Precast producers who weathered this last downturn learned that strict inventory control of ingredients and finished products was a key to their survival. This operational just-in-time strategy is often challenged by a diversified sales effort. Many precast producers now offer expanded product portfolios of not only sizes, but colors.
Broader sale strategies have often forced producers to upgrade production lines. Shorter product runs for custom products can also create tighter shipment schedules. Plant systems must also be more flexible as to allow casting different products each day. With more products comes more mix designs. And computer process controls provide producers greater confidence when matching mix design to products.
Architects and customers are requesting more color in segmental retaining units, split faced concrete blocks, and concrete pavers. Thus the most common mixer clean-out requirements occur when a plant run switches from one integral color to another. But frequent mixer cleaning may also be necessary when switching from other materials such as aggregates and cements.
Clean-out was once considered to be an end-of-shift activity. Today, this tough task may need to happen several times on each shift. And when creating high quality products, contamination is not an option.
Along with the production and quality control considerations, automated mixer cleaners also help mitigate environmental concerns. Automated cleaning systems use less water to ready the arms, paddles, and blades for a new mix. Using less water reduces the volume of clean out slurry by almost half. This volume reduction reduces sump cleanout and landfilling costs.
The automated mixer cleaning systems also upgrade a producer's safety program. Mixer cleaning systems provide producers best-of-engineered safety technology; efficiently dispose mixer residue; and worker exposure to in-mixer work is greatly reduced. When combined with thorough lock-out procedures, workers are rarely exposed to the mixer's potentially dangerous arms and paddles. Areas near the mixer are also cleaner providing workers from slip and trip hazards.