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Heat Aggregate and Water efficiently with just One TURBOMATIC - Episode #19

Posted on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 @ 12:29 PM

Jay RobinsonLooking ahead to the fall and winter seasons, I’m getting excited about a sophisticated and cost-effective way to heat aggregates, batch water, and practically everything else around your plant with a single solution.

The TURBOMATIC is made by Polarmatic, a Finnish company that has expertise in making concrete at some very cold ambient temperatures. Their single solution for heating both aggregates and water for every purpose makes a lot of sense for winter concrete production.



Why aggregate heating?
What’s driving everyone toward better aggregate heating methods is the use of higher-strength mixtures with less water content. Water alone can no longer provide enough heat for batching concrete in cold weather. The TURBOMATIC is good at one thing– extraordinarily efficient generation and distribution of heat. Not a BTU is wasted.

How it works
First, gases from propane or natural gas combustion pass through heat exchangers in a small two- to three-thousand gallon water tank to warm process water. Then the gases are piped to valves at each individual aggregate bin.



A tiny amount of water is metered into the gas stream to provide humidity, preventing the drying of aggregates that occurs with hot air systems. This keep the water-cement ratio in balance. Valves under automated control regulate the flow of gases to each bin individually to maintain temperatures set by the operator.

Other talents
Besides heating water and aggregate for concrete production, the TURBOMATIC can provide water for truck mixer wash/fill, batch plant and office heating via heat exchangers, and warm water for any other purpose such as truck saddle tanks and washout.



Solid return on investment

Replacing separate water heating and aggregate heating systems with a TURBOMATIC has been proven to save enough money to generate a very compelling ROI.

Check out our page that has more TURBOMATIC information. If you’re looking to produce concrete more efficiently this winter, contact us and we will be happy to help you consider this option in more detail. You can also call me directly at 888-378-6210.


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Heatec’s Firestorm: Efficient Hot Water for Concrete Production - Episode #18

Posted on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

Jay RobinsonIt’s July as this is written, but for concrete producers in the Northeast, it’s not too early to start thinking about upgrading your hot water system with an extremely efficient gas-fired heater.

The Firestorm direct contact water heater from Heatec, heats water on demand. That means there is no need to heat, store and maintain the temperature of thousands of gallons of water. The burner is fired to heat only the amount of water being used.

The result is fast response: you have hot water when you need it, without paying to heat water you don’t use. (You can, of course, use the Firestorm to heat water for an existing large storage tank, if desired.)

It is easy to tell how extraordinarily efficient the Firestorm is by observing the very low exhaust stack temperature, which is typically only ten to fifteen degrees warmer than the incoming water. For example, when 50-degree incoming water is being warmed to 150 degrees, you can put your hand on the stack because the exhaust is only 60-65 degrees.

How it works

firestorm heaterThe heater uses a fully-modulating, forced-draft burner that fires into the side of the heater shell. Cold water is sprayed into the top of the shell and migrates downward through a bed of stainless steel rings, called packing, which slows the flow of water and provides surface area for heat transfer. As water migrates downward through the packing, hot burner gases flow upward through the falling water. That’s why it’s called direct-contact.

Heated water flows to the bottom of the shell where it accumulates, then is pumped out of the heater. Structural components, piping and internal parts are all made from stainless steel.

Sizes used for concrete production
A typical system would include a small surge tank (around 750 gallons), the Firestorm heater, and some plumbing. Fueled by natural gas or propane, Firestorms come in a wide variety of sizes, but my concrete-producing customers have been buying heaters sized at 2.3 million, 4 million and 6 million BTUs. The largest of these can warm 120 gallons per minute to 100 degrees above incoming water temperature.

Switching to natural gas or propane can help generate a strong ROI, if you’re currently using a more expensive fuel. Contact me for help figuring out the right size for your application. You can view the Firestorm brochure for more detailed information or visit Heatec’s website at www.heatec.com.

