Before the invention of the modern concrete mixer, concrete mixtures were prepared manually which proved to be rather time-consuming and inaccurate at times. With growing demands and advancements in technology, concrete mixtures these days are prepared in concrete mixers. Concrete mixers are devices that are able to prepare concrete mixtures of various strengths to be both precise and completed in a quicker timeframe than manual mixing. Some concrete mixers are even designed to dispense the concrete mixture directly into the chosen location.
These devices have developed so much in the last decade that they come in various sizes and designs to meet the needs of the individuals using them. Portable concrete mixers can be used in small and even medium-sized application areas whereas larger scale applications call for larger concrete mixers. Concrete mixing, whether it be manually or through a device is important as we wouldn’t be able to build canals, tunnels, roads, bridges, and houses without it. Read this short guide to establish the difference between manual concrete mixing, and using concrete mixers, as well as which method will work best for you.
For the most efficient results, here are some things to take into consideration when picking your method of concrete mixing:
- The first and most important factor to consider is the funds that are available for the buying of materials as well as the buying or hiring of equipment like concrete mixers that would be needed for the project.
- The location of construction should also be evaluated to see if the land is sufficient for construction activities. For example, highly congested urban areas might prove slightly difficult for construction
- The volume of concrete needed is important to note. Understanding the amount you’re working with would establish if manual handling of concrete is possible. If there is a significantly large volume of concrete needed, you would most likely require a concrete mixer.
- You will also need to evaluate the space that is available for the concrete mixing, batching, and storage of the aggregates.
- A schedule should be established to see what volume of concrete would be required per hour as well as per day.
- Lastly, you should know the height of your desired construction.
Some important factors to consider when mixing concrete:
It’s important to mix concrete ingredients well to produce good quality, fresh concrete. During the mixing process, it is of utmost importance that all the surfaces of all aggregate particles are coated in cement paste. Well-mixed concrete is beneficial as it serves as a workable paste that is both malleable when wet and sturdy in its hardened state. If the concrete is not mixed well, it might be prone to bleeding, cracking, or even separating from the object it’s formed around.
Characteristics of well-mixed concrete:
- All the concrete material which includes fine aggregates, water, coarse aggregates, and cement should be equivalently mixed.
- Cement past should be able to cover all the surfaces of the aggregates.
- Concrete should be a uniform color.
- Any bleeding or segregation shouldn’t occur after the concrete has been mixed.
Hand mixing of concrete:
Hand mixing can be defined as the process of mixing the concrete mixture without the help of a mixing machine. The mixing of concrete without a concrete mixer is often utilized for smaller jobs where there are fewer concrete mixtures needed and quality control is less important. When mixing concrete by hand, it often becomes difficult to achieve consistency and requires a lot more care and effort from the workers. Something important to note regarding hand-mixed concrete is the fact that this method of hand-mixed concrete may never be reliable for structural elements such as the building of walls, shears, or columns.
Machine mixing of concrete:
Machine mixing is the process that involves someone using a concrete mixer to mix the concrete that is used on-site. A machine mixer is highly effective in fulfilling the demands of strict construction schedules. Machine mixers make for a speedier mixing process, as well as concrete that is optimally consistent, and of reliable quality. Machine mixers have the ability to mix the concrete in such a way that uniformity is maintained and discharge the mixture without disturbing the consistency. Using a concrete mixing machine is highly recommended for large projects where a significant mass of concrete is needed.
Benefits of hand mixing concrete:
The machine does a great job at mixing the concrete mixture thoroughly as well as blending the material to have the best consistent results. However, it’s also possible to mix concrete by hand without using a concrete mixer. If you mix the concrete by hand, it should be done in a careful manner and would demand some effort. You should also follow some of the safety precautions when mixing concrete by hand.
Sometimes you want to do small jobs that don’t require a lot of concrete mixtures and therefore you wouldn’t need a concrete mixer. These small jobs could require concrete for installing a fence post, stabilizing a clothing line in the ground, and even using concrete to secure a gate. Another possibility could be making a mixture of concrete to form a slab as the base for something like a fuel bunker. All you would need to mix the concrete by hand is sand, stones, cement, water, and minimal tools such as sheets, buckets, and a shovel. Hand mixing concrete is sufficient for smaller-scale jobs. Larger jobs, however, will require a concrete mixer.
