Wisconsin Pumper Roots For More Tilt-Up

“We just love it,” explains Rick Borowitcz, owner of R&S Concrete Pumping, Baldwin, Wisconsin with his wife Shirley. Rick is referring to the tilt-up method of concrete construction – a relative rarity in the Midwest. “It’s easy on the pumps and usually tilt-up is used on bigger structures which means more concrete pumping for big slabs,” he notes.

The family-run pumper is currently working on just such a structure – a five month project pouring footings, tilt-up panels and slabs for a 108,000 square foot beer distributorship in Menomonie, Wisconsin. An accompanying office building will add another 10,000 square feet of tilt-up and a slab. Because of the nature of the goods to be stored in the warehouse, Anheuser Busch specifies an insulated concrete sandwich wall by Thermomass. Doyle Contractors, Inc, Campbellsport, WI was chosen by the brewing giant as the tilt-up contractor on the project.

Adding to the pumping on the project is the fact that separate casting beds are being poured on this project at the request of the owner. “Anheuser Busch is very particular about the appearance and finish of their floors, “explains Dan Doyle, president of the tilt-up contractor. Most often on tilt-up projects the slab will be poured first and act as the bed for casting the panels. On this project, separate casting beds are being poured adjacent to the footings. The temporary beds – a total of 13,000 square feet – will be broken up and hauled away after 96,000 square feet of insulated wall panels are assembled and erected by a crawler crane.

The 99.7% thermally efficient panels vary in thickness from 12-18 inches. Insulation thickness ranges from 2-inches for normal interior temperatures to 4-inches for refrigerated storage and 6-inches for freezers. “Generally about 60-percent of the concrete will be pumped on our projects, “ explains Doyle, “But because the sandy conditions on this site make travel difficult, we are pumping all of it.”

The company specified the R&S Schwing S 47 SX on the project. The pumps 141-feet of horizontal reach allows it to be placed strategically along one side of the 363’ x 300’ warehouse and reach footings or casting beds without relocating. “We are out there every day, “Borowitz said, “We like the extra reach the 47-meter provides. We bought it primarily for bridge work and it has pumped about 90,000 yards of bridge decks – some of it 1-1/2-inch ugly mud – in the last 18 months. Lots of days we will pump a bridge deck in the morning and pump tilt-up in the afternoon.”

Typical pumping schedules for the panels include a three-inch face pour with any architectural effects added in this first layer. Doyle has incorporated thin bricks, logo dies and other effects into the faces of tilt-up panels. “It’s relatively easy and the possibilities are endless, “he explains, “Once we placed balls cut in half to create a dimpled effect.” Insulation is added next along with the Thermomass fiber composite connectors that keep the sandwich together. The follow-up pour, usually two days later, completes the panel. The average 40’x45’ panel weight on the Menomonie warehouse is 55,000 pounds. Panels as big as 90’ x 40’ weighing 125,000 pounds have been cast on projects in Florida where the tilt-up concept is more popular.

Doyle Contractors started in 1974 as a masonry and concrete contractor serving eastern Wisconsin. In 1989 they added tilt-up to their services and watched the popularity grow – slowly. “Selling tilt-up is a challenge in the Midwest, I wish we had more competitors to establish the method,” the company president explained. While Doyle Contractors continues to provide masonry services, they promote tilt-up for labor savings, speed of construction and less insurance cost. “Our workmen’s comp rate is cut in half on tilt-up – everyone’s on the ground and no one is doing heavy lifting.” Doyle said.

Regarding pumping services, Doyle said, “The pump is extremely important and R&S has supplied a good operator and good equipment.” He credits the Schwing equipment with providing smooth controlled output of the 3500 – 4500 psi mixes that pump at 6-7-inch slump for the face pours and 4-5 inch slump for the structural panel sections. Doyle acknowledges that chuting from truck mixers requires more raking but is still the preferred method when site access permits. He does not recommend conveying the mix because segregation can affect the panel’s exterior appearance.

Borowitcz is rooting that tilt-up will take off. “Right now it is pretty much just Doyle and they are great customers.” R&S is looking forward to pumping the warehouse slab that they will be doing for the concrete contractors, Durand Builders Service, Inc., Durand, Wisconsin. “We use a Somero SP 80 placer that will pull hundreds of feet of hose,” Borowitcz explains, “I think it has added four pumps to our fleet, it is so popular.” With the placer, a trailer or boom pump outside of the structure hooks into a hose that is attached to the self-propelled Somero. The placer has a swivel allowing placement around corners and in-front of a Somero laser screed. “It allows placement in-doors with only a small opening for the pipeline through the building’s wall. If it is cold outside this can be a huge advantage when heating costs are upwards of $500 per day on these huge structures,” Borowitcz said.

R&S with 13 pumps staged at ready-mix producers around the state and at their office/shop/home in Baldwin has built it’s business by buying used Schwing equipment from Concrete Pump Repair (CPR), “It’s hard to beat them,” Borowitcz says, “The 47 is our first new pump and we love it, but the used ones from CPR come with a new pump warranty too.”