Ready-mix concrete is concrete that is manufactured in a batch plant, according to a set engineered mix design. Batch plants combine a precise amount of gravel, sand, water, and cement together by weight, allowing specialty concrete mixtures to be developed and implemented on construction sites.
Ready-mix concrete is often used over other materials due to the cost and wide range of uses in building, particularly in large projects like high rise buildings and bridges. It has a long life span when compared to other products of similar use, like roadways. It has an average life span of 30 years under high traffic areas compared to the 10 to 12-year life of asphalt concrete with the same traffic.
Ready-mix concrete, or RMC as it’s also known, refers to concrete that is specifically batched or manufactured for customers’ construction projects and supplied to the customer on-site as a single product. It is a mixture of Portland or other cement, water and aggregates: sand, gravel, or crushed stone. All aggregates should be of a washed type material with limited amounts of fines or dirt and clay.
Advantages and disadvantages of ready-mix concrete
- Materials are combined in a batch plant, and the hydration process begins at the moment water meets the cement, so the travel time from the plant to the site, and the time before the concrete is placed on-site, is critical over longer distances. Some sites are just too far away; however, the use of admixtures, retarders and cements like pulverised fly ash or ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) can be used to slow the hydration process, allowing for longer transit and waiting time.
- Concrete is formable and pourable, but a steady supply is needed for large forms. If there is a supply interruption, and the concrete cannot be poured all at once, a cold joint may appear in the finished form.
- Cracking and shrinkage. Concrete shrinks as it cures. It can shrink 1⁄16 inch (1.59mm) over a 10-foot-long area (3.05 meters). This causes stress internally on the concrete and must be accounted for by the engineers and finishers placing the concrete, and may require the use of steel reinforcement or pre-stressed concrete elements where this is critical.
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