Concrete is one of the strongest, durable, and resilient materials used in manufacturing and construction. Its use dates back over 2,000 years, when Ancient Romans started using it for most constructions.
To achieve its legendary durability and strength, concrete has to be mixed properly. While these procedures were done by hand with the help of a wheelbarrow and other mechanical tools, the concrete we use today is much stronger and more resilient thanks to powerful and automatable concrete mixers.
A modern concrete mixer rotates a drum to thoroughly mix cement, water, sand and gravel, helping the material achieve its optimal strength. It gives workers the flexibility to apply concrete at any desired time because automated rotation prevents it from hardening. Industrial concrete mixers have become a staple of modern construction sites, where concrete is constantly used but never mixed by hand.
Now, let’s attach a truck to our concrete mixer to create a concrete mixer truck! A simple, but very effective solution, concrete mixer trucks allow workers to dispatch a big batch of the building material to any location in a large construction site. While other transportation methods are possible, a truck offers a perfect blend of lifting capacity, power, and durability in rough terrains, making it the right vehicle for a concrete mixer.
All things considered, the constant movement of the revolving drum, mixing blades, and other hydraulic components has to be checked frequently, as a heavy workload can cause potential problems. To ensure optimal operation and avoid critical equipment failure, a concrete mixer truck has to be serviced properly. In this guide, we bring you proper maintenance tips for a concrete mixer truck with the help of experts at Frontu.
How do concrete mixer trucks work?
Concrete mixer trucks create sturdy concrete by turning the mixing drum with a hydraulic motor. Cement, sand, and gravel are loaded into the drum manually or fed automatically with a conveyor belt. For water, a modern mixer truck has a separate water supply system that takes the liquid from a designated water tank.
With 10 to 20 turns per minute, revolving drums form concrete into the right consistency, making it ready for casting. While there are different brands of concrete mixers and their components, most of them follow the same basic principles. If you want more information on your equipment, how to repair it and where to search for reliable replacement parts, read the manufacturer’s manual
The hydraulic system
A concrete mixer’s hydraulic system is responsible for generating all mechanical work associated with the machine. In a hydraulic circuit, the configuration of a hydraulic pump, valves, compressors, and other components move and pressurise the hydraulic oil. Then, the hydraulic motor converts the pressure into mechanical energy for the mixing drum, extraction of fluid from a water tank, and movement of a discharging chute.
Between the key components, the hydraulic system is full of fittings and hoses that connect all parts together. The constant movement and forces within the system wear it down, therefore regular inspections and lubrication are necessary to keep everything in top condition.
What kind of oil do you put in a concrete mixer?
Most concrete mixers use SAE 10W-30 oil to protect the engine and other components in all conditions. When in doubt, take another look at the manufacturer’s manual and their recommended oils. When servicing your concrete mixer truck, apply the fluid till it reaches an appropriate oil level, and replace it during weekly or monthly maintenance procedures. Concrete mixers are usually driven in construction sites that are full of dust, debris, and other contaminants. They affect the engine oil, hydraulic oil, and other fluids, causing abnormal wear and inefficient fuel consumption.
How long can concrete sit in a mixing truck?
Concrete should not remain in a mixing drum for longer than two hours. Even if the blades keep turning the solution, the material will slowly start setting due to its unique chemical properties, and keeping it in for too long can ruin the whole batch. If maintaining the same batch for longer periods is essential, admixtures can slow down the chemical reaction, and let you keep the same concrete a bit longer.
Types of concrete mixer trucks
While there is very little deviation from the gold standard mixing drum for turning the concrete we have two main types of trucks that have concrete mixers.
Rear-discharge mixer trucks
A rear-discharge mixer truck is very similar to a dump truck, as it unloads the mixed concrete from the back. With an installed chute, they can feed the concrete straight into formations for instant casing, making them a great solution for building sidewalks and other surfaces.
Front-discharge mixer trucks
Front discharge mixer trucks use special nozzles to slowly transfer the concrete in front of the mixer truck. This type is mostly used for unique cases where the driver has no space to reverse into a desired spot.
What is the average lifespan of concrete mixer trucks?
Concrete mixer trucks stay operational for about 5 to 10 years However, this lifespan estimate is too inaccurate due to many tangibles affecting the machine. For example, a mixer truck that is used every day is more likely to break down in even less time, especially if its owner has no maintenance personnel to prevent damage to the machine by cleaning and replacing key components.
In the long run, a concrete mixer truck can suffer a lot of damage from direct contact with the harsh environment and weather conditions. Without frequent maintenance tasks, these parts do not get replaced, and continue damaging the rest of the vehicle instead.
What is the maintenance process for a concrete mixer truck?
All heavy equipment servicing tasks start with a visual inspection and main component cleaning. Concrete mixer trucks are not an exception. First, the operator checks the surface of the exterior to identify obvious signs of abrasion and oil leakage.
For concrete mixer trucks, the importance of cleaning ranks even higher, because the inside of the mixing drum is always affected by dried concrete. If a job site has multiple mixing trucks, the assigned maintenance personnel has to thoroughly clean the drum and neighbouring components with a chemical dissolver.
Operator training is an indirect maintenance procedure that teaches drivers the normal use of the machine and the execution of assigned maintenance tasks. An operator should be able to quickly remove excess concrete from the drum with an effective cleaning solution. After learning to drive a concrete mixer, the driver uses a new car as instructed by the user’s manual and manufacturer’s recommendations.
How often do you need to clean a concrete mixer?
A concrete mixer should be cleaned before and after every shift. When the surface is not yet affected by hardening, the majority of concrete gets removed with far less hassle and without the need for chemical assistance. When the mixer is used the next day, the drum is inspected and cleaned again to remove the remaining dried material and prepare the machine for another day of work.
Concrete mixer maintenance operations – a recommended schedule
To take proper care of a concrete mixer truck, the experts at Frontu recommend following the framework of time intervals that prioritise urgent servicing and emergency repairs. Then you can build an effective maintenance schedule by ordering tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly guidelines. Concrete mixers do not have as many damaging factors as other heavy equipment machines, but it is still worth keeping it in good condition with well-organised maintenance tasks.
Daily maintenance procedures focus on checking your truck and mixing drum for visible signs of damage, as well as cleaning all surfaces that come in direct contact with abrasive materials. While most of the effort is oriented toward keeping the mixing drum clean and ready for work, the cleaning applies to the entire machine. After that, they check the fuel, hydraulic oil, and other fluid levels and replenish them when needed.
Once all surfaces are clean, the operator tests the performance of the vehicle and the mixing drum. If the driver identifies any signs of damages during the inspection, they pass this information to equipment managers who schedule the replacement of worn-down parts to extend the truck’s operation life.
During the weekly maintenance process, operators grease the mixing drum, blades, and other parts that wear down due to friction and abrasion. Because a concrete mixer truck does a lot less mechanical work than most heavy equipment machines, lubrication of its parts can be a weekly maintenance task.
Monthly maintenance tasks focus on the usual inspection of components that are shared amongst most vehicles: the engine, air filters, brake pads, and the parts of the hydraulic system. Make sure to thoroughly clean and inspect the vehicle every month to track damages to internal parts that are invisible during everyday operations.
After following these maintenance tips and reading the manufacturer’s recommendations, even a beginner can learn the basics of mixer truck maintenance. Taking care of industrial vehicles is not an easy task as the gradual failure of many components often goes unnoticed. Thankfully, many modern tools have sensors and use heavy equipment software for efficient management and tracking of maintenance tasks.