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Lafarge and Flame in a Concrete Partnership

Sunday 27.04.2014

World renowned cement manufacturer Lafarge has partnered with the construction group, Flame, to bring the first ever mobile concrete batch plant to the Zambian construction industry. Branded as FlameCrete, the portable ready mix concrete plant replaces traditional centralized batching plants and ready mix transit mixers with innovative and flexible solutions, that offer customers of all dimensions guaranteed content and quality. 

The partnership takes off in June 2014 with the commission of two cutting-edge FlameCrete units. Produced by Kimera of Italy, the units’ onboard computers will be loaded with ready mix recipes decided by Lafarge, whose exclusive supply of the FlameCrete concrete plants’ sand, aggregate and cement will launch their Lafarge Inside concept in Zambia.

Mohamed Salama, chief executive officer of Flame, says the new partnership will provide contractors with the best concrete quality and supply in the country “We shall begin the operation in June with two units to cover Lusaka and the Copperbelt. More units will be added on a monthly basis so as to reach full capacity by December 2014,” he said. 

Mr Salama explained the client benefits of Lafarge’s contribution to FlameCrete product “Firstly, there’s the security of Lafarge quality in materials supplied and the computer-controlled application of their scientifically established ready mix formulae. The resulting aggregates are custom designed to account for specific soil conditions, for example, and construction factors such as whether the concrete is required for super-structures or foundations.”

Aspects of FlameCrete Technology

“As important is the convenience to the client,” continued Salama, “The unit’s technology accurately combines on-site water with the dry materials on board to produce the exact ready mix batch where the customer needs it at the time booked in advance, guaranteeing a reliably fresh product.”

He went on to comment on capacity and flexibility, differentiating them from market experience to date. “With a capacity of nine cubic metres, yet with computer’s function to deliver the exact amount ordered, each unit can provide adequate supplies for a construction team. These features eradicate weaknesses in traditional concrete delivery systems – such as delivery at inappropriate times, poor design mixes, compromised workability due to equipment carrying pre-mixed product through traffic delays, and under-supply of the product quantity paid for.” 

Mr Salama summarized, “With mobile batch plants Lafarge and FlameCrete will provide the Zambian market with fresh, workable concrete at the right design mix and in correct quantities,” he said, concluding with a comment on FlameCrete’s versatility: 

“A fully loaded unit can actually service several small clients, sequentially, with a single load. Or a single client can receive different mixes for different needs at the same site. Pre-set as ordered, the computer meets each need.”   

In addition to the mobile batch plant technology, the operation will be rely on Lafarge standards, as set at a newly commissioned, state of the art concrete testing laboratory in Chilanga. There, Lafarge formulates mixes upon which tests will be performed on FlameCrete product to ensure the properties and strengths of every delivery is at par with Lafarge’s celebrated international standards.

Because concrete is probably the most important structural element in construction, concrete testing is critical to the industry – and is mandatory in most regions of the world. Construction companies must provide documentation of their testing and results when asked to do so by government or consultancy agencies. 

“One hopes these safe standards will be adopted and put into Law to protect the Zambian public from unsafe and dangerous structures mushrooming all over the country,” commented Salama. “We consider priority access to Lafarge cement and science key to our success. By delivering various cement strengths and grades, with application of Lafarge- produced aggregates, FlameCrete will deliver consistent quality of product.”

The advantages of the mobile batch plant concept vis a vis traditional systems are numerous; the chart below identifies the motives for the choice by Lafarge and FlameCrete to adopt this comprehensive solution to Zambia’s prevailing market grievances.

  

 

FlameCrete Mobile Batch Plant

Fixed batching plant + truck mixers

MOBILITY

Extreme mobility – each unit could travel for limitless distances in hot climates without any problem or need to add expensive additives like retarders.

The working radius is limited to short distances because the concrete must be discharged form the truck mixer before loosing its workability. Retarders could be added raising the cost, retarders also have a maximum time of delivery, retarders could effect the quality of concrete like setting time

FRESHNESS & WORKABILITY

FlameCrete plants carry dry materials and water is added during the mixing process on site, fresh and workable concrete is guaranteed and eliminates the need for chemical additives that could compromise the main function of the concrete.

Transit mixers carry wet premixed concrete that starts curing therefore consuming the early period needed to ensure good workability on site.

DESIGN MIX, STRENGTH & QUALITY

Under the Lafarge / Flame Crete partnership the right design mix and concrete strength as well as quality are the core attribute. The single material source (cement and aggregate), the Lafarge concrete laboratory and the computer controlled batch plant using twin horizontal worm mixers ensure the right properties of the ordered concrete are delivered. Especially, the mixing process is visible to receiving personnel on site.

Lack of supervision on fixed batch plants and transit mixers allows some suppliers to manipulate the cement ratios to reduce their cost and increase their profitability. Most current fixed plants obtain their materials from different sources as per availability therefore giving inconsistent mix designs. Once poured, correction of bad mixes is cumbersome and expensive.

EXACT QUANTITY DELIVERED

FlameCrete plants are equipped with a calibrated computer controlled delivery meter that prints out the exact quantity delivered to the accuracy of 0.1m3. After each mix is conducted the customer receives a printout showing the exact quantity mixed and delivered, with a breakdown of the exact quantity of ingredients used for every mix.

No guarantee is given for quantity delivered; the customer has to measure and calculate the quantity after pouring or pumping. For bigger projects, even 0.5m3 short per delivery can cause huge project cost over runs.

VERSATILITY

The FlameCrete batching plant delivers just what is needed from 0.1 to 9 m³, it allows mixing of several small batches with different recipes, and so serves multiple site needs or several customers, without returning to the loading place. The plant does not need to discharge all materials on arrival but can mix on request.

Transit mixers load a single type of concrete mix design per delivery and must travel and dispatch the full load as quick as possible.

USER-FRIENDLY SYSTEM

The Kimera batching plant is equipped with an electronic system and a user-friendly management screen that guarantees delivery of the ordered design mix, thus eliminating human error. All activities are witnessed by the receiving site personnel.

The fixed batching plant needs technically-skilled personnel to process the concrete. The mixing process is not witnessed by the buyer, leaving room for poor or unexpected product supply.

DELIVERY CAPACITY

Backed by Lafarge, cement and aggregate quantities are guaranteed at current production levels. Each mobile plant carries up to 9m3 of dry aggregate and cement. Units do not rely on local electric power to load or mix. Units do not rely on the operation of a centralized batch plant, nor is a minimum quantity needed for the delivery.

Currently suppliers who have a centralized batching and transit mixer operation obtain cement and aggregates from different sources, experience electricity outages and may have operational challenges due to the age and condition of the machinery employed. Most operational transit mixers drums are in poor condition and carry between 6 and 8m3.