Mohamed Fattouh Abd El Hameed
This study investigated the multi-response optimization of lightweight concrete (LWC) process for an optimal parametric combination to yield favorable compressive strength and density using
the Taguchi approach coupled with gray relational analysis (GRA).
Sixteen experimental runs based on an orthogonal array of Taguchi
method were performed to optimize the process parameters within
the experimental domain. The performance characteristics have
been selected in relation to parameters of LWC: type of lightweight fine aggregate (LWAFA); replacement ratios of LWA (fine
and/or coarse) by volume of normalweight aggregate (NWA); and
percentage of foam agent. Optimal results were verified through
confirmation experiments. It will be helpful to the engineers in
deciding the levels of the LWC parameters for desired performance
characteristics.
Keywords: crushed shale bricks; gray relational analysis; lightweight
concrete; lightweight lime bricks; perlite; polystyrene foam; silica fume.

INTRODUCTION
The first known use of lightweight concrete (LWC) dates
back over 2000 years. There are several LWC structures in
the Mediterranean region, but the three most notable structures were built during the early Roman Empire and include
the Port of Cosa, the Pantheon Dome, and the Coliseum.1
The use of LWC is usually predicated on the reduction of
project cost, improved functionality, or a combination of
both. Estimating the total cost of a project is necessary
when considering LWC because the cost per cubic yard
(cubic meter) is usually higher than a comparable unit of
ordinary concrete.
Recently, with the challenge of the development of
concrete constructions, high-rise buildings, and long-span
concrete, LWC has been a promising modern construction
technology. In comparison with ordinary concrete structures, lighter weights, the ability to reduce the dead load
of structures, reduced footings sizes, smaller dimensions,
higher specific strength, and better thermal insulation can be
obtained by replacing normalweight aggregates (NWA) with
or partially by lightweight aggregate (LWA).2,3 LWA are
broadly classified into two types: natural (pumice, diatomite,
volcanic cinders), and artificial (perlite, clay, sintered fly
ash, expanded shale).
Structural lightweight aggregate concrete (SLWAC) has
been viewed differently since the early 1990s. The technological development of high-performance concrete, the
advances in manufacturing LWA, the new durability and
applicability requirements of concrete and the oil industrys interest in using these materials for offshore rigs
have all contributed to a new generation of SLWAC. This
ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

is why research on SLWAC has been intensified in the last


20years.4-9 In the twentieth century, a number of studies had
been done in an effort to evaluate the potential of crushed
brick as concrete aggregate.
A comprehensive experimental study on SLWAC was
carried out involving more than 50 different compositions
of strength classes ranging from LC20/22 to LC60/66 and
density classes from D1.4 to D2.0.5
Sintered fly ash aggregates were used in the LWC as partial
of fine and/or coarse aggregates. The effects on the strength
and elastic properties of concrete mixtures were reported.5-7
Perlite is a siliceous volcanic glass, the volume of which
can expand substantially under the effect of heat. Mixtures
were prepared by partially replacing natural aggregate by
expanded perlite (0 to 100%) and as a result, unit weights
of LWC in fresh state varied between 43.7 and 124.84 lb/ft3
(700 and 2000 kg/m3). The mixture produced using 20%
perlite has a compressive strength of 2544.12 psi (17.3 MPa)
and can be classified as a SLWC.8 High-strength SLWAC
with compressive strength in the range between 4926.47 and
7720.59 psi (33.5-52.5 MPa) and unit weight in the range
between 101.44 and 131.4 lb/ft3 (1625 and 2105 kg/m3) is
produced using perlite as fine aggregate.9
Mixture proportion parameters of expanded polystyrene (EPS) LWAC (ranges from 15% to 25% by volume
of concrete) are analyzed by using Taguchis approach.2
The results show that EPS dosage has the most significant
effect on compressive strength of EPS LWAC, then watercement ratio (w/c), while the content of cement and sand ratio
play a comparatively less important part. The polyurethane
(PUR) foam concrete thermal conductivity and compressive
strength are, respectively, two to seven times and two to 17
times lower than those of the reference mixture.10
The literature revealed that a large number of studies2-10
were carried out related to the LWAC, and these studies are
still being conducted. In the past research, several experimental studies have been done with different compositions
of LWAC to characterize the behavior, quality, and properties
of LWAC. However, there are still gaps in understanding the
properties and behavior of LWAC. One reason is that LWAC
properties can vary depending on the type of LWA and
their replacement used; therefore, any conclusions are only
ACI Materials Journal, V. 112, No. 3, May-June 2015.
MS No. M-2013-358.R2, doi: 10.14359/51687235, received May 10, 2014, and
reviewed under Institute publication policies. Copyright 2015, American Concrete
Institute. All rights reserved, including the making of copies unless permission is
obtained from the copyright proprietors. Pertinent discussion including authors
closure, if any, will be published ten months from this journals date if the discussion
is received within four months of the papers print publication.

