Slipforming Success

Story courtesy of GOMACO. | September 28, 2010

Almost a decade had passed since Axis Curb Co. set a company record for one day's curb and gutter slipforming production. The record was 6,003 feet of curb and gutter in a single day, and the Salem, OR, contractor set it using a GOMACO Commander II with the Analog control system.

The company record came close to falling a couple of times since then but never had ... until recently. This project, a semi-industrial area near Woodburn, OR, had approximately 15,000 feet of curb and gutter built into it. Conditions were finally right for the company to make another record-breaking attempt. This time the crew would be using a GOMACO GT-3600 curb and gutter machine to do the work.

Everyone, including the slipforming crew, the prime contractor, the ready-mix plant and the ready-mix drivers, knew what was at stake before the pour began.

"When I first saw how this job laid out, that it was about 15,000 feet in total and had some really nice pulls on it, I knew that we had to try to beat the record," Mike Blakley, concrete superintendent for Axis Curb, explained. "We made sure everybody was fired up for it, and I kept preaching to them that this was preparation meeting opportunity. Everyone out there was on board with setting a new personal record. We didn't think we'd get over 10,000 feet, but we were going to be disappointed if we didn't make it over 6,000 feet."

By the time the crew called an end to their pour at 4:30 p.m., they had slipformed 10,712 feet of 24-inch-wide curb and gutter with a six-inch-thick gutter and 12-inch-high curb. They had shattered their old company production record by more than 4,700 feet.

Getting Ready

Preparation was one of the keys to success. Axis Curb worked closely with their concrete supplier, Walling Sand and Gravel. The project was located 25 miles from the batch plant. Seven ready-mix trucks, each capable of carrying either 10- or 11-cubic-yard loads, were assigned to the pour.

Stations were created throughout the job site for the ready-mix drivers to drop off their receipts and to wash out after emptying. This was done in an effort to keep drivers in their trucks, ready to move when they were needed.

"We wanted the drivers on-board with us so we could move those trucks as efficiently as possible," Blakley explained. "We knew it would be important to get the trucks in and out, because if the GT-3600 wasn't moving, we weren't going to break the record."

Grade preparation was essential as well. The prime contractor, Emery and Sons Construction, was in charge of preparing the grade and leaving 1.5 inches of trim for the GT-3600 to cut through as it slipformed.

Two days before the pour, a five-man stringline crew was on the site setting up the first 8,000 feet of stringline. Survey work wasn't completed yet for the entire project. The morning of the pour, the crew was again at work setting up the remainder of the stringline. With everything in place, all that was left to do was to bring in the company's 2002 GT-3600 and begin the record-setting pour.

"We started the morning off really strong with a 2,500-foot perfectly straight run without any pickups," Blakley said. "We ran that out and picked up and moved to an island that was 5,000 feet by itself. We were halfway around the island and everybody was laughing and in really good spirits."

Axis poured a total of 542 cubic yards of concrete throughout the course of the day. On average, it took 12.5 minutes per ready-mix truck to dump its load onto the GT-3600's conveyor belt. The original complement of seven trucks was increased to 11 after the first 10 trucks had unloaded. Seven trucks just wouldn't have been capable of keeping up with the GT-3600.

"The GT-3600 ran flawlessly," Blakley said. "Our full-speed pouring capability with the curb machine was right at 39 feet per minute, and we did that for several loads throughout the day. The product came out nice. The inspectors in that area, who are notorious for not being easy, all said it was nice looking curb. It was almost a fantasy how well it ran."

Setting the Mark

All the while, the slipforming crew of 12 kept working away. They quickly surpassed the old record of

6,003 feet and soon were beyond 7,000 feet, 8,000 feet and then 9,000 feet. And it was just mid-afternoon with several thousand more feet of stringline set up on the site.

"I was talking to the crew, talking to ready-mix and asking them, 'How about 10,000 feet?' Everybody said they were on board," Blakley said. "It was running so well they weren't even tired."

They went on to slipform 10,712 feet of curb and gutter before they ended the day's pour at 4:30 p.m. The crew could have gone farther but didn't want to leave their ready-mix supplier without a project for the next day.

"We stopped pouring at 4:30 p.m. because we didn't want to put ready-mix in a position of having seven trucks to find some place to go the next day," Blakley explained. "But the owner, once he found that out, said we should have kept pouring! We are certain we could have done 12,000 feet, and we think we could have pushed 14,000 feet, but that would have been a bad thing to do to ready-mix."

The company also acknowledges that it couldn't have beaten the old production record without the cooperation of their partners on the project and some good equipment, which includes the GOMACO GT-3600.

"The GT-3600 is very versatile, very adaptable from project to project, and that includes both width and height," Blakley said. "We like the vertical-lifting and sideshifting trimmerhead and mold, its ability to turn a tight radius, and the fact that it backs up really tight on line. We like the ability to move the tracks around in relationship to the pour. If we have an asphalt edge or other obstacles that we're working around in relationship to the curb, we can find a position to set the mold and the tracks to avoid the obstacle. We also get some fabulous service from GOMACO and Jim Preston, who is our salesman from GOMACO's Oregon distributor, CONAGGBIT Inc.

"This project's success was a team effort, and Axis Curb could not have done this by ourselves. We relied on the general contractor to prepare it well, the concrete supplier to produce and deliver concrete within the tolerances needed and our own crew to work the project. Everyone deserves to be proud of what they accomplished. It really was a phenomenal day."