Using Volumetric Mixers to Excel on Utility Projects

Oct 6, 2021, 2:57 PM

Using Volumetric Mixers to Excel on Utility Projects

Have you ever wondered what it takes to have gas, drinking water, and electrical power readily available in your home, as well as the internet? Few people do until something goes wrong. Underground utilities are so common that most of us take them for granted. However, when problems arise, they can be hugely disruptive.

A gas leak shutting down a street and necessitating temporary evacuations is not only inconvenient. It is dangerous to those living in the area. Ruptured water pipes are one thing, but broken sewage lines create a public health hazard.

Building and maintaining them may not sound exciting, but it is a huge responsibility for utility workers. Concrete is generally used to encase utility lines, and volumetric mixers have several advantages over other concrete delivery systems.

 

How Underground Utilities Work

Underground utilities is a general term for any public service infrastructures that have been installed beneath the ground surface. Public utility companies bury electric cables, data, and communications cables, gas and oil pipelines, as well as water and sewer lines to protect them from damage and inclement weather. Avoiding vandalism or even theft of expensive infrastructure components is another reason for underground installations.

Burying new utility lines has now become the norm, although, in some areas, older utility lines can still be found above ground. Electric cables mounted on poles are one example. Whilst it may seem an easier option compared to underground utilities overhead electricity lines are exposed to damage from high winds. In areas prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, they are often the first to topple, causing damage and disruption.

 

How Volumetric Concrete Mixers Make Construction And Maintenance Easier

Concrete is used throughout the construction of underground utilities. It is the perfect material to create utility boxes in which cables and pipes are housed. Plus, concrete is also used to fill the remaining gaps. When the work is done, volumetric concrete mixers can help with restoring roads and pavements.

Underground utility work requires different kinds of specific concrete, including flowable fill. The precise composition of the concrete mix is crucial to the success of the job. Projects can range in size from small maintenance work to extensive, new installations, especially when new utility boxes are needed.

Using a volumetric concrete mixer means that contractors have concrete available exactly when they need it. This helps avoid delays caused by waiting for deliveries which in turn may lead to project delays. Those are costly for clients such as cities and municipalities, but they are also detrimental to the flow of traffic if large parts of major routes need to be altered.

With a fully loaded, volumetric concrete mixer on site, pouring starts as soon as everyone is ready. The mixers are loaded with aggregates, cement, and water in separate containers. Mixing is done with the help of ProAll’s industry-leading Commander Control System. Operators simply specify exactly which mix they need, and the volumetric mixer does the rest. There is no danger of under-ordering concrete and having to wait for more. In addition, contractors avoid waste from ordering too much of the wrong kind of concrete which would then need to be discarded.

 

Convenient Changes Between Types Of Concrete

Traditional barrel mixers are restricted to one type of concrete per load. As a consequence, contractors working on underground utilities would need to order several to complete one project.

On the other hand, a volumetric concrete mixer allows them to pour as much as they need to make the utility box, the housing for cables and pipes using one type of concrete. The box needs to be strong to prevent frost or heat from damaging its contents.

Once the utility box has been completed and contents have been placed at depths ranging from 45 to 120 centimeters below ground, the operator changes the composition of the mix required. Without delay, the project continues to progress. Without waste and with minimal downtime, projects are completed on time and on budget.

If requirements change during the project, volumetric mixers are the perfect tool to accommodate the adjustments.

 

The Power Of Technology

As utility boxes are being filled with pipes and cables, contractors need to take care to follow regulations including color-coding. Those will make it easier to carry out maintenance when it is required or add to the utility lines laid.

One example is telecommunications cables: as worldwide demand for stronger connections increases, it is likely that suppliers need to upgrade cables regularly.

Colors for underground utilities are grouped into categories. Current colors include:

  • Red: Electric cables, conduits, power lines, and lightning cables
  • Blue: Potable (drinking) water
  • Yellow: Natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or other gaseous/flammable material
  • Green: Sewage and/or drain lines
  • Orange: Telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduit
  • Purple: Irrigation, reclaimed water, and slurry lines
  • Pink: Unknown/unidentified facilities or temporary survey markings
  • White: Proposed excavation limits

For contractors, it is not only important to follow these standards. Moreover, they need to provide information to the organization which hired them about the contents of utility boxes.

When maintenance or extension work is required, this makes it easier to identify what has been buried where. Easy identification is not only important for convenience. It also helps avoid accidentally damaging utility lines during future excavation projects.

The technology ProAll’s volumetric concrete mixers are equipped with allows volumetric mixer operators to record details of the job and simply print those at the end of the day or the project. This information can make the difference to smooth follow-up projects.

 

Bringing It All To The Project

Versatility is the main advantage volumetric concrete mixers bring to underground utility infrastructure projects. For contractors, they minimize potential problems and snags throughout the project. Construction runs more cost-effectively, and projects finish faster. It’s a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved.

 

Want to learn more about how volumetric mixers can help your business succeed on utility projects? Fill out the contact form on our website or call us at 403-335-9500 to speak with one of our friendly representatives.