365

valid for specific cases studied. Another reason is that much


research has been conducted using a one-factor-at-a-time
experimental approach. The amount of fluctuations in the
experimental results reveals that process variables involved
in the LWAC process are dynamic in nature and process
responses are significantly related with simultaneous variation of parameters during experiments. Therefore, the design
of experiments (DOE) technique has been applied to make
the process reliable and to study the effects of the process
parameters on different process criteria simultaneously.
In this study, three factors at four levels and one factor
at two levels were chosen as control factors. Normally, the
full-factorial design would require 43 21 = 128 experimental runs. However, the effort and experimental cost
for such a design could be prohibitive and unrealistic. The
Taguchi-based DOE technique has been applied to plan
the present experimentation. Only a few authors have
used the DOE technique in the domain of civil and/or
structural engineering.11,12
The Taguchi method is a systematic and powerful tool
for designing and analyzing the experiments for improving
product quality. For the optimal selection of process parameters, the Taguchi method has been extensively adopted
in manufacturing to improve processes with a single
performance characteristic.2,11-13 However, the traditional
Taguchi method cannot solve multi-response optimization
problem. To overcome this, the Taguchi method coupled
with GRA has a wide area of application in manufacturing
processes.14-16 This approach can solve the multi-response
optimization problem simultaneously. As a result, optimization of the complicated multiple performance characteristics can be converted into the optimization of a single gray
relational grade (GRG). In recent years, GRA has become
a powerful tool to analyze the processes with multiple
performance characteristics.
To the best of the authors knowledge of this work, there is
no published work evaluating the optimization and the effect
of process parameters on the multi-performance characteristics in LWC by using GRA. Hence, it is a good idea to
perform a comprehensive investigation using GRA to optimize the effect of LWC parameters for desired performance
characteristics. Thus, the results can be used by the engineers who are willing to search for an optimal solution of a
LWC process.
Deng17 proposed GRA to fulfill the crucial mathematical criteria for dealing with a poor, incomplete, and uncertain system. In a system that is complex and multi-variety,
the relationship between various factors is unclear. Such
systems often are called gray, implying poor, incomplete,
and uncertain information. Their analysis by classical statistical procedures may not be acceptable or reliable without
large data sets that satisfy certain mathematical criteria. The
gray theory, on the other hand, makes use of relatively small
data sets and does not demand strict compliance to certain
statistical laws, such as simple or linear relationships among
the observables.
In GRA, black represents having no information and white
represents having all information. A gray system has a level
of information between black and white. In other words, in
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a gray system, some information is known and some information is unknown. In a white system, the relationships
among factors in the system are certain; in a gray system,
the relationships among factors in the system are uncertain.
GRA is an impacting measurement method in gray system
theory that analyzes uncertain relations between one main
factor and all the other factors in a given system. In the case
when experiments are ambiguous or when the experimental
method cannot be carried out exactly, gray analysis helps
to compensate for the shortcomings in statistical regression.
GRA is actually a measurement of the absolute value of the
data difference between sequences, and it could be used to
measure the approximate correlation between sequences.
This study investigated the multi-response optimization
using Taguchi method coupled with GRG to achieve favorable compressive strength and density of LWC simultaneously. Finally, necessary confirmation tests were conducted
to validate the experimental results.
RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE
This study investigated the multi-response optimization using Taguchi method coupled with GRG to achieve
favorable compressive strength and density of LWC simultaneously. It will be helpful to the engineers in deciding
the levels of the LWC parameters for desired performance
characteristics.
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE
Materials, mixture proportions and experimental plan
MaterialsThe constituent materials used in this study
were locally available materials specified by the following:
1. Cement: Grade 6250 psi (42.5 N) ordinary portland
cement was used in this investigation. Cement is conforms
to the EN 196-1:2005 standard specification.
2. Silica fume: Silica fume of mineral admixtures was
used as 10% addition of cement weight. It had 75,000 cm2/g
specific surface area, as given by the manufacturer.
3. Normalweight aggregates (NWA):
Fine aggregates: Medium well-graded natural siliceous
sand with a fineness modulus of 2.76 was used. Measurements of unit weight and specific weight were 99.88 lb/ft3
(1600 kg/m3) and 2.5, respectively.
Coarse aggregates: Natural well-graded crushed bazalt
with angular particles of a maximum nominal size of
0.492in. (12.5 mm) was used. The surface of the particles
was rougher. Measurements of unit weight and specific
weight were 96.75 lb/ft3 (1550 kg/m3) and 2.55, respectively.
4. Lightweight aggregates (LWA):
Coarse aggregates LWACA: crushed shale bricks (Csh)
was used with 0, 10, 20, and 30% replacement of bazalt by
volume. Csh were crushed to size of approximately 0.492 in.
(12.5 mm) by using crushing hummer and then grinded for
determined by experiments aiming at the percentage passing
as used bazalt, as shown in Fig. 1. Measurements of unit
weight and specific weight were 68.66 lb/ft3 (1100 kg/m3)
and 1.9, respectively.
Fine aggregates LWAFA: four types of LWAFA: 1) polystyrene foam (F); 2) perlite (P); 3) crushed lightweight lime
bricks (aerated concrete) (CL); 4) and mixture of crushed
ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

