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September 2006

Concrete Pump Attachment Exceeds Expectations

Most contractors would probably agree that if you want to be successful in the construction industry, you have to look for new or better ways to do business and to find ideas that will improve productivity and ultimately the company's profitability. That's exactly what Illinois-based contractor Gus Antoniou did when he purchased a concrete pump attachment for his compact loaders to place concrete in hard-to-reach areas.

Antoniou, owner of G & D Excavating, has more than 25 years of experience in the construction industry. G & D Excavating is a subsidiary of Pantheon Construction — a six-year-old general contractor and home developer based in Lyons, Ill. Pantheon does a little bit of everything with ties to trucking, excavating, hauling, concrete and multifamily housing developments.

Antoniou got his feet wet in the concrete side of the market only when he couldn't find a good concrete subcontractor to pour foundations. Now, he says he is well-versed on the ins-and-outs of concrete, particularly on how to place the material in confined spaces. He says that while a concrete pumper might be the fastest way to deliver material, sometimes it simply won't work. Hiring a concrete pumper is becoming increasingly expensive and isn't necessarily the best method for delivering the material to his crews. "A concrete pumper will charge anywhere from $600 to $1,500 a day," Antoniou says.

Only Compact Equipment Will Fit
Size limitations also prohibit Antoniou from using a concrete pumper on some jobs. "A concrete pumper is a large six-wheel truck, and it wouldn't fit in this building," say Antoniou referring to a warehouse he was building in Chicago. The company poured many concrete floors, mezzanines and crawl spaces with a concrete pump attachment and loader. There's no waiting for the concrete pumper to arrive, which means crews can set their own schedules as long as they know when the concrete mixers will deliver the material.

Knowing the limitations of a concrete pumper, Antoniou worked with his local compact equipment dealership — Atlas Bobcat — to purchase a concrete pump attachment. The concrete pump attachment is powered by the skid-steer loader's hydraulic system that offers the ability to pump 12 to 15 cubic yards an hour. With a high-flow auxiliary hydraulic system, the pump attachment can reach up to 25 cubic yards an hour. Depending on hose length and diameter, and conditions such as slump, additives and aggregate size and type, the attachment can pump concrete as far as 250 feet horizontally or two stories vertically. The pump's maximum aggregate size is 1½ inches.

The concrete pump attachment is available with a delivery starter kit that includes three 25-foot sections of 3-inch flexible hose; three 10-foot sections of 3-inch steel line; one 6-foot section of 3-inch flexible hose; reducers, elbows, couplers and a clean-out ball. Other section sizes may be ordered through a local dealership.

One day during the construction project, Antoniou needed to pour approximately 50 cubic yards of concrete for a floor in the second story of the warehouse. He knew a concrete pumper wouldn't work because of the jobsite conditions and where the concrete needed to be placed. He brought his Bobcat® S300 skid-steer loader to the jobsite and connected the concrete pump attachment to it. The loader and pump attachment were positioned inside the building with room for the concrete mixers to deliver the material directly into the pump.

With his crew waiting on the second floor, and the concrete mixer delivering the material, Antoniou controlled the pump's actions with the integrated remote attachment control. The remote enabled Antoniou to start the skid-steer loader and the pump attachment so it could deliver the material upward to the placing crew. The remote saved Antoniou labor costs as it eliminated the need for a second operator and has an emergency stop button for any unforeseen problems.

As the concrete flowed from the mixers into the pump's hopper, Antoniou carefully monitored the process and the pump attachment's performance. "You wouldn't believe how well the concrete pump attachment works," Antoniou says. "It's more convenient when we place the material because we can control the speed in which we place it. We don't get big surges in concrete. We get a steady, constant flow of concrete, and that's the key to this attachment.

"The concrete pump attachment gives the laborers and finishers the right amount of time to place the material," he adds. "They don't get overburdened with material like they would if it was coming from a concrete pumper." A concrete pumper has troubled Antoniou's crews in the past with fresh concrete discharging from a 5-inch hose. He says concrete pumpers often don't give his workers enough time to adequately finish the concrete, like when he uses the Bobcat concrete pump attachment.

Because the pump's performance allowed him to meet his deadlines, Antoniou says the concrete pump attachment paid for itself after just three jobs. "You can't put a value on being able to service your customers," he says.

When he's done using the concrete pump attachment and loader, he says his crews can clean the attachment while the loader can accomplish other tasks on the jobsite, like moving pallets of building material or cleaning the site with a sweeper. A dedicated concrete pump on a trailer would simply sit idle once it was finished, whereas Antoniou's loaders disconnect from the pump attachment and stay busy. Another advantage of the pump attachment is its ability to be easily transported from jobsite to jobsite on a trailer. Any contractor can move the attachment with their loader on a trailer without a semitrailer and a commercial driver's license. Additionally, contractors can do away with mud buggies, wheelbarrows and shovels or chutes when they use a concrete pump attachment.

Taking a Chance on a New Product
Investing in an attachment of this sophistication requires some risk and Antoniou was at first hesitant. "I was skeptical about buying it because I had not seen it used and my workers didn’t know the technique," he says. After a slow start due to inexperience, Antoniou and his crews soon became comfortable with how it worked and boosted production to a level that they found acceptable for the business.

G & D Excavating is saving time, labor and money with their concrete pump attachment; money that would have been otherwise wasted on a concrete pumper, and Antoniou and his operators are happier because they have more control over the delivery and placement of material. Perhaps most important is the convenience the attachment offers the company.

Sidebar: More than Floors
There's more to the concrete pump attachment than simply pouring floors. Other contractors have used the Bobcat attachment to pump concrete for vertical wall forms or in a shotcrete application for swimming pools, hot tubs and retaining walls. The concrete is applied by using compressed air and a nozzle tip to spray concrete mix into forms. In the case of a swimming pool or hot tub, contractors sometimes find themselves working in established yards where homeowners don't want the property damaged. In that case, a Bobcat compact track loader might be a good choice because of the minimal ground disturbance. This prevents ruts in soft ground and reduces the need for costly and time-consuming reclamation after the job is complete.

Using a concrete pump attachment and loader has other benefits, like protecting underground utilities from large concrete trucks and keeping concrete trucks off driveways and sidewalks. For those hard-to-reach areas, hoses can be routed through small openings, under decks, through bushes, across rivers, around trees and buildings and over moguls. This saves labor time from moving material and allows workers to finish the concrete after it is poured.