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How Suite It Is: GivenHansco’s Batch Plant Automation - Episode #17

Posted on Fri, May 8, 2015 @ 02:21 PM

Jay RobinsonWould you like your batching and accounting systems to work together better? Do you wish you could avoid costly downtime when your batching computer crashes? Are you tired of indifferent customer service when you call for help? GivenHansco’s Keystone plant automation and accounting suite is what I am currently recommending. What really puts them above some of the competition is customer service. They cater to the small to mid-sized producer, and are so service-oriented that I often have very little followup once I’ve sold their product. They really have been true to their word as far as backing up their product.GivenHansco Keystone Batch

A manual panel that’s really manual: Another thing I like is the fact that their manual panel is truly manual. On a major competitor’s system, if you go to “manual,” there is still a processor involved. With the GivensHansco panel, if the batching computer fails, the system can still batch via true hard-wired operation of the panel.

Non-proprietary components: GivensHansco has one of the cleanest input/output systems, and it’s totally not proprietary. It’s actually built with off-the-shelf switches and I/O modules, which you cna get from a variety of sources at good prices.

QuickBooks interface option: The Keystone Batch suite has an optional accounting module and dispatch module. But many concrete producers have grown attached to QuickBooks, which is OK because a QuickBooks interface is available. With it, the complexities of ticketing and invoicing are handled seamlessly with in the suite, then transaction numbers are exported to QuickBooks.

My recommendation: If you’re looking for the best product, I think GivenHansco’s Keystone accounting, batch, dispatch, and GPS modules hit the sweet spot for small and medium-sized producers. They claim their customer service is “phenomenal” on their home page, and our customers have found that to be true. These products are truly well-supported after the sale.

You can select software modules to tailor the suite for your operation, or get the entire, integrated suite. For product details, see our GivenHansco page.

I know some concrete producers who are extremely pleased with Given-Hansco’s products, and I would be happy to share their experiences with you. I’d be happy to see a comment from you below, or feel free to give me a call at 888-378-6210.


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Use this Secret Weapon at your Concrete Batch Plant to Silence the Competition - Episode #16

Posted on Mon, Jun 18, 2012 @ 01:15 PM

What’s the secret weapon? Marketing—possibly the most misunderstood word at a concrete batch plant. Don’t wrinkle your nose and move on. Instead read on and profit handsomely.


To put it simply, marketing is the process of introducing your goods to the people who need them. In our industry, those goods are concrete.

So what’s the difference between sales and marketing? Sales is the process of generating orders by persuading others. Marketing is the process of generating leads by informing others. You generate leads by making your company and your product known to potential customers—by creating a trusted image in the marketplace.

What is your current image in the market? How are you perceived by your customers and potential customers? Say you have a concrete batch plant and 10 trucks. You sell concrete when contractors get a job, right? Well… unless you’re in the unlikely but enviable position of being the only ready mix producer in your market, your customer has choices, lots of them. In times like these, some predictable things begin to happen:

• Pricing becomes uncomfortably competitive.

• Competitors travel farther to deliver those loads. (Perhaps into your territory?)

• Customers become more demanding.

How do you separate yourself from the crowd? How do you get potential customers to try your product while keeping existing customers satisfied and in the nest? Following these steps will give you a good start on creating an extremely powerful business tool.

1. Get them at “Hello”

How are people greeted when they call your operation? Your customers can spend their construction dollars anywhere, so your staff should be building confidence in your customer service. I know, I know, we’re in the construction business. People aren’t nice to each other. This is a rough, in your face business. People don’t mind being treated like this, it’s expected. Give me a break folks! Everyone wants to be treated well, including your customers. Put a smile in your voice and make them feel like they’re your most important customer… because they ARE! Call your company and see how they answer the phone. You might be in for a BIG surprise. If your operation isn’t making the caller feel important or welcome, chances are another ready mix concrete plant will.

2. Say “Hello” again!

How do you know if your customers are getting what they are paying for? Did you call and ask how the job went? Did the delivery professional get there on time? Was he courteous? Did he clean up after himself?

