scheduling basics
Arūnas Eitutis | 7 Грудня 2023

How to reduce the cost of shotcrete machine maintenance costs

The introduction of heavy industrial equipment has revolutionised the mining industry. By removing the worker from direct contact with excavated materials, heavy machinery has changed the sector with massive improvements in equipment precision, fuel utilisation, and even automation. With lower labour costs and a massive jump in work output, everyone wants to get their hands on modern mining equipment

Meanwhile, The incorporation of cutting-edge tools, such as shotcrete machines, designed to enhance safety and fortify infrastructure, has made work and expansion of excavated areas and underground structures safer than ever before. Because mining equipment lets us manipulate the terrain in ways that would have been impossible and too dangerous in the past, modern companies can strive for expansive mining tactics without endangering workers.

However, the overreliance on heavy machinery creates a unique problem: if industrial mining equipment is not properly maintained, the whole operation comes to a halt. Without swift repairs, even gradually failing machine components constantly deplete company resources through inefficient work and fuel consumption.

A great example of equipment dependence in mining comes from relying on shotcrete machines and their role in stabilising permanent excavations. If they become inoperable, workers can only continue their work once the machine is serviced and fixed.

In this guide, we, with the help of equipment experts at Frontu, will address the benefits of shotcrete machine maintenance. From comparison of different techniques to reduction in operation costs, these tips should bring the undeniable necessity of scheduled servicing procedures for not just shotcrete machines, but all mining equipment.

Understanding Shotcrete Equipment

Shotcrete machines spray structural concrete with high velocity on surfaces for stabilisation, which eliminates safety concerns and allows a faster continuation of work. This section covers the main benefits of properly maintaining your concrete spraying equipment.

Mechanised Shotcrete Equipment: Basic Components

With shotcrete machines, all stabilisation procedures start with the mixer, where workers pour the concrete mixture that is later sprayed on a surface with controlled pulsations. Then, hydraulic pumps are used for concrete transport to the surface that requires strengthening.

Through control of the nozzle, operators control the concrete flow with incredible precision. Modern shotcrete machines also have an accelerator system that speeds up the setting process.

To achieve the highest levels of efficiency and precision, most processes within the machine can be manipulated through the system. Electrical components are usually serviced by skilled electricians every 1 to 3 months.

The Benefits of Regular Maintenance

A strict regular maintenance schedule forces operators and equipment managers to meticulously track the machine’s state and the health of its main components. Because mining processes, especially when done with heavy industrial machines or blasting, are very volatile and damage the structural integrity of surfaces around the excavated material.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

With a proper maintenance plan, shotcrete machines are thoroughly cleaned and inspected for signs of damage or contamination. Inspecting equipment before every shift helps to identify and report structural damages, inefficient fuel consumption, janky controls, lack of lubrication, and other factors that could hinder the machine’s correct functioning.

Modern industrial machines also have sensors and trackers that automatically report any damages and warnings about the machine to equipment supervisors through heavy equipment software. By combining visual inspections with technology assistance, they can identify and eliminate any issues a lot faster.

Cost Savings

A predetermined, preventative maintenance plan will always beat a spontaneous reaction to damages without preparation. By tracking the state of the wear parts, equipment supervisors can buy a new concrete pump, air compressor, hose, or any other component ahead of time. By knowing what to look for in advance, they can find the best, cost-effective deals before a complete breakdown of the existing part. Without a plan, construction companies have much higher equipment costs, while the quality of produced work output is diminished.

Safety and Compliance

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the regulatory safety guidelines for machine use in the United Kingdom. Shotcrete machines, being a type of construction equipment, fall under the regulatory framework, provided by the HSE in Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).

Recommended Maintenance Tasks for Shotcrete Machines

This section covers the basic servicing procedures that are necessary for an effective preventative maintenance plan.

Routine Inspection and Servicing

When in doubt, any routine maintenance plan should begin with a universal solution – a simple checklist. Make a list of components, from most to least important, and start linearly servicing each part.

For shotcrete machines, a delivery hose, nozzle, additive pump, and control system are unique components that require frequent inspections and lubrication. Routine maintenance procedures will keep healthy parts in good shape for a lot longer, and the servicing history will reveal any abnormal damages or changes, offering a lot of time for preparation and adjustments.

Replacing Parts and Upgrades

In shotcrete machines, hoses and nozzles are components that require the most attention because they break down a lot faster. Fortunately, they are not the most expensive parts, and their rapid depreciation requires frequent replacements. With a preventive maintenance plan, equipment managers stock up on spare hoses and nozzles to make the repair process as swift as possible without unnecessary expenses.

Cleaning and Storage

Like all industrial tools, shotcrete machines come in contact with dirt and abrasive material. If not cleaned, the contaminants can compromise the smooth operation of the cement gun, spraying arm, and other key components. To continue work output with optimal efficiency, operators clean the machine before every shift and store it in a roofed enclosure with low humidity.

Dry vs. Wet Shotcrete: Differences and Maintenance Needs

Dry shotcrete utilises the dry mix method that administers the dry mixture straight into the hopper, where it mixes and leaves the machine through the nozzle. This construction technique is popular in construction projects with very tight deadlines. While the quick application of the mixture is very convenient, working with dry material tends to clog nozzles and hoses. With additional stress on these components, a dynamic maintenance strategy determines the expected lifespan of these components to prepare replacement parts ahead of time. Wet shotcrete takes time to settle, but it is not as strenuous on the machine, which diminishes the intensity of maintenance requirements.

Financial Aspects of Maintenance

Annual Costs of Maintaining a Shotcrete Machine

While it is nearly impossible to determine annual maintenance costs due to so many influential factors, predictive maintenance strategies need a few thousand pounds per year. However, this number can increase dramatically if the shotcrete machine does not receive regular servicing. Then, the unpredictable need for replacement parts, and financial losses incurred due to equipment downtime can drive this number to tens of thousands of pounds.

Comparing Maintenance Costs with Other Equipment

Shotcrete machine maintenance expenses are pretty low compared to other types of mining equipment. That is because they don’t come in direct contact with excavated materials. Crushers, drilling rigs, excavators and even haul trucks are more susceptible to depreciation, especially in harsh working conditions.


The strength, flexibility, and adaptability of industrial machines have reshaped the mining industry. While most processes are more efficient than ever before, all incredible progress can come to a halt if machines are not properly maintained. With the most basic preventive maintenance framework you can prepare for underlying problems ahead of time and save lots of money.


What is the difference between wet and dry shotcrete?

Dry shotcrete combines the dry mix with water in the nozzle for faster application while wet shotcrete is mixed before pumping. The dry method uses compressed air to quickly fuse with uneven shapes and surfaces.

When should I replace the nozzles and hoses?

Nozzles and hoses are not as sturdy as the main components, and because they serve as an essential conduit for the concrete mixture, they need to be replaced at first signs of wear and tear.

When should I use shotcrete?

Shotcrete machines provide a flexible and comfortable application of concrete with remote control. It is mostly used in cases to reinforce volatile structures: mining tunnels, rock walls, slopes, and various repair projects.

Arūnas Eitutis
Founder & CEO

Arūnas is spearheading the Frontu efforts as the company’s CEO but still finds the time to share some of his knowledge, expertise and experience in the FSM sector through our blog.

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