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Posted: January 8, 2018
Last modified: January 8, 2018

Purpose: Deliver concrete by booms and pipes to road and bridge construction sites.

Power: Rated to pump more than 200 cubic yards of concrete per hour or the equivalent of the contents of about 20 concrete-mixer trucks in 60 minutes.

Length of Reach: Boom arms and pipes in largest trucks can stretch about 185 to 200 feet. That’s more than half the length of a football field.

Size of Truck: About 51 feet long and 13 feet high.

If fresh, flowing, wet concrete is the lifeblood of a major construction project, then the big trucks that pump all that bonding material through long pipes serve as its heart.

Using their 400-plus horsepower engines, the pumper trucks push out thick, heavy concrete onto roadbeds, into deep foundations and up to bridge decks as high as 190 feet through nearly 200-foot-long boom arms.

The machines used on the I-4 Ultimate project can pump out all the concrete contained in a typical concrete-mixer truck in just three to four minutes. That’s about 35,000 pounds of concrete moving through 5-inch-wide pipes in the time it takes to heat up leftovers in a microwave.

Still, it’s not a simple matter of just switching on the pumpers and sitting back and watching. “It takes a lot of teamwork and planning to keep transferring concrete from several trucks to hoppers to pumps to work sites, and we’re often trying to maneuver in tight, crowded areas,” said Chris Holdorf, owner of C&C Pumping Services, whose trucks have aided progress on the 21-mile reconstruction effort.

A safe, successful job requires not just the brute force of the machinery, but also the finesse of those who design and execute the details of jobs requiring wide, clear workspaces on interstates at night.

In addition to helping plan rolling roadblocks and overnight detours that may be needed to support a huge concrete job, the I-4 Ultimate team also must figure out how to move many concrete-mixer trucks in and out of tight places. The timing must be just right – even down to the transfer of concrete from the big mixer trucks into the hoppers of the pumper trucks. If the pumpers run out of concrete while operating, it can create many problems for the project because concrete will begin setting before the entire job is finished.

Efficiency, safety and quality are the keys to success, said Holdorf whose company is headquartered in Groveland. “You’re only as good as your last concrete pour.”