Yes, I am suggesting that you or someone that you trust on your staff call every person who bought concrete from you. Don’t stick your head in the sand. Customers know things about your business that you need to know. Not everybody is going to follow up, and that’s what will separate you from the crowd. At first, you might not like what you hear. Stay with it and “fix” what’s broken. Are your concrete delivery professionals consistently late? Is your slump inconsistent? Are your people being rude? Use this feedback to repair those issues and before you know it you’ll be on your way to dominating your market. You are using a significant marketing tool by calling every single customer every single time, nipping problems in the bud and building stronger relationships along the way.

3. Sell quality.

This one is critical. Are you selling the best, most consistent quality concrete in your market? Every market has low-price producers who are selling concrete as a commodity. If you want to compete with them, the last thing you should do is get down in the dirt and start a pricing war. Instead, offer your customers an alternative. Give them a quality mix with exceptional support and follow up to ensure they’re satisfied. Explain how the QC department at your concrete batch plant ensures that your customer is getting a technically advanced product. Have an open house every so often. Invite your customers in to see your operation and the investment you’re making to have the best concrete in the market. Make sure your customers are telling everyone they run into what a consistently great mix you provide on-time, every time.

4. Premium products command a premium price.

Low pricing is a poor substitute for knowledge, quality, skill and customer service. No one can sell products below market pricing indefinitely and survive. Don’t play the low-price game. Read this paragraph over until you commit it to memory. It’s that important.

The recession’s effect on construction budgets make any edge you can find worth having. The least expensive one is the smile in the voice! After that initial good impression, the smart producer keeps the ball rolling by delivering quality concrete and monitoring all of the basic building blocks of good marketing practices.

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The Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Concrete Plant Operating Profitably - Episode #15

Posted on Thu, May 17, 2012 @ 02:16 PM

Concrete batch plants have changed significantly over the last 20-30 years in terms of technology, efficiency, speed and lower maintenance. If your plant is showing its age, consider investing in new equipment.

The role our company plays in specifying, installing, troubleshooting, repairing and upgrading ready mix or precast concrete plants provides a unique opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to batch plant efficiency. I’d like to share five principles we have observed that always seem to lead to more efficient, and therefore more profitable operations. A simple definition of concrete plant efficiency is the ratio of (a): the cost of inputs (employee hours, materials, energy, equipment, etc.) to (b): the revenue generated by sales. In other words; the lower your costs and the higher your revenue, the greater your efficiency. The most efficient concrete plants produce more concrete with less wasted material, lower repair costs, less downtime, and fewer disruptions in employee productivity. How to achieve this efficiency is the $64,000 question that we’ll elaborate on in this post.


1 Preventive Maintenance

At concrete plants where some type of formalized inspection and maintenance schedule is in place, there tend to be fewer breakdowns. If the plant manager recognizes the importance of regular PM and communicates that to employees, chances are good that noisy bearings, worn belts, leaky air systems, clogged filter bags, etc., will be detected and repaired before breakdowns interrupt the concrete batching process. Also…Stock critical plant parts such as solenoid valves, air cylinders, bearings, and various repair kits. If you aren’t sure what spares are on hand, sit with your maintenance person and put together a list. If you need help compiling a list, Contact Mid Atlantic Concrete Equipment and we’ll be glad to suggest one based on your specific concrete plant and equipment.


Keep your concrete plant parts area neat and put labels on shelves. Have v-belts organized for easy access. Tip: If you have to use high pressure air to aerate your cementitious material, a refrigerant or desiccant air dryer will increase your filter bag change interval. A low pressure – high volume blower will all but eliminate moisture or over-pressurization of air pads and is the preferred method of fluidizing material. Finally, consider PM software, either stand-alone or offered as part of your batching software. It provides a great way to track parts and equipment, and can help with spotting failure trends and recovering warranty reimbursements to which you are entitled.


2 Cleanliness

Keeping a concrete plant clean is a constant battle, but one well worth winning. Abrasive dust is especially hard on solenoid valves and cylinders. Add to that a little moisture, which mixes with the dust to form a crust that’s hard to remove, and you have a mess that hinders maintenance and inspection activities. The obvious solution is a truck-loading dust collector. Not only does it keep the plant cleaner, but it allows truck drivers to spend less time washing down the truck after loading. If you want to dominate your market, reduce truck and plant cleanup, increase mixer barrel life by as much as 65% and significantly reduce your concrete plant maintenance, consider adding a central mixer to your concrete plant.

