For concrete producers, having environmentally sensitive operations goes hand-in-hand with being a good neighbor. Those with plants in highly populated neighborhoods must be concerned with how they are viewed by their communities almost as much as how they are complying with environmental regulations. When a technology comes along that helps meet both goals, it can be worth its weight in recycled aggregate.
Truck wheel washing systems help producers clean up their act in more ways than one. As trucks come and go from plants and jobsites, these systems virtually eliminate the fine dust and aggregates that can quickly build up on roads. Many of the systems also filter and recycle washwater, reducing both the amount of fresh water used and contaminated water runoff.
Arkansas-based Innovative Equipment Solutions (IES) specializes in designing rugged and durable systems specifically for heavy construction traffic. Mike Whitney, national sales director for IES, says customers consider wheel washing just another part of their corporate responsibility, like reducing emissions and controlling plant noise. “A trail of dust leading right to your plant or jobsite is like a bull's-eye,” says Whitney. “It can become a sore point for neighbors.” And don't forget the costly fines.
Using wheel wash systems is also a green practice, especially where water is at a premium. Many wheel wash manufacturers incorporate water tanks into their systems to collect and filter used water. Tanks decrease unsightly pools of water and keep dirty water from soaking into the ground.
IES offers different sized tanks as part of a closed-loop, automated water recycling and solids separation process. Solids are deposited in a separate tank to be removed periodically on-site. Such systems are capable of using a high volume of water at low pressure to minimize spray outside the washing unit and reduce waste.
Besides the obvious environmental benefits, IES president Roxanne Garrett, says, “Producers need to be aware of how effective wheel wash methods can keep their costs low.” They cut costs not only by reusing water, but also by preventing maintenance issues caused by dirt and debris building up on truck chassis and wheels.
Producers can invest in either permanent or portable wheel wash systems. Permanent washing structures usually feature in-ground basins and structural walls with or without overhead covering.
A portable system can be used temporarily on a jobsite, then moved after the project is completed. Teporary wash systems are typically modular metal units with containment walls and a catch basin underneath. The basin either goes into the ground or aboveground, beneath slightly elevated truck ramps.
Nevada Ready Mix installed a permanent wash system at its Arville plant last year to address air quality concerns. The producer felt the system would make a big impact since it was its highest volume plant in the area, servicing the Las Vegas strip.
The system reduced track-out from the plant by 90%, according to plant manager Carl Cunningham. Based on this success, the producer is planning to install permanent wheel wash systems at all of its plants.
The wash system's water recovery feature also serves as an extra drainage point on his yard, and the solids catch basin collects extra debris. “The idea is to optimize the water you're using,” Cunningham says. “In the desert, everything is about water.”
For more on IES wheel wash systems, go to www.innovativeequipment.org or visit Booth #B-910 in the Blue Lot at CONEXPO-CON/AGG.