Hawkeye PipePro XT Casting Machine Automates Production for Manufacturer

Staff | September 28, 2010

Madison Concrete Pipe, Inc., Madison, is a fourth-generation, family-owned business serving customers throughout south-central Wisconsin.

Headed by Greg Glynn and his son Ryaan Glynn, great-grandson of the company's founder, Madison Concrete Pipe is still delivering on its traditional commitment to quality, now using state-of-the-art computerized equipment.

The company's products include round and elliptical concrete pipe in diameters from 12 inches to 96 inches, as well as box culvert, manholes and inlets.

One of the new features offered by Madison Concrete Pipe's round and elliptical products is the option of self-lubricating gaskets that simplify and speed up installation by eliminating in-field gluing, setup time and soaping. With these new pre-lubricated gaskets, says Ryaan Glynn, customers can install sections as quickly as crews can align and connect them.

At a recent open house, Madison Concrete Pipe gave customers an impressive demonstration of its automated manufacturing process, which turns out up to 480 8-foot sections of pipe per shift.

The heart of the system is a Hawkeye PipePro XT casting machine, which the company put into full operation about a year ago. This computer-controlled unit has three massive heads, which can produce up to four pipe at a time depending on the diameter of pipe being cast.

The process starts with steel pallets, and cores being loaded into the one of the machine's three form-handling stations. The bottom pallet is shaped to make the concrete form the bell or female end of the pipe. The top pallet, called the header, causes the concrete to form the narrower, male, end of the pipe. And the core forms the long opening inside the pipe.

Around the core goes a pre-formed wire cage that will end up embedded in the concrete pipe to help provide strength and structural integrity. The size and shape of the cage matches the pipe being made.

Once these items have been loaded on the inside core, the machine lowers an outer jacket over the assembly and pneumatically clamps the jacket to the bottom pallet.

The entire unit is then rotated to a filling station, where concrete is poured into the form and vibrated to assure proper distribution. While that first set of forms is in the filling station, a second set is being assembled in the station it just vacated.

Concrete for the process is mixed on-site, to recipes that meet ASTM standards for each product. To eliminate slump and curing time, Madison Concrete Pipe generally uses a drier mixture. However, the mixture can be altered to meet specific customer requirements.

The system is automated, but monitored by trained technicians. Madison Concrete Pipe's concrete-mixing system has huge silos for fly ash and cement, and a sand-and-aggregate hopper that holds up to 370 tons.

The automated mixing system combines specific amounts of fly ash, cement, sand, aggregate, and water into a mixer that produces a new batch of concrete every few minutes. The concrete is carried by a 2-cubic-yard flying bucket on a monorail to the hopper and conveyor that fills the pipe forms.

The filled forms are lifted by a 20-ton-capacity rail-mounted crane and transported to kilns for curing. When a set of pipes has been set into the kiln area, the pneumatic locks holding the bottom pallets in the outer forms are released, and the forms are returned to the pipe-making machine to produce another set of pieces.

After curing in retractable tarp kilns with steam heat, pipes are taken to the automated Vertical Ring Offbearing and Cleaning (VROC) machine for tipping out and finishing.

Matched in output capacity to the Hawkeye pipe-making machine, the VROC automatically removes the bottom pallets and top header rings, deburrs both ends of the new pipe, stencils on vital information, and conveys the pipe to forklifts for stacking in the storage yard.

The pallets and rings are then cleaned, stacked and readied for re-use.

With its efficient system in place and operating smoothly, Madison Concrete Pipe is positioned to serve any need its customers send down the pipe for generations to come.