North American manufactured-concrete producers are starting to address production bottlenecks, mix quality and documentation requirements through automation. A key component is a traveling bucket system, which address the first two concerns by improving the efficiency of concrete delivery.
Conventional overhead cranes and buckets, forklifts and buckets, belt conveyors, or ready-mix trucks give the producer more potential maintenance and safety concerns and create higher cycle times than a traveling bucket. In addition, plant alteration or expansion may even prohibit wheeled equipment access to more than one casting area.
Oliver Delery, owner of New Orleans Cement Co., says his traveling bucket system provides increased labor efficiency. Not only that, it can expand along with the facility.
Consolidating operations, New Orleans Cement installed an automated turnkey system that includes a batching and weighing system with automatic moisture control, a pair of 2-yard pan mixers and a traveling bucket system.As in many layouts, the bucket travels overhead, in otherwise unused space. But the system's major benefit is its decreased demands on labor.
The traveling bucket system also can adapt to future layout changes for increased large-diameter pipe production volume.
In a fully automated facility, the system orders concrete by means of low-level-indicating sensors on casting machine hoppers, cutting cycle time. The batch control system receives a signal to batch the programmed mix design, and it loads weigh batchers with cementitious materials, water and aggregates while the bucket is on its way back to the mixer.
The bucket itself generally has a capacity from 1 to 4 cubic yards and dispenses a full load of concrete at a single stop in one of two ways, making the system suitable for products requiring either dry- or wet-cast concrete. Compared with conveyors, maintenance is reduced as well.
When the producer builds a new facility, a traveling bucket system can be a major part of efforts to automate and get a quick payback.
Keywords: travel, bucket, automation, New Orleans Cement, CSR Hydroconduit, Mixer Systems, Skako, Zenith