A central mixer will significantly extend truck drum life, all but eliminate dust issues, dramatically improve concrete consistency and quality and allow you to dominate your market.

Another thing that can save time is a drive-through truck wash system. Whether you purchase one from an established truck-wash vendor or build your own, these systems can boost plant efficiency. One operator in Maryland built an automated system equipped with an electric eye that starts a pump when the beam is broken, pushing water through plastic pipe with strategically-placed holes drilled throughout.


3 Batch Control

Out of all the processes in a concrete plant, the one most critical to overall speed is control of the batching process, as it affects the speed of the ribbon discharge into the truck. There are many different ways to sequence the materials—water, aggregate, cement, sand—but the crucial issue is to find the optimal discharge speed, somewhere below the point where the truck chokes up. In addition to the obvious benefits of avoiding stoppage of the batch process, proper ribboning of the materials into the mixer will shorten the drivers’ time to assure that the batch is properly mixed and adjusted for slump.

Efficient batching starts with having the right man in the seat. Customer service skills, phone etiquette and sales techniques are critical to concrete plant profitability.

Of course, the concrete plant has choke points as well, such as the hopper at the end of a conveyor. Monitoring choke points with a video camera has become standard practice at many plants, due to falling camera system prices, the ease of wiring Cat 5 cable, and the high resolution of the latest cameras. There is another way, probably more important, in which your drivers impact plant efficiency. This and related issues are discussed next.

4 Delivery Professional Staging

A frequent complaint of concrete plant operators is, “We could get more trucks through here if we knew where our delivery professionals were.” Delivery Professionals naturally like to take a break from the confines of a cab, but wasting time tracking them down wreaks havoc on plant efficiency. Multiply five minutes by 20 delivery professionals, and you can easily lose over an hour a day this way. Education and policy enforcement are central to minimizing these losses.

In addition, many concrete plant operators have installed pneumatic ticket delivery systems or paperless ticket systems that send ticket information via wi-fi to the truck cab as part of an overall solution. Remote ticketing systems have the added benefit of helping to keep delivery professionals out of the control room, something that is among the fondest wishes of many ready mix plant operators. Additionally, when designing a new Central mix or transit mix batch plant, consider including a driver lounge area located remotely from the control room.


5 Safety and Accessibility

Concrete batch plant designers must make cost-effective equipment selections. But when specifying safety features, keep the big picture in mind. Employees working around conveyors, agg gates and electrical panels are exposed to potential injury, which translates to exposure for the plant operator—to downtime as well as legal liability. Safety features that should be found at every plant include emergency pull-cord shutoffs and safety disconnects on conveyor and turn head motors, and confined entry access manholes in aggregate and cement bin compartments. Where possible, stairs with handrails are preferred over ladders.

Four letters: OSHA… They would have a field day with this little ditty. Aside from that it’s a good indicator of other processes and or conditions around this particular plant. Our guess is that this plant has a boat load of other issues.

Going one step further, certain kinds of automation can keep workers out of harm’s way. One example is a central grease manifold, which reduces employee exposure to dangerous areas by eliminating the need to apply grease at the bearing. Video observation systems provide a similar safety benefit by letting employees monitor choke points from the control room. Batch plant operators wanting to take further steps toward safety should review OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard, which protect employees from injury due to unexpected startup while cleaning or maintaining equipment.

Go to www.osha.gov and search on LOTO. You’ll find a great deal of information, including a tutorial and case studies that provide specific examples.


While it might be overly optimistic to think that you could eliminate breakdowns, following these 5 recommendations can and will go a long way to lowering operational and repair costs which can significantly reduce unplanned repairs that wreak havoc on plants, personnel and customers.

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How to Sell Concrete on the Web - Episode #14

Posted on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 @ 01:29 PM

An interesting thing happened to me the other week that became the catalyst for this article. I was responding to an e-mail inquiry who had requested that we contact him with additional information on one of our products. Before I wrote back to this person I wanted to learn more about his business, so I did what 70 percent of Americans do every day; I Googled his company. And to my amazement, this rather sizable, regional producer did not have a web site. I looked for over 10 minutes and finally found the company phone number, thanks to the online Yellow Pages and Manta.com.

