Concrete Equipment: Maintaining Concrete Mixers

Concrete Mixing and Hauling Equipment

Concrete equipment is a large investment for a company. This is why it is so important for business owners to properly maintain their investment. One of the most commonly used pieces of equipment in the concrete industry is the concrete mixer. When properly maintained, concrete mixers will operate efficiently for many years.

Proper maintenance begins with the operator’s knowledge of machine operation and capability of troubleshooting potential problems. However, the most important aspect of ensuring that any concrete equipment has a long life is routine maintenance.

Concrete Equipment Maintenance Essentials

Concrete mixers are fairly simple by design, but do have several moving parts that require attention; the first of which is the drum. Dried concrete left inside the drum of the mixer can be detrimental to the machine itself. Over time, dried concrete will coat the inside of the drum and reduce its capacity.

While this sounds like a simple issue to fix, it is very difficult to remove dried on concrete residue from the inside of the drum. In fact, the drum can be damaged if attempts are made to remove dried material using hammers or chisels. The best idea is to take measures to prevent this build up in the first place.

Concrete can be removed from the inside of the mixers drum by using a pressure washer or simple garden hose with a sprayer attachment. Simply spraying out the inside of the drum while it is rotating will do the job. Obviously, this is not going to work well if the concrete is allowed to dry, so it is important to do this before the concrete begins to dry after every time the concrete mixer is used.

Concrete Machinery Monitoring Systems

No matter how well you maintain your concrete equipment, problems are bound to occur. Even the most experienced operators may not recognize the potential issue until it is too late. Modern technology allows machinery owners to see what’s going on inside.

Condition monitoring dashboards are becoming increasingly popular in the concrete industry as well as other industries that routinely use industrial machinery. These systems use innovative software which can provide information such as machine condition, life, potential issues and even location.

This is extremely useful for companies who have a large fleet of machines as the system will alert a central office of the specific machine affected and specifics as to the potential problem.

Recover Concrete Equipment That Was Not Properly Maintained

It is always a better idea to routinely practice preventative maintenance measures, but when concrete machinery has not been maintained properly, what can an equipment owner do?

Sure, you could get the jackhammer out and begin chipping away at the dried on concrete. This is likely to damage the equipment. However, options are limited at this stage in the game.

A better option could be to look into a company offering chemical concrete removal and pressure washing services. This method can be pretty expensive which is why preventative maintenance and proper cleaning of concrete equipment is so important.

There are even companies that offer concrete chipping services used to remove dried concrete build up. They use smaller cutting tools to chip away at the hardened concrete until it is all removed. Although effective, this is also a much more expensive alternative to preventative maintenance.

Side Shift Backhoes vs. Center Mount Backhoes: Which is better?

Structural Differences: Backhoe & Loader Design

Backhoe design across the world is pretty universal, or is it? As a matter of fact, there is a very interesting design preference that varies between U.S. and European contractors. This design difference is between side shift backhoes, which European contractors have long favored, and center mount backhoes, which North American contractors can’t get enough of.

The structural difference between the two backhoes is actually very minimal. In fact, “the tractors are identical from the rear wheel forward and from the back of the boom to the dipper and the bucket,” according to the senior product marketing manager of JCB North America, Jim Blower. The structural difference is found primarily in the rear frame of the machine.

Side Shift Backhoes

The design of this construction equipment consists of the backhoes kingpost being mounted on a carrier. This carrier is capable of sliding from one side to the other along frame rails with stabilizers, which are mounted on both sides and can extend vertically.

This design allows operators to maneuver in tight spaces and very close to the edge of buildings. This may be the main reason these side shift backhoes are so popular in Europe; they are very good at working in confined spaces.

Since introduced in Europe in the early 1960’s, this design has become standard with European contractors and may even be considered tradition.

Center Mount Backhoes

Center mount backhoes, also known as center pivot backhoes, are mounted at the center of the rear portion of the machine’s frame. The equipped stabilizers extend out and down from either side of the frame.

This rigid backhoe design really offers no specific advantages over the side shift design. In fact, when JBC, a major construction equipment manufacturer, introduced them to the U.S. in the 1970’s, contractors did not accept the new design. JBC had seen great success with the side shift design in other markets around the world, however North Americans did not accept a change from the center mount design they had become accustomed to.

Which Backhoe Design Is Best?

While the design of side-shift backhoes?has shown additional benefits over the design of center mount backhoes, including improved maneuverability, and improved visibility in tight spaces with decreased machine adjustment for bucket positioning. It turns out, equipment preference mainly has to do with tradition and geographic needs.

