Reconsidering Manufacturing Operations In Favour of the Environment
When concrete is mass-produced by large industrial plants with a throughput exceeding 100 tons of concrete per week, it is very likely that waste will accumulate quickly. Concrete batching can have an immense environmental impact on water systems, wildlife, vegetation and air purity when waste products are not disposed of properly. For example, sludge, oils, dust and other alkaline fluids can pollute local habitats and surroundings. This article will consider how these environmental consequences can be reduced through the implementation of life cycle assessments, the application of design principles to manufacturing and demolition operations, and the tactical utilisation of equipment such as concrete mixers.
Social and Environmental Impacts of Concrete
It is important to consider the impact of the concrete industry on global environments. Overproduction coupled with underconsumption can result in a surplus of concrete that becomes difficult to dispose of. When manufactured and distributed without optimisation in mind, surplus concrete becomes waste that can damage the natural environment and threaten local wildlife or water systems.
Over the last century, concrete production has advanced significantly to accommodate the industrial revolution and urbanization. It has quickly become one of the most important building materials, however, it does account for more than 7% of global man-made carbon emissions. Concrete production rates have exceeded population growth rates, meaning that concrete supply has extended past demand.
To minimise waste generation, environmentalists have been conducting life cycle assessment tests that discern which aspects of concrete manufacturing can be improved. In collaboration with these results, we can begin applying design principles to the erection and demolition of concrete structures, in order to achieve more sustainable operation methods. By considering the best ways in which to optimise the production and utilisation of concrete, we can also ensure that issues of overproduction are resolved with sustainability in mind.
Life Cycle Assessments: Understanding The Costs of Concrete Production and Manufacturing
The costs involved in concrete manufacturing and installation are high – wages, raw materials, machinery, transport costs, licensing and overheads accumulate to generate expensive projects. Once these initial costs are covered, then project managers must still consider the potential danger involved with the installation, bearing in mind the importance of mitigating risk for employees and nearby pedestrians. Hence we use life cycle assessments to help us to ascertain how to maximise profits through strategic resource allocation and the optimisation of operational frameworks.
Life cycle assessments on concrete tell us how to minimise costs while also showing us the environmental costs involved thereafter. For example, life cycle assessments determine water consumption, electricity usage, carbon dioxide emissions, pollution, waste accumulation and energy consumption. Life cycle assessment results are interpreted and used to optimise concrete production, treatment and disposal methods. By conducting life cycle assessments we can also assess and examine how resources and operations are managed in order to avoid overproduction and unnecessary waste generation.
It is incredibly important to consider practical solutions to regulate and mitigate the environmental impacts involved in concrete mixing and application processes. By improving the concrete manufacturing process we can reduce any negative repercussions on surrounding ecologies. Similarly, it is vital to reconsider concrete mixing processes and the equipment involved in manufacturing concrete. For example, the manufacturing and sale of concrete mixers have allowed for more efficient concrete batching.
Life cycle assessments perform the following functions:
- Defining the goal and scope of the manufacturing process.
- Analysing the inventory and raw materials involved in the procurement process.
- Assessing the environmental, social and fiscal impact of the project
- Evaluating alternative manners of production in order to improve impact and overall value.
Understanding Concrete Production’s Advantages and Disadvantages
Concrete preparation is a complex process that involves the chemical combination of calcium, sulfur dioxide, silica, alumina, iron oxide, magnesia, fly ash, sand, gravel, admixtures and water. These elements are combined using equipment such as concrete mixers. Concrete mixers combine aggregates and raw materials thoroughly through a mixing process powered by a rotating hopper that continuously stirs the ingredients until the desired consistency is achieved. Concrete mixers comply with design principles and environmentally friendly approaches, as they accelerate production rates while diminishing waste.
Disadvantages of Concrete Manufacturing and Application:
- Visual pollution
- Noise pollution
- Water pollution
- Carbon dioxide emissions
- Traffic congestion (during construction)
- Nitrous oxide emissions
- Particulate air emissions
- Urban heat island effects
- Damaging topsoils (causing soil erosion or flooding)
Advantages of Concrete Manufacturing and Application:
- Low energy consumption
- Low maintenance
- Relatively impermeable
- Low thermal diffusivity allows for better heating and cooling
- Environmentally friendly, low-density aggregates
- Recyclable materials
How Technology Can Improve Efficacy
By integrating technology into production processes, construction managers can improve productivity. Technologies such as concrete mixers can be used to improve operations so that resources are maximised. By enhancing the efficacy and speed of concrete mixing processes, construction workers can reduce physical strain while increasing the quantity of concrete that they produce. Manual mixing, on the other hand, requires more time and effort to achieve a desirable consistency that is of a high enough standard to build with.
The Life Cycle of Concrete
The life cycle of concrete is extensive. Construction workers and cement manufacturers have to consider many different factors when attempting to build and design any concrete structure. For example, raw material acquisition involves the attainment of a water supply, energy, sand, gravel, admixture, fly-ash and microsilica.
