Bigger, better, faster

19 March 2008

The € 200 million expansion of France's Toulouse-Blagnac airport has used Peri's Vario formwork syst

The € 200 million expansion of France's Toulouse-Blagnac airport has used Peri's Vario formwork system, RCS (Rail Climbing System) and high load-bearing HDT main beams.

Acquisitions in the cement and concrete industry continue to come thick and fast. Following previous years' major deals like Cemex's purchase of RMC and Holcim's acquisition of Aggregate Industries, Ireland's ever-acquisitive CRH has been busy this year.

In March it announced the purchase of Gétaz Romang, a building materials distribution business in Switzerland, for CHF 540 million (€ 336 million). CRH followed this up in April with the acquisition of a 50% stake in Turkey's Denizli Cement.

France's Lafarge has also been busy this year. In April it announced the acquisition of a 26% stake in Heracles, Greece's largest cement producer, from the National Bank of Greece, for € 322 million. The deal increased Lafarge's holding in the company from 52,7% to 78,7%.

But the biggest deal of the year has been Heidelberg Cement's UK£ 8 billion (€ 11,3 billion) acquisition of Hanson, which was announced in May. Having said that, Heidelberg has off-loaded its 35% stake in France's Vicat group for € 1,4 billion to help fund the Hanson deal.

Outside Europe Cemex is finally reaching the close of its US$ 14,2 billion (€ 10,5 billion) acquisition of Rinker, which is based in Australia, with major operations in the US.

Despite the slow-down in residential construction, the US remains an attractive market for the industry. Last year saw CRH undertake its biggest ever acquisition when it paid US$ 1,3 billion (€ 960 million) for Ashland Paving and Construction (APAC), and earlier in the year Lafarge spent US$ 3,4 billion (€ 2,5 billion) acquiring the 46,8% of Lafarge North America it didn't already own.

Downstream

This headline grabbing consolidation at the big, multinational end of the industry is clearly reverberating down to smaller companies involved in concrete production and manufacturing equipment for use in the sector. Geographic expansion and strategic mergers continue to take place at all levels of the concrete industry.

In May, for example, Italy's IMER Group, which manufacturers mortar spraying and conveying equipment, concrete truck mixers and batching plants, opened a new production plant in Aksaray, Turkey. Costing €5 million, the new plant manufactures truck mixers and covers an area of 35000 m2. Operated by the IMER-L&T joint venture the IMER Group and Turkish partner Metin Uygurit employs about 70 people.

IMER Group president Silvano Bencini said the opening of the plant strengthens its penetration of both the Turkish and the wider Middle Eastern and Central Asian markets. Mr Bencini said the Group aimed to increase its export share in Turkey from the current 11% to 15% within three years, by which time the new plant will be manufacturing over 1000 units per year.

The move follows the establishment of a commercial branch in Lebanon, Beirut in 2006, and Mr Bencini said the Group's strategy is now to increase exports to the Middle East to €10 million within two years.

Bauma Effect

IMER also launched several new products at this year's Bauma (23 – 29 April, Munich, Germany), including its new ORU Just and ORU Multis 750 systems. The latter is designed to meet the requirements of the ready-mix concrete sector and produces 30 m3/hour. Requiring minimal foundations for a quick set-up time it is available with one, two or three scraping arms. It uses IMER's ORU MS 750/500 planetary mixer.

Also new was the ORU Just mobile batching plant. Capable of producing up to 50 m3/hour it has a hopper capacity of 8,4 m3 or 16 tonnes.

There were also new batching plants from Lintec, Liebherr and Elba, among others, with transportability the key to product development. Lintec's new 240 m3/hour CC 3000 D concrete mixing plant, comes in ISO Sea Containers and uses two 3 m3 mixers, which means it can produce two mixes simultaneously.

Hopper capacities are 25 m3 for water, 50 or 80 m3 for cement and 25 m3 for a maximum of four additives. Easy-to-use controls require little operator training, while the machine can work in temperatures from –10°C to +50°C.

