A Guide for Designing Concrete Pump Piping Layouts

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Written By Berry Mathew

Construction Projects have different layouts meaning they also have varying concreting plans, which also suggests differing demands for concrete delivery pipe layouts for concrete pumps. Through comprehensive planning of the pipeline layout, the chances of encountering safety issues are lessened and lessen the burdens of maintenance and troubleshooting. Here are a few points to consider when designing a concrete pump pipe system:

  1. Pipe Diameter

One of the most significant factors affecting concrete pump pressure is the diameter of the pipes used. If a larger diameter pipe is used, less pressure is needed for the concrete pump to deliver concrete. However, the pumping process will require additional labor costs and equipment costs for the additional bracing that it will demand because of size. If the concrete design used in the project is a standard weight, a 5-inch pipe would be sufficient for the job and would lessen the required labor costs. If the concrete mix contains larger aggregates, larger pipes must also be used, considering that low-slump concrete needs a larger cross-sectional area to move across the pipelines without blockage.

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  1. Pipeline Length

In designing a concrete pipeline system, it is general knowledge that pipeline lengths should be kept to a minimum. Aside from the pipe diameter, the pipeline’s length is also a determining factor when it comes to the pressure required from the concrete pump.  When designing the length of the pipeline, the first point to consider is the concrete pump’s location. The pump is supposed to be at a location wherein it has easy access to the concrete mixer or whatever the concrete source is. The challenge is in planning the shortest possible layout of the pipeline from the concrete source to the delivery location. If the distance between the two is too far, there is an option to add more pipes, but it more advisable to set up two connecting systems consisting of two pumps (relay pump) that bridge between the two locations.

When pumping concrete vertically upwards, the increase of potential energy increases the change of flow back. This is why it is very important to install a shut-off valve at the root of the pipelines. Pump manuals usually indicate the required horizontal pipe length, but, in most cases, the required length of the horizontal pipe must not be less than a quarter of the length of the vertical pipe.

When delivering concrete downwards, the shut-off valve must be located at the upper end of the pipeline. The length of the horizontal pipe on the lower level must be five times the source’s elevation. If space is limited, an elbow or a pipe ring could be used to bend the line. Also, it is essential to remember that when procuring pipes for a concrete pump system, the pipes’ interior must be smooth to lessen resistance whenever concrete flows through it.

  1. Pipeline Layout

Before installing the pipelines, it helps to sketch the layout first with notes that include the system’s specifications, such as the pipe fittings, pipe connection details, and the number of pipe elbows needed. This serves as a visual guide during the planning process that allows the designer to accurately come up with the best possible layout that would work for the section worked on.

Elbows are installed when there is a need to change the direction of the delivery flow of concrete. Changing the direction of flow causes the concrete to move slowly along the pipes, creating the possibility of blockages in the elbows’ location. This explains the need to keep the number of bends in the system