Fig. 1Grading of used fine and coarse aggregates.


shale bricks and lightweight lime bricks (CSL) were used
with 10, 20, 30, and 40% replacement of natural siliceous
sand by volume. Polystyrene foam panels used in the
building industry were provided by a manufacturer of insulation panels with a diameter of 0.079 to 0.197 in. (2 to 5mm).
Waste crushed shale bricks and lightweight lime bricks from
the manufacturer were crushed to size of approximately
0.2in. (5 mm) by using a crushing machine and mixed with
a percentage of 1:1 by weight. Figure 1 shows the grading
of used fine and coarse aggregates. Measurements of unit
weight were 1.25, 6.87, 41.2, and 68.66 lb/ft3 (20, 110,
660, and 1100 kg/m3), respectively, for F, P, CL, and CSL.
Specific weights were 0.04, 0.66, 1.2, and 1.7, respectively.
Fine and coarse aggregates conformed to the requirements
of ASTM C330.
5. Admixtures:
High-range water-reducing admixture (HRWRA) was
used in all mixtures with different dosages to keep plastic
consistency of concrete that satisfies the requirements of
ASTM C494 Type F. Its dosage ranged from 0.6 to 2.5% by
cement weight, as given by the manufacturer.
Foaming agent admixtures: a liquid admixture (LCr) for
concrete and mortar was used to produce LWC. Recommended dosage (by weight of cement) for classified lightweight concrete is 0.5 to 2.0% and introduces air pores up to
35%, as given by the manufacturer.
Mixture proportionsSixteen different concrete mixtures
were designed by the absolute volume method. Four type of
LWAFA (F, P, CL, and CSL) were used as a partial replacement by volume of natural sand, with ratios of 10, 20, 30,
and 40%; Csh (lightweight coarse aggregates LWACA)
with ratios of 0, 10, 20, and 30% by volume of bazalt (B)
and LCr (foaming agent) with two dosages 1 and 1.5%
by weight of cement. These mixtures were prepared with
842.74:84.27:278.11:16.85 lb/yd3 (500:50:165:10 kg/m3) for
cement, silica fume, water, and HRWRA, respectively, and
(sand + LWAFA)/(B + LWACA) was 0.35/0.65 by weight. The
air entrainment was approximately 10% and 15% by volume
of concrete for LCr 1% and 1.5%, respectively. Table 1 gives
the concrete mixture proportions.
ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

