Monday, 18 November 2013

Buying a Volumetric Concrete Mixer – A Rough Guide

Construction is a tough trade by design and it would be even tougher if you didn't have the right equipment at hand. Perhaps the most indispensable piece of equipment in the construction workers arsenal is the concrete mixer and of all the concrete mixers on the market, volumetric concrete mixers are by a country mile the most reliable, powerful and cost effective, not to mention the best suited to larger scale operations.

What is a Volumetric Concrete Mixer?

A volumetric mixer measures the raw materials used to mix concrete by volume, whereas conventional mixing by hand measures materials by weight. This process results in a more even and consistent blend of materials and it is far more effective as mixing by hand would be far more labour intensive. The rough process uses an auger, a paddle or a drum device to mix the ingredients (cement, gravel and sand) together with water and it starts with a system that measures the volume of the materials before they enter the mixing chamber. The process could involve anything from a simple measured bucket to a highly sophisticated, computerised system of plants depending on the size and complexity of the mixer. These mixers are generally mounted onto the backs of heavy load vehicles for easy transportation between job sites.

First or second hand?

In the construction trade, a man is generally only as good as his tools so using the best and most reliable equipment is absolutely vital. But does that equipment necessarily have to be factory fresh to be useable? Second hand equipment can (if it's been well maintained) be just as effective as new equipment and there are obvious benefits to buying used gear beyond the obvious financial boons. For one, used volumetric concrete mixers will have had a proven track record so you know they have worked in the past and hence should work in the future. More often than not, you won't even be able to notice the difference between brand new and used mixers anyway. Many suppliers will offer services such as sandblasting and repainting, which will give the equipment the veneer of a new mixer. They should also be recalibrated by the supplier itself and they will be checked over thoroughly and given all necessary repairs. Part exchange might also be available and will be reconditioned to each customers exact specifications. There should also be a full 12 month warranty and the competitive pricing of used volumetric concrete mixers means that you might be able to buy or hire two or three for the price of one new mixer. Of course there are also suppliers who won't offer these kind of reliable services so be sure to do adequate research beforehand.

Big or small?

Before you make a decision on the size, style and make of mixer, take into account exactly what you'll be using the mixer for. Which kind of structures will you be building? What kind of locations will you be building in and how much concrete are you going to require on average? If you'll only be using it for relatively small construction jobs or are only buying it for a one off use, a smaller, portable model would obviously be preferable. If you are in the business of building larger, more ambitious structures though, you'll require an industrial mixer that can mix up large amounts of concrete in a relatively short amount of time.

Other factors to consider

Hand pump or electricity? – All concrete mixers will be powered electrically or by a hand pump. Obviously the majority of modern mixers will be powered by electricity but some smaller, more portable used volumetric concrete mixers could still operate via hand pump.
Ask around – Ask those in the know. Talk to other people in the construction business. Particularly civil engineers, who will be the ones responsible for deducing the capacity of each mixer and gauging how much concrete is needed in each job.
Calvin Ford is a freelance copywriter from just outside Birmingham the UK who effectively grew up on a construction site, so knows what he's talking about when it comes to volumetric concrete mixers.

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