Revealed Top Reasons Behind the Ubiquitous Use of Ready Mix Concrete

According to a recent market study, ready mix concrete holds about 60% share in the total concrete used in the construction industry. This contributes to the further growth in the concrete manufacturing industry.

The experts of the construction sector claims that there are two main reasons behind this tremendous growth of concrete manufacturing companies – firstly, it is extremely affordable and secondly, it offers great diversity in terms of function and design of the structure.

The experts also claim that it is a greener alternative to its traditional counterparts such as onsite concrete mixing.

However, these aren’t the only reasons that are inspiring concrete suppliers to promote ready mix concrete and its manufacturing, there are plenty of others. Read on.

  • Guaranteed Top-quality: Concrete is manufactured at a remote batching plant. It involves the least amount of manhandling and thus, ensures a superior quality of concrete every time you place an order.
  • It Makes a Time-optimized Concrete Solution: With ready mix concrete, you save time on mixing cement bags manually on the construction site and eliminate all the tasks involved in the traditional way of preparing a concrete of desired specifications. The time saved can be invested in other operations of the construction project. Doesn’t it make a complete sense?
  • Cut Down on Labour Cost And No Storage Space Needed On Site: As said earlier, concrete comes all prepared and ready to use at construction sites. So, this saves you from investing in hiring labour and engineers for mixing concrete in the traditional way. Also, it will help you eliminate the need of the storage area that usually is needed for storing raw concrete materials like sand, stone and cement bags.
  • Reduce Wastage of Concrete: A study says that use of ready mix concrete can help reduce the on-site wastage of concrete by up to 12%.
  • Less Dust On Site: It is ready to lay concrete solution. So, there is less chance of dust at construction sites. This makes it more environment-friendly.

What’s more, there are many studies that have proven that structures built using ready mixed concrete help to reduce the carbon footprint in the environment. Moreover, the superior quality of concrete ensures higher stability and durability in the buildings. Simply, ordering concrete from a right supplier company will save you money, speed up the construction work and reward you with highly sustainable structures.

These benefits are the reasons that we are witnessing growing demand of ready mix concrete over its traditional alternatives. Want to order commercial concrete? Finding right concrete company is the answer.

Which Buildings Can Stand Earthquakes Better, Metal Or Concrete Buildings?

In many areas of the country, it is important to construct the buildings in the area to stand damage from earthquakes. Because most earthquakes are unexpected, the building’s developer cannot depend on an early warning system to prevent harm to the individuals inside the building in the event of an earthquake. The building has to be able to withstand an earthquake that can occur at any time. For this reason, many researchers have compiled mounds of information on the best way to construct a building to stand earthquakes.

Most commercial structures that are built today are comprised out of either concrete or metal. These are the two most popular materials to construct commercial structures out of because of the numerous advantages of using these materials. Both materials are extremely strong and durable, creating a structure that will be sound for a very long period of time. Both materials are inorganic which makes them invulnerable to rot, fungi, termites, and mold. The materials do not break down as easily as some other types of building materials may. But when it comes to standing earthquakes, which material is better; concrete or metal?

Although this may be surprising to many individuals, the answer is metal. Buildings that are designed to stand earthquakes are designed to be flexible and move without breaking. The unyielding nature of concrete means that the building may crack and collapse on its foundation if it is hit with a sizable earthquake. However, metal can be formed to flex and bend without breaking to allow the metal building to sway with the movement of the earthquake, thereby reducing the stress on the building and helping the building to remain solid. By using metal supports in the building, the developer can greatly improve the chances of the building standing an earthquake.

There are several different types of metal that can be used to improve a building’s chances of coming through a strong earthquake unscathed. The most common type of building material used today is steel or steel rebar. Steel is extremely strong as a building material but also has the ability to flex and stretch far beyond what many individuals would expect. By using steel for the supports of the building, the developer lessens the chances that the frame of the steel building will crack or collapse under stress. Although the strength of the earthquake may visibly deform the building, the frame of the building will stand greatly lessening the number of injuries that will occur inside the building as a result of the earthquake.

Many buildings that are built to withstand earthquakes today are vastly different than the buildings built by previous generations. Besides using steel in the construction of the buildings, the building now typically have numerous supports located on the first floor of the building. Previously, the first floor of the building was very open while the higher levels had more walls, frames, and supports. Researchers found that during an earthquake, the bottom floor typically collapsed, ruining the rest of the structure. By adding more support to the bottom floor, the developers lessened the risk that it would collapse damaging the floors above.

Precast Concrete Construction

In the mid-nineties, I was heading a civil design department for a large EPC contractor in South East Asia. We had received an order to build a paper plant.