Obviously, the U.S. has gotten along with the center pivot design for years and still prefers it. There has been no major need for a change in design in North America. Europeans on the other hand really saw the benefits of a new arm and bucket design as well as the need for a machine that could easily be maneuvered in close places.

In conclusion, the appropriate structural design, when choosing backhoes is really determined by the need of the operator or contractor. Another factor to take into consideration is the availability of the different styles of backhoe. Depending on the area, one type of backhoe loader may be more abundantly available than the other, making it easier to find and less expensive to rent or purchase.

Construction Attachments & Accessories Can Enhance A Machine’s Capabilities

Attachments & Accessories For Forklifts

Modern machines are capable of many different tasks and applications. Each of which can be enhanced with the use of construction attachments & accessories. When some equipment owners buy a new machine to perform a specific task, another machine owner will find an attachment or accessory, giving the same piece of machinery the extended ability to perform the additional required tasks.
For example, forklifts are capable of lifting, moving, and transporting a variety of materials on pallets. They can also lift equipment and machinery that is otherwise, too heavy to lift. However, a forklift can be much more than a transportation tool.

With an inexpensive attachment, you can turn most forklift trucks into a man lift that is just as safe and efficient as purchasing a scissor lift or any other style of man lift.

Another piece of machinery that could be purchased for use in an industrial facility would be an overhead crane. There are large-scale applications where a use of a crane is the best equipment for the job. Most indoor applications can be completed with the use of a boom attachment, which allows your forklift to reach farther than ever before and lift just about anything within the machine’s weight limitations with ease.

There are many other forklift attachments and accessories. Construction workers everywhere are utilizing a variety of different fork setups, sizes and shapes for specific applications and some with smaller boom attachments known as spears. Although, forklifts are not the only machines with useful accessories and attachment

Construction Attachments & Accessories For Skid Steer Loaders

Skid steer loaders are similar to forklifts in that they are capable of many different functions along with their originally designed purpose.

Skid steer loaders are equipped with a front bucket and are used to scoop, scrape, and transfer many different types of material. However, with the right attachment, these powerful machines are capable of so much more.

For example, if you attach a skid steer boom, the loader can lift and transport any machine or piece of equipment that is within its weight limit and can be attached from above.

Another accessory would allow the skid steer to rip up stumps out of the ground. This attachment is known as a stump grapple bucket. Other types of grapples are available which attach to the front of the skid steer and are designed with sharp grooved edges used to grab things like bushes or branches. These can also be used for pulling rooted plants from the ground as well as debris and clean up.

One more type of accessory available for most skid steer loaders is a hydraulic breaker attachment. There are a large variety of hydraulic breakers that can be used for chipping, chiseling, blunt impact, tamping, and cutting asphalt. This type of construction attachment is also available for compact excavators.

Other Construction Attachments & Accessories

Lift trucks, loaders, and excavators are not the only construction machines that benefit from the use of accessories or attachments. In fact, most machine tools on the market have some sort of optional hardware or attachment that will add to the machine’s capabilities.

When the cost of an additional piece of equipment seems to high, an attachment or accessory for the existing equipment can usually be found and purchased at a fraction of the cost.

The Future Of Construction Equipment: What To Expect

Construction Equipment Technology

An important part of many industrial operations over the past century has been construction equipment. Companies like Caterpillar, Case, Komatsu and Deere have made continuous advancements in the capabilities and safety features of these machines, making them the useful tools they are today.
These same heavy equipment manufacturers continue to develop new machines with improved features aimed at:

  • Lowering maintenance costs
  • Decreasing operation costs
  • Increasing machine versatility
  • Improving machine efficiency and reliability

In the years ahead, construction equipment manufacturers will likely be focusing more on improvements in areas like:

  • Increased fuel efficiency
  • Energy conservation
  • Decreased harmful emissions
  • Development and implementation of new machine technologies

Hydraulics – Construction equipment such as excavators, backhoes and loaders rely on hydraulics to lift, load / unload and move materials and objects. New hydraulic technologies are emerging, optimizing both hydraulic flow and pressure including the ability to modulate both. As these improvements are introduced, the efficiency and versatility of the equipment will continue to improve.

Engine – Many construction machines are equipped with diesel engines because they are efficient and reliable. Many improvements to engine controls, fuel injection systems and the engine combustion process are in the works and aim to increase fuel efficiency while decreasing the amount of harmful emissions released into the air.

Computer Systems – Computer systems are being integrated into some new models of construction equipment and will continue to be utilized even more in the future. Computer systems are being used to remotely monitor machine operation, analyze fuel efficiency, control hydraulics, report machine performance and more.

