We have moved!

We have moved our manufacturing and professional offices to a larger and more modern facility to better serve the needs of our customers, expand our product offerings and reduce our delivery times.

Our new address is 3073 S. Chase Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

More details will be coming soon in our official release!

Are their Different Types of Concrete Plants?

Yes. There are lots of different types of concrete plants. They can be classified by what they are producing concrete for, the hourly production, the way the proportion materials and even the way they are constructed. First, it is important to know that concrete plant can be considered any machine that proportions the materials for concrete and then moves the materials to a mixer. Some concrete plants like precast, paving, and central mix include a mixer as part of the plant, while other concrete plants like ready-mix will use a mobile mixer usually mounted on a truck. Small contractors or users of concrete will frequently use a small drum mixer and shovel materials into it; this is not a concrete plant, just a mixer being fed manually.

I will briefly cover each of the major types of concrete plants, but this is a broad topic and will be impossible to cover in this brief article.

1. Weighing or Volumetric – A concrete batch plant usually refers to a concrete plant that weighs materials then conveys them to the mixer, while a volumetric proportions the material by volume. A concrete plant using weight is very common and provides the greatest accuracy and control over the concrete being produced. Volumetric plants are popular because of their small footprint and ability to mount on the back of a truck. Volumetric concrete plants are normally used for small production and may not be as accurate because sticky, wet, dry and other material variance may impact the mix quality.

2. Ready-Mix, Precast, Paving and Central Mix concrete plants – Each of these terms are normally used to refer to a concrete batch plant, or concrete plant using scales. A ready-mix or transit mix plant is a concrete plant that weighs materials and moves them to a truck to be mixed in transit to the job site. A precast plant is equipped with a plant mixer and normally makes smaller quantities of concrete for use at factories that use the concrete for their products. A Central mix or Paving plant is a concrete plant with high production and large batches usually discharging premixed concrete into a dump truck or concrete truck for use.

3. Portable or Stationary – Some plants are designed to be moved, while other are designed to be used at a single location. When considering a portable concrete plant it is important to look at the full level of portability. Some manufacturers manufacture plants that are mounted on a truck, while other have a higher production with semi-trailer modular plants, and other require multiple truck loads and take days to setup. Stationary plants can certainly be moved, but there is normally an additional amount of electrical and plumbing to be completed.

4. Production Rate – Some concrete plants produce lots of concrete while other are small. The price high production concrete plant can be as high as 10x+ more than the price of a small low production plant depending on various features.

5. Conveying Type – Not only can different concrete plants proportion materials differently, they can also convey them to the mixer differently. Most modern concrete plants use belt conveyors, skip hoists and augers. Some plants, however, use bucket elevators, drag lines, air slides or other means to move the materials.

While the information above represents some of the primary types of concrete plants it is important to remember there are lots of factors to consider when buying a plant.

Our sales team is happy to answer any questions you may have and provide a quote on a concrete plant to meet your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Concrete Plants

We understand that not everyone is an expert on concrete plants or even thoroughly understand the basics of what a concrete plant is and how it works. The frequently asked questions below will hopefully be helpful to readers completely new to the industry or even researching the topic.
What is a concrete plant? A concrete plant is a machine that makes concrete.
Does a concrete plant make the concrete I can get at the home improvement store? No. A concrete plant is a machine that makes concrete wet like you might have delivered to your home in a truck; or some concrete plants are used by factories that make things out of concrete, like support beams, sign bases, and other stuff.

How does a concrete plant work? A concrete plant is loaded with all of the ingredients used to make the concrete wanted. The concrete plant then dispenses each material needed in the portions requested by the concrete plant operator. Normally each material is weighed out in a large scale, then fed on a conveyor or dropped into a mixer or truck that will mix the ingredients into wet concrete ready to be used.

Do all concrete plants work the same? No. Most concrete plants weigh each material, but some use the volume of material. Some concrete plants drop materials into a scale until the weight is correct, while another type of concrete plant will dispense material from a scale until the weight is right. Some concrete plants have all the materials stored above the point of discharge and other plants convey materials using conveyors, augers or another method to the point of discharge. There are lots of different types of concrete plants.

What are the ingredients of concrete? The short answer is sand, rock, water and cement. The long answer is it depends on the properties you expect the concrete to have. For example, some concrete needs to be very strong and harden very fast, while other concrete needs to stay soft longer because it needs to be trucked a long way, or maybe the concrete needs to be able to be pumped into a wall or high in the air. Not only does each type of concrete use its own specific type and size of materials, most concrete plant owners have their own specific blend of materials.