The primary building in a paper plant is the paper machine building. A typical paper machine building is about 300 m long. The building typically has two floors, one at ground level, and one at about 7.5 m level. The paper machine is installed on a foundation that is not connected to the building. The machine is accessible from the machine hall at 7.50 m level. This building houses other complex and heavy machinery and has very stringent requirements with respect to quality, structural design and stability. The roof is high up and some of the sections of this building are subject to temperatures between 50 to 60 0 C. A large overhead crane straddles the upstairs machine hall. The differential settlement in the paper machine foundation has to be less than one mm and overall settlement at any point less than 1.25 mm. This building, with all its components and the equipment foundations, normally takes 18 months to build.

Our managing director was an innovative man and constantly sought ideas to speed up construction. One day, he called me to his office and showed me an article narrating about a company in the US that had developed techniques to build a paper machine building using pre cast elements. This paper machine building was completed in a record time of 6 months, said the article. We appointed the US company as our consultants and they did the engineering with the help of our engineers in our office. We built our paper machine building in a year cutting down the time by about six months. This was despite a delay of about three months due to the learning curve and the time required for setting up a precast plant.

Thus began my twenty two years long association with pre-cast concrete. My old company has built several large industrial plants and other structures since then.

In many first world countries pre cast elements for bridges, culverts have been standardized. Pre-casting units are located near major cities that supply these elements to the construction sites. This not only reduces the construction time but also the design time as one uses standard elements whose properties are known.

There are variations of the precast concrete construction such as tilt up construction, module fitments etc.

I have often wondered why India, with so much construction needed in the all the sectors of construction, has not embraced this technique. Apart from other issues like need for repetition, unfriendly taxation, requirement of transport or lifting machinery etc., I think our engineers have not given a serious thought to developing this technique.

I would like to share some of my learnings.

1. Planning is Paramount: The structure to be built from precast elements has to be broken down in elements, in a pre-determined configuration. It is like making the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that when put together will form the completed puzzle. It can be a combination of standard and non-standard pieces.

2. God is in details: Each element thus planned has to be detailed out to fit all the elements on all its sides and the embedment required for utilities.

3. Design the Construction and Construct the design: Normal structural engineering practice of designing the final product and leaving the “How?” to the construction personnel, does not work in precast. The structural engineer has to stay involved in the process of pre casting, erection and placement.

To the best of my knowledge, IS codes do not have specific provisions for pre cast structures unlike ACI or BS codes. Some of the clauses in ACI can be substituted by provisions in their supplementary publications. Such provisions have to be applied judiciously after a proper assessment of the stages in the service life of the element. A foremost expert on pre-casting once said “Applying provisions of R.C.C code to pre-casting would be like playing tennis with a baseball bat”

The structural design for a precast element is done for various stages of in its early life. Multiple level checks are required till the element is placed, more checks are required if it is a pre-stressed element with partial un-bonding of tendons.

4. Joints can cause headaches: Resolving and configuring a joint between precast elements can be an arduous task. It becomes a heuristic process to balance between the structural requirement, functionality with respect to basic consideration as water tightness, and the size of the elements to which an element in consideration is attached. Joints have to be constructed the way they have been envisaged.

5. Cutting off ears because they stick out, not only impairs hearing but also creates difficulty in wearing spectacles: This is known to occur frequently where architectural requirements are of primary importance. Typically some architects do not like some essential arrangements created for better joints. Doing away with these “hindering” details may lead to reduced functionality of the joints or the elements. Expensive alternate arrangements are required to restore functionality.

6. Construction Methodology can make or break a project: Many years ago, a large bulk warehouse with pre-cast pre stressed concrete bow string girders as roof trusses was being constructed in India for a fertilizer plant. Out of twelve bowstring girders, six broke while being lifted while the others were erected smoothly. Designs were checked and double checked and checked again. This was before the easy availability of the sophisticated finite element analysis that we have today. It finally dawned on someone that the bow string girders broke because a girder while being lifted in tandem by two cranes, twisted out of plane due to different rates of lifting. A structural engineer designing precast elements should, therefore, have the knowledge of the lifting process.

7. Quality is the watchword: Consistent Quality of production is one of the arguments put forward by the advocates of precast. But many a mismatches, rejections and failures have occurred due to watching only the quality of concrete and giving less importance to placement of reinforcement embeds and the dimensional tolerances.

