Vale Ken Day
Vale Ken Day 2 Jun 2016

 
Ken was born in Yorkshire, UK on 30 November 1930. He was the only child of an iron moulder and his mother was a seamstress.  He was looked after by his grandmother who in later years took him to school.  Ken was a good scholar and qualified for a government scholarship to University where he studied for a Civil Engineering degree. Ken and Constance (Connie) were school friends and both attended Manchester University where Connie received a 1st Hons. BA majoring in French.  For vacation work Ken got a job with Freyssinet, a French prestressed concrete company and to get there he rode his bicycle to the Dover ferry from the North of England to get to Paris.
 
On qualifying, he worked for a year with Unit Construction Ltd, in London as an assistant to the Technical Director John Harris, brother of Alan Harris (later Sir Alan Harris. Ken was principally engaged in developing an advanced statistical Quality Control (QC) system (with multivariable Shewhart control graphing) and a specific surface mix design system for prestressed concrete developing 67 MPa in 18 hours. John Harris was engaged by Humes Ltd. to establish a prestressing facility and suggested that Ken Join him in Australia.  Ken arrived in Melbourne in November 1953.
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Prior to departing for Australia, Ken decided to do a motorcycle trip around Europe, and as he was engaged to Connie, felt he should ask her to join him, even though he’d have preferred to go alone. Connie on the other hand didn’t really want to go, but as he had asked her, felt she should.
 
At the Research and Development Laboratory of Humes Ltd. in Melbourne Ken was involved in mix design and QC on precast prestressed concrete projects and in several other States of Australia.  It was there he first met Vin Wallis, who was to be a lifelong friend and sparring partner, both personally and technically.

Once established in Melbourne, Ken asked Connie to join him. On the day of her arrival by boat, they got married and had a brief honeymoon in Frankston. Connie started work as a French teacher at Melbourne Methodist College. Not long after they purchased a block of land in Croydon, Victoria and set about building a house by themselves.  They had three children Peter in 1959, Helen in 1960 and John who was born in 1963 in England.
 
In 1957 he became R&D engineer and deputy technical manager of the semi-government Concrete House Project, producing 5 fully precast houses and flats per day in a factory. Ken’s main task was to develop a highly mechanised process and increase productivity. He also introduced a large, innovative prestressing bed to precast bridge units for other government departments at a cost far below the current market price.
 
In 1960 he took a position as lecturer in Concrete Technology at the University of NSW in Sydney, He registered for a PhD but did not complete it. Next he had a brief period in 1962 as technical manager of Marley Reliance in Sydney.  Marley had two ready mix plants and several factories producing precast concrete, spun pipes, masonry blocks and roofing tiles. The firm had a poor quality reputation and Ken left due to being unable to obtain sufficient management support to correct this.
 
Then he returned to the UK at the invitation of John Harris and spent 5 years as a structural consulting engineer, rising to Associate Partner of Harris and Sutherland. As a structural designer he was involved in on-site battery precast, and in situ no-fines industrialised concrete housing but his largest single project was a major steelworks completed in record time.
 
He returned to Australia in late 1967 as general manager of the Melbourne pre-casting company High Strength Concrete Pty Ltd. However, the company was already irretrievably insolvent. So on his arrival he formed a new company, Applied Research and Development Pty Ltd of which he was part owner, to undertake commercial testing of concrete and R&D concrete projects, using the premises vacated by the insolvent company.

This venture was not a success so in the early 1970 Ken tried several new careers, amongst these were life insurance salesman, and a chocolate shop in Boronia. From the insurance contacts he discovered Lake Glenmaggie, in Gippsland, Eastern Victoria where he built a holiday house in six weeks with his own hands at Coongulla on the east side of the lake. This led to his venture into sailing off-the-beach yachts.
 
In 1973 a reinvigorated Ken returned to his first love of concrete and he started his own company, Concrete Advice Pty Ltd.  Initially it was a general consultancy in any aspect of concrete technology but soon came to specialise in QC and worked on major Melbourne city buildings including Collins Place, World Trade Centre, Arts Centre, Concert Hall, Rialto and many others.
 
The business grew and in 1980 at the age 50 he expanded the business in Singapore, starting from scratch.  From Singapore he operated control laboratories on several major projects in Singapore, Malaysia also provided advice in Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Singapore business was later bought out by CEBTP, a major French laboratory organisation.
 
In 1985 due to a down turn in the business in Australia the company was left inactive while Ken spent two years working with the Australian Government Airfield Construction Branch and became an Australian citizen. It was mainly during this period that the Conad system was finalised. Originally, developed by Ken as a Lotus spreadsheet it contained many of the features of the current ConAd system of quality control.  With the advent of the personal computer, he first computerised his quality control concepts in Lotus spreadsheets. During his time in Canberra Ken perfected his theories on quality control of concrete mix design and the ConAd system was born.
 
Cusum (cumulative sum analysis) was first applied to concrete by RMC (the company, as distinct from the industry) in England in the early 1970s but the graphs were neither multigrade nor multivariable. Ken was drawing non-cusum multivariable quality control charts in 1953 and was already looking into cusum when the more advanced RMC development came to his attention. 

Cusum is still not multivariable but does now use a type of multigrading.  Specific Surface mix design had been conceived decades earlier and the original basis was heavily promoted in 1954 by Newman and Teychenne but did not work properly until Ken modified the calculation basis of specific surface in the late 1950s. Ken will be remembered best for is being the leader in the whole field of statistical quality control for concrete and in the development of ConAd system computerising mix design and QC in his ConAd program.  
 
 While in Canberra he commenced a draft of a book on his theories in concrete technology, after having printed some initial brief booklets.  In 1988 Spon Publishing offered Ken the possibility of printing a book on Concrete Technology. He achieved great satisfaction in publishing 4 editions of his book, with the assistance of James Aldred.
 
At the age of 70, Ken decided to retire from his business, and it initially appeared he would leave it to his staff to run, but then an American batch plant manufacturer purchased the company. They sold their house in Croydon and moved to Nunawading.
 
In retirement, Ken and Connie were actively involved in courses and activities through the University of the Third Age, although Ken was always working on a project, a speech, a technical submission or an overseas conference. Ken and Connie travelled overseas. Ken was also passionate about his garden, which was on a large scale during the years in Croydon. He renewed to his interest in Bridge, and never lost his love of ballroom dancing, Table Tennis was also a keen activity over many years as was his interest in new cars.
 
With the new Mercedes at the age of 70, Ken all of a sudden decided he needed to drive round Australia after the CIA Conference in Brisbane 2003 but he was home in 21 days. When asked him how he’d found the Nullarbor he replied, “There was nothing to see, so I just put my foot down”.
 
Connie died in 2012 and after this Ken moved to a retirement village in Nunawading where his health gradually deteriorated. From his medical condition, Ken suffered advancing memory loss in the last few years, which made his daughter’s task managing him difficult at times. Ken fell on a Saturday evening and was not found until late the next morning by his daughter Helen. Ken was taken to Maroondah Hospital where he died four days later on 17 April 2016 without recovering consciousness.
 
Ken Day was a member of many professional groups including:
 
Member, Inst Civil Engineers, UK 1956
Member, Inst Engineers Australia 1956
Fellow, Inst Engineers Australia 1978
Fellow, Inst Concrete Technologists, UK, 1990
Fellow, American Concrete Institute 1990
Founding Committee Member, Concrete Inst of Australia 1970
Founding Member, Singapore Concrete Institute 1980
Honorary Member, Concrete Institute of Australia 2003
 
This obituary has been contributed.