How is the concrete plant loaded? Usually with a front end loader. Some people will build a tall ramp to fill their concrete plant directly with the front-end loader and other will use a feed system to feed the concrete plant. Normally if a concrete plant has a feed system they will still have a front end loader filling the feed systems, but some plants use a drive over grizzlies and trucks delivered directly into a pit where the material can be conveyed to the concrete plant automatically without the need for a front end loader.

Why would someone buy a concrete plant? Ready-mix companies and operate a concrete plant exclusively for the purpose of selling their concrete for profit to people and companies that need it. Construction companies buy concrete plants to save money and get better delivery than offered by the companies that sell concrete in their areas. Precast companies buy concrete plants because they use concrete every day and it is cheaper and more efficient to make the concrete they need with a concrete plant than try to do it by hand or buy it from another company.

How do I find out more about concrete plants? If you are considering purchasing a concrete plant or starting a business we would please contact us.

Concrete Plants for 2017 – Statement from JEL Manufacturing Management

Most concrete plant manufacturers are filling production slots for 2017, and JEL Manufacturing is no different as we already see deliveries scheduled through the winter and into spring. It is expected that 2017 will be a strong year for concrete plant sales industry wide as the recovery of the construction market continues. What this means for contractors, ready mix, and precast concrete companies is that across our industry you can expect manufacturers to charge a premium for short delivery of concrete plants; it is likely that manufacturers will be less negotiable in pricing; and you may see across the board price increases beyond those necessary to adjust changing component and steel costs. You may also see a resurgence of dealers and reps holding inventory at a premium cost of quick delivery.

While nobody in our company (or any other) can foresee the demand and pricing far into the future, JEL Manufacturing is committed to our customer. This means we will continue to offer quality equipment aggressively priced. We are committed to manufacturing our equipment in the most economical way possible and passing those savings along to our customer.
Our challenge, of course, will be the strong likely hood that we will not be able to meet the demand. Of course, we hate to turn business away and work diligently to accommodate customer delivery needs and increase our production along the way, but there is a strong likelihood we will turn customers simply due to short term delivery. To any potential customer considering JEL Manufacturing for a concrete plant; please understand I am not saying we cannot accommodate short delivery. We understand the need for a concrete plant can develop quickly and unexpectedly. Please talk with your sales contact and we will do everything we can do, but we some customer’s will end up paying a premium from our competitors to ensure their short-term delivery needs. Those customers who have the benefit of planning and reserve production spots early will be well rewarded.

If you are considering purchasing a concrete plant, JEL Manufacturing would like to ask for your business. Please trust us to manufacture your concrete plant. You will find our concrete plants are over engineered, well manufactured and a price leader.

Visit us online at www.jelmfg.com to find more information on our concrete plants and contact our sales team through the website or by calling us at 866-535-6646 to get any questions you have answered. Our sales team is supported by an experienced engineering department and we welcome the opportunity to arrange a conference with all interested parties to discuss your specific needs.

Thank you for considering JEL Manufacturing for our concrete plant needs.

Hot Water Heaters For Concrete Plants

We get a lot of questions about hot water and concrete batch plants. While we don’t actually sell water heaters we have partnered with our dealer FESCO Direct for our customer’s hot water needs. This doesn’t make me an expert on water heating, but as a manufacturer of concrete plants and having been in, out and around concrete plants all around the world I’m confident in my qualification to address some of the most basic questions in regard to hot water use in concrete plants.

First, keep in mind the answers to almost all of your questions are going to result from each of the following questions:
• How much water are you using per batch of concrete?
• How many batches of concrete are you making each hour?
• How many hours consecutively are you making concrete vs. not making concrete?
• How much rise in temperature do you need; meaning how many degrees of increase do you need from incoming cold water to outgoing hot water?

You may be asked a few more questions, but being prepared with answers to these questions will help someone knowledgeable in sizing water heating systems for concrete plants help you size a water heater and tank that will meet your needs.
The most common question I get regarding water heating for concrete plants is “Is there a special water heater?” The answer is yes and no. Yes, the water heater used for heating water at a concrete batch plant is a special heavy duty industrial water heater or boiler that is intended for the rugged, dusty and dirty environments found in a concrete plant, but typically you will find that manufacturers span industry meaning some water heaters may be made for the concrete industry, food industry, and other industries requiring large amounts of hot water.