8. A one rupee increase in the production cost can mean a crore of rupees at the end: Due the repetitive nature of the cost of pre-casting a lot of thought has to be given to use any “nice to have” component. While the most obvious cost elements related to concrete are watched vigilantly, a small embed or a detail, that is incorporated in the design and casting of an element for a probable use, escapes attention. Such an embed that was proposed to be used and has been cast in the element has already added to the cost of producing the element. When a number of such elements are cast, the expenditure can be substantial. If such redundancy if not eliminated in time, it can waste lakhs of rupees.

How to Properly Protect Decorative Concrete During Construction

Decorative concrete has become a very popular new flooring choice for both residential and commercial construction projects. They are easy to maintain, great for regions with a lot of sand or snow, and a good alternative to carpeting if the homeowner has allergies. Decorative concrete flooring is often installed in a new home early in the construction process, which can result in damage from paint splatters, grime from workboats, impact from falling materials, and wheeled traffic. How do you help safeguard these freshly polished floors from construction traffic and mishaps from dropped tools and building materials?

There are several different types of surface protection that protect newly-installed decorative concrete floors from damage. Many contractors use Masonite, sheet plastic, and slick films to try to protect concrete flooring. These items offer limited protection and have serious limitations. Products like plywood can scratch flooring and are typically heavy and difficult to store after use. Masonite is bulky and can’t easily be repositioned on a job site. Occasionally, the masonite 4′ x 8′ sheets separate and allow wheeled traffic to directly roll over the new floor. Also, Masonite is not absorbent, so liquids flow off the sides and get into spaces between sheets, damaging the decorative concrete. Sheet plastic has its own set of challenges. While it is easier to move around a job site and is less expensive than other floor protection options, it can be very slippery on top of polished concrete flooring and may lead to worker injuries if someone falls or trips. Plastic sheeting moves easily, which means that without being taped down, it could slide on the floor. Lastly, sheet plastic offers no impact protection from dropped heavy items. Another option that contractors use to protect decorative concrete floors that doesn’t work well are temporary carpets. The carpets have a rubber backing, which does not allow the concrete to breathe. While it makes for good protection against impacts, it is heavy and awkward to move and does not absorb spills well at all. It is also a very expensive type of protection.

Many builders have tried each of these methods to protect decorative concrete but nothing works perfectly. The ideal product would be breathable so that concrete can cure, absorb spills, prevent differential drying, and would provide impact protection. If possible, the product would be reusable and recyclable to reduce waste. Luckily, there are several surface protection products on the market that meet all of these requirements.

Ram Board™ is a heavy-duty floor protection product that is made of a thick cardboard-like material. One roll of Ram Board™ is the same thickness of ten sheets of Masonite, and since it comes in rolls, it is much easier to transport, move around, and store. It lays fast and flat upon being unrolled and allows moisture to escape for curing floors. Ram Board™ is water-resistant and prevents oils and other materials from seeping through and staining concrete flooring. Ram Board’s breathable Vapor Cure™ tape can be used to tape ram board sheets together and does not result in cure lines.

SurfacePro™ is a thick, breathable floor protection product that has a skid-resistant backing. It comes in large rolls and easily cuts to size. SurfacePro™ is reusable and provides 40 mils of protection for decorative concrete floors. The breathable product prevents cure lines in newly-installed concrete and it won’t invalidate the flooring manufacturer’s warranty. Unlike the paper Ramboard, Surface Pro is reusable and last longer.

SurfaceLiner Vapor™ is a new product that is similar to SurfacePro™, but also has a lightly tacky back that almost acts like an adhesive. It lightly grips floors without leaving any sort of residue. SurfaceLiner Vapor™ is breathable and vapor-transmitting for new concrete floors. It is also waterproof and tear-resistant. SurfaceLiner Vapor™ has padded protection that is very effective against impact damage.

,EZcover by McTech Group is a natural cellulose fiber composite that immediately starts absorbing a spill without degrading. It has a dense top layer and a soft cushion on the bottom and is designed to take impacts. EZcover breathes well, is relatively easy to cut/shape around objects, and comes in large rolls for easy placement over large areas. If kept in decent condition, EZcover is reusable. It is its durable against construction traffic and wheeled traffic and the edges can be taped if needed.

While contractors can use basic products such as sheet plastic, Masonite, and carpeting to protect decorative concrete floors, the most effective types of protection are specialized floor protection products. Products such as Ram Board™, Surface Pro™, SurfaceLiner Vapor™, and EZcover are specifically designed to provide the very best protection at a competitive price. Remember; protection is an investment and prevents the high costs of replacement or repair that may happen if the expensive flooring is not protected. Contact your local surface protection supplier for more information how to best protect your valuable concrete floors.