A concrete batching plant is a facility where cement, aggregates, sand, water, and admixtures are blended to create ready-mix concrete. With modern innovation, we now have stationary batching plants and mobile plants. Nonetheless, these two types of batching plants have the same functions.
Preparation of Raw Materials and Feeding
Before mixing, all materials are measured based on the concrete design specifications. All materials have their compartments wherein they are weighed, measured, and segregated. Aggregates are usually measured first to make sure that only the appropriate aggregate sizes are to be used. Cement and Admixtures are also put into weighing bins for measurement. Batching plants usually have their water tank or water source that streams through the facility, measured volumetrically. Once all mix components are measured and weighed, all materials are conveyed or transported into the mixer.
Two types of batching types vary in the mixing portion of the process. For Wet Plants, once all materials are measures, all raw materials, including water, are conveyed into the mixer and then blended. After mixing everything, the ready-mix concrete is prepared for transport and delivered to the job site. As for Dry Plants, all materials are mixed but not including water. During transport to the job site, water is added gradually to the mix. This process is mainly used for projects that require long-distance transport or if the volume of ready-mix needed by the client is small.
There is no standard mixing time for a concrete batch. Since plant mixers vary in size and design, the mixing time depends significantly on the rotation speed capacity, amount of materials mixed, and the state of the mixer itself. A computer now controls most batching plants, and these systems are capable of determining what mixing time is appropriate for a given concrete design. The longer the mixing time is, the stiffer the concrete will be.
Although some construction sites now have mobile concrete batching plants, some clients still procure ready-mix concrete from stationary batching plants. In cases wherein the concrete mix will be coming from a stationary plant, the concrete mix is loaded into a concrete mixer truck after mixing. Some stationary batching plants are located in remote areas since these facilities require a vast industrial space. That is why transporting a concrete batch is crucial, considering temperature, distance, and traffic volume. During transportation, plant personnel needs to ensure that the ideal water-cement ratio is maintained to maintain the slump and overall quality of the ready-mix for its intended use.
Although it may seem like operating a concrete batching plant is an easy job, it still requires much training and hard work to produce a single batch of ready-mix concrete. Each batch is worth so much money, and a single mistake could lead to thousands of dollars in losses. Even though batching plants are already computer-operated and could be as easy as pressing a few buttons, the transportation part of the batching process, which involves many unpredictable external factors, is still crucial.
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