LWA granules were pre-wetted initially with a part of the


mixing water. First, cement, silica fume, and water together
with HRWRA was added and mixed for 3 minutes. Second,
fine aggregate was added and mixed for 3 minutes, then the
coarse aggregate and the LCr admixture were added and
mixed for another 5 minutes. The concrete specimens were
cast in steel molds and compacted on a vibration table. After
demolding at 24 hours, the specimens were cured in water
for 7 days and then kept in a laboratory with a room temperature of approximately 77F (25C) with relative humidity
over 60% until time of testing.
The slump test was used to quantify the workability
of concrete according to the procedure described in
ASTMC143. The unit weight (density) of the freshly mixed
concrete was determined in accordance with ASTM C138.
The lightweight concretes displayed good workability with
minimum water content without any segregation. The addition of HRWRA was very efficient in increasing or keeping
the plastic level of workability. The proposed concrete
proportioning allowed the creation of plastic lightweight
concrete mixtures with measured slumps between 3.94 and
7.87 in. (100 and 200 mm).
A hydraulic testing machine with a total capacity of
450 kip (2000 kN) was used for testing cubes specimens
3.94 x 3.94 x 3.94 in. (100 x 100 x 100 mm) in compression
after 28 days.
Experimental planIn this study, four parameters were
used as control factors. The code and levels of control
factors are shown in Table 2. The experimental plan based
on the Taguchi method was used. The Taguchi method is
an efficient method of design experiments. It is a concise
and fast way of determining the influence of factors of a
process or product. It provides a systematic approach to
optimize designs for performance and quality. Taguchi has
developed a system of tabulated designs (arrays) that allow
for the maximum of main effects to be estimated in an unbiased (orthogonal) manner with a minimum number of runs in
the experiments. However, according to Taguchi, the experiments could be organized into only 16 runs. The orthogonal
array L16 according to Taguchi is shown in Table 3.
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Table 1Concrete mixture proportions


Bazalt
replacement, % LCr, %

Mixture
no.

Fine aggregate
replacement, %

F, 10

F, 20

Mixture proportion, kg/m3


Slump,
(5) mm

Cement

Silica
fume

Water

Sand

LWAFA

Bazalt

LWACA

HRWRA

LCr

160

500

50

165

430.1

0.75

887.5

10

10

160

500

50

165

382.3

1.53

798.7

66.1

10

F, 30

20

1.5

160

500

50

165

303.52

2.1

644.2

120

10

7.5

F, 40

30

1.5

160

500

50

165

260.2

2.8

563.6

180

10

7.5

P, 10

30

1.5

160

500

50

165

390.2

11.44

563.6

180

10

7.5

P, 20

20

1.5

160

500

50

165

346.8

22.9

644.2

120

10

7.5

P, 30

10

160

500

50

165

334.5

37.8

798.7

66.1

10

P, 40

160

500

50

165

286.7

50.5

887.5

10

CL, 10

20

160

500

50

165

430.1

22.9

710

132.3

10

10

CL, 20

30

160

500

50

165

382.3

45.9

621.3

198.4

10

11

CL, 30

1.5

160

500

50

165

303.5

62.4

805.2

10

7.5

12

CL, 40

10

1.5

160

500

50

165

260.2

83.3

724.7

60

10

7.5

13

CSL, 10

10

1.5

160

500

50

165

390.2

29.5

724.7

60

10

7.5

14

CSL, 20

1.5

160

500

50

165

346.8

59

805.2

10

7.5

15

CSL, 30

30

160

500

50

165

334.5

97.5

621.3

198.4

10

CSL, 40

20

160

500

50

165

286.7

130

710

132.3

10

16

Note: 1 lb/ft = 16.02 kg/m ; 1 in. = 25.4 mm.


3

Table 2Factors and their levels


Symbol
A

Control
factors
LWAFA

Table 3Experimental plan using L16 OA-based


Taguchi method

Levels

Variables (control factors)

Unit

Type

CL

CSL

Experiment no.

Density,
lb/ft3 (kg/m3)

1.25
(20)

6.87
(110)

41.2
(660)

68.66
(1100)

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.1

0.1

LWAFA

10

20

30

40

0.3

0.2

0.15

Csh*
(LWACA)

10

20

30

0.4

0.3

0.15

Foam agent
(LCr)

0.1

0.3

0.15

1.5

0.2

0.2

0.15

0.3

0.1

0.1

0.4

0.1

CL

0.1

0.2

0.1

10

CL

0.2

0.3

0.1

11

CL

0.3

0.15

12

CL

0.4

0.1

0.15

13

CSL

0.1

0.1

0.15

14

CSL

0.2

0.15

15

CSL

0.3

0.3

0.1

16

CSL

0.4

0.2

0.1

Replacement by volume of NWA; F: foam; P: perlite; CL: crushed lightweight lime


bricks;
*

CSL: crushed shale bricks and lightweight lime bricks (1:1); and Csh: crushed shale
bricks.

