Returned Concrete Revolution

Yard before CrispyCrete

Dealing with returned concrete is one of the universal headaches of our industry. It increases round trip time, decreases loads per day, causes a mess at the plant, and is a high risk to re-use. Simply put, returned concrete is costly. Our current options to deal with this problem include:

Disposal Method Pros Cons
Landfill
  • Offsite allowing you to deal with it once
  • Pay by weight at the landfill
  • You still pay the driver for his time
  • Truck is out of commission then deadheads back to a plant
Discharge on yard
  • Keep trucks rolling
  • Messy yard
  • Must be broken up
  • Creates an unusable pile of waste material
  • Still must pay to haul away
Fill blocks
  • Can resell waste as blocks
  • Form setup and breakdown
  • Never have enough forms
  • Can’t handle all of the returns
  • Stacking, selling, loading, & delivering
Batch on top
  • Nothing to clean up
  • Increase profit
  • Find the right job
  • Can’t handle large returned loads
  • High potential of creating future problems with a customer
Reclaimer
  • Re-use materials
  • Clean
  • CAPEX
  • Constant maintenance
  • Slow

Solving the Problem

CrispyCrete is our industry’s solution to the returned concrete headache. It is about to hit the market and forever change how producers handle returned concrete. CrispyCrete was tested, refined, and perfected over the last 2 years at a few confidential locations. I was invited to see it firsthand and recently witnessed it in action. The location was a high-volume central mix plant situated on a small yard in a downtown city environment. Seeing is believing.

CrispyCrete’s patented process includes a small control unit specifically designed to create the foaming agent. The control unit receives the unique foaming agent from an attached 55 gallon drum. The patented foam dispenses directly into a truck’s mixer via an aerated spray nozzle.

CrispyCrete Control Unit
The CrispyCrete control unit.
Injecting the CrispyCrete foaming agent into the mixer.
CrispyCrete patented foaming agent being introduced into a mixer.

After a few minutes of winding up the mixer, the unique foam has been mixed into the leftover ready mix allowing the driver to discharge the treated load. It doesn’t have to be in rows. He can literally unload into a pile or a bin.

CrispyCrete treated load being discharged into a bin.

The next day is when you’ll witness the revolution of CrispyCrete. You can walk onto what looks like a pile of concrete. Typically this will cause you to terminate the driver who discharged a pile onto your yard. But this is not a typical pile of unfinished concrete.

Walk on it and experience something unseen of until now. Your boots will sink into the dry material about 2 inches. You can reach down and pick up a chunk of material that will fall apart in your hands. The cementitious particles are rendered inert and act as fine aggregate.

Charles Bell on CrispyCrete
Charles Bell standing on CrispyCrete treated returned concrete. It’s ready to be sold as a base product.

Your loader can easily scoop this material and pile it up for resale as a base product. This is exactly what the test customers have been successfully doing: reselling the waste. It’s a straightforward process. Keep the CrispyCrete treated material in a pile or a bin, scoop it onto a truck, and make a profit.

CrispyCrete treated returned concrete.

CrispyCrete in bins

CrispyCrete is an environmentally safe and profitable way to handle your returns. It’s even safe enough to be used in California.

From Concept to Reality

A 50 year veteran of our industry, Charles Bell, brought the concept to reality.

He has been featured in industry publications several times over the last few decades for his innovative approach to our industry. He’s an ops guy through and through.

Charles had a fully automated materials handling system in the early 1990s. He used a 48” feed belt while most people were dealing with only 24″ belts. His drive through 600-yard/hour plant with a fleet of front discharge trucks ruled the Auburn, Alabama, ready mix market for more than 30 years until his retirement.

Like everyone who enters this industry knows – you can never really leave it. Retirement allowed Charles time to think through the problems he could never solve. That’s when he had an epiphany about handling returned concrete.

Charles and his partners have patented their technology and are rolling out the fifth refinement of the foaming control unit. They met with their primary manufacturer last week and are preparing to scale the business. With a target price of $10,000 for initial setup plus a nominal per yard fee for the 55 gallon drum of foaming agent, this is a high-value innovation for our industry.

Independent Opinion

For the record, I have no investment with CrispyCrete.

I have visited the high volume demo plant a few times to speak with the plant manager, loader operator, and several drivers while the CrispyCrete owners were not around. I heard very few negatives and many positives.

Let’s settle the negatives:

  • If you have more than 7 yards you will have to split it between 2 mixers or discharge some material as untreated then treat the rest. The reason is volumetric: the added foam increases the size of the load.
  • The plant manager said if it’s 3am and he’s turning trucks as fast as possible, he can’t slow anyone down. In this scenario he instructs his drivers to directly discharge untreated ready mix rows to be dealt with later.

On the positive side:

  • The plant manager said the system is easy and dependable.
  • His drivers learned how to use it with minimal instruction.
  • It just works.
  • The drivers I spoke with said it’s easy to use and doesn’t take much time.
  • Everyone likes it more than a reclaimer.
Clean yard thanks to CrispyCrete
The same yard after incorporating CrispyCrete into their daily operations.

 

What Next?

The CrispyCrete innovation truly amazes me and it excites me to share it with our industry. I believe this has the potential of becoming a standard item when you build a new plant. Its small footprint makes it a quick add-on for an existing plant.

Purchase CrispyCrete and test it for 6-months at one of your higher volume plants. I am positive your operations will benefit from a better way to handle returned concrete:

  • Improve your ability to keep your trucks turning
  • Have a cleaner yard by changing your returned concrete process
  • Lower disposal costs
  • Decrease quality control issues
  • Resell the treated materials

I am convinced CrispyCrete will pay for itself even if you don’t resell the reusable materials.

You can find out more about CrispyCrete here and contact Charles Bell here.

 

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