Truck-mounted concrete pumps are among the most efficient ways to manage a concrete pour on a site, with manufacturers focused on producing machines that are reliable and easy to maintain.
Wajih Eit is responsible for CIFA’s concrete equipment in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. When it comes to the business outlook, markets across the MEA region are currently a mixed bag, but there are still some deals being done, says Eit: recently the firm won a contract in Burkina Faso to supply 48m and 55m boom pumps, the largest in use in West Africa. The deal also included mixers and other equipment.
“There are still some specific landmark projects going on and still moving, and we have the capability to close important deals [for markets in Africa] through our branch office in Dubai,” he explains.
CIFA produces the full line of equipment, including mixers, pumps, batching plants, placing booms and concrete pipes. It has the widest range of concrete equipment in the market produced under a single brand, says Eit, with dedicated products available for every region.
CIFA’s main series of truck-mounted concrete pumps are the Steeltech, with dedicated models for the MEA region including pump trucks with 36m, 42m, 48m and 55m booms, plus the newer 61m boom launched in late 2019. (CIFA’s patented carbon fibre Carbotech range is in demand in Europe and other markets with stricter road regulations).
The Steeltech range is available with either open or closed loop hydraulic circuits, though open loop is more suitable for MEA markets, says Eit – it’s lower pressure, uses fewer electronics and is easier to maintain and service, as well as more robust in high temperatures.
The range also has a number of different boom folding configurations. The ZR-type is suitable for the boom opening inside the buildings and for concrete pouring near the truck pump, available with smaller booms; the mid-range Z-type has quick opening operations for concrete pouring near and far from the truck pump; and the RZ-type provides maximum flexibility by combining R+Z solutions, ideal for five-six section booms.
When it comes to operation, the pumps feature efficient control systems and the standard machine management system can be upgraded to provide additional control features, including diagnostics, as well as remote control. The system can also provide data on the pump’s operation, such as flow. The trucks have in-built safety systems, for example requiring that outriggers must be fully extended for full boom operation – if they are only partially extended on one side, the boom cannot be operated on that side. The optional Smartronic machine management system can actively calculate in real time the max boom extension, based on outrigger positioning.
Customers vary across markets. In the Middle East, 90% are classical ready-mix companies, plus some contractors and rental companies. In Tunisia and Morocco, the trend is also towards ready-mix companies. Elsewhere in Africa, however, contractors typically do the concrete in-house, says Eit – they may have batching plants, booms and mixers.
Ready-mix suppliers tend to have high concrete expertise and want to reduce machinery costs as much as possible. They may also look at rental options if the market is slow. In the life cycle of a pump, the biggest factor is maintenance – true for all concrete equipment.
“Concrete is a very aggressive material, and the same exact pump can go with you for life or you can have problems after just a few years. The difference is 100% based on the maintenance, on the check-ups, parts availability and all these things. And this is a big issue here in the Middle East region, but also in Africa,” says Eit, adding that having dealers in each market who can train and support customers is essential.
Correct operating procedure is also important, such as avoiding vibrations. The Dubai warehouse has a large supply of spare parts, acting as a hub to supply the MEA region, in addition to the local stock level in each dealer’s warehouse.
Of course, concrete truck pumps are a key piece of equipment on any construction site, and a breakdown or stoppage during a pour can spell disaster, given that the transit mixers will already be on-site or en route.
When it comes to project type and market demand, Eit says it’s important to note that other than in North Africa, truck-mounted pumps are not widely used, with stationary pumps still preferred. “In many markets, there is still not the culture of the truck-mounted pump, there is the culture of the stationary pump – this means also a lot of concrete pipe and a small placing boom for the distribution of the concrete. Meanwhile, in markets in MENA the truck pump technology is very well established.”
The chief advantage of a truck pump is on large sites, where it can be used laterally, versus a combination of stationary pump + placing boom, which can be more effective on a tower project, since it can climb with the tower.
Over time, use of truck pumps will become more widespread across all markets, Eit believes. Both truck-mounted and stationary pumps will get the job done, though truck pumps are easier and faster, and their popularity will increase where there is stable growth and increasing demand for contractors to deliver projects with certain timeframes.
A force in the Saudi Arabian market
A prominent force in the concrete machinery sector in Saudi Arabia and the wider region is KiCE Construction Equipment, headquartered in Al-Uyun in Hassa Region in western KSA. The company sells concrete batching plants, transit mixers and truck-mounted pumps, as well as other equipment. Its batching plants are manufactured in Saudi Arabia – it was the first company to begin manufacturing concrete batching plants locally, and also produces Oshkosh McNeilus transit mixers – and it also sells Snowkey Ice plants and water chillers, as well as Zenith block-making machines and other brands. With a patent for its batching plant, these are sold throughout the GCC and the greater Middle East.
Its truck-mounted pumps are manufactured by Junjin in South Korea, and are sold in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. Around 80% of customers are ready-mix companies, while the remainder are contractors or a few other types, says Wael Shehata, General Manager at KiCE. With customers focused on maximising productivity and minimising cost, another popular feature for the Junjin pumps is the ability to use universal components for parts such as valves, main hose, pipes and rubber pistons, which can lower costs.
From an operational standpoint, contractors like the Junjin truck-mounted pumps for their long booms, providing additional reach for projects, says Shehata. The Junjin range covers the main boom lengths in demand. The truck-mounted pumps are sold with open loop hydraulics, an approach better suited to the high ambient temperatures commonly found in the Gulf, while also being easier to maintain, says Shehata.
Given the critical nature of a pump for a pouring operation, Shehata says it’s essential that customers be rigorous in the maintenance and servicing of their equipment. Customers have the choice of a service-level agreement (SLA) from KiCE, or taking responsibility for service themselves. SLAs will ensure that pumps are ready to work and will help ensure the reliability and longevity of the machines.
Leveraging its significant engineering and service know-how, KiCE also offers a refurbishment service to rebuild pumps or supply used machines with a new pump, whether a firm wants to continue to use them or sell them second-hand.