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UK Precast Alive and Kicking at Lound

With the tough economic climate over the past few years, the precast concrete industry has felt the effects of recession like so many others. This is evidenced by a number of plant closures, notably within Tarmac Building Products, one of the key players in the precast industry. Following a three month consultation period, hundreds of staff lost their jobs at sites around the country.

One such site was at Lound in Nottinghamshire, closed in April 2011. Previously producing hollowcore on seven 167 metre long beds using slipformers, prior to closure there had been preliminary talks with Spiroll for conversion to production using the extrusion process. A study by Tarmac found that there were a number of benefits in switching to Spiroll extruders. Primarily these were in reduction of cement content, maintenance and wastage, but also in meeting new design codes (EC2) that came into force in April 2010. In short, these benefits meant that by changing casting technology from slipforming to Spiroll extruders, savings of £221,000 per annum could be achieved.1

When the old Tarmac site was taken over by Charcon Construction Solutions, a subsidiary of Aggregate Industries, in spring 2012, it seemed the obvious choice to utilise the evidence gathered in the aforementioned study, and the decision was made to get a Spiroll hollowcore production system up and running.

Spiroll designed everything to fit around the existing Skako batching plant and crane concrete distribution system on site. This included custom modification of the machines to work with the existing casting beds, and an increase in the production speed of the extruder to 1.5 metres per minute. The stressing abutments were also modified to allow for the changeover from wire to strand. This flexibility in design and engineering is a hallmark of Spiroll’s precast production solutions.

Charcon are now running two refurbished 250mm extruders and the new Universal Extruder setup with two power units, two 150mm cassettes and two 200mm cassettes. In addition to the benefits already identified over slipforming, a number of initial targets were set. These were that the machine should run with less than 350kg/m3 cement content; use spare parts at a cost of less than 60p per m2 of product; and that the scrap rate attributed to production machinery should be less than 3%.

12 months on from commissioning, the Spiroll setup at Lound is consistently turning out a high volume of top quality product, and has met all of the above targets with ease. General Manager Shaun Brown has said; “All of the team at Charcon and more importantly our expanding client base are delighted with the Spiroll machinery and the end product that is delivered to our clients’ sites. We are incrementally increasing hollow core production, currently at 22,000m2 per month, and the Spiroll machinery is proving to be reliable, economic and functional in meeting this output uplift.”

1. Tarmac Capex Report, Mit Raven 2010.


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