When the U.S. entered the space race in the 1960s, opponents expressed concerns with the massive waste of money on something like pure research. But in the end, their concerns were unfounded as the space race actually spurred a rapid development of hundreds of new items, ranging from Velcro to computers.
This type of downstream product innovation is now happening in the concrete industry. In the last few years, truck and mixer manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on research in an attempt to redesign the basic ready-mix truck to meet the tighter engine emission levels, increase driver safety, and enhance fuel efficiency. This investment has yielded a new high-tech delivery tool.
And like all effective research, these capital investments are now flowing new technology into the tools of the everyday worker. For example, manufacturers traditionally viewed a chute as an add-on to the truck mixer.
But chutes need to be a durable tool, required to last in the never-ending world of dings, drops, and hits. A contorted chute causes problems. Material can spill out from non-fitted joints, often causing a slip and/or trip hazard. If the mix's residue leaks to the chute's outer surface, the handle becomes slippery and difficult to hold.
And along with all these concerns, there's the wear life. In areas where abrasive aggregate is common, chute replacement costs can be a significant cost of delivery.
In the last few months, two truck manufacturers have transferred the technology from their drums to these true tools of production. The result has been the introduction of lighter and durable tools that may help reduce the strain of a driver's duties and the cost sheet.
Edged for productivity
The Terex Roadbuilding Premier chute design offers fleet managers a safer and more durable product. The two-part, aluminum-lined chute offers a lighter alternative to steel. The liner makes the chute a little stiffer, preventing torsion damage. The liner is easily replaced, allowing an economic tool with a longer life.
But the key element of the Premier chute is its joint design. The engineers have added a step-in edge that gives a glove-like fit as drivers add chutes. The tighter connection eliminates leakage. The engineered profile of the interior connection aids material flow of even the stiffest mixes.
Spurred by the success of their Revolution drum, McNeilus Cos. engineers have expanded the use of the polymer wear material to the chutes. Their purpose initially was to reduce the truck's total weight. That's because the chutes weigh 35% less than standard versions.
By casting the chutes with polymer, the engineers have also added performance enhancements. By using the same material as the drum, McNeilus slicked the chute's surface to better protect against concrete buildup. The new material provides superior wear resistance, extending the chute's life. The smoother interior provides for better flow of concrete and prevents buildup. This ultimately means a more productive chute.