Benefits of using concrete mixers:
1. The job is done faster and more efficiently
One could only imagine that mixing cement by hand can be very time-consuming as well as a challenging task to perform. If you invest in a concrete machine, it means that your workers will spend less time mixing concrete and will be free to manage other urgent construction work. Workers aren’t depleting themselves with the mixing process when they have a concrete mixer, but rather have more time to be productive in other areas. In some instances, companies expect the work to be done within a tight timeframe and if the business has a concrete mixer this challenging task can be completed on schedule.
2. Concrete machines allow for mixing on-site
Instead of having to make arrangements for cement to be mixed remotely, an on-site mixer can provide the workers with all their material needs. By having a concrete machine on-site, the process of transporting the concrete mixture from a remote location is eliminated. This isn’t only convenient for the workers on site but provides them with more control over the many elements that are found on a construction site. In regard to time, this is also effective as the workers don’t have to waste hours waiting for the cement mixture to arrive, but can start their day immediately after arriving on site.
3. Concrete machines reduce capital costs:
In the absence of a concrete machine, you would need to hire a company to drop off the cement as needed. The business would need to hire additional staff to make sure the concrete is mixed as demanded. Evidently, it would be much cheaper to have a mixer on site and save some extra money. If the company is saving money due to having a concrete mixer these additional savings can be used towards buying quality equipment, materials and overall investing in cheaper construction packages.
4. Concrete machines improve the health and safety of workers on the site:
Mixing cement manually can cause a plethora of health issues as well as additional injuries. When workers don’t have a concrete mixer and need to mix the concrete manually, they make a lot of use of their shoulder muscles as well as their backs. This could lead to workers pulling muscles or other muscular injuries. Another health risk factor is the inhaling of the mixture directly which is also harmful to the respiration system. When the workforce is healthy and happy, the workers are more productive and willing to work towards a common construction goal.
5. A tidier work environment
If a company on-site makes use of concrete mixers, it will mean that there would be less of a mess and less to clean up after the project is completed. This contributes to the positivity of the workers and gives the customers a positive experience and a good impression of the company as a whole. People are very set on neatness and if your company has a clean workspace, both clients and other collaborators will be motivated to work with you. When the environment is clean and neat it could also contribute to a lack of injuries on site, because the workers have clear visuals of the ground and can’t fall over anything or step on something dangerous.
The best way to compare manual handling of concrete and concrete mixers is by looking at the effectiveness of both as well as evaluating the precautions needed when handling each method.
Precautions to take with hand mixing concrete:
- The base of the work area must be clean, free of any dirt, and watertight.
- If you see any debris or dirt in the aggregates, you will need to wash them before use.
- You should always make use of a clean and good shovel for the mixing procedures.
- For you to be protected against the chemicals of concrete you should make use of personal protective equipment such as hand gloves and masks. The gloves and masks should be worn by all masons and laborers while handling and mixing the concrete.
- Another important precaution when hand mixing your concrete is that after every day of working the platform must be cleaned to have a fresh start the next day.
Precautions to take with concrete mixers:
- It’s crucial that the concrete mixer is wet before the workers start using it.
- The concrete that has been produced by the concrete mixer has to be used within 30 minutes after it has been discharged and mixed.
- You will have to be mindful of the mixing time, the number of revolutions, as well as the speed of the mixing drum as per the demand of the manufacturer of the mixing machine.
- If you are mixing a batch and have discharged the concrete, it’s crucial that you thoroughly clean the surface of the mixing drum. If you don’t clean the surface, you will have hardened concrete and lumps from the previous batch in your new batch which will decrease the quality of your concrete.
- If you are continuously mixing concrete, the cleaning of the mixing drum should be done after every fixed interval.
- The inner portion of the concrete mixer should always be inspected for corrosion, shatters, or damage.
We hope this article has shown you the important differences between manual handling of concrete mixing and concrete mixers as well as what to choose when managing your own construction projects. Concrete mixers are beneficial for all your on-site needs and BS Power has you covered.