Concrete 101 - the ultimate construction material

December 03, 2021

Concrete. Its so ubiquitous with the urban environment that we barely ever stop and think about it. But where would we be without it? Where would we live? How would we get around and how would we eat, drink and consume the things we do? Concrete is the most commonly used construction material in the world, and the second most used substance in the world full stop, only behind water. It has literally shaped the way we live. 

Concrete solutions have been used in construction for over 5000 years. Some of the earliest known uses include Nabatean traders in the Levant who discovered the self-cementing properties of limestone and used it to build structures to help them thrive in the desert. Later it was used by Ancient Egyptians and Romans, who used it extensively over the spread of their empires.

Since then it has been used in one form or another to build roads, housing, infrastructure and civil works right up to this day with no other construction material looking to take its place any time soon. Its many developments have impacted the ways we live and the way our societies are built. The Romans realized if you mixed it with volcanic ash you could set it under water and build aqueducts to bring water from faraway sources to hydrate populations and irrigate crops. In more modern times reinforced concrete has built the famous skylines of modern metropolises such as New York, Beijing, Sydney and many more.

Concrete is also big money. It is predicted that by 2025, the ready-mix industry will exceed $600 billion worldwide. With housing shortages in many countries around the world a large part of this is setting up the infrastructure we need to build neighborhoods, communities, and homes themselves. Concrete builds roads, freshwater pipes, wastewater solutions, communication infrastructure, housing foundations, walls for buildings and much more.

For the most part, concrete is produced in concrete plants where it is made in a time sensitive process by combining water, cement, aggregate and additives. Once these core ingredients are mixed, the concrete must be transported and put into place before the concrete hardens. There are several methods to delay the hardening of concrete – and this is where ready mix trucks come in to play.

Ready mix trucks maintain concrete’s liquid state primarily by agitation – or the turning of the drum. A spiral blade is fitted into the inside of the drum which keeps the concrete mix moving as the drum rotates. Water can also be added to the mix to maintain accurate levels of viscosity. Sensor technologies have been developed that measure drum rotations and water add levels on the truck. These give operators a level of quality control, and insight into how long they have to get the concrete out of the truck, through a concrete pump, and to its final destination in the best possible state.

To find out more about how Coretex can help your organization get concrete through the construction supply chain in its best possible state, check out our construction solution.