Concrete Mixers: Man and Machine


Understanding The History of Concrete Mixing Machine


Concrete was popularised and applied widely during the 21st century, but it was also a common material used in ancient times too. Ancient Egyptians worked with concrete while constructing the Egyptian labyrinth and the pyramids. Parts of the pyramids were constructed with concrete, and have impressively remained strong for 40 centuries.


Historians and archaeologists have also uncovered evidence that proves that the Romans applied to concrete in the construction of the great aqueducts as well as the foundations of the Great Appian Way. Not far away, in Jerusalem, The Pools of Solomon’s curbs were shaped out of concrete. And in Mexico, ancient ruins from prehistoric pyramids were also found to contain concrete. During the dark ages, hydraulic cement became more popular as a building material.




Hydraulic types of cement are synthetic materials that react with water to create a firm, solid and water-resistant building material. At the same time, the use of fat lime became more common. Fat lime is a high-calcium material that hardens in the presence of carbon dioxide. Incorporating lime into cement mixtures improves the malleability of cement, thereby allowing it easier to handle and work with.


The discovery of Portland cement occurred in 1824 when Joseph Aspdin of Yorkshire England patented a synthetic mixture consisting of limestone and clay. When the binding material is mixed with water, the anhydrous calcium silicates within it form a reaction that causes hydration and hydrolysis, which ultimately strengthens and hardens the mixture. Portland cement became a trustworthy binder in concrete, which led to more buildings being constructed from concrete.


However, the invention and standardisation of steel reinforcements was also a particularly important aspect of the popularisation of concrete. In 1850, when Lambot developed a reinforced concrete boat, this set the scene for French and German industrialists such as Monier, Coignet, Ways and Bauschinger to experiment with reinforced concrete. The use of steel reinforcements made concrete creations more reliable, durable and trustworthy.


Improving the Concrete Mixture To Accommodate Growth




In order to speed up production for economic acceleration, industrialization and urbanization, manual concrete mixing methods had to be enhanced. Mixing concrete manually is laborious and time-consuming, so mechanizing the process was an important step toward efficiency in construction. Mixers that were turned by hand had to be stopped often for charging and discharging, thereby prolonging the production speed.


The first mixers were cube concrete mixers which were structured like cubical wooden boxes. These mixers were difficult because the aggregate often dried if left for too long, and the structure of the machine made it quite unstable. To eliminate these issues, the mixers were reimagined in the shape of a cylindrical drum with a discharge chute. Many batch mixers were initially built of wood, but later this fabric would be substituted for a more durable cast iron material.


Today, there are more advanced forms of batch mixers and continuous mixers. From the batch concrete mixer family, you could find tilting drum mixers, non-tilting drum mixers, reversing drum mixers and pan-type mixers. Drum type mixers mix aggregates inside of a double conical frustum-shaped drum. Pan type mixers combine aggregates inside of a circular pan, using two blades.


Batch Mixers


Tilting Drum Mixers


These kinds of mixers discharge concrete by tilting downwards. These kinds of machines are good for combining low workable concretes with aggregates that are greater than approximately 7.5cm. Concrete often gets stuck at the bottom of these mixers, but it is also just dependent on the shape and angle of the drum, or the size and angle of the blades. Some manufacturers will mix the cement mortar prior to loading the first batch to prevent concrete from sticking to the drum.


Non-Tilting Drum Mixers


These kinds of mixers do not tilt – instead, the drum rotates on a horizontal axis and the machine discharges concrete from a chute that sits at an angle. The drum has two openings, one of which allows for the loading of aggregates, and the other for the discharge of the mixture. This kind of drum mixer cannot discharge rapidly, so there is a concern that some of the concrete can segregate. Aggregates that are smaller than 7.5cm are preferable for non-tilting drum mixers, and the machine is generally used for smaller projects.


Reversing Drum Mixers


These mixers are similar to non-tilting mixers, as the drum has two openings for pouring and discharge. The drum rotates on a horizontal axis, but it rotates in two different directions depending on whether it is mixing or discharging. There are two sets of blades, each used for either mixing or discharging. Reversing drum mixers are more suited for dry concrete mixing.


Pan Mixers


In a pan mixer, the aggregates are combined by blades that are arranged in a star shape inside of the pan. There are two kinds of pan mixers. Some pan mixers say static while the blade rotates, and others have rotating pans with static blades.


Continuous Mixers


With continuous mixers, the loading, mixing and discharging continues until the work is complete or a break occurs. Loading occurs through screw feeders. Continuous mixers are generally used for construction projects of scale, such as the erection of a bridge or a high-rise building.


Concrete Mixers Have Deeply Influenced Society




Population growth has increased the demand for housing, jobs and improved economic conditions. The construction industry has responded well to these demands, by creating jobs and erecting developments where humans can conduct business, live, or participate in recreational activities. Global Construction Perspectives Limited and Oxford Economics Limited have estimated that the industry may account for 14.7% of the global GDP by 2030.


One of the most frequently used building materials in the field of civil engineering is concrete. Its distinctive characteristics, such as strength, durability, low maintenance, energy efficiency and sustainability, explain its wide range of applications. Below is a list of possible applications.