What makes water systems for concrete plants truly special is how they are sized and paired with storage tanks. In some cases, you may find a water system where no storage tank or only a very small storage tank is required, but more frequently you will find the use of a storage tank may allow you to save money overall by getting a surplus on your day’s needs and enabling you to use a smaller heater. What I have just stated is why working with a concrete industry professional is so important. People in our industry working on concrete plants are best suited to help you put the system together to suit your needs satisfying your water heating needs using a budget friendly design.

What’s the Difference Between Pneumatic and Hydraulic Concrete Plants?

Most concrete batch plants use one or methods of “energy” to facilitate their operation.  One common element among concrete plants is the use of electricity. Plants may use multiple types of electricity including three 480/240 3 phase, 120 single phase and sometimes even 12V DC.  The power your concrete plant requires likely depending on your concrete plants design and what was specifically requested at the time of purchase. The electricity likely acts as a signal from the control panel to the functions of the plant and may even drive some of the functions on your concrete plant like the conveyor belt.

It is less common for a concrete plant to be 100% electrically operated.  If every cement valve and aggregate gate were controlled by electricity; an electric motor would be required on every gate making the cost of the concrete plant very expensive and it would probably be difficult to maintain. Cement butterfly valves, aggregate gates, vibrators and many other plant functions are operated using either pneumatic or hydraulic operation.

Pneumatic operation is a fancy way of saying compressed air.  A pneumatically operated plant uses compressed air to open, close and operate many functions.  Compressed air is very reliable and affordable. It can however present some challenges if not properly conditioned for the plant and environment. Humid areas may require an airline dryer and the use of air line oilers is helpful to prolong the life of the mechanical devices in the airline.

Hydraulically operated concrete plants use a hydraulic system like you would find on your front end loader for operation of many of the functions.  Hydraulic operation eliminates the moisture issues with a pneumatic system; however they can be considerably more expensive.  As with the hydraulic system on your front end loader or skid steer; hydraulic operation requires a pump, reserve tank, and fluid in addition to the other operation devices.  While a properly designed hydraulically operated concrete plant can offer owners solid control on plant operation speed a poorly designed system can be susceptible to leaks, overheating and other challenges not found with pneumatically operated systems.

Which is better?  That depends on who you ask.  You can find people who swear by hydraulic and other who have nothing good to say about hydraulic.  The same rings true with Pneumatic concrete plants also, but you will find the majority of concrete plant manufacturers are working with the pneumatic systems because of their ease of use and reliability.

Why Don’t Concrete Plant Manufacturers Use Only Inching Solenoid Valves

For those not in the know, most concrete plants use pneumatic systems (compressed air) to operate the various functions of the concrete plant like opening and closing the cement silo valve and the gates on the aggregate bins. These devices use a solenoid valve to turn the air on and off. These valves can be configured many ways but concrete plants commonly use the simple open or closed valves meaning they are all open or all closed; or they use inching meaning they can be opened all or partial. Some concrete plant operators, especially those with manual control systems, will have a difficult time controlling precision weighing of materials when the simple on/off valves are used which is discussed further in a separate post.

The decision whether to use inching solenoids or the simple open/closed solenoids are determined by most concrete plant manufacturers engineering departments or sometimes the purchaser of the plant themselves. Most times, these people make the decision for simple financial reasons.  When looking at the details, specifications and designs of almost any concrete batch plant you can find multiple occurrence of “it wouldn’t have been very expensive to do this differently to get a better result.”  The problem is what is better for one customer may not be better for another.  Also when a concrete plant manufacturer adds ever single add on for just a small increase in price the price of the concrete plant ends getting very expensive. While there is not a lot of downside to using inching solenoids across a plant, they are not needed on many functions when an automatic control system is used and therefore not worth the additional cost.

The other factor is that concrete plants with automatic control systems don’t necessary need inching solenoid valves on every gate and valve. Unlike manual control systems, an automatic control system can control multiple plant functions in hundredths of a second. The concrete plant automatic control systems will also calculate the amount of material that goes through the gate enabling the control to open and close gates precisely in fractions of a second making the inching solenoid valves on some gates unnecessary. While a human can manually jog a gate with a manual control panel, it is not accurate and simple can’t be as fast as an automatic control making the inching solenoid valves more important.

