If your industry involves concrete work, you are already aware of the importance of having concrete properly cooled before it hardens, or cures. Because the process of mixing cement with water to obtain concrete is a chemical process that releases heat, concrete will be very hot unless it is cooled through a specially designed system. Let’s take a look at some factors that could indicate it is time to upgrade or replace your current concrete cooling system, but first let’s also take a quick look at why concrete cooling is necessary.
Why Is Concrete Cooling Necessary?
Concrete that cures at higher temperatures will be less dense, since the heat will cause greater expansion; since heat distribution tend to be uneven, the concrete’s density will also be uneven. High temperatures also cause water to evaporate faster, leading to insufficient hydration of the concrete and a reduction in tensile strength. These two factors cause weaker, more brittle concrete; in industrial settings, where concrete strength is essential, this flaw can be disastrous. For this reason, companies engaging in concrete construction and other concrete projects use concrete cooling systems such as those manufactured by Semco to bring their concrete to an appropriate temperature.
Concrete Cooling Methods
There are several types of cooling systems and methods available today, each of which has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The simplest method is adding cold water and ice to the water that will be mixed with the cement. This method requires calculating the necessary temperatures based on the quantity of material. Using a cooling system to bring the water’s temperature down is quicker and more efficient, especially in the case of larger quantities. Water cooling is achieved by flooding the silos with cold water and draining them once the mixture is cooled, which uses a lot of space and is wasteful of water. Another effective method is the wet belt system, which uses small amounts of ice water transported by conveyor belts.
Another way of cooling the concrete components, or aggregate, is via cold air that is circulated throughout the materials. This method takes more time than cooling the water, but is optimal in small, enclosed spaces since it doesn’t require a separate system of removing the water.
Air and water cooling are often supplemented by sand cooling to ensure that the mixture’s temperature stays cool throughout the process. Sand cooling is particularly useful for large projects. Sand cooling systems may include rotary cooling drums or sand silos. This method has the advantage of achieving cooler temperatures for longer times, at lower energy costs; however, it involves expensive equipment and more time in order to cool the sand.
A less frequent method is post-pouring cooling, which involves laying pipes before the concrete is poured, then sending cold water to circulate through the pipes after they are covered with the concrete. This method is very expensive and time-consuming. Typically, it is only employed for supersized projects like dams or highways.
No matter which concrete cooling system you have in place, it is highly important to ensure that it stays in good working order. It is crucial that it be repaired or replaced as necessary and that maintenance concerns are not ignored.
Risks of Inadequate Cooling
One of the clearest indicators that it could be time to replace your concrete cooling system is if the concrete is being inadequately cooled. A suboptimal system will produce inferior concrete, create potential safety concerns, and raise energy costs. If you find that your concrete quality is not up to standards, especially with what you expect from your cooling system, that is a clear indicator it’s time to make some changes.
Going hand-in-hand with inadequate cooling as a key indicator of the need to upgrade your system, is frequent repairs. While regular maintenance is a must, and periodic repairs may be routine, an uptick in problems and rising maintenance costs can indicate that your system is nearing the end of its life. Eventually repairs or part replacements won’t be able to fully fix an issue or will be needed far too often to be cost effective. It is thus essential to know when it is time to replace your system entirely. Eventually the cost of repairs will outweigh the cost of purchasing a new system, especially if frequent breakdowns delay your projects’ schedules and overall productivity.
How long have you been using the same cooling system? With today’s rapid advances in technology, it may be time to see if a newer system will meet your needs better. Improvements in energy efficiency, precise temperature calibrations, and delivery mechanisms can make a new customized Semco system a worthwhile investment.
Rising Energy Costs
Take a look at your energy. If your system is using increasingly more water and energy to obtain the same results, it is a sign that it is deteriorating. Not only will increasing utility costs soon outweigh the expense of a new system, but continuing to use a decreasingly functional system will inevitably compromise the quality and integrity of the concrete. A system with poor energy efficiency can also be a major black eye for a company that wants to market itself as energy or eco-friendly.
Always monitor your system’s performance, carefully checking that your concrete has been cooled to its appropriate temperature. Consistent failures to achieve goal temperatures, or taking increasingly longer to achieve them, are indications that your system is no longer coping with its workload. Whether your system has deteriorated, or its workload has changed or increased, this is a clear sign that it is no longer the right system for you.
Finally, if your company has dramatically changed the quantity or nature of its concrete projects, it may be time to reconsider whether your existing equipment is still the most appropriate. Do not let inertia carry you along into continuing to use older equipment just because it still works. If the direction of your company is changing, it may be time to look into a new Semco concrete system that will be fully customized to your current needs.