  • Commercial Buildings
  • Parking Lots
  • High-rise buildings
  • Decorative Walls and Beams
  • Pot Planters
  • Floating Decks
  • Foundations
  • Concrete Bridges
  • Sidewalks
  • Skyscrapers
  • Streets
  • Driveways
  • Concrete flooring
  • Concrete Countertops
  • Fireplaces
  • Marine Construction
  • Sewers
  • Fences
  • Concrete Damns
  • Culverts


These mixing instruments are applied in a plethora of construction projects. From the construction of roads, airports, power stations, harbours, dams and canals, these machines are extremely useful machines that yield quick results. We have become heavily reliant on machines like these for our infrastructural development, so much so that there is extensive literature dedicated to the deep influence of this technology on our society. For example, Patricia Hubbell wrote a poem about the revolutionary mechanism.


Patricia Hubbell’s Background and Literary Works




About the Author


Hubbell was born in 928 in Bridgeport. She studied politics and worked as a journalist prior to becoming an author of children’s books and poetry. She has written a number of stories and poems relative to the industrial landscape and the man-made machines that accelerate human and economic development. Some of her works include Cars, Planes, Boats, Firefighters, Trucks and Trains.


Concrete Mixers by Patricia Hubbell


“The drivers are washing the concrete mixers;

Like elephant tenders they hose them down.

Tough grey-skinned monsters standing ponderous,

Elephant-bellied and elephant-nosed,

Standing in muck up to their wheel-caps,

Like rows of elephants, tail trunk.

Their drivers perch on their backs like mahouts,

Sending the sprays of water up.

They rid the trunk-like trough of concrete,

Direct the spray to the bulging sides,

Turn and start the monsters moving.

Concrete mixers

Move like elephants

Bellow like elephants

Spray like elephants,

Concrete mixers are urban elephants,

Their trunks are raising a city.”


“Concrete Mixers” by Patricia Hubbell is a poem that compares construction machines to elephants. This poem demonstrates the almost personal, sensitive relationships that humans have developed with machinery. Portraying the machine as an animal depicts how humans care for machines in the same ways that they care for animals.


Hubbell animates the mixing machines in a way that almost invokes sentimental feelings. This shows how machinery can induce emotional responses despite the fact that it is not human. She suggests that humans have created relationships with their machines.


Hubbell demonstrates the personal attachment between humans and machines by describing how the drivers of the mixers wash and care for their mixers in the same way that mahout elephant riders and drivers nurture their elephants. This comparison is evident when Hubbell opens the poem using the following simile: “Like elephant tenders, they hose them down.” Elaborating on this relationship, Hubbell draws comparisons between the mahouts and the concrete drivers. The large machines “stand in muck”, just like elephants wade through muddy waters in nature.


Just like horses, donkeys, mules and elephants were historically enlisted to help humans with their work of lifting, carrying, and moving heavy materials and structures in between towns and cities, mixers are tasked with aiding humans to develop infrastructure and erecting buildings in cosmopolitan hubs. The poet brings these mixers to life by using some of the following similes to describe their animated, emotional character traits: Hubbell says there, “move like elephants… Bellow like elephants… Spray like elephants”. She says they “are urban elephants…Their trunks are raising a city.”


Hubbell demonstrates that these machines are largely responsible for urban developments, and are valuable to urban eco-systems in the same way the animals are valuable in natural environments. Through the use of figurative language and an extended metaphor, Hubbell shows how reliant humans are on machines for labour and development. In this way, machines are labourers that we depend on in the same way as living animals.


Buy Concrete Mixers and Other Tools From BS Power




BS Power prides itself on stocking and selling all of the machines that are required in both do-it-yourself projects and professional construction projects. From concrete mixing machines, to cement mixers to generators, to forest and garden tools, BS Power has a wide variety of instruments that are high-power and high-functioning. These tools are designed to make your job easier and reduce your labour time drastically.


If you invest in a concrete mixer, it is highly likely that you will be able to double your productivity and streamline all of your operations. This will reduce your stress, save you time, cut your costs and lighten your load. Rather than mixing cement remotely, having a concrete mixer to use on-site eliminates the need to transport mixed concrete from a remote location. Not only is it more convenient, but it also gives contractors more control over the production process.


What’s more, BS Power’s tools are supplied at affordable rates. The quality inventory stocked by BS Power is provided by trustworthy suppliers and manufacturers such as Baumax, Stihl, Husqvarna, Briggs and Stratton and Honda. The company imports and manufactures robust, high-performance equipment for professionals in construction, agriculture, forestry and many other fields.


With more than a century of combined experience, the BS Power team knows what it takes to support you with any of your construction equipment needs. The skilled staff is ready to assist you with commercial products for your specific application. Below is a list of available machines from BS Power.


Available concrete mixers


  • BAUMAX BS360L Concrete Mixer fitted with BAUMAX RX200 2:1 Engine (R16, 995)
  • 400L Concrete Mixer with BAUMAX RX2002:1 Engine (R18, 995)
  • BAUMAX BS500 500L Concrete Mixer fitted with BAUMAX RX200 2:1 Engine (R21,995)