In the Taguchi method, a quality loss function or mean


square deviation (MSD) is used to calculate the deviation
between the experimental value and the desired value.18 The
MSD of the lower-the-better can be expressed as

MSD =

1 n 2
yi (1)
n i =1

The MSD of the higher-the-better can be expressed as


368

MSD =

1 n 1

n i =1 yi2

(2)

where y represents the experimental observed value of the


experiments, and n is the number of times each experiment
is repeated.
The value of the loss function is further transformed into a
signal-noise ratio (S/N). Here, the terms signal represents
the desirable value (mean) and noise represents the undesirable value (standard deviation). Thus, the S/N represents
ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

Table 4Experimental results of responses and


their S/N

Table 5Response table for S/N ratio of density, db


Level

Experiment No.

R1, lb/ft3

R2, psi

S/N for R1, db

S/N for R2, db

65.31

65.80

65.74

65.57

121.7

3676.5

65.80

27.96

65.44

65.55

65.57

65.52

115.5

2647.1

65.34

25.11

65.63

65.47

65.49

113

2573.5

65.15

24.86

65.79

65.35

65.36

110.5

2500

64.96

24.61

Delta

0.47

0.45

0.38

0.05

118.6

2794.1

65.58

25.58

Rank

114.2

3676.5

-65.25

27.96

Contribution

34.81

33.33

28.15

3.70

118.6

4117.6

65.58

28.94

115.5

2794.1

65.34

25.58

121.7

4044.1

65.80

28.79

10

118.6

3970.6

65.58

28.63

Level

11

121.72

3676.5

65.80

27.96

25.63

27.88

27.27

27.06

12

115.5

3382.4

65.34

27.23

27.01

27.32

27.62

26.87

28.15

26.59

27.11

Table 6Response table for S/N of compressive


strength, db

13

124.9

4235.3

66.02

29.19

14

124.9

3529.4

66.02

27.60

27.06

26.07

25.86

15

115.5

2500

65.34

24.61

Delta

2.52

1.81

1.76

0.18

16

121.1

3235.3

65.76

26.85

Notes: R1: density; R2: compressive strength; 1 lb/ft3 = 16.02 kg/m3; 1 psi = 0.0068 MPa.

the amount of deviation present in the performance. The S/N


can be expressed as

i = (S/N) = 10log(MSDi)

(3)

ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF


EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
Parametric optimization of single performance
characteristic
The original response values for density and compressive
strength and the corresponding S/N for the experimental
trails in different process parameters are listed in Table 4.
According to the performed experiment design, it is
clearly observed from Table 4 that Experiments No. 4 and
13 are the best process parameters setting for lowest density
and maximum compressive strength, respectively.
In addition to the determination of optimum LWC parameters for each response, the response table from Taguchi
method was used. Because the experimental design is
orthogonal, it is possible to separate out the effect of each
process parameter on the response at different levels. The
procedure is: 1) group the S/N by factor level for each
column in the orthogonal array; and 2) take the mean of
them. For example, the mean of the density for the type of
light aggregate (factor A [type of LWAFA]) at Levels 1, 2, 3,
and 4 can be calculated by averaging experiments 1 to 4, 5
to 8, 9 to 12, and 13 to 16, respectively.
The mean of compressive strength for each level of the
other process parameters can be computed in a similar
manner. The results for both the density and compressive
strength were listed in Tables 5 and 6, respectively. Regardless of the category of the performance characteristics, the
largest S/N corresponds to better performance. Therefore,
ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

Rank

Contribution

40.19

28.87

28.07

2.87

the optimal level of the process parameters is the level with


the greatest S/N. From Table 5, the optimal process parameter levels for density can be shortly given as for A1B4C4D2.
From Table 6, the optimal factor setting for compressive
strength becomes A3B1C2D1. The pore and rough surface
texture of used CL (A3) crushed lightweight lime aggregate
bricks LWAFA and (B1) 10% replacement by volume with
natural sand is conducive to a good mechanical interlocking
between the CL and the surrounding hydrated cement paste,
which resulted in an increase in compressive strength.
Moreover, (C2) replacement 10% with Csh by volume of
bazalt resulted in the same trend for increase in compressive strength. Due to the lower crushing of Csh compared to
basalt resulted in decrease the compressive strength at high
replacement ratio. Foam agent (LCr with 1% by cement
weight [D1]) introducing air in the form of small bubbles
having a total volume of at least 10%. Therefore, foamed
concrete has low compressive strength at higher dosage
(1.5%). Compressive strengths presented in this study are in
the range from 2500 to 4235.3 lb/ft3 (17to 28.8 MPa), which
conform to the requirements of ACI codes1,19 as structural
lightweight concrete.
The difference between maximum and the minimum value
(delta) of the S/N for the density are listed in Table 5. The
most effective controllable factor was the maximum of these
values. On the other hand, the significance of the role that
every controllable factor plays over the performance characteristic can be obtained by examining these values. The effect
of each control factor can be determined from the value of
delta, based on which Table 5 shows that factor A (type of
LWAFA) has the largest delta and thus has the most significant influence (Rank 1) on the density. Due to the lower
density of different used lightweight aggregates, the fresh
density of the concretes was significantly reduced. From
369

