10 Must Know Facts Before You Buy A Concrete Plant

1. More expensive doesn’t mean better!

Every concrete batch plant manufacturer claims to have the best plant for one reason or another, but go ahead and do your research. You will find most reputable manufacturers use similar materials, similar thicknesses and similar design principles. Maybe a ready mix or precast plant is more expensive because it has more indicators, large capacities or other reasons; but more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.

2. Concrete plants are NOT One Sized fits all

Concrete plants are everywhere. Busy construction shops to small precast garage shops. Some plants have mixers, some plants use trucks to mix. Some plants produce 100+ yds per hour, some plants produce 1-10 yds per hour. Buying your first concrete plant? Do your research. Have a good idea of what you need before you get too serious on pricing and plant design.

3. Made in the USA is the Best.

Don’t let anybody tell you any different. American made with steel from the USA will still give you a better concrete plant than any import product. Why? The steel. The USA still manufactures the world’s finest steel. Other parts of the world use cheaper steel from Asian sources that are inconsistent with quality and specifications. A concrete batching plant is mostly a steel product. Don’t skimp on the most important part of the concrete batch plant!

4. High storage capacity does not mean high hourly production.

Storage is storage. Production is how fast the plant can make concrete. The production will be based on the transfer conveyors size, batcher sizes and maybe mixer size if applicable. The Storage is based on how much materials can be fit into bins. Some plants have relative low amount of materials storage but are very high production, while other large plants are slow, but have lots of material. If you are thinking about buying a concrete plant, you will have to ask yourself what’s important in your business model?

5. Precast concrete plants use batch mixers – Ready mix concrete plants use mixer trucks

The equipment weighs and brings the ingredients of the concrete together, but they still have to be mixed together. What we commonly call Ready Mix plants will use a truck with a mixer mounted to it to mix the concrete from the plant while in transit to the concrete plant. Precast, Paving, and Central mix plants have a mixer at the plant that mixes the materials together at a high rate of speed. The mixed concrete is then loaded into a cart, dump truck or other way of moving the concrete to its final destination.

6. Accumulative weighing is different from Decumulative weighing

Accumulative weighing is where material is dropped from a hopper into a scale. Once the scale has all the material needed, the material is loaded into the truck or mixer. Decumulative weighing, sometimes called reverse weighing used the hopper holding the material as the scale, dropping the required amount of material from the scale/hopper onto a conveyor for loading until the hopper has the proper weight. Everyone has their own opinions on what is better and why.

7. Control systems are not always automatic

Every plant needs to be controlled, and not many are suing manual levers and scale dials. Today, basic concrete plants use a manual control system with push button and indicator displays. Operator pushes button they have the right amount of material then goes to the next. An automatic control is simple and accurate, every time. Operator pushes button, and the entire batch of concrete is weighed out and dispensed in the most efficient manner possible.

8. Portable doesn’t mean easy to move

Someone just read this title and started laughing. Seriously, readers who have been around concrete plants or ever moved a concrete plant know what I’m talking about. Portable could mean that it is so large it won’t fit on a trailer and has specially manufactured axels mounted to the frame, making it “portable”; but it still requires 2 cranes to setup.

9. Don’t forget the shipping

Shipping a concrete plant can be expensive. Oversized loads, escort cars and special permit fees are not uncommon with some concrete plants. Shipping is rarely included in the price of a concrete plant, but it can be a significant expense you should be prepared for.

10. After purchase support is much more valuable than pre purchase salesmanship

Oh the stories! Not all, but some salesmen will say anything to close the deal. Customer recently told me a competitor wouldn’t offer factory setup support, but the salesman assured he would be onsite the day of delivery with his boots and gloves on. I’ll let you figure out how that one ended.

Ask specific questions of what happens after the equipment is delivered. What is something doesn’t work as promised? Who is responsible if field repairs are needed? How is technical support handled now and in the future?