Why did I find this shocking? It’s amazing in this day and age that the same person I received an e-mail from (who obviously found it by searching for our company on the internet) did not think that others might do the same when looking for his company. I then went a bit further by asking our Customer Relations Manager to see how many of the contacts in our database had a published web site… I was floored. In our 13 state territory from West Virginia to Maine, we have collected over 2700 names associated with 1400 companies that include almost every ready mix producer, as well as products and pre-cast operators. Our estimated guess shows that only 55% of those companies have some type of organized web presence.

Think your customers aren’t looking for you on the web? Think again. The yellow pages are dead. The consumer’s first preference is the internet when looking for phone numbers. Most B2C companies and retail stores have created online versions of their brick and mortar businesses. Ready mix producers and precasters should be no different. Obviously our consumers don’t buy online, however many use your websites for gathering product information, locating your plant to see its proximity to them or for something as simple as finding a phone number. A factor several savvy producers and precasters are exploiting in their overall marketing strategies. Mobile is the newest rage. What does your site look like when someone pulls it up on their Android, iPhone or Blackberry?

A very slick example of a mobile app: a calculator application courtesy of Chaney Enterprises in MD                        

What else can a potential customer learn about your company when they visit your site? Information like hours of operation, number of locations of your company, years in business, customer testimonials, types of trucks, number of employees and many other pieces of information that potential customers might want to know when making a decision to purchase goods or services from you. The possibilities are endless when it comes to what can be put on your site to inform potential customers about your company.

Putting up a web site is relatively easy and can be done in-house or through one of literally hundreds of web site developers. If you’re not on the web, the decision is simple, find someone on staff that tinkers with the web and has built his or her own site or better yet, hire an experienced developer. Once your site is up, you have now created a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day a year billboard for the entire world to see. Current estimates put the number of internet users at over one billion. Oh, did I mention that once that Web site is up its almost free? Internet domain providers can get your url registered and host your site for pennies a day, truly a bargain compared to any other form of advertising.

OK, so you were an early adopter who’s had a web site for many years and you think this article wasn’t written for you; think again. When was the last time you bothered to update it? Web sites get stale very quickly and need constant attention if they are to effectively draw potential customers to your business. We’ve all had the experience of pulling up a site only to see out of date info or even worse; expired pages and bad links. Visitors to your site expect fresh info and plenty of it so don’t skimp when it comes to content. Here are some thought starters in addition to those mentioned above for those of you that need a little inspiration.

  • Online Volume Calculators
  • Live Weather Radar
  • Info on: Curing, Finishing, Color, Mix Design, Benefits and use of Fiber
  • Online store to promote to promote sales of Tools, Rebar, etc.
  • Community Service Projects
  • Public Relations Opportunities
  • Newsletters for employees and customers
  • Calls-to-Action to encourage visitors to contact you
  • Landing Pages-Special Offers or Discounts
  • Blogs about customer projects
  • Pictures or videos of your plant and personnel

Having a web site is important; having a website that provides useful or interesting info is even more important. If you want to see what is important to your customers look no further than your competitors’ web sites. Let’s face it, it’s very competitive out there, and any advantage that you can create is extremely valuable in your arsenal of tools. The web is often the most overlooked source of advertising in this industry. For some reason many of us think that the web is only for e-bay, Amazon or online dating.

It’s pretty simple to put a basic site together, www.GoDaddy.com , www.1and1.com or  www.networksolutions.com all provide a tremendous amount of resources for you to get started. If you don’t have a web site, make it a priority. I can assure you that you are losing business to your competition. The longest journey begins with the first step. If you have a web site, make a commitment to keep it fresh by dedicating a specific amount of time each month on your sites content. Show pics of your customers’ projects, your facilities or interesting articles. Everyone loves to look at pictures. Co-promoting your customers’ business is good for both of you. They’ll appreciate your support and it will strengthen your image in the industry. So stop thinking about it and go sell some concrete on your website!