i = 1,2...n; k = 1,2...m

the analysis of Table 5, it was observed that the percentage


contribution of the control factors affecting the density is A
(34.81%), B (33.33%), C (28.15%), and D (3.7%). Table 6
shows that factor A (type of LWAFA) has the most significant
influence on the compressive strength and its percentage
contribution is 40.19%.

Parametric optimization of multi-performance


characteristics
The use of the quantity model of GRA establishes the
analytical processing step that includes the following steps14:
Step 1: In the gray relational analysis, a data preprocessing
is first performed to normalize the raw data for analysis.
Normalization is a transformation performed on a single
data input to distribute the data evenly and scale it into an
acceptable range for further analysis. In this study, a linear
normalization of the observed values is performed in the
range between zero and unity, which is also called the gray
relational generating xi(k), is normalized as (0 xi(k) 1)
by the following formula to avoid the effect of adopting
different units and to reduce the variability. The normalized
compressive strength corresponding to the higher-the-better
criterion can be expressed as

min = min in=1 min mR = i x0 (k ) xi (k )

is the smallest value of xi(k)

max = max ny max mk =1 x0 (k ) xi (k )

is the largest value of xi(k)

xi (k ) =

yi (k ) min yi (k )
(4)
max yi (k ) min yi (k )

The density follows the lower-the-better criterion and can be


expressed as

xi (k ) =

max yi (k ) yi (k )
(5)
max yi (k ) min yi (k )

Now a normalized matrix is generated with Eq. (4) and (5).


Step 2: From the normalized matrix a reference sequence
x0(k) is determined as the largest value of normalized value
for each response.

x0(k) = maxi=1xi(k) (6)

The next step is to construct the difference matrix by taking


the difference between the normalized entity and reference
sequence (value)

0i (k ) = x0 (k ) xi (k )

(7)

Afterward, the gray relation coefficient i(k) for the k-th


performance characteristics in the i-th experiment can be
calculated to express the relationship between the ideal
(best) and actual normalized experimental results. The gray
relational coefficient is

i ( x0 (k ), xi (k )) =

min + y max
(8)
i (k ) + y max

where xi(k) is the value after the gray relational generation;


minyi(k) is the smallest value of yi(k) for the k-th response,
and maxyi(k) is the largest value of yi(k) for the k-th response.
370

where n is the number of experimental data items, and m is


the number of responses.
xo(k) is the reference sequence (xo(k) = 1), and xi(k) is the
specific comparison sequence.

where is the distinguishing coefficient, which is defined


in the range 0 1. The LWC process parameters are
equally weighted in this study; therefore, is 0.5.
Step 3: The measure of the relevancy between two
systems or two sequences is defined as the GRG. The GRG
is determined by averaging the gray relational coefficient
corresponding to each performance characteristic. The
overall performance characteristic of the multiple response
process depends on the calculated GRG. The GRG can be
expressed as

i =

1 m
i (k ) (9)
m k =1

where i is the GRG for the i-th experiment, and k is the


number of performance characteristics.
The values of GRG are transformed into S/N. Further
analysis is carried out based on these S/N values. The GRG
is a higher-the-better performance characteristic because
the maximization of the quality characteristic of interest is
sought and can be calculated using Eq. (3). The higher GRG
reveals that the corresponding experimental result is closer
to the ideally normalized value. Tables 7 and 8 show the
above calculated data for each experiment using the L16 OA.
Experiment 7 has the best multiple-performance characteristic among 16 experiments because it has the highest GRG,
as shown in Table 8. The higher the value of the gray relational grade, the closer the corresponding factor combination is, to the optimal. A higher GRG implies better product
quality; therefore, on the basis of the GRG, the factor effect
can be estimated and the optimal level for each controllable
factor can also be determined.
Step 4: Determine the optimal factor and its level combinationThe mean of the GRG for each level of the LWC
parameters is summarized in the response table (Table 9).
Figure 2 shows the main effect plot of GRG. From this
figure, it is observed that the variation of parameter C (Csh
%) has a great influence on GRG, which increases with
parameter C at first, and then it decreases when parameter C
is varied from Level 2 to Level 4. It is observed that parameter C has a critical role on the overall GRG during the LWC
process. It is revealed from the same figure that the factor
A (type of LWAFA) has the same trend of factor C (Csh %).
The critical value of factor A is at Level 3 (A3). However,
ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

it is found to be decreased with increase in factor D (foam


agent %) in the considered range. From the same figure, it is
obvious that factor B (LWAFA %) has the weakest effect on
GRG. With the help of Fig. 2 and Table 9, the optimal parametric combination (the optimal selected levels are bolded

