How Does a Concrete Pump Work?

Posted On: 10/29/2019 | Posted by: DY Concrete Pumps

Construction is a booming business and one whose demands are expected to increase in the coming years. According to the World Economic Forum, the population of the world’s urban areas is growing by 200,000 people a day, and all those new inhabitants need housing, medical services, schools, transportation infrastructure and more. Construction of urban infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing population will almost certainly keep construction contractors and laborers in high demand in the coming years.

In the construction business, efficiency and reliability are at a premium. But on many projects, especially large, complex projects, it’s easy to fall behind. The global consulting group McKinsey estimates that an enormous 98% of large-scale construction projects incur cost overruns or delays. And the average large-scale construction project ends up falling 20 months — almost two years — behind schedule.

For the prevention of issues like these, it’s imperative to use the best, most efficient equipment on the market. When it comes to pouring concrete, concrete pumps offer substantial advantages in efficiency and ease of use.

The Science Behind Concrete Pumping

What is a concrete pump? A concrete pump is a tool used for transferring freshly mixed liquid concrete to the location on a construction site where it is needed. It works using a valve system and the basic principles of hydraulics.

When concrete is required, a mixing truck first mixes concrete within its rotating drum. Then the truck pours its liquid concrete into a hopper, which continues to churn the concrete so it will not solidify. From there, the concrete pump sucks the liquid concrete out of the hopper, through a valve system, and into the area where it needs to be laid down, sometimes with the use of auxiliary hoses.

A twin-cylinder hydraulic concrete pump’s internal workings typically consist of two parallel cylinders. The cylinders have drive pistons inside them that move them back and forth in opposite directions. As one cylinder moves forward, the other moves back. As one cylinder moves back, the other moves forward.

The first cylinder, also known as the material cylinder, pulls concrete out of the hopper. The second cylinder, the discharge cylinder, pushes the concrete out of the pump in the location where it is needed. The two pistons work in tandem, alternately pulling in and pushing out their volumes of liquid concrete. The hydraulic flow created by the continuous flow of concrete is what causes the two cylinders to alternate back and forth. This continuous flow is also important to keep the liquid concrete from solidifying.

Different Types of Concrete Pumps

Concrete pumps come in a couple of basic varieties — line pumps and boom pumps.

1. Line Pumps

Line pumps pump liquid concrete in hoses at about ground level until the concrete reaches its destination. The hoses offer the flexibility to snake through alleys and around houses where the truck may not be able to park. Below are a few examples of types of line pumps:

  • Stationary pumps: A stationary pump, or trailer-mounted pump, is the most basic form of concrete pump. It consists of a pump mounted onto a small trailer. A separate truck is necessary to tow a stationary pump to job sites. A stationary pump also does not have a boom, so separate pipelines or placing hoses are necessary to carry the concrete from the pump to where it needs to go. A separate placing boom is also necessary to place the concrete precisely.
  • Truck-mounted static pump: Truck mounted static pumps are mounted onto truck beds, so employees can drive them directly to job sites. These types of concrete pump trucks don’t have placing booms, though, so they will require the use of separate placing hoses to get the concrete where it needs to go.
  • Truck mixer pump: This all-in-one model is a concrete mixer with a pump attached so it can pump directly from the mixer. This model is efficient in many applications, though it requires a job site setup that allows for driving a large mixing truck right up next to the place where the concrete must be poured.

2. Boom Pumps

A boom pump extends through the air to pump the concrete where it needs to go. It has a long, flexible, remote-controlled arm made up of articulated sections, and the arm extends into the air much like a crane. Boom pumps and can be used for hard-to-reach areas that a line pump cannot reach, such as the upper floors of a high-rise or apartment complex. They can also reach over houses and into yards for the construction of backyard swimming pools or garden features. When the boom is not in use, it folds up into neat segments on the back of the truck for transport.

Employees can drive this kind of pump directly to job sites, and the placing boom can put the concrete where it needs to go without requiring the use of extra hoses. These pumps work quickly, and they can reach any area within reach of the boom. Their user-friendly features make boom pumps versatile and popular on construction sites.

The articulated sections of boom pumps come in a few different folding configurations:

  • Roll-and-fold: The sections of roll-and-fold pumps fold one under the next in a curling motion. They are ideal for wide-open spaces because they need plenty of room to unfold.
  • Z and ZZ: The sections of these pumps fold back and forth like an accordion. They are ideal for fitting through tight spaces and over and under obstructions, such as over a house and then under tree branches.
  • RZ: These pumps, also called multifold pumps, have sections are a combination of roll-and-fold and Z sections.

At DY Concrete Pumps, we specialize in boom pumps. All our boom pumps are fully drivable truck-mounted pumps with four, five or six articulated sections for superior horizontal and vertical reach. Each of our trucks has a chassis with three, four or five axles, depending on the size and weight of the boom pump.

A few of the many models we offer include the following:

  • 57-meter 6-section RZ-fold boom pump (57X-6RZ): This is our flagship model of mobile concrete boom pump for medium and large construction sites. This pump is our longest and most productive. Its incredible vertical reach of 56.2 meters and horizontal reach of 52.2 meters make it ideal for tall buildings and extremely hard-to-reach areas, and its six articulated sections give it superior 360-degree mobility. Its remote control allows for precise, easy concrete placement.
  • 43-meter 5-section RZ-fold boom pump (43X-5RZ): This medium-sized concrete boom pump is ideal for both commercial and residential construction projects. Its vertical reach of 42.3 meters and horizontal reach of 38.3 meters allow for plenty of access to high places, while the more compact truck body makes it easy to park in residential spaces. Its articulated, remote-controlled arm makes it easy to navigate over or under tree branches and power lines.
  • 33-meter 5-section ZZ-fold boom pump (33X-5ZZ): This lightweight boom pump is ideal for commercial and residential applications where mobility is a high priority. The five accordion-folding articulated sections of this pump allow it to reach into all kinds of hard-to-access areas, and its small size allows it to work in tight spaces, such as beneath bridges and in interior spaces with ceilings of 19 feet.