If you are thinking about purchasing a concrete plant without an automatic control system, you may want to ask about the types of solenoids used on your gates and how their speed and accuracy are controlled.

Take Control of Your Concrete Plant with Flow Control Valves

Do you struggle with the one or more of your pneumatically operated gates opening or closing too fast? It can be frustrating to want to add only a small amount of cement, but a a jog of the gate causes way more than you may want. Whether using a fully automatic or manual control system for your concrete plant, this is problem that can frequently be solved with the addition of a simple flow control valve on the air exit port on the function you would like to slow.  Most concrete batch plants use pneumatic systems or air systems to open and close its gates. These air systems normally employ solenoid valves to control the input and sometimes the exit of air from the cylinders or valves they are controlling.

Hopefully you aren’t feeling too overwhelmed already because it is quite simple in concept.  Different manufacturers of plants will use different types of valves and methods of plumbing, but if you understand the concept then you should be equipped to better identify the specific steps necessary to control your gates. The solenoid valve receives signal form either a manual or automatic control system so it knows when to open or close. Some valves can be setup as “inching” meaning they can be all or partially opened, but often these valves are setup to be open or closed.  Imagine the system stress and mess you may have if the water in your kitchen was either on max or off.  You may be asking yourself, why wouldn’t you just use inching valves everywhere, but that is a complicated answer we will address in another post.

As mentioned the good news is even if you have the simple on/off solenoid valves you can still slow them down in one or both directions. The air that goes into the cylinder or valve to open or close it must also exit the system.  By adding a valve to the air exit and slowing the exit of air you are slowing the overall operation of the device.  Where does the air exit you may be asking?  That depends on the specific design of the plant. The air may be returned to the solenoid and relieved or it is possible that it could exit at the end of the cylinder or valve.  You will need to carefully inspect your plant design or consult with its manufacturer for this information. It is important to remember if you are inspecting your plant to be properly safety trained in lock out / tag out  and all other applicable safety programs. Injury or death can occur during the operation of a concrete plant.

Considerations When Selecting An Automatic Control For A Concrete Plant

The selection of an automatic control system to use for your concrete plant is very important. Of course you need the control system to complete your desired operations, but modern control systems are capable of much more than just operating a concrete plant.  Today’s control systems can be the core of your entire business from sales to accounting. They can monitor your inventory and assets in live status and interface with multiple LCD screens or touch screens or as simple as a single push button to activate the batch. Determining the right amount automatic control necessary for your concrete plant and business without selling yourself short on affordable options that can improve profitability without getting more bells and whistles than your operation needs is where the tough decisions have to be made.

At the very foundation you will need to decide if you will be using a PLC based system or s PC based automatic control system. Some automatic control systems for concrete plants use a combination of PLC and PC of technologies.  Like any piece of equipment, each has its own positives and negatives.  The most obvious comparison between PC and PLC technologies is that PLC equipment is usually built for dirty industrial environments while PCs don’t perform as well in industrial environments. Conversely when a PC based system goes down replacement can be very fast sometimes as easy as buying a PC from your local electronics store and downloading the software, where replacement of a PLC is not as easy or fast even under the best of circumstances.

Another basic decision is how you want to interface with the control.  Most large producers like ready mix, central mix, and paving plants use multi-screen interface with a mouse to monitor and control various aspects of the plant operation, material storage and other aspects, while smaller producers often opt for s less elaborate touch screen control station with a single demand station near the mixer discharge. The physical configuration of your facility as well as the frequency of mix design change, quantity of materials being used and desired control of the mix are all factors that should be considered when making this decision on how you want to interface with your concrete plant control system.

The options and additional features offered with a concrete plants automatic control system should be considered for the positive financial impact they will have on the business and the length of time necessary to recoup the the investment of the option.  Too often times, people move toward the extremes. They will only consider the most basic systems and pass on a $5,000 option that can save $15,000 in employee costs in the first year and other times people will buy expensive options that don’t offer much positive impact on their business.  Smart buyers should consider and understand each of the different options available on the control you are considering. You should also understand and know the common available options available from competitors.  Then consider how those options benefit your concrete plant and business and make the educated decision.

Matthew Gladen is the managing partner of FESCO Direct. FESCO Direct sells, services, and installs equipment used to manufacture concrete including automatic control systems, concrete plants, water heating and cooling equipment, conveyors, silo’s, dust collectors and other equipment used for manufacturing concrete. More information can be found on automatic controls and fescodirect st www. Fescodirect.com