While Meyer may have built a plant with the safety and comfort of his employees in mind, the result was a reliable operation for his contractor-customers. “Being there for your customers can be difficult for a single-plant producer who doesn't have the option of sending a truck to another location for a load of concrete,” he explains.
Meyer calculated the average production volume needed to satisfy his customers on most cold weather days. Thus, for the start of his day, his system contains enough prewarmed coarse and fine aggregate and mobile equipment to meet most daily demands.
Almost all operations are under one roof. While the current economic decline has prevented Jackson Concrete from building its next phase, a new fleet building, there's enough room to park half the fleet inside on cold nights. Enclosing all operations has returned the investment faster than Meyer had planned. “Winter operations take a toll on employees and equipment. We are safer and have significantly fewer repairs, he says.
One of the few things Meyer transferred from his former location was the plant's forced-air aggregate bin heating system. The in-ground feed hopper was placed at the plant's far southern end and served as the cornerstone of the plant's layout. Fueled by natural gas, the aggregate is dry-heated overnight to a constant temperature and consistent moisture range.
After passing through the hopper vents, the heated air is captured in a 16,000-square-foot enclosed stockpile area. During the day, tandems replenish sand and aggregate piles. The concrete floor area preheats the aggregate to eliminate any ice or lumping.
An enclosed belt conveyor carries the preconditioned material to the plant's overhead bin and weigh batching system. The batching plant is set in its own enclosed heated structure. Moisture meters mounted in the bins monitor any significant variation, enabling better weighing and mixing.
Even the plant's reclaimer is designed for winter weather. The aggregate separator is housed in an insulated steel structure. Gray water is discharged into a four-compartment concrete-lined settling area. During construction, crews installed pipelines in the walls and floor. So during winter, a waste-oil heater warms water that is then pumped through the concrete walls of the pit structure. The heat is sufficient to keep the process water warm enough for reuse and solid settlement.QUALITY ALL THE TIME
Meyer's toughest choice was with the mixer, and he opted for a twin-shaft mixer. This was quite a process change for a transit mix producer. The mixer is located on top of a concrete foundation in an unheated portion of the plant. Meyer installed radiant heaters on the mixer's production station to heat the water batcher and hydraulic controls. The lower, outer doors the trucks pass through for loading are kept closed during non-loading times to keep the mixing floor warm.
The mixer is sized so a full truck-load requires a double batch and mixing cycle. Fresh concrete is kept in an overhead gob-hopper before loading. Cycle-times are similar to the transit mix process.
Jackson Concrete has benefited from the twin-shaft mixer in many ways. Most importantly, concrete quality in both the plastic and hardened states has improved. Customers commented on the consistency of the concrete's texture and flowability. But the comment that alerted Meyer that the plant was working properly came from a flatwork contractor a few months after the changeover. While paying a bill in the office the contractor told Meyer, “I pour with you because I can count on the last truck of the pour being like the first.”
B.J.'s son, Mike Meyer, monitors the quality control and assurance program. An ACI-certified technician, the younger Meyer confirms that quality has dramatically improved with the twin-shaft. In addition to greater consistency in workability and set, 28-day target strengths have been met with less variability.
Jackson County Concrete has adopted to after-service education. In the last year, supported with the knowledge that his team has upgraded the construction quality team, the producer has initiated a local educational program, Supported by his daughter and marketing professional, Mandy Meyer, Jackson Concrete has hosted several educational events.
To learn more about Jackson Concrete, visit www.jacksonconcrete.com.