Table 7Sequences data after data preprocessing


(normalization)
Reference/comparability sequence

R1

R2

Reference sequence

Experiment No. 1

0.22

0.68

0.65

0.08

0.83

0.04

1.00

0.00

0.43

0.17

0.74

0.68

0.43

0.93

0.65

0.17

CONFIRMATION TESTS
Because the optimal combination of process parameters
is selected from the response tables according to Taguchi
analysis, the confirmation tests are processed. It is a good idea
to plan on running an additional few samples at the optimum
condition. The confirmation tests serve two purposes. First,
they establish the new performance at the improvement
achieved. Second, they allow the experimenter to determine
how close the estimate is to the results observed. The result
expected is considered to be confirmed when the mean of
a number of samples tested at the optimum condition falls
close to it.
The results of confirmation experiment are compared
with the initial conditions of design operating parameters.
It is obvious from Table 8, that Experiment No. 5 has the
lowest GRG value (0.423) compared to the other experiments. Therefore, it can be concluded that Experiment No.5
possesses initial setting parameters. Table 10 shows the
compared results of the optimal and initial design of process
parameters. For the single performance characteristic, the
density of LWC is greatly reduced from 118.6 to 110.5 lb/ft3
(1900 to 1770 kg/m3). Similarly, the effect of improvement
for the compressive strength has anticipated that it is accel-

Compatibility sequence

0.22

0.89

10

0.43

0.85

11

0.22

0.68

12

0.65

0.51

13

0.00

1.00

14

0.00

0.59

15

0.65

0.00

16

0.26

0.42

in Table 9) has been determined. The optimal factor setting


becomes A3B3C2D2.
The order (rank) of importance of the controllable factors
to the multi-performance characteristics in the LWC process,
in sequence, can be listed as: factors C, A, D, and B which
are Csh %, type of LWAFA, LCr %, and LWAFA %, respectively. From the analysis of Table 9 it was observed that the
percentage contribution of the control factors affecting the
GRG of the LWC is C (49.24%), A (34.43%), D (9.62%),
and B (6.71%).

Notes: R1: density; R2: compressive strength.

Table 8The data of 0i(k), i(k), i, and S/N for i


0i(k)

i(k)

Experiment No.

R1

R2

R1

R2

S/N of i, db

0.78

0.32

0.39

0.61

0.499

6.04

0.35

0.92

0.59

0.35

0.472

6.53

0.17

0.96

0.74

0.34

0.542

5.31

0.33

0.667

3.52

0.47

0.38

0.423

7.48

0.26

0.32

0.66

0.61

0.633

3.98

0.57

0.47

0.88

0.675

3.41

0.35

0.83

0.59

0.38

0.483

6.33

0.78

0.11

0.39

0.82

0.605

4.37

10

0.57

0.15

0.47

0.77

0.618

4.18

11

0.78

0.32

0.39

0.61

0.499

6.04

12

0.35

0.49

0.59

0.50

0.547

5.24

13

1.00

0.00

0.33

1.00

0.667

3.52

14

1.00

0.41

0.33

0.55

0.442

7.08

15

0.35

1.00

0.59

0.33

0.462

6.72

16

0.74

0.58

0.40

0.46

0.434

7.25

ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

371

erated from 2794.12 to 4567.65 psi (19 to 31.06 MPa). The


corresponding improvement in density and compressive
strength were 7.34% and 63.47%, respectively. In the status
of handling the both performance characteristics simultaneously, the results showed that using optimal parameter
setting caused lower density together with higher compressive strength with respect to the initial process parameters.
Consequently, it is clearly shown the the above performance
characteristics in the LWC process are greatly improved
through this study.
The predicted (calculated) S/N (pred) using the optimum
combination of the design parameters can be calculated as

