Precast concrete manufacturing is a demanding process, made more challenging by time constraints, a tightening labor market and high quality standards. To overcome these challenges, precast concrete producers are continually searching for creative new approaches to work faster, reduce operating expenses and eliminate the production of off-spec products.
For Atlantic Metrocast, one such innovative solution was the use of an advanced self-consolidating concrete that slashed its overall production times by 35 to 40 percent, significantly reduced labor costs, and consistently created precast products with excellent appearance and superior performance.
Atlantic Metrocast needed to produce 1,000 precast concrete piles for the new 14-story, 555,000 square-foot Union Place building in Washington, D.C. Normally, the company would use a conventional concrete mix with an 18-hour strength of 3,500 psi, which requires a five-hour pour time for each pile. Even after considerable vibration to consolidate the concrete around highly congested wire and rebar reinforcement, Atlantic Metrocast would typically see surface defects in the precast product. To meet the company’s high quality standards, the finishing phase would require, on average, eight hours of labor time in rubbing, patching bug holes and dressing up each pile.
Atlantic Metrocast made the switch to Agilia®, an advanced self-consolidating concrete (SCC) that places more quickly, flows easily through congested reinforcement and provides superior non-segregation properties for greater structural integrity as compared to traditional precast. Other product advantages include increased strength, reduced production times and labor requirements, higher-quality finished surfaces and improved jobsite safety (no vibration needed).1 Strict adherence to high quality control standards also ensures product consistency from batch to batch.
The Agilia® was just so much easier to work with than standard concrete, and the actual strengths of 5,000 psi within 12 hours and 8,000 psi at seven days were phenomenal,” said Joe Merry, plant manager at Atlantic Metrocast. “It’s a great product that significantly lowered our labor costs by reducing average pour times by 50 percent, average finishing times by 90 percent and overall production times by 35 to 40 percent.”