Spotlight on Technology at Raleigh High Rise
There’s little denying the changes that are taking place in the concrete pumping industry. In areas that include everything from equipment to mix additives to innovative tracking and scheduling software, new technology is proving impactful and, for the most part, being widely accepted. On an ongoing high rise project in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Concrete & Materials Placement (CMP) has had a unique opportunity to put a few of these innovative changes to use. By project’s end, the company will have proven the soundness of its decision to embrace new technology—and reaped some nice benefits in the process.
A New Direction
Like many in concrete pumping today, the pumping company’s owner, Doug Doggett, has his roots in construction. And like many of those in construction, he saw that concrete pumps presented an ideal opportunity to move the business forward. According to Luis Lopez, the operations manager, (Raleigh office), “With a number of projects pending, all of which would need the services of a pump, Doug purchased a telescoping belt conveyor and a 38-meter unit. That grew into the CMP of today, with locations in both North and South Carolina, more than 50 employees and a fleet of pumps to serve its customers.”
The firm prides itself in being a full-service concrete pumping company with proven experience handling everything from backyard patios to high rises. It was in that latter category, in fact, that the company recently put its years of expertise—and some newer technology—to work for them with great results.
Giving Peace a Chance
The Raleigh neighborhood formerly known as Smokey Hollow (because of the smoke that resulted from its proximity between a train trestle on one side and a rail line on the other) was initially a blue-collar enclave that had fallen into serious disrepair. As with so many similar areas nationwide, however, Smokey Hollow has attracted the interest of a host of developers looking to gentrify and reinvigorate the neighborhood. One of the first efforts to do so is a 12-story development at Peace and West Streets in which the pumper is involved working as a subcontractor to Donley’s Concrete Group.
“This multi-use structure will include a 45,600-square-foot Publix supermarket on the ground floor, 5,000 square feet of retail businesses on the floor above it, with the balance of the space being taken by 417 apartments,” said Lopez. “Also included is a parking structure adjacent to the main high rise which will hold more than 700 cars. We are responsible for pumping the post-tensioned decks from the ground up for all the structures. To make that happen, we are using a Schwing S 58 SX, which has been a workhorse for us.”
Concrete work on the Peace & West structure started with the pouring of an eight-inch thick slab on grade. Working with local ready mixed supplier Thomas Concrete and a fleet of ten ready mixed trucks, the pumper was able to get full extension to all areas of the slab pour with the 58-meter pump, wrapping up that part of the project in just under six hours.
While the 190-plus feet of reach afforded by the 58-meter pump was more than adequate for pumping most of the building, some areas of the upper floors were taxing the reach of the unit. According to Lopez, the total length of the structure ruled out any economical use of placing booms for them.
“The distance from one end of the project to the other is such that we would have needed several placing booms to make it work,” he said. “Instead, we opted to use a B-18 hydraulic mini-placer working in tandem with the boom pump. We stretch the 58-meter’s boom as far as it can reach and then use it to feed the B-18. At 13,000 pounds, it is easy to remove the counterweights, use the tower crane to fly it to the next level, re-install the weights and continue the pour. The 58-meter pump will probably do 95 percent of the work out here, but when we use the two units together, the additional 55 feet of reach from the mini-placer has allowed us to easily get to every part of the higher floors. It’s been a great, cost-effective combination for us.”
EASy Does It
Today’s ever-tighter jobsites are a recurring problem for concrete pumpers and, while access to most parts of the Peace & West project was fairly open and available, a limit on traffic restrictions did present some challenge.
“We had a setup on the west side of the structure that, with powerlines overhead and a need for the street to remain open at all times, could have been a near-impossible challenge without short-rigging the 58-meter pump,” he said. “We were fortunate to have been able to put Schwing’s EASy Flex system to work for us and it worked great. With the outriggers fully extended on the pour-side of the truck and partially extended on the street side, we had all the access we needed and traffic was allowed to flow as if we weren’t even there.”
The EASy controls to which Lopez refers are integrated into the unit’s Vector control system. Using a combination of proximity switches and potentiometers, the Vector system controls the boom and allows the operator to run it in an established “safe zone” based on the selected—and verified—outrigger setup. By choosing to have the outriggers on the pour side at full extension and the opposite side outriggers partially extended, the pumper had 200 degrees of working range at full boom extension.
“When the outriggers are in position (and confirmed through the Vector system), the operator hits the ‘OK’ button and the system controls the range within which the boom can move,” said Tom O’Malley, Schwing senior vice president for sales and marketing. “As the name implies, it’s easy, but it’s also safe and extremely beneficial, given today’s shrinking jobsites.”
Lopez added that he’s seen his share of concrete pumps—particularly some in Central and South America—that have been short-rigged without the benefit of those safeguards and have paid the price for it.
“But this system is an excellent way to safely and confidently reduce our pump footprint by as much as 20 feet,” he said. “On a project like Peace & West, it made all the difference. Without it, we would have never been able to set out the pump on that side and production would have suffered because of it.”
Progress at Peace & West has been consistent as the structure rises toward completion. For its part, CMP made three to four 400- to 500-yard mat pours for each floor. All the structure’s walls and columns were bucketed in, a move that was made out of necessity, said Lopez.
“The contractor had two cranes onsite and I think more than anything they wanted to make certain those cranes were kept busy,” he said. “So, even though it would have been faster and easier for us to pump those parts of the job, it was decided to go that route instead. However, even with that move slowing the pace a bit, we still averaged a floor every week and a half or so, and everyone was happy with that.”
The concrete pumping facet of the job was wrapped up by the end of February. He added that they were able to maintain a nice pace throughout, despite some less-than-favorable weather.
“We had a lot more rain than we generally get in this part of the country,” he said. “We’ve been able to both work through it and, when needed, draw upon technology to make up for some lost time. The developers are looking at a May opening for this complex—they already have tenants for many of the apartments—so the pace has been quickening. But we know that we have the people and the equipment to get it done.”
Project: Peace Development Project
Developer: Kane Realty Corp., Raleigh, N.C
Architect: Kline Design, Raleigh, N.C
General Contractor: Clancy & Theys Construction Co., Raleigh, N.C
Concrete Contractor: Donley’s, Cleveland, Oh.
Pumping Contractor: Concrete Materials & Placement, Charlotte, N.C.
Equipment: Schwing S 58 SX truck-mounted concrete pump with placing boom, B-18 hydraulic mini-placer.