Back in the early days of concreting, road projects required a team of construction workers. A large headcount who would tirelessly work to lay concrete using large amounts of formwork, trowels and spirit levels. There were always issues with shoddy workmanship and project timelines almost always blew out.
Then came along the slipform machine.
A slick concrete pouring machine that saves valuable time while keeping the design millimetre perfect.
Firstly, let’s start with the basics.
What is a slipform machine?
Slipforming machines are brought on site to allow concrete to be poured continuously using a mould. These moulds are created to help build a variety of concrete features including concrete pavement, safety barriers on freeways and even solar farms, quickly and accurately. The machines use a low-slump concrete which means that once the concrete enters the mould it can harden in a small amount of time compared to regular concrete. This helps workers use the machine in a variety of conditions and ultimately ensures that projects can be delivered on time.
Slipform construction has a wide variety of applications. Here is our take on 8 things you didn’t know you could concrete using a slipform machine.
1. Safety Barriers
Ever wondered how the barriers on the freeways are made? Slipform machines help lay this barrier up to two meters in height and can complete on average 200m per day (much more effective than traditional methods - precast or poured in-situ using formwork). Stripping away manual labour dependencies and reducing material waste, these machines play a huge part in any freeway project.
2. Kerb and Gutter
When building new roads for communities, slipform construction plays a vital role in laying street side kerbing. The machine follows the edge of the road pavement and lays concrete seamlessly. This method helps to strengthen the paved surface and reduce debris getting into street drainage systems.
3. Commercial Feedlots
For farmers, feeding their cattle efficiently is a huge task. To make their lives a little easier, slipform machines can be used to lay out feedlot troughs so their cattle can all eat at the same time. It also ensures that feed that misses the mouth of the cattle drops into a trough to save waste (rather than it falling on the ground). The trough length can be set depending on the number of cattle to feed, so it can be used for large commercial farms feeding hundreds of cattle at once.
V-Drains are exactly as they sound - a drain shaped as a ‘V’. They’re used to keep water and sediment moving to a central drainage system. These are very important for road projects to help water drain quickly away from the road and direct it to a stormwater inlet.
5. Solar farms
A slipform machine can help solar panel farms lay concrete inserts for solar panels. Encasing each solar panel in this fashion protects it from the elements and allows multiple panels to be laid in a row.
6. Tunnel Flooring
Throughout Europe, construction companies are building tunnels using slipform machines to lay the tunnel floor and create walkways. The machine moulds can even be adapted to lay concrete at variable heights and widths. The machines can lay the various specially designed concrete mixes often needed for different applications within the same project and get through enormous volumes of concrete needed to complete a significant tunnel project. They are also extremely accurate, usually performing well within the specified design tolerances.
7. Retaining Walls
A slipform machine can help both commercial and residential projects by laying feature walls that have complicated edges or curves. Using slipform when building retaining walls also increases the accuracy, and the best part is that it can operate on different elevations so concrete can be laid on a slight slope. Perfect for complicated gardens.
8. Train Track Beds
Slipform construction is used in major transport projects to lay train tracks. The machines are used to lay a bed for the train tracks to sit in, providing protection from the elements. For projects like this, machines use a built-in GPS system which means it can manoeuvre tight spaces accurately and complete demanding specs.
With seemingly endless capabilities and uses, slipform machines can help almost any construction project by increasing not only the accuracy of the pour but reducing the overall cost with less workers involved in pouring.