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Spring production days are the same everywhere. While many North American ready-mixed concrete producers view their daily trials and tribulations from a strictly local perspective, they may find it interesting to learn that production problems know no national boundaries. Judging from one warm March day near Munich, Germany, producers' concerns about environmental practices, quality products, and sustainable market growth are universal.

At Municher Frischneton, Martin Hinterseer's plant has broken down, and now his mechanics are fixing the problem. As with all well-managed concrete operations, Hinterseer's company had a successful backup plan. All trucks were redirected to a sister plant located about 8 miles away for loading.

About 30 km away from all the hustle and bustle of big-city construction, Wolfgang Zehentbauer of Max Zehentbauer Hoch-u-trebau is banking on the fact that producers with the large, multi-nationally managed ready-mix companies are content to operate in their high-volume market so they'll leave him alone. Even though his company is small, he's been committed to meeting all governmental regulations. The company recently installed a new concrete recycling system that provides a zero-discharge capability for both returned concrete and wastewater. Zehentbauer has found the system useful for his type of operation.

In the northern suburbs of Munich, Erwin Dittrich of Transportbeton Mallersdorf anxiously watches as another driver uncouples his dump trailer body. On busy days like today, when the pent-up demand for concrete is highest, Dittrich knows that customer service can't suffer. The driver just returned from the quarry with a load of stone, and using the chassis' quick-coupler system, he takes a mixer body off its stands and attaches it to the truck chassis. Now he can haul concrete. In place of large drums, Dittrich's central-mix plant—like those of most German producers—uses 4- to 5-cubic-yard, high-intensity mixers. What may be lost in mixing time often is recovered in load adjustment.