While fuel costs are high, there's another commonly used liquid whose cost also is steep: water.
For producers, water has two types of costs. First, there are the direct costs. These include the traditional costs of the batching water and other processes, such as water used for cleaning trucks and cooling aggregates. And now in many operations, there's the additional cost of treating the water that can be either recycled or discharged. Fortunately, onsite meters easily monitor these water volumes.
But more difficult to measure are the indirect costs of water use. For instance, there's a potential cost when water is used to inappropriately retemper a fresh load. And now in more places, there's the potential cost when wash water is excessively used to clean at jobsites.
Producers often find it difficult to contain these types of indirect water usage. These are real-time activities that can have post-job consequences. It's practically impossible for a dispatcher to monitor every truck all the time. And when they can be measured, it is often limited to a single meter that measures the water as it enters the barrel from the saddle tank.
Fortunately for producers, help is on the way. A new water measurement system will be unveiled at CON-EXPO-CON/AGG by Universal Flow Monitors Inc. The Hazel Park, Mich., instrumentation company has been manufacturing flowmeters and other flow measuring and monitoring equipment for a variety of industries for more than 20 years. Now, it has created a new device just for ready-mixed concrete trucks.
One meter for two jobs
The 2FR water management system measures water and is unique in offering producers the efficiencies of one flowmeter for both washout and retempering.
The heart of the system is a solenoid valve that is driver-actuated, allowing water flow into the drum for both water-adding operations. Furthermore, the solenoid valve's “fully on or fully off” feature avoids the fault of a partially opened manual valve, preventing a flow rate too low to be detected by a flowmeter.
Along with tighter water flow control, the 2FR water management system provides accuracy needed to maintain tight water/cement ratios. CoolPoint is a non-mechanical meter with no moving parts. It cannot fail due to blockage. The 2FR water management system measures flows from 1.8 to 50 gallons per minute.
The vortex shedding flowmeter has an accuracy of +/–1% of actual flow. The system reports water usage on a cab-mounted LCD display box that also holds the solenoid valve actuation button. The manufacturer reports that the system meets the requirements of U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration FP-03 552.05.
The system also aids in truck productivity, as the meter can distinguish one water flow activity from the other. It has a pulse outflow signal for water-add flow monitoring and a set point alarm for washout. Thus, after pouring, the driver can actuate the system's washout switch so it allows a higher flow for chute washout.
Simultaneously, the system emits a flow alarm. Some fleets use this feature in their satellite navigation systems to notify dispatchers immediately when trucks are ready for deployment.