NPCA Precast Concrete Plant Video Virtual Tour of US Concrete, a state of the art precast manufacturing facility acquired by Oldcastle Precast in August 2012
There's no job too big, too unique, or too challenging for US Concrete Precast Groups, San Diego facility. The plant is one of seven in US Concrete's Precast division, which serves the West, Southwest, and Midatlantic regions. Located in sunny southern California, it is the newest and largest facility in the family. Constructed in 2007, after years of planning, it is state of the art and designed with employee input, future growth, and the environment in mind. With 49 production workers and another 17 office employees, the plant manufactures a wide variety of products for a diverse range of customers. Standard products include site furnishings and a number of underground utility and waste water solutions. With a dedicated staff and a modern facility, custom projects are a regular part of the mix as well.
Hello, my name is Todd Everett. I'm the general manager for US Concrete Precast Group Southern California, sunny San Diego. Our San Diego plant has been a member of the MPCA since 1981, so 31 years. To get to where we are today, we were in another location in Santee, California for over 30 years, and we got to the point through growth that we were beginning to be landlocked, could not grow anymore in the area we were in, and in 2005, we approached the board of US Concrete about expansion. We were given approval to do that so the search was on. Located the property we're on now in, I think it was late 2006. Got all the permitting done and started, broke ground in 2007, early February, and opened the plant in November of 2007.
Even more important than the facility are the people. The employees are part of a team, a point that is taken very seriously.
It's my belief that the keys to a successful precast operation, first they start with your people. We've been very blessed at this location, this plant, with the group of people we have assembled here. We consider ourself a team, therefor, we have team members.
As with most precast plants, a typical day begins bright and early at 6 am for production employees.
The production crew usually starts about 6 am in the morning. They get in and there's a lot of untarping, stripping, unbolting. There's usually a flow that's been predetermined already by weeks of planning ahead already before all the molds are out there. It's a system.
In the center of the plant, smaller products, such as drain boxes, catch basins, and meter boxes are stripped and laid on dunnage awaiting transport to either a delivery vehicle or the yard.
On the eastern end of the plant, utility vaults as large as 40 tons are stripped and flipped.
Once all products are stripped, workers immediately begin prepping the forms, including cleaning, caulking, and the application of form oil.
Meanwhile, on the western end of the plant, the weld shop is busy preparing cages for the empty forms. Large vault cages are assembled upside down on a raised platform by a welder, using pre-bent rebar. A cage for a large vault can take several hours.
Over by the state of the art batch plant, the morning begins with daily preparations in anticipation of the first batch, which usually occurs around 9 am. Once details are entered into the computer, the automated batch plant comes to life.
Outside, bins release the specified amount of fine and coarse aggregate, taking into account moisture content. The aggregate falls to a conveyor belt, which transfers it into one of two hoppers. One serves a one-yard mixer, the other a two-yard mixer.
One in the intended hopper, the aggregate is lifted up an elevator and released into the mixer.
Meanwhile, specified amounts of cement and fly ash are pumped into the mixer. After allowing the dry ingredients to mix, the batch plant releases water, add mixtures, and if needed, color and fiber.
Inside the plant, workers place a bucket under one of two chutes. Once full, the bucket is moved by forklift to one of the many overhead cranes and taken to the needed part of the plant.
In this instance, a yellow tinted batch is taken to the southwest corner of the plant where it's placed into forms for sidewalk pavers.
Once the batch arrives, the forms are filled, and a quality control inspection takes place.
In addition to standard products, the plant has found a niche in the custom market.
The team that we have assembled over the years at US Concrete, at this facility, San Diego Precast, is a team of individuals who have a great deal of knowledge. This is definitely one of those companies where there are some senior people here that have a lot of knowledge in concrete. The way we work through a custom project that's unique to us, is we get the team together. We get those that are going to be involved. We get our draftsmen, our salesmen, project managers, plant managers, quality control. We get a group of people together and then what we do is we go over the project. The goal is to make sure that it's successful, so we need to make sure that we're all on the same page. It's not a choice of will we fail. It's a choice of here's what's been put in front of us, now how do we make that succeed. That's what makes this company so special.
One recent example of the plant's custom work, is a stress ribbon bridge the company produced in 2009.
The stress ribbon bridge at Lake Hodges, it's actually the world's longest stress-ribbon bridge. It consists of three spans totaling 990 foot. It was also an endangered species area where they had a lot of nesting grounds for birds and things like that. The project had to be non-intrusive to the local surroundings. At the same time, the construction had to be mindful of that, schedule-wise. The finished product was quite a surprise, I think, overall to the designer that it came out so well.
Another extremely important facet of production is the quality control process. The plant has been MPCA certified since 1988, the first year certification was offered, and was among the first group of plants to reach the 20-year Continuous Certification mark in 2008.
Quality is important because we have control of every aspect from start to finish. We can control every environment on site and they can't do that. We have the ability to produce extremely precise products. The plant was designed at our old facility and we were able to incorporate everything that we wanted into the lab. A lot of the stuff we built in is stuff that we know that we're going to use 20 years from now.
The plant was also designed with many environmentally friendly details.
We're very mindful of the environment. The solar panels, over 60% of our energy comes from the sun. Skylights, so we're using natural light, we're using motion sensors throughout the plant, as well as the offices. Our environmentally friendly technology in our concrete, with our fly ash and other supplemental materials. We're contemporary, cutting edge if you will, precast plant.
US Concrete Precast Groups, San Diego facility, continues to find a steady flow of orders for waste water and underground utility products, as well as its custom projects. Looking to the future, it hopes to continue the growth it's had since it was founded and adapt to the ever-changing needs of its customers.
I think through our industry, through the National Precast Concrete Association, we continue to keep pushing the envelope and challenging ourself and challenge each other to continue to advance.
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