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Speed up your Concrete Batch Plant: Maintain Clean Dust Collectors - Episode #13

Posted on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 @ 12:25 PM

Have you ever driven by a concrete batch plant while a cement tanker is blowing off and see that unmistakable gray plume of dust billowing out of the top of the silos or bins? Ever wait for what seems like forever for your cement batcher to either weigh up or discharge a load?

Aside from risking unwarranted attention that could lead to an unwelcome visit from the Federales, both of these issues are a huge waste of time and money. Think about the hundreds and possibly thousands of pounds of cement that are blown off into the atmosphere over time. Last I checked, cement isn’t free, in fact it’s pretty darned expensive. Add potential fines to that waste and your head will spin.

Clogged bin vents and dust collectors can and do increase loading and unloading times; oftenat critical times during the day. Make sure your bags are in tip top shape. With spring approaching and after a winter market with steam possibly affecting the efficiency of those bags, it’s a great time to think about inspecting and or replacing those tired and worn out bags at your concrete plant.

Read on for a bird’s eye view and refresher on the basics of how dust collectors work and how to determine if your dust collector is operating at peak efficiency.

High Capacity Dust Collectors come in two different basic arrangements. There are mixer loading point dust collectors where they just collect dust at the loading point or there are central dust collectors were they collect dust at the mixer loading point and from all silos and bins.

Cleaning of Jet Pulse Dust Cleaners

Contaminated air enters from the bottom of the filter media chamber and flows from the outside toward the inside of the filter media leaving dust particles on the outside of the filter media.  Clean air exits through the top.

Cleaning of the filter media is done one row at a time.  Pulse jet valves are mounted on a manifold in the dust collector and control air to the blowpipes located above the rows of filter media.  Holes in the blowpipes centered over each filter media top opening direct air downward through a venturi into the filter media.

The cleaning operation of the dust collector is controlled by a pulse board that operates the pulse jet valves.  The pulse board is energized when plant power (X1) is turned on, so cleaning takes place continually when plant power is turned on.  At the end of the production day when the blower for the dust collector is turned off, it’s recommended that the plant power (X1) be allowed to remain on to allow the bags to be cleaned without the blower running.  Allowing the bags to be cleaned for ten or fifteen minutes without the blower running affords more efficient cleaning of the bags.

From the factory the pulse boards are set to pulse every 30 seconds (off time) and the duration of each pulse is 125 milliseconds (on time).

Air pressure at the manifold (located inside the bag house) should be maintained at 90 to 100
psi. Less than 90 psi will reduce cleaning efficiency:  Greater than 100 psi will cause excessive bag or cartridge wear.


Magnehelic Gauge

Magnehelic pressure gauges are part of a dependable system to make sure your filtering equipment is working properly, but the gauge readings do not reflect absolute pressures.

CON-E-CO recommends the user of the filtering equipment to monitor the gauges and record readings.  Initially, the gauge readings will rise until the bags get a protective coating of material. The readings will then level off at a specific pressure reading.  This reading may vary from system to system, depending on the system and the gauge the number is not important. It is to be used as a reference point.  After the gauge reading has stabilized, the reading should be recorded and compared with future readings of the equipment.

CON-E-CO recommends that the gauge be read and recorded daily, and if a significantly higher reading is recorded, maintenance personnel should check the bags to see if they are being cleaned properly or if there is an obstruction in an air duct.  If a significantly lower reading is recorded, maintenance personnel should check to see if there is a tear in the bags, an air leak in an air duct or if there is an air leak around a door or hatch in the system.

This timely advice and information is provided by the concrete batch plant professionals at CON-E-CO. The information provided is for CON-E-CO equipment. If you have questions about your particular manufacturer’s equipment, please call us at 888-378-6223 for additional information or email us at info@MAconcrete.com .

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The Ultimate Guide to Buying or Leasing a Used Concrete Batch Plant - Episode #12

Posted on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 @ 03:55 PM

Buying or leasing a used concrete plant can represent a significant savings over new, but only with careful planning, shopping and inspection. Don’t buy someone else’s problem. Do your homework. Here’s an outline of the key areas to consider when you’re in the market for a used concrete plant.