Hybrid Construction Equipment

Hybrid technology has come a long way since hybrid cars were first introduced. Similar hybrid technologies are being used for heavy equipment equipped with diesel engines.

We are already seeing the introduction of hybrid excavators and hybrid bulldozers. The released hybrids are the first and second generations of hybrid construction equipment and offer many advantages including:

  • Dramatically increased fuel efficiency
  • Fuel savings of a 20-ton machine reaching 25% as compared to non-hybrid models is not uncommon.
  • Recovery and reuse of energy
  • Reduction in carbon emissions
  • Decreased operating costs
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Increased machine life

The first hybrid-drive, heavy equipment, construction vehicle was released by Komatsu in 2008. The hybrid excavator was a huge success and many valuable lessons were learned, ushering in newer and improved generations of hybrid equipment.

The third generations of hybrids in the construction field are underway and will likely offer even more impressive advantages for hybrid machine owners.
Future of Construction Equipment
Hybrid technology will most likely be the most dramatic improvements made to construction equipment. However, technologies and advancements are being developed for individual equipment types.

For example, improved hydraulics for excavators and backhoes, which improve lifting capabilities and efficiency, or redesigned bulldozers with increased earth moving power.

The future of construction equipment will likely follow a theme. That theme being “environmentally friendly”, aided in part by emissions regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This means cleaner air, more cost efficient operation and improved fuel efficiency.

KOMATSU Introduces Environmentally Friendly Construction Equipment

Environmentally Friendly Construction Equipment

Heavy Machinery used in construction is constantly evolving. Along with the changes and improvements being made to construction equipment, we are seeing more powerful equipment, machines with more versatility, more features, and improved efficiency.

Komatsu America Corp., an industry leader, recently developed a new loader, known as the WA320-7 wheel loader, which offers many improvements including lower operating costs, lower emissions, and decreased fuel consumption among other things.

For the first time in construction machinery history, we are seeing improvements, which are aiming towards being more environmentally friendly or “Green”.

New Features Introduced With The WA320-7 Construction Loader

KOMTRAX? technology– Comes standard with the WA320-7 loader. This Tier 4 technology from Komatsu sends machine operation information such as location, fuel consumption, operating hours, and maintenance alerts wirelessly to a secure website.

Komtrax? is a registered trademark of Komatsu, Ltd.

Enhanced Machine Cab Environment– The cab is designed to be more comfortable and less noisy which allows for increased operator concentration for maximized productivity.

–?????? The dashboard has been redesigned and the front window lowered for increased visibility.

–?????? An operator console is mounted on the right side of the seat and equipped with a multi-function mono-lever with proportional control for the integrated 3rd spool.

–?????? An auxiliary input and two 12-volt ports have been added. The auxiliary input can be used to connect an MP3 player or other compatible device.

–?????? An LCD monitor that measures 7” offers a high-resolution display in 25 different languages for global support. It allows the operator to easily adjust settings, check operation records, monitor maintenance information, and view operation records.

–?????? Built-in back up camera provides a high resolution is always viewable from a separate monitor, which is mounted on the right side of the dashboard.

Improved Drivetrain Features – The Komatsu hydrostatic (HST) 3rd generation drive train is electronically controlled and offers new features including:

–?????? Pump capacity has been increased providing improved efficiency and responsiveness.

–?????? Self-braking feature slows down the machine whenever the accelerator is released which greatly reduces break wear.

–?????? Simplified traction controls manage machine operation on slippery and softer ground with 3 settings: MAX, AUTO, and S-Mode.

 

The Komatsu WA320-7 Wheel Loader Tier 4 Interim Engine Technology

–?????? Powered by the Komatsu SAA6D107E-2 engine together offering 165 HP which is EPA Tier 4 Interim and EU Stage 3B emission certified.

–?????? Built on a Tier 3 engine platform designed by Komatsu to increase fuel efficiency by up to 10% as compared to previous models.

–?????? Replaces both previous loader models: WA320PZ-6 and WA320-6

–?????? Komatsu, being a hydraulic technology leader, developed a Komatsu Variable Geometry Turbocharger (KVGT), which is hydraulically actuated and an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve, resulting in improved precision and management of air including longer component life.

–?????? The integrated design of the Komatsu Diesel Particulate Filter (KDPF) is designed to not interfere with normal operation but makes the machines status available to the operator at all times.

–?????? Machine Weight: 33,731 lbs / 15,300 kg.

 

This new model of wheel loader not only offers lower fuel consumption, improved efficiency, and improved maintenance systems which aim to lower operating costs while maximizing productivity. Environmentally friendly construction equipment also aims to improve operator comfort and system controls, which always important when on the job all day.