If one casts an eye around the construction space, one is bound to notice high-rise super structures in every urban center or town. Metro cities, in fact, boast a number of such mega projects being executed simultaneously, or in quick succession of one another. This is impossible to achieve without indulging in the latest technologies that have emerged within the construction arena. One such key technology is that of concrete pumping systems. Today, having such fast-paced equipment at work ensures that developers can make concrete mixes of a chosen type and ensure that they reach hard-to-access places with ease. These boom & concrete pumps, and their systems, have effectively made such super structure projects a big success.
As India marches from a rural-centric economy to an urban-based one, backed by the growth in sectors such as manufacturing and services in recent years, the infrastructure needs in urban centers have also risen tremendously. However, ever-soaring land prices in these centers have led to a vertical construction trend. Having tasted success in metro cities and given the obvious benefits that these super structures bring, a recent phenomenon that is being witnessed is that of such high-rises now donning the skies of even tier-II cities. In fact, rapid urbanization in India is expected to continue unabated; hence, it is safe to assume that such vertical construction will be on the rise.
Commenting on the need for technology support in this area, Sailaj Verma, senior VP, sales, KYB-Conmat India, suggests, “The key elements in terms of technology for skyscrapers are the construction of mega mat foundation, delivering architectural load into the ground, structural system optimisation, high-rise building measurement technology, and construction equipment technology.” Given the fact that this requirement will continue in the near future, the demand for special equipment for the construction industry will be on the upswing. In this vertical race, the importance of concrete pumps to vertically transfer the required concrete mix at a pre-determined speed is significant. Concrete pumping systems and boom placers play a crucial role in delivering
the precise business requirements of developers that construct such high-rises. In addition, the development of boom placers of required lengths and shortened heights to traverse narrow roads within Indian cities means that vendors of such products are beginning to appreciate the unique needs of Indian business.
CRITICAL BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS
Outlining a developer’s point of view, Tushar Srivastava, president, business development, Capacit’e Infra projects, explains with clarity the specific business requirements that they have from concrete pumping systems. He says, “Concrete pumping is one of the prerequisite for doing concreting in structures. This is not a new technology as it was first used in 1930, but its usage continues to grow due to an increase in demand for super structures such as high-rise buildings and other tall structures. Consequently, the optimization and development of predictive methods for concrete pumping is becoming a crucial issue for the concrete industry.” He further adds, “Speed of the project depends on the speed with which concreting is undertaken at every site. Concrete pumps are an effective and efficient means for moving and placing concrete. Selection of concrete pump & boom mainly depends on the area, volume, height of building/ structure, involvement of form work system, concrete grade, concrete mix design and project timelines.”
Shabbir Kanchwala, senior VP, K Raheja Corp, agrees, “The selection of a proper boom placer and concrete pumping is decided based on the complexity of a structure and concrete consumption, which cannot be serviced by other transporting equipment like tower cranes. More complexity will lead to wastage’s in concrete, which is avoided by the use of the right placer boom. Time saved in faster and efficient concrete pouring drastically saves labor cost.”
A spokesperson from Kalpataru states, “To meet the project requirements of speed, efficiency and cost saving with risk mitigation and environmental controls, we do concreting with high-output pumps, high-rise pumps, concrete distributors and concrete placer booms.”
Urvesh Mehta, VP, projects, Marathon Group, offers, “The selection of a placer boom is dependent on the area of work and the number of pours to be casted. The different concrete grades for vertical and horizontal members play an important role, since it is difficult to use the same grade of concrete for vertical and horizontal members, from a cost-efficiency perspective. Time and labour required is considerably less with a boom placer.”
Acknowledging these requirements, Anand Sundaresan, vice-chairman and MD, Schwing Stetter India, and chairman, IESC, points out, “In the last few months, we are seeing an increase in the demand for boom pumps as well as high pressure pumps, which are required for long distance pumping or for high-rise construction.”
Like any other product parameters, cost, quality and efficiency considerations play a pivotal part in the developmental effort undertaken by vendors of boom and concrete pumps, and their management systems. Sanjay Saxena, VP & head, heavy equipment business unit, Sany Heavy Industry India, elaborates on this aspect by saying, “The efficiency, durability, ease, cost effectiveness, and sustainable properties of these products have brought a revolutionary shift in the time consumed in construction of any structure.” He adds, “New generation energy-saving technology and automatic adjustments of the engine and power based on load makes every drop of fuel produce strong power, reducing 25% of energy consumption. Further, these pumps are equipped with other high-tech features like advanced hydraulic system, pressure difference sensing & reversing hydraulic system, automatically retracted double-piston, and large-flow high-efficiency main valve system.”
In this context, Verma of KYB-Conmat speaks about their i-Pump technology machines such as the SCP 5000 & SCP 7500. He points out, “The stationary concrete pumps with intelligent controls have many features like S-valve technology, robust electronic operation controls & management with manual overdrive. They are suitable for high pressure pumping and Indian ambient conditions, making them one of the most compact pumps in their class. The i-Pump technology concrete pump makes transfer & placement easier & faster for casting of civil structures. It also reduces manpower requirements at the site, and also avoids human errors in the process.”
Sundaresan of Schwing Stetter proclaims that they invest around 2% of their revenues in R&D efforts. He says, “All our products are user friendly, easy to operate and easy to maintain. We concentrate on low fuel consumption and use of ecofriendly materials in our products. There are many other areas we continuously work on, like use of high wear resistant parts to increase the life of the equipment. All our concrete pumps and batching plants are also provided with the IoT system.” Srivastava acknowledges similar OEM efforts and suggests, “Equipment selection is also affected by the environmental aspect. We prefer to buy low-noise making and fuel-efficient concrete pumps. Hydraulic placing booms that are electrically operated are a preferred buy for high-rise projects.”
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES WITH COLLABORATION
Like every successful industry, the boom and concrete pump industry depends on a strong collaboration between players – both OEMs and developers. Project developers rely significantly on the expertise of the vendor OEMs for the selection of appropriate equipment. Mehta states, “Manufacturers need to understand the actual building construction plan, and suggest locations for the placement of a placer boom. The height andlength from the pumping source needs to be seen and suggestions given accordingly. Manufacturers should be able to help design concrete mixes, pipe sizes and concrete pump capacity to avoid concrete choke up in pipelines.”According to him, the challenges are around the S-bend at the starting of a placer boom head, and boom placers are not
available for an arm length more than 35m.
He also feels that, “Concrete pumps have a high-cost of diesel consumption. If they are switched over to electrical power, it would be more cost-effective and would help in reducing pollution.”
Srivastava acknowledges these hindrances, when he announces, “Major challenges faced by us during concreting works at higher floors are maintaining the slump, flow, water-cement ratio, work ability of concrete and avoiding segregation.Managing the pumping pressure is a tedious challenge. In the past, we have faced events like frequent choking of concrete pipeline, bursting of pipeline and drop in pressure while pumping. By calculating the friction factor and flow ability of concrete with respect to pumping height, monitoring pump pushing pressure and keeping the mix design of concrete in check, we have successfully overcome the above problems.”
Similarly, the Kalpataru spokesperson suggests, “We manage the challenge by monitoring and checking each transit mixer’s concrete quality, and continuous coordination and improvement
of the mix design with our concrete supplier.” Like with all industry successes, collaboration is vital. Sundaresan sums up by saying, “We work very closely with our customers and keep getting feedback from them on a regular basis, which fuels the thought process of our design and automation engineers.”