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Solution Found Under Glass


A huge cavity was excavated and 600 cubic yards of concrete placed to install an 800-ton Komatsu press, which will produce automotive steel parts.

Contrax Concrete Pumping unfolded their boom pump into many unusual configurations to handle the project. With the versatile concrete pump working under a fast-paced schedule, the job went from excavation to the press installation process within a short 60 days.

The unique geometry of the Putzmeister 31Z-Fold boom enabled it to work a mere 12 inches under a low overhead crane, while allowing the plant to remain fully operational as concrete was placed for a machine press foundation.

A huge cavity was excavated and 600 cubic yards of concrete placed to install an 800-ton Komatsu press, which will produce automotive steel parts.

Contrax Concrete Pumping unfolded their boom pump into many unusual configurations to handle the project. With the versatile concrete pump working under a fast-paced schedule, the job went from excavation to the press installation process within a short 60 days.

The unique geometry of the Putzmeister 31Z-Fold boom enabled it to work a mere 12 inches under a low overhead crane, while allowing the plant to remain fully operational as concrete was placed for a machine press foundation.

Solution Found Under Glass

Clever Advertising Idea Puts Putzmeister 31Z-meter in a Tight Spot

STURTEVANT, WI (July 30, 2007) – When looking to minimize the disruption of an indoor construction project, general contractor Ferguson Construction Company of Sidney, Ohio unexpectedly discovered its solution under glass.

Displayed under a piece of sheet glass on top of a NAPA auto parts store counter was a business card along with a photo of a Putzmeister 31Z-meter boom pump. The versatile truck-mounted unit is shown pumping concrete with its unique five-section Z-Fold boom strategically positioned under an extremely low 19.5-foot ceiling. While in a highly unusual boom configuration, it is effectively reaching an area most truck-mounted concrete pumps cannot.

The business card and snapshot belong to Contrax Concrete Pumping of Hamilton, Ohio, who claims them to be the best and most cost-effective source of advertising for their boom pump. The intriguing photo certainly sparked the curiosity of an employee on Ferguson’s crew who saw the picture and realized the benefits of the pump’s capabilities for an upcoming project. This resulted in the general contractor calling Contrax for assistance with a challenging construction project.

An Ultrastrong Foundation
The complex application facing the construction company involved the installation of a steel machine press for a manufacturer of automotive steel parts. The manufacturing company required an extraordinarily strong foundation for placement of a new 800-ton Komatsu press inside the company’s existing southern Ohio facility. The ultrastrong foundation was imperative due to the extreme size of the machine. This would be further compounded by the powerful force consistently and frequently exerted by the machine when stamping out a steel part.

To accommodate the new machine, a huge cavity, 40 feet wide, 85 feet long and 21 feet deep, was excavated to form a type of “press pit”. Double mat steel reinforcement and 600 cubic yards of a high strength concrete were required for the successful completion of this project. Due to the manufacturer’s need to maintain its round-the-clock production schedule, it was the construction company’s responsibility to find a way to prevent lost productivity. The 31Z-meter truck-mounted concrete boom pump made this possible.

A High Five for Productivity
“Our biggest concern was avoiding a production line shut down that would result in an enormous amount in lost productivity,” says Travis Frankenfield of Contrax, an 18-year-old concrete pumping company located north of Cincinnati. “Any other 30-meter class roll-and-fold boom pump just could not be positioned under the low overhead crane found on this job site.”

The operator was able to maneuver the boom under a low 15-ton overhead crane, preventing a halt to production during each pour. Realizing the huge financial benefit of using this pump, pours were specifically scheduled around the availability of the 31Z.

“No other boom pump could compare to the versatility of our 31Z for this job’s application,” notes Frankenfield. “With the unit’s five boom sections, I could finagle the boom around various obstacles; and with its Z-Fold design, I could snake it under a low overhead production crane working only 22 feet above the pours.”

“With the boom only 12 inches under the active crane, it was challenging to maneuver,” says Frankenfield. “Plus, it was tiring because the crane cast shadows when it traveled back and forth as it hauled materials to a nearby press.”

“There was no choice. We had to construct the project without shutting down production,” says Joe Thompson, project supervisor of Ferguson. “This specific boom pump model was the only answer for this project, as there was no room for a crane and a line pump would have been too labor intensive.”

Size Matters
“It was an interesting job, as I had to first set up in a congested area while trying to position the truck-mounted boom pump in just the right spot for maximum reach,” says Frankenfield.

Once positioned, the boom pump proved to be the ideal size for the job. When the boom was stretched to its full 87-foot horizontal extension, it could reach the furthest point of concrete placement without extra delivery hose. This enhanced convenience and reduced labor costs on site.

Right on Time
Under a fast-paced schedule, the project went from excavation to the press installation process within a short 60 days. During that time, Contrax performed 15 concrete pours, pumping concrete supplied by Spurlino Materials of Middletown, Ohio. For the majority of the pours, the ready mix supplier dispatched a 4,000-psi mix with a coarse one-and-a-half inch aggregate, which was super-plasticized for the wall pours.

Starting in January, the project began with the placement of a mud mat followed by a four-foot pad at its bottom. Next, Contrax pumped concrete for the two-foot thick walls. Due to the extreme amount of steel, the pump’s end hose could only be inserted about a foot into the 16-foot high walls. Consequently, a slow and methodical pumping process was required.

Stairways, pads and other walls were formed and pumped with concrete. Then, four corner piers, four feet wide, six feet thick and 10 feet tall, were slowly pumped in lifts during a long, continuous eight-hour pour. Grade beams and a final four-foot thick upper slab completed the concrete placing process late this spring.

“We had never pumped with Contrax before, but we were very pleased with the results,” says Thompson. “The flexibility of their unique boom pump meant no plant shutdowns during pumping, and it definitely helped us maintain our high-speed time line.”

Contrax Family Business Grows
In 1989, Rick Frankenfield started Contrax Concrete Pumping while his first son Travis was a mere toddler. Growing up with the business, Travis had pumping in his blood even though his father tried to persuade him toward a less demanding profession.

Today, the father-son team involves Rick still actively managing the company, with Travis directing the day-to-day operations of a four-unit fleet of Putzmeister pumps. This includes the favored 31Z-meter in addition to 32-, 36- and 38Z-meter boom pumps. The 31Z, in particular, garners attention when seen in one of its highly unusual boom configurations.

The Power of Advertising
“Several contractors visit the local NAPA store for all sorts of parts,” says Travis Frankenfield. “So I asked a friend at the store if he’d put our business card and photo under the glass countertop.

“It’s amazing, but that simple application photo has resulted in numerous calls and landed us major jobs,” adds Frankenfield. “It’s been a really easy and inexpensive way to advertise the capabilities of our equipment.”

The innovative features of the special boom pump have also gained the pumping company incremental business with the automotive parts manufacturer. Contrax plans to return to the same facility later this year to help install yet another press.