Thereafter, building constructors, engineers and architects must still design the building while taking into account whether they require ordinary concrete, high strength concrete, fibre concrete or ultra hig-performance concrete to accommodate their blueprinted plans. Throughout the construction process, project managers will still have to consider the reinforcement and formwork that will be used to support the concrete structure. At this point, other materials like steel will need to be produced or procured.
Once the raw and aggregate materials have been supplied and manufactured to produce built structures, one would still have to assess the durability of the structure throughout the building’s existence. Concrete buildings, or any buildings, will at some point require renovation and maintenance, so it is important to proactively repair any wear and tear that may become evident. Upkeep is an important part of utilisation, so site caretakers or engineers must ensure that the materials are properly restored when necessary.
Once a building approaches the end of its lifecycle, demolition plans can be made to dismount the structure so that certain elements can be reused and recycled, or properly and ethically disposed of. The point of conducting life cycle assessments is to determine how the production, utilisation and demolition of industrial materials like concrete can be improved to suit sustainable development principles. Life cycle assessments are able to consider the following social, environmental, technical and economic aspects of concrete production:
- Operational costs
To summarise, concrete goes through 5 major life stages. In order to produce concrete, developers must go through material acquisition, material production, construction, utilisation and demounting or demolition. The list below offers an elaborated explanation of the life cycle of concrete.
Concrete’s Life Cycle
- Acquiring raw materials
- Producing structural materials
- Transporting raw and structural materials
- Designing the concrete structures
- Optimising the design
- Producing the concrete mixture using tools such as concrete mixers
- Transporting the concrete mixture
- Procuring equipment and other structural elements such as steel frameworks
- Transporting technology like concrete mixers to the site
- Operating equipment and mixing concrete
- Applying and installing the materials to construct a building
- Curing the concrete
- Providing maintenance services
- Repairing, rebuilding and refurbishing the building
- Demolishing the concrete structure
- Recycling or reusing salvaged concrete elements and materials
- Ethically discarding concrete waste
Improving the Durability of Concrete Through Curing
One of the best ways to ensure that your concrete remains in good shape for many years to come is by curing it between 7 to 28 days after you’ve installed it. Curing concrete after installation prevents too much moisture from being lost during the cement hydration process. The manner and length that you choose to cure your concrete will affect its durability and functionality.
Curing is a process whereby you ensure that the cement does not dehydrate. If too much water evaporates from the concrete too quickly then it is likely that the concrete will become stressed, causing fissures, weaknesses and eventually breaks. Curing the concrete allows you to improve the strength and reparability of the concrete. Once the aggregates have been mixed using a concrete mixer, construction workers can apply the concrete to their design and then begin the curing process immediately after the concrete is poured.
Curing involves spraying the concrete with water regularly every day for approximately 28 days after installation. By spraying the concrete regularly, the mixture remains saturated. During this time site managers should make sure that pedestrians, vehicles, trucks and any other kind of traffic are redirected so that the concrete won’t be compromised. Once the concrete has been cured for at least 28 days, construction workers and supervisors can begin to consider how they would like to finish, seal or stain the concrete.
Invest in Durable Concrete Structures By Applying Sustainability Theory
Investing more time, effort and money into quality resources during the initial stages of raw material acquisition, design, optimisation and concrete production will allow builders to construct higher-quality structures that can withstand harsh environments over longer periods of time. Investing in accompanying structural materials – such as steel reinforcement – and technological equipment – such as concrete mixers – will allow builders to yield better quality results at faster rates. It could also reduce environmental impacts and overall operating costs, as the structure itself will require less attention or refurbishing in the post-production phases.
Recent advances in sustainability theory have shown that the environmental burden of concrete production can be lessened when using concrete mixers strategically. Water shortage is a key concern for the global population, so it is vital to consider how to reduce water consumption – particularly drinking water. Treating residual water, desalinating seawater or harvesting groundwater is an expensive procedure that requires advanced equipment and a lot of capital. This is why it’s vital to reuse water where possible – luckily, this can be done with concrete mixer washing water.
When using concrete mixers to combine aggregates and raw materials, large quantities of drinking water are used to wash the trucks after use. The residual water which remains after washing cannot be reused unless it is properly treated. Water treatment is very costly, so sustainable thinkers and engineers within the concrete industry have recommended that this residual washing water be reused in the production of concrete. This will reduce drinking water consumption and allow construction managers to avoid the operational costs of water treatment.
Buy Your Concrete Mixers From BS Power Today
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)
Tactical and strategic approaches to concrete manufacturing and construction have shown to be effective ways of reducing the ecological consequences that the concrete industry causes. By applying design principles to operations, we can optimise manufacturing processes in a manner that proactively avoids environmental degradation as opposed to reactively mitigating it. Advanced technologies such as the concrete mixers sold by BS Power are a part of the solution to improve concrete manufacturing, utilisation and recycling.
BS Power offers a range of concrete mixers that will prove useful to any construction project. The speed and efficacy of these machines make it more feasible to minimise waste and reduce strain on labourers. Construction workers can use this equipment to enhance their productivity and speed up their operations. Moreover, when considering the results of life cycle assessments and environmental impact assessments, we can see how concrete mixers can be used tactically with environmentalism and sustainability in mind.