MOOvin' & Groovin' Pt. 2
HEB Developers' three partners, Harold and Eugene Bouteiller and Brian Carver attended their first Commander III course at GOMACO University in 1978. They purchased and started slipforming concrete with their first Commander III that same year.
Since its beginning, HEB Developers has changed its name to Proform Concrete Services Inc., based out of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Their business has expanded to cover a large work radius in Canada.
A few things haven't changed in the past 21 years. Proform continued its tradition and sent six employees to one of the Commander III classes this year at GOMACO University. The other thing that hasn't changed is their paver preference, the Commander III. Brian Carver, vice president of Proform Concrete, described the paver as a "perfect machine."
They have an inventory of four Commander III's that are kept busy with commercial and residential paving, sidewalks, curb and gutter, highways and feed bunks.
Proform Concrete started paving feed bunks in 1993. "We got wind of farmers looking for good feed bunks at an agriculture show," Carver explained. "We decided to attend a couple of shows to try to promote concrete feed bunks."
It has been a successful sideline. Carver estimates since first starting out, they have poured approximately 9144m (30,000 ft) of feed bunks in various locations using three different mold profiles.
Their last project, in the fall of last year, was a new feed lot for Sun Terra Farms in Acme, Alberta, Canada. They slipformed 3048m (10,000 ft) of feed bunks placing fence posts in the bunk with a hydraulic inserter mounted to the back of the Commander III.
"We unplug the rear shift leg and hook up the hydraulic coupler to the 1270mm (50 in) cylinder," Carver said. "As we extrude along, about every 3.05m (10 ft) we stop for a split second and have a fellow put a pipe in the cradle. The operator hits the lever and down it goes. Then you just continue on until the next one."
The grade is usually prepared by the client. "Most clients have a front-end loader or big bulldozer. We go there a day or two ahead of time and put up a stringline for them and the client just measures off the stringline," Carver said. "When we bring the Commander III in, we'll pretrim for the bunk and then just back up and pour."
The feed bunk is paved in two separate pours. The feed bunk is slipformed first. Then, on the second pour, a pad ranging from 2.44 to 3.66m (8 to 12 ft) wide and 114 to 127mm (4.5 to 5 in) thick is poured.
"It's basically the same thing as pouring parapet. You have to watch your travel speed and slump," Carver explained. "Try not to pour on a hot, windy day because of the slump change coming out of your ready-mix truck. You won't have to add water all the time."
Proform Concrete averages 305m (1000 ft) of feed bunks in an eight to nine hour day. Sometimes production is slowed down due to slow concrete delivery. "Sometimes you're 48km (30 mi) away in a small community and the plant just doesn't have enough trucks to keep you supplied. Otherwise, we could do a lot more."
Average slump ranges between 30 to 35 mm (1.2 to 1.4 in). The concrete mix differs slightly between the pad and the bunks. "We just use your proverbial basic, normal mix for both. A lot of fellows use 24 MPa (3500 lb) and others feel that's too strong and go for the
21 MPa (3000 lb)," Carver explained. "For the pad, we add fiber mesh to strengthen it. It needs to be stronger because clients will be using their big loaders to clean it."
To control cracking, joints are handformed into the wet feed bunk every 3.05m (10 ft). The joints are placed between the fence posts.
Very little is done to finish the bunk. "Our rule of thumb is Proform likes to do top quality work so there's no broom finish on the bunk. It's all magnesium float," Carver said. The pad is either rake-finished or left with an orange peel-like texture to keep the cattle from slipping.
A seven-man crew usually work the feed bunk and pad pours. Three men work behind the machine, a chute man, an operator, a pipe stuffer to put in the fence posts and a foreman.
Poured-in-place feed bunks may be a little more expensive than the other types but the advantages outweigh the extra expense. "Because it's poured on the ground, it sticks to the ground and it's also a pretty heavy structure," Carver said. "It's not like the precast. If you bump that with a feed truck you knock it out of alignment."
Another advantage is the posts for the fence are already in place. "It's just a matter of fastening your rails to the post so your cattle don't jump into the bunk and you're off to the races," Carver said.
Carver credits a lot of their feed bunk success to the versatility of the Commander III. "All you have to do is wash and load it and you're off to the next job," Carver said. "They're just very dependable units."