Common Applications for Concrete Pumps

Where are concrete pumps used? Concrete pumps are suitable for use in a wide variety of construction applications.

  • Slab building foundations: Buildings that don’t have basements have flat slabs of concrete as their foundations. It’s essential to have a solid foundation that won’t let in water and crack or sag. Concrete pumps are critical so the work goes quickly and smoothly and the concrete ends up where it should be. That way, no imperfections can occur in the foundation.
  • Building foundations with basements: For buildings with basements, the process of laying the foundation is more complicated. Concrete pumps like boom pumps are crucial so there are no time delays in which errors can occur or part of the concrete can harden before it’s ready. Using boom pumps for basement foundations helps ensure that the building project can be completed on time.
  • High-rise buildings: With high-rise buildings, a boom pump is often essential because of the elevation and reach it provides. Construction companies can use boom lifts to pump concrete to upper floors quickly, easily and safely and make sure the construction process remains on schedule.
  • Highway overpasses and tunnels: Highway overpasses must be made of durable, reinforced concrete to support the daily tonnage of traffic that passes over them. Roadway tunnels also must be strong enough not to collapse under the weight of the earth above them. Using a concrete pump makes sure the job gets done efficiently and effectively. Overpasses and tunnels also often involve working with some elevation, and the use of a concrete pump, especially a boom pump for its added lift, makes the job quicker and easier.
  • Bridges and dams: Bridges and dams must be large, strong and steady to support the weight of heavy vehicle traffic and intense water pressure. Boom pumps, in particular, offer the advantage of their lift and extension to ensure that concrete can pump quickly to the top of a tall bridge or dam.
  • Parking structures: Parking garages usually consist of several levels, and it’s hard to get concrete to the upper levels without a concrete pump. Using a concrete pump allows the construction of a tall parking structure to be completed quickly and with no wasted labor.
  • Sidewalks and driveways: In the construction of a new home, many homeowners focus most intently on the house itself. Still, the sidewalk and driveway are also essential elements. Some homeowners are tempted to pour the driveway and sidewalks themselves, but engaging a professional contracting company that can provide a concrete pump such as a boom pump is often the best bet for a smooth, stable and properly cured driveway and sidewalk.
  • In-ground swimming pools: An in-ground swimming pool has a concrete foundation, much the way a basement does. Concrete pumps, especially boom pumps, offer a particular advantage for the construction of backyard swimming pools. No one wants a heavy truck driving through the back yard, but a boom pump can easily reach over the house from the street and pour the concrete with minimal disruption to the yard.
  • Patios and garden shed foundations: As with backyard swimming pools, backyard patios and garden shed foundations are perfectly suited to concrete pumps like boom pumps. Boom pumps can reach into the backyard from the street and pour the concrete slabs for these features in no time.

Many of these applications call for the pouring of a flat concrete slab. But how long does it take to lay a concrete slab?

Common Applications for Concrete Pumps

The pouring process itself happens quickly — potentially in less than an hour. Once it’s poured, though, the concrete needs to set a while. Typically, a slab can be walked on after 24 hours, but it will take longer for the concrete to become completely cured. A general rule of thumb in the construction industry is that it takes 28 days for concrete to reach its full strength, though some authorities believe the curing process is completed even sooner.

How Have Concrete Pumps Changed the Construction Industry?

The use of concrete dates from Roman times — both the Colosseum and the Pantheon contain significant amounts of concrete — but up until the early 20th century, with the invention of the concrete pump, pouring concrete was a labor-intensive affair.

Concrete pumps have been a dramatic advantage for the construction industry. Imagine a construction worker in the early 1900s pushing a wheelbarrow full of concrete, making trip after trip after laborious, sweaty trip, until he had finally poured the modest amount of concrete necessary for the project. This method is inefficient, time-consuming and labor-intensive. The concrete pump provides a much easier and faster way of moving concrete.

Concrete pumps have been particularly transformative in high-rise construction. Before the invention of the concrete pump, cranes had to lift heavy buckets of concrete into the air toward higher floors. A bucket holds only a small amount of concrete, so this process was inefficient. Modern concrete pumps can pump much faster than cranes can lift buckets, and they allow for a continuous flow of concrete. They also enable the concrete to be poured directly via a placing boom rather than being transferred sloppily in a bucket.

Concrete pumps offer many other benefits as well. Because they work continuously, they can pump substantial volumes of concrete at a time. Because the concrete is always flowing, employees are constantly busy, never standing around and waiting for concrete to arrive by other methods. A concrete pump can be set up very quickly, and it requires only a small number of employees to operate it. All these features make concrete pumps essential user-friendly, efficient and time-saving features on any construction site today.

Partner With DY for Your Concrete Pump Needs

DY Concrete Pumps has been in the business of supplying quality concrete pumps for over thirty years, and we are one of the world’s leading exporters of hydraulic-cylinder concrete pumps.

We offer a variety of models for use in a range of construction applications. Most of our models feature a 360-degree continuous swing boom for pouring concrete precisely and efficiently in even the hardest-to-reach places. Our concrete boom pumps are exceptionally user-friendly, offering simple, intuitive design and easy-clean hoppers, so your team won’t have to spend hours performing maintenance, doing cleanup or figuring out how your machine works.

Contact DY Concrete Pumps

We are also committed to quality customer support. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff members offer technical support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Contact us today to find a sales rep in your area or learn more about our concrete boom pumps.

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