Cleaning anything with concrete on can be difficult. Cleaning RMC equipment is harder. However, it needs to be done because, like anything, when RMC equipment is properly looked after, it lasts much longer. Mud, grease, grime and old hardened concrete are sure-fire things to slowly destroy your equipment.
In fact, a study compiled the University of Nebraska says that routine maintenance procedures can reduce machinery repair costs by 25 percent.
And when equipment maintenance contributes to nearly 40% of total construction project overrun costs according to a study in the International Journal of Engineering Science Invention, these figures quickly begin to run into the tens and hundreds of thousands.
But cleaning is an underappreciated chore. It’s the end of a long day on site, and frankly all most people want to do is get out and head home.
Although it’s messy and should be done meticulously, yet it is often delegated to a junior team member who sees the job as just quickly hosing down dirty machinery, so they can get to the pub.
Well, there’s far more to effectively and efficiently cleaning construction equipment and machinery than meets the eye. And if it’s not done properly your equipment won’t live even nearly as long as it could, meaning a big log-term hit to your bottom line and your business.
Our Ultimate Cheats to Cleaning RMC Equipment
Ultimate Cheat 1: Always clean whilst the cement is still wet.
We can’t stress this enough. Hardened concrete requires complex chemicals to clean, and quite a lot of concrete dissolvers on the market, like muriatic and hydrochloric acid, are dangerous to deal with, and difficult to dispose of after you’ve used them.
In fact, hydrochloric acid is so dangerous that it is soon to be banned from use on construction sites!
Ultimate Cheat 2: Use a safe concrete remover, like Consolv!
If you do leave the cement too long and it hardens, then it’s not the end of the world. You don’t need to reach straight for the sort of acid capable of disposing of human bodies.
Cement dissolver products like Consolv offer low hazard solution for cleaning concrete from metal formwork, drums/mixers, trucks, molds, props and RMC equipment.
As they are far less damaging than traditional acids, they preserve the life of your assets and even protect nearby metal work and equipment by not exposing them to dangerous fumes.
You can read more about Consolv here, or talk to us if you want to discuss the right cleaning chemicals for your needs.
Ultimate Cheat 3: Don’t give this job to just anyone, it’s too important!
We mentioned this in our introduction, but cleaning equipment properly is important if you don’t want to be replacing it constantly. Efficient and detailed staff training and delegation is key.
If you have a good system in place and a clear line of delegation and responsibility then essential hygiene maintenance will preserve the life of your RMC equipment and might even stop the junior team members from looking for other jobs!
- If you need to scrub clean a surface, a stiff toilet brush works surprisingly well
- Crete-lease can be applied to the exterior of a mixer. It will prevent the cement from sticking to the surface
- Pressure washers offer an alternative to chemicals. Though they may not be able to remove cement that has cured, it works great for cleaning out wet cement
How to Clean your RMC equipment
What you’ll need:
- Pressure Washer
- Stiff Bristled Brush
- Chemical Applicator
- Chemical Cement Remover
You might also need:
- Hammer or Rubber Mallet
- Protective Goggles and Gloves
Let’s imagine you’ve obeyed our ultimate cheat numero uno and the concrete is still wet, then a high powered rinse and a scrub should do the job for you.
Steps to Clean Wet Cement from a Mixer
- Fill the mixer with a reasonable amount of water
- Add in a couple shovels full of gravel
- Turn the mixer on and allow it to spin
- The gravel will move with the water and scrape the cement off the sides
- Tilt the machine so that the gravelly mixture reaches all the way to the edges
- Once the cement has been removed, drain the water and gravel in an appropriate place
- Use a pressure washer to remove any remaining residue from the interior and exterior of the machine
- Let everything dry off before storing
Removing Old, Dried-On Cement
This is the more difficult of tasks and traditionally requires some harsh bone dissolving chemicals. As such, it’s a more dangerous process that can release some pretty toxic fumes.
This is why we would recommend using intelligent cleaning chemistry solutions, as produced by Chela!
Steps to remove dried cement from a mixer:
- Begin by turning on the mixer and allowing it to spin
- Add a couple of gallons of water to the mixer and gravel as before
- While it is spinning, gently tap the outside of the drum with a rubber mallet or small hammer. Make sure you don’t dent the drum. This is just to break up and shake loose the larger chunks of dried cement
- After the large chunks are removed, allow the water and chunks of cement to drain out
- You can now use a chisel to knock off any of the remaining large pieces of cement if you need to
- Next, put on your protective gear
- To remove the final layer of cement, you want to coat the equipment that you want to clean with your chosen cleaning chemical. Follow the instructions of use that come with the chemical and use carefully
- Tilt the mixer so that the liquid reaches all the way to the edges of the barrel
- Rinse the equipment with water. A pressure washer is again useful for getting the last bits of cement off and rinsing away any residual corrosive chemicals
- Let the equipment dry before storing
For other equipment you can soak or coat it with a chemical applicator and clean with a stiff bristled brush and pressure washer.
If you’re looking for further advice and support on efficient plant maintenance, get in touch with our team and we’ll happily discuss your requirements.
To find out more about us you can read some of our cleaning case studies and discover why we are one of the UK’s leading suppliers of intelligent cleaning solutions for the most demanding applications in transport, construction and industry.
Image: Wikimedia Commons