1. Planning


Add Up Budget Items

Know your limits by budgeting before you get too far down the road. Don’t break the bank. Many buyers of used equipment should look at both new and used concrete batch plants to see what makes the most sense financially. Hidden costs can quickly escalate the price of a used plant making it difficult to justify over a new plant at times.

–          Purchase price

–          Zoning, Permitting

–          Building enclosure

–          Commissions and inspection fees

–          Disassembly and shipping

–          Site preparation

–          Erection

–          Plumbing and electrical hookups

–          Plant startup and Training


Decide on Plant Configuration

What is your mission? Make sure you’re buying the right plant for the right job.

Stationary, portable, self-erecting

Central or transit mix

Low profile required due to zoning or other considerations

Layout restrictions due to property size or topography


Determine Desired Production Capacity

Estimate yards per hour based on job requirements, number of trucks or molds to fill.

Specify Raw Materials


Aggregates –  Crushed stone, gravel, sand. How many separate bins or bin compartments do you need?

Cement and related materials – Portland cement, fly ash, slag. How many silos or silo compartments do you need?

To make a rough calculation of raw material quantities, work backward from estimated production capacity. Aggregates are 60%-70% of the mix by volume; cementitious materials are 9%-15% by volume; and water is 15%-16% by volume.


Consider Accessory Equipment and Buildings

–          Central dust collector, water heaters and chillers, computerized batcher, admix dispensers, pneumatic dispatch system

–          Dispatch office, batch room, outbuildings


2. Shopping Tips

Questions to ask

Are photographs available? Don’t be shy about asking for detailed photos.

What year was the plant manufactured?

Is the plant currently in operation?

If not, is it fully assembled?

How many yards have be produced by the plant?

Does an automatic control system come with the plant?

Is there a central mixer?

Video: Learn about Central Mixers


Video: Additional information about Tilt Mixers

How many cement silos are there?

How many aggregate bins are there?

What extras are there?

–          Central dust collector

–          Water heater and chiller

–          Buildings such as batch room, dispatch office, lunchroom, etc.

–          Admix dispensers


3. Inspecting a Plant

What to look for

Overall condition – rust, paint (or lack thereof), obvious wear and tear.

Aggregate bins, batchers – inspect wear areas for repairability.

Video: Learn about how quality construction affects aggregate bins

Belt conveyors – check belt condition, look for gearbox leaks, bad grease seals, worn idlers.

Cement silos and batchers – look for dust, hardened cement, leaks.

Dust collectors – check for tears, leaks, hardened dust, effective performance


4. Completing the Purchase

Understand the transaction and what’s included

–          Don’t hesitate to lean on your dealer and ask questions. Caveat Emptor is the rule of used equipment unless you are given a written warrantee in writing by an authorized dealer.

Complete the transaction

–          Sign relevant documents, Ensure that all equipment is free of liens and comes with a letter of indemnity that states the equipment is unencumbered and is free from judgments, loans or liens

–          Transfer funds to seller via certified funds or electronic funds transfer.

–          If financing or leasing, ensure that all monies are secured prior to arranging transportation.


Take delivery

–          Oversee delivery to prepared site and ensure that all equipment arrives safe and secure. We recommend having someone take pictures once the equipment is loaded but prior to shipping.


Erect the plant

–          Ask your dealer to connect you with reputable erectors.


Purchasing a pre-owned plant is a process that can and should be an enjoyable experience. If you feel as if you need any assistance with any aspect of your used plant purchase, from pre-purchase inspection to erection and start up, please contact one of our batch plant experts at 888-378-6223 or info@usedconcrete.com

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State DOT - Episode #11

Posted on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 @ 03:08 PM

As all of us know, the ability to use process water at a concrete plant is looked upon differently by state DOT’s. As an example, California’s DOT (Caltrans) allows the use of process water up to a specific gravity of 1.04 in some state mix designs while my home State Pennsylvania, along with several other states, bans its use entirely.