where m is the total mean S/N; ( i m ) is the all


i =1

improvement (contribution) from all; i is the mean S/N for


factors at designated optimum levels; and n is the number of
the main factors that affect the quality characteristics.
Because S/N is related to MSD, and MSD is expressed
in terms of original results, it is possible to convert the
predicted result from a known S/N (pred) to original result
using (S/N) Eq. (3).
Table 10 indicates the comparison of predicted values
with that of actual by using the optimal process conditions
a good agreement between the actual and predicted results
was obtained. Figure 3 shows the percentage contribution of
different LWC process parameters on density, compressive
strength, and GRG.
Figure 3 shows the percentage contribution of different
LWC process parameters on the different responses. It is
confirmed from Fig. 3 that the percentage contribution of
factor A (type of LWAFA), and factor C (Csh %) is maximum
in comparison to other factors when the multiple performance
characteristic is considered, whereas factors B (LWAFA %)
and D (foam agent %) have no significant effect. The figure
also depicts that factors A, B, and C have a high percentage
contribution for both the density and compressive strength,
whereas factor D has lowest percentage contribution for
variation of process performances. It has been found that
factor D has an insignificant effect on LWC process.

pred = m + ( i m ) (10)

i =1

CONCLUSIONS
In this paper, the optimal LWC parameters were determined for multi-performance characteristics (density and

Fig. 2Main effect plot for GRG.


Table 9Response table for S/N of GRG, db
Level

5.35

5.37

6.371

5.603

5.299

5.443

4.676

5.272

4.958

5.353

5.227

6.143

5.584

5.476

Delta

1.185

0.231

1.695

0.331

Rank

Contribution

34.43

6.71

49.24

9.62

Fig. 3Percentage
parameters.

contribution

of

different

LWC

Table 10Comparing results of initial and optimal LWC parameters

Taguchi method
GRA-based
Taguchi

Experimental value

Predicted value

Optimum combination
of LWC parameters

R1

R2

R1

R2

Errors, %

R1 min

A1B4C4D2

110.5 (1770)

109.9 (1760)

0.565

R2 max

A3B1C2D1

4567.6 (31.06)

4420.6 (30.06)

3.22

R1 and R2 optimum in
the minimax sense

A3B3C2D2

116.7 (1870)

4020.6 (27.34)

118.5 (1897.5)

3873.5 (26.34)

1.47, 3.66

A2B1C4D2

118.6 (1900)

2794.1 (19)

117.5 (1882.5)

3266.2 (22.21)

0.921, 16.89

Initial process parameters

Notes: R1: density, lb/ft3 (kg/m3); R2: compressive strength, psi (MPa).

372

ACI Materials Journal/May-June 2015

compressive strength) in the LWC process. An application


of combined Taguchi method and GRG has been reported.
Based on the experimental results achieved in the presented
research study, the following conclusions can be drawn:
1. Based on Taguchi analysis, factors A (type of LWAFA), B
(LWAFA %), and C (Csh %) were found to the highest contributing parameters for variation of density and compressive
strength of LWC. However, factor D (foam agent %) shows
a less significant effect.
2. According to the Taguchi method coupled with GRA,
the optimal parametric combination for multi-performance
characteristics such as density and compressive strength is
simultaneously obtained.
3. Multi-performance characteristics was found to be
mostly affected by factors C (Csh %) and A (type of LWAFA),
and the percentage contributions of these two factors were
49.24 and 34.34%, respectively. Parameters B (LWAFA %),
and D (foam agent %) have insignificant effects.
4. Experimentations have been confirmed on the optimal
settings for single response and multi-response and the
errors in experimental values with respect to the predicted
values are within the acceptable range of error.
5. It has been found that the factor D (foam agent %) has
insignificant effect on the LWC process.
6. It can be concluded that the GRA-Taguchi method
is most ideal and suitable for the parametric optimization
of the LWC process when using the multi-performance
characteristics.
AUTHOR BIOS

Mariam Farouk Ghazy is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering in the Department of Structural Engineering at Tanta University,
Tanta, Egypt. Her research interests include concrete technology, fiber-reinforced concrete, inspection and quality control of reinforced concrete, green
and sustainable concrete, and composites.
Mohamed Fattouh Abd El Hameed is a Professor in the Faculty of
Engineering in the Department of Production Engineering and Mechanical Design at Minufiya University, Shibin Al Kawm, Al Minufiya, Egypt.
He received his PhD in production engineering from Dresden University,
Dresden, Germany, in 1981. His research interests include various areas of
design and analysis of experiments.

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373

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