On the leading edge of concrete technology in North Carolina’s research triangle
Pittsboro, NC (July 12, 2019) — The CEI Fusion ™ batch plant is not your typical concrete plant. Neither is Capital Ready Mix Concrete, located in Pittsboro, North Carolina. You’ll know it from the moment you walk in the door.
Situated in a professionally renovated former chicken processing plant, the cavernous offices of Capital Ready Mix Concrete feature hardwood laminate flooring, artwork on the walls, and elegant furnishings that include a large conference table made from a single slab of Indonesian chamcha wood.
This area is known as North Carolina’s "Research Triangle," so-named for the three nearby research universities of Duke, NC State, and UNC Chapel Hill.
Sara Lochren, Executive Vice President of Capital Ready Mix Concrete, is herself nearing completion of her MBA from Duke. Sitting in her spacious office overlooking the batch plant operation, Sara recounts how her family’s business chose to expand with the Fusion plant for their newest facility.
"We first saw the Fusion plant at the World of Concrete tradeshow," she says. "We were about to buy another plant when we saw this one. We flew to California to see one in operation. After that, we decided to buy."
The forefront of technology
"My dad was really excited to be the first to bring one of these plants into North Carolina," Sara adds. "He really likes to keep up with the latest advancements in technology; to stay ahead of the curve."
Sara beams with obvious pride as she talks about her dad, Capital Ready Mix Concrete President James Lochren. "He has always been an entrepreneur," she says. "He started driving concrete trucks as a teenager, with his brother. In the late 1980’s, he opened his first concrete plant. He only had one truck. He’d drive the truck himself; batch the concrete himself... He worked to grow that business to the almost 30 mixers they have today."
Sara grew up being inspired by Jimmy’s entrepreneurship, and it shows. She helped find the property that now houses their company headquarters. She handled all the permits and has been heavily involved with business expansion. Sara was also responsible for the startup of Capital’s dumpster business.
Staying ahead of the curve can come with its own challenges. For James Lochren, one such challenge was getting the plant approved by the state, because NCDOT has traditionally relied on certification from the NRMCA.
Lochren took a proactive approach, and hired an independent professional engineer to perform a plant certification inspection and coordinate with the NRMCA.
Below is an excerpt from the inspection report presented by Stephen Ackerman, P.E. to Dr. Colin Lobo, Ph.D, PE., Executive V.P. and Head of Engineering at NRMCA:
"...the total weights of all materials included in each individual load of mix is recorded and compared with batch target values to verify compliance with ASTM C-94 tolerances. . . . Batch records indicate excellent compliance with the tolerances outlined in Section 2.5 of the NRMCA Plant Certification Checklist."
Following this report, NCDOT approved the plant.
Quality & Consistency
Over lunch at an outdoor table in the quaint town of Pittsboro, Kevin Cox, plant manager adds:
"The best measure of quality in a concrete plant is consistency," he says. "This is the most consistent plant I’ve ever seen. In many cases, it has produced better mix than a central mix plant."
Jason Holland, Technical Services Manager for Capital, agrees. "When you weigh rock by dropping it several feet into a weigh hopper, you inevitably have a certain amount of variation. With the Fusion plant, we’ve seen that variation drop noticeably. It’s a very consistent plant."
Precision Aggregate Blending
The core of the Fusion plant is the aggregate blending system. A series of in-line bins holds multiple sizes of aggregates and sand. Each bin releases to its own dedicated feed belt, and each feed belt is fitted with its own scale to weigh the aggregate.
Aggregates are weighed and fed onto the full-length collector conveyor below. In this manner, aggregates are precisely blended in ribboned layers, and are fully blended before they are discharged into the mixer truck.
The full-length collector conveyor is mounted on load cells. During calibration, the scale company hangs weights on the collector conveyor, just as they would a collection hopper on other types of plants.
With the collector conveyor having been calibrated by the scale company, the plant operator then uses it to calibrate the feeder belts. The process takes minutes, and is extremely accurate.
For additional information, please contact the CEI Sales Department at 800.545.4034.
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