Like Lintec's CC 3000 D, Liebherr's new Compactmix 1.0 can be moved in standard containers. Capable of producing 60 m3/hour it features an open delivery chute area, which allows mixing trucks to approach it through a 180° arc, which gives more layout flexibility.

Elsewhere, Elba's 4,5 m3 capacity EMDW 4500 processes self-compacting and heavy-duty concretes. It is a component of the company's new, 245 m3/hour Elba Beton-Center stationary plant.

Also new from the company is its EMC 38 Mixcenter. Built around the EMS 500 single-shaft mixer the 31,5 m3/hour EMC 38 can, like Lintec and Liebherr's latest machines, be transported in a single, standard shipping container.

Pump To Post

By far the largest number of new machines at Bauma came from manufacturers active in the concrete pumping and placing sector. Germany-based Putzmeister unveiled a new 50 to 60 m class truck-mounted concrete pump featuring a 125 mm diameter delivery line, which helps keep the boom assembly compact.

On the stationary side, all its BSA pumps above 130 kW are now fitted with Stage IIIA engines. Putzmeister further enhanced the range by fitting its EPS (Ergonic Pump System), which helps prevent pressure peaks in the hydraulic system and controls concrete delivery pressures and rates, as standard.

At the smaller end of the BSA range, its new 1003 D is designed as an entry-level unit with an output of 30 m3/hour.

In the tunnel construction segment, Putzmeister's new truck-mounted unit for both pumping and spraying concrete, the BSF 24.11 SA, comes with a 4-piece boom for working heights up to 24 m. It can unfold in just 4,9 m of headroom.

Also new is the 20 m3/hour Sika-PM 407, an all-wheel steer and drive concrete sprayer from the Sika-Putzmeister alliance, which is designed for small diameter tunnels.

The new MOVER (Multi Optional Vehicle Range) mixer meanwhile is a 5 m3 drum mixer on an all-wheel drive chassis, measuring only 2,5 m high, which allows it to get concrete to inaccessible locations. Other innovations from Putzmeister in this sector include the stationary BSA 2100 unit, which can pump concrete in excess of 2 km.

Truck-Mounted Pumps

New from Schwing Stetter is the S 52 SX with 270° radius RZ5 boom, its first truck-mounted concrete pump in the 50 m class featuring a 5-section boom. Built on a five-axle chassis the S 52 SX is just 12 m long. The 45 tonne machine uses arc-shaped support in the front and a folding support in the back for a small footprint.

Also new is the smaller S 17, which is designed for use on small urban sites and tunnelling applications. Just 2,2 m wide with its outriggers in place, the S 17 is also available in a Vario variation, which features special boxes that can carry up to 100 m of DN 65 hoses, or 36 m of DN 80 or DN 100 hoses. Both pumps feature its Rock Valve System, which optimises control blocks resulting in -50% less power loss.

On the stationary side, the new BP 4800 concrete pump is equipped with a Stage IIIA compliant 300 kW diesel engine. Electronic engine control keeps the engine rotation speed steady even under the harshest conditions.

According to the company, special attention was given to making the BP 4800 as user, maintenance and service-friendly as possible. The change from piston-sided to rod-sided actuation of the concrete pump, for example, requires no additional hoses.

New for extremely heavy-duty applications, such as concrete with irregular aggregates, is a mixing spiral system. The heavy-duty drums for truck mixers of 7 to 12 m3 have, according to the company, twice the service life of competitors' models.

Elsewhere, Italian manufacturer Cifa's latest model in its SL range of truck-mixers, the 8 m3 SL-X8, features an improved drum design, while new components include a pressurised aluminium tank and extension pipes, which also help keep overall machine weight down.

Also new is its K35L XZ concrete pump. Features include a five section, 35 m long, 305 mm diameter boom with a Z-ZR configuration with patented rotor on the last section. The simple X-configuration front outriggers and rear extension makes it possible to pump on a three-axle chassis with a standard, 4,2 m wheelbase.

