Ready-Mix Producer – Pumps For Productivity
When residential construction is booming, so is pumping. And when the market is demanding concrete work for 7,000 homes per year, as it is in Edmonton, Alberta in 2015, pumping is key to productivity. Rolling Mix was established as a ready-mix producer in Edmonton in 1994. Because concrete pumping was firmly established as a proven method of placement in the 90s, the company embraced pumps by adding their first one shortly after they started in business. Today, the company works with several homebuilders to provide ready-mix in place and finished. “When home builders are busy they only want to make one call for their concrete, and that is the key to our success,” explains Keith Holloway, Rolling Mix fleet supervisor.
Working simultaneously on several houses in the Maple Crest housing development in southeastern Edmonton provides efficiencies because of the ability to coordinate truck mixers, forming crews, finishers and pumps. “It’s easier to communicate and control the flow of work when it is all internal,” according to Holloway. With 45-percent of their work in residential construction the company has been able to maintain a high level of productivity completing concrete work for 3,500 houses per year.
With four to five pump visits required per housing start, the company chose concrete pumps with a small footprint, quick set-up and boom versatility. “We have two of the latest Schwing S 28 Xs,” says Holloway, “We like the small footprint since we prefer not to set up on the pavement.” With two-story houses averaging 1400 square feet, the 90’11” reach of the 4-section boom handles the majority of the pours. The pump’s outrigger spread is a compact 19’7” in front and 11’10” in the rear. “We were particularly intrigued with the 28s 4-section double Z boom,” according to Holloway, “We pump the footings, foundation walls, basement floor, garage floor, driveway and sometimes small piles for other structures like decks and we need the boom versatility. The S 28 X accomplishes that for us with 270-degrees of articulation on the last two boom sections making for some interesting boom configurations.”
The company also owns Schwing’s latest pump, the S 20 for the same reasons. It also incorporates the same articulation in its four-section boom but enjoys a 12’8” outrigger spread in the front and only 7’1” in the rear. “We are so dependent on the pumps, we will place a half a cubic meter with the S 20 because it can get into so many places and keep the finishers moving,“ Holloway adds. The company owns nine Schwing concrete pumps up to an S 41 X and also Schwing Booster Series truck mixers. The company pumps year round and the smaller booms are invaluable operating on weight-restricted roads in Spring when homebuilders are anxious to get started and larger pumps are banned.
Industry data shows that pumping with a boom 10-meters longer than necessary adds 17-percent to the pumper’s cost. The efficiency of a smaller boom is gained through less wasted concrete, timesaving and lower operating costs including insurance, fuel and financing. Rolling Mix maintains profitability by sending the right size pump for the job.
At the Maple Crest development the company has been able to complete the concrete for a home in four to five pump visits spread out over two to three weeks. This is repeated by the same pump cycling between several houses under construction in the same neighborhood. It results in four or five set-ups per day for each pump. With tight lot lines, the dense two-story single-family house development requires deft placements with small volumes of concrete per pour. “We keep 18 finishing crews busy with our concrete pumps,” Holloway notes. The company does not take outside work for its pumps.
Placing basement floors is accomplished by inserting the end hose through a lower level window with placement accomplished in less than an hour. The ability of the double Z boom to access these areas in tight quarters allows a minimum of concrete handling and maximum pump utilization as it cleans up and heads to the next pour. “Our operators like the Rock Valve on all of these pumps because of the minimum amount of water needed for cleanup,” Holloway states, “In Canada cement slurry is a hazardous waste so it has to be contained. Even our truck mixers utilize an EnviroChute to return wash water to the mixer.” Concrete pump operators often do not clean out between pours because they are so closely spaced,” Holloway says. With five Rolling Mix batch plants to draw from in the Edmonton area, a pump is never far from a safe cleanout area.
“We dedicate our small booms to our homebuilders so they are never left waiting,” explains Holloway, “And we train and maintain a good group of operators to provide the service we are known for.” The company provides a mentor for new operators who graduate to larger booms as their proficiency improves.”
An obvious benefit to the Rolling Mix ready-mix operations is the ability to utilize an entire fleet of ready-mix trucks more efficiently with the addition of concrete pumps. Investment in their pumps allows delivery of more concrete per day without additional trucks. Mixer turnaround times improve and company productivity and profits improve, leading to recognition from large general contractors for opportunities in commercial and municipal projects, which they do perform. “We have used the S 28 X on mezzanine projects because of the low unfolding height of under 20-feet and the ability to snake the boom up and into an area,” according to Holloway.
“We view the pump as an invaluable tool to provide the total package for our customers who now request a pump almost automatically,” Holloway notes, “With the ability to place ten times faster than a wheelbarrow it helps us keep our ready-mix trucks rolling.”
Owner: Various Home Builders
Ready-Mix Producer/Finisher/Pumper: Rolling Mix, Edmonton, Alberta
Pumping Equipment: Schwing S 28 X. S 20