Picture courtesy of WADOT via Flicker

The USEPA has laws that prohibit the discharge of concrete wash out water into our waterways without proper treatment and for good reason. On the other hand, a majority of states won’t allow its use. So, you can’t discharge untreated process water AND you cannot use it in state work. It can be very frustrating to concrete producers whose QC departments have embraced workable solutions and paved the way for the safe use of process water at their companies’ ready mix facilities.

Thanks to the efforts of folks (industry experts) like Colin Lobo, Doug Ruhlin, Rich Szecsy and many others there are volumes of research, data and information out there regarding the proper use of wash out water when batching at a concrete plant. There are ASTM standards for our industry that explain how producers can use process water when batching concrete (ASTM C 94 and ASTM C 1602/C 1602M-04) and ASTM standards for measuring solids in water (ASTM C 1603/C 1603M-04). Europe seems to have embraced the re-use of such water so what is the hang-up with our state DOT’s?

No living organism on this planet, plant or animal, can exist without water. It’s been said that within the next 20 years that water will be the next gold. It’s quite possible that countries will go to war over water rights in the future. Controversy concerning our earth’s most precious commodity is in the headlines on a daily basis. Natural gas fracking, industrial waste, storm water runoff, nitrates from farming, and other sources of water pollution are well documented and known. So why are our states so slow to act to allow the use of process water at concrete plants? I don’t have a logical answer to that question but I’m certain that someone will be able to enlighten me.

You’d have to be that GEICO guy living under a rock not to have seen or heard about the huge movement the ready mix concrete industry it making toward sustainability, but what exactly does sustainability mean? My friend Doug Ruhlin at Resource Management Associates puts it best; “Sustainability is the ability to reduce, reuse, recycle…” It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Our industry needs to get serious about tackling the tough job of convincing our state DOT’s that we are able to reuse wash out water responsibly without jeopardizing the quality of concrete mix designs. Future generations are countin-g on us to fight the good fight. While this is no easy task, it’s one that must be accomplished. We simply have nowhere to go with the water. It’s been said that if all the water in the world could fit in a one gallon bucket, all of the water available to drink would barely fill one teaspoon. Think about that the next time your weir pits are at capacity and you have a big D.O.T. pour and cannot use any of that precious water…

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Correct Aggregate Batcher Gate Operation for Concrete Plants - Episode #10

Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 @ 12:41 PM

This is one in a series of articles designed to familiarize you with your concrete batch plant. Aggregate batcher discharge gate(s) are operated by a pneumatic cylinder. The cylinder receives air from a double acting solenoid valve that operates from an electrical signal from the batch control. To operate a double acting (inching) solenoid valve, two signals are required; one open and one closed. Both signals need to be momentary. Flow controls are installed on the solenoid valve or cylinder that regulates the air flow to the cylinder. The flow controls are installed allowing the operator to regulate the speed at which the cylinders move to allow for precise control of the gates; critical for accurate and efficient concrete batching.

During normal operation of the concrete plant, the batch control will control the operation of the gates and the discharge rates. The concrete batch control needs to be programmed properly to operate the gate efficiently. Below are some settings that may affect the operation of the gate. Note: These settings may be labeled differently depending on the manufacturer of the control.

Flow Rate (Minimum and Maximum) – Most batch controls try to obtain a flow rate when discharging; they will typically try to stay in a range and work off of a minimum and maximum setting. The settings for this need to be determined for each concrete plant individually.

Initial Open – The initial open setting is used to get the gate opened at the start of discharge. Typically the initial open setting should get the gate 1/4 – 1/3 of the way open with the first pulse or to get a good flow rate started.

Open and Close Pulse – After the discharge gate has been opened with the initial open pulse, the open and close pulse takes over for the remainder of discharge. If the batch control determines that the flow rate needs to be adjusted a pulse will be sent to open or close the gate depending on if the discharge rate needs to increase or decrease. Each open or close pulse should move the cylinder 1/8 of its overall travel.

Our thanks to CON-E-CO and others for making this information available so concrete producers can operate their concrete plants efficiently and profitably with minimal challenges.

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