Another new machine is the five, or six axle K58L XRZ truck-mounted concrete pump with a 58 m long, six-section boom with RZ folding system. The sixth section has a 90° articulated joint for greater flexibility. Other features include mixed X-configuration sequential front outriggers, with triple telescopic extension and rear jack, and the company's K-Tronic electronic control system, fitted as standard

Fast And Smooth

But it is not just about new products. For example, Meva is now offering an impressive 7-year warranty on its 'Alkus' plastic formwork facing material. The company says it is the first time a formwork company has offered a long-term guarantee of this kind, partly because formwork is usually faced with plywood, which is susceptible to rotting and splitting if not properly looked after.

The Meva warranty covers rotting, resistance to degradation from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, flexural rigidity and resistance to the effects of chemicals normally used in the construction industry.

New products from the company include its MGC guided climbing system, which combines a wall formwork panel and a safety scaffold unit in one for high-rise construction projects. Capable of withstanding 70 km/hour winds it features a quick and easy-to-use anchoring system and can be combined with Meva's KLK climbing system.

Also new is the MGS guided screen system for slab formwork. Features include a panel height of 3 m to 4,25 m, integrated ladders and bespoke bracket positioning.

Elsewhere the company has added to its MEP Shoring System with the addition of the MEP HD Shoring System with the addition of the MEP HD (heavy-duty) prop. With a load capacity of 120 kN it is suitable for use when pouring large structures where slab thicknesses are more than 1 m.

Also new is the Meva Shaft Corner for use with concrete shafts such as lifts and stairs.

Traditionally the high pressures of such pours have meant stripping the panel is hard work, Meva's one-man lever system allows easy stripping, while the units can be moved complete.

An interesting innovation from Doka is its Table Lifting System (TLS), which is designed to improve the speed with which contractors can form floor slabs. Capable of lifting Doka table forms from one storey to the next at a speed of 10 m/minute the TLS can be crane lifted and then integrated into a structure's existing formwork, or mounted on foundations for two storey buildings. The system can be operated by just one person and has a maximum lift height of 40 m.

Also new for high-rise construction is its High-Rise System, a low-cost climbing system that overcomes variations in storey heights with no need for any modifications to the climbing scaffolds. It can be used with framed and timber-beam formworks for exterior façades, punctuated façades and high-rise cores, or as a wind protection screen.

Another product with safety in mind is the Xsafe platform system. Featuring folding working platforms, integral side and end guards, permanently mountable ladders and auto-closing manhole lids, it is ready for operation immediately.

Elsewhere, Peri's Maximo wall formwork system features a new, conical tie system that can be installed from one side only by just one person, making spacer tubes unnecessary. Improved architectural concrete surfaces, with fewer imperfections in the face, are an added advantage to using the system, which can be combined with Peri's Trio system.

Also new is Peri's lightweight, aluminium Gridflex slab formwork system. Consisting of just three parts – a prop head support, the Gridflex panel and plywood, which can be assembled quickly and easily on the ground, it is designed to increase productivity and raise safety levels.

New for tunnel and bridge construction is Peri's VarioKit. A modular system, which uses multifunctional components that are both strong and flexible, it can be used as a supporting structure for formwork carriages in cut and cover tunnels and for bridges as a cantilevered parapet carriage.

Elsewhere, Peri's Rail Climbing System (RCS) allows several climbing applications from just one system, including as formwork scaffolding with carriage (RCS C) for facade walls and as a climbing protection panel (RCS P) for completely enclosing floors under construction. In both cases, the crane independent climbing scaffold is connected to the building by means of the RCS climbing shoe even during the climbing process.

New from Hünnebeck is its Europlus shoring system. It includes a rapid lowering system featuring new, easy-to-use lowering pins, which are available in either 20 or 30 kN strengths.

Trends

A common theme in these launches tends to be the improvements in productivity and efficiency that new products can bring. Safety is of course of paramount concern, but developments such as Meva's long-term warranty initiative could point to another development in the industry, with an even stronger focus on service and value for money over the full-life of equipment.

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