The Complete Guide to Concrete Pumping
Before you can start pouring concrete into your lay site, you need a way to get it there.
In this guide to concrete pumping, you’ll learn exactly how the pumping process works, and why it could be the best concrete transport solution for your business.
If your mix trucks are too large to get close to your lay site, delivering concrete can prove a problem. You could transport the concrete manually, but lugging around heavy cement-filled wheelbarrows is far from ideal – it’s slow and back-breaking work, with a high risk of spillage or injury.
That’s where concrete pumps come in. Concrete pumps streamline the process of transporting concrete, delivering it faster, easier, and more cleanly. They’re able to transport hundreds of yards of mix with ease, cutting down on wastage and speeding up the process massively.
At Wright Minimix, we have a wide range of concrete pumps for hire. These include the largest concrete pump in the UK, standing at 62 metres tall, and the boomless minipump, for delivery to especially difficult-to-access lay sites. If you’re looking for the right pump for your project, get in touch!
How Concrete Pumps Work
Concrete pumps use a simple, reliable mechanism for transporting concrete.
Two cylinders are placed next to one another. Inside each cylinder is a piston: one piston draws the concrete into the cylinder, while the other pushes the concrete out. A valve can be turned to determine which cylinder is open to the concrete hopper and which is open to the discharge pipes.
When concrete is pumped, a layer of water, sand, and cement keeps it lubricated as it moves through the pump line walls. The mix needs to have enough water to move easily through without causing a blockage.
If you’re looking for the right concrete mix for your pumping project, we can help. We’ll create a high-quality custom mix for your project that moves smoothly through pipes while still serving its ultimate purpose.
Types of Concrete Pump
There are two main types of concrete pump: boom pumps and boomless pumps.
Boom pumps use a long robotic arm to deliver ready-mix concrete and liquid screed quickly and accurately. Because of the sheer volume of concrete they’re capable of pumping, they’re often used on large construction sites.
As the name suggests, boomless pumps – also known as ground line pumps – lack this robotic arm. They instead rely on laying pipes from the vehicle to the lay site. Boomless pumps are useful for smaller sites that are difficult for mixing trucks to access.
Looking for more information? Check out our blog post on choosing between boom and line pumps.
If you’re unsure which pump will work best for your project, don’t worry. Whether you need a large concrete pump or a small concrete pump, we can show you exactly which pump will work best for your project.
How the Concrete Pumping Process Works
The specifics of how pumping works depends on the individual situation. However, there is a typical process most projects follow:
- The pump’s operator sets up the pump and prepares the grout
- The concrete mixer truck backs into and connects to the pump
- The operator grouts the line and begins pumping
- If using a boom pump, the concrete will be laid using the arm. If using a boomless pump, the pipeline must be rearranged during the pouring process
- Once the concrete has been fully dispensed, the mixer chutes will be cleaned on site
- Repeat for the other mixing trucks (if necessary)
- Once completed, the concrete left in the pump and pipeline will be cleaned. How long this takes depends on the length of the pipeline
- The boom (if present) is reverted back into its travel position and all equipment is packed away. The pump is then driven back to the depot
How to Prepare Your Site for Concrete Pumps
Pumps are excellent at accessing hard-to-reach areas, but they’re more effective when they’re placed as close to the site as possible. It’s important to make sure your site has plenty of room for them and the transport vehicles they arrive in.
If your site is too small or remote to accommodate them, you should plan ahead accordingly. Make sure you’re using a pump that is long enough to reach the site. If you’re using a concrete pumping service, warn them ahead of time so they can account for the obstacle.
Using Concrete Pumps Safely
Pumps are huge pieces of equipment that, if misused, can cause serious injury or death. It’s paramount you take the correct safety precautions when setting up and operating them.
Using Concrete Pump Equipment Safely:
- Always check for worn couplings or gaskets, as these may let air into the line or allow grout to escape. Wear on pipelines can be checked with a gauge designed to measure the thickness of steel pipe. Make sure pipe ends are compatible with one another, as joints can be dangerous if the ends and couplings don’t match.
- The pipeline must be properly tied down. Space support brackets every 10 or so feet to reduce stress on the coupling joints, and to transfer the torque to a column or beam.
- Make sure you’re using the right hose for your application. You should use a specially reinforced hose if you’re using a boom pump. Only place hoses designated as a discharge type at point of placement for discharge.
- Whenever possible, use water to clean the pipes once pumping has completed. Water is safer and more effective at cleaning than compressed air.
Concrete Pump Vehicle Placement:
- Before you extend the boom, make sure no obstructions are in the way. For example, power lines, trees, or scaffolding.
- Power lines in particular pose a big risk. The metal on pumping equipment conducts electricity easily, as does the water present in the concrete mix. Coming into contact with electrified equipment will likely be fatal. If power lines cannot be entirely avoided, you should have a spotter to keep an eye on the boom at all times.
- Park trucks a good distance away from slopes or sharp drop offs.
- Make sure the truck is properly stabilised for the type of surface it’s mounted on.
If you still have questions about concrete pumps, reach out to us! We’ve worked on hundreds of pumping projects, and can give you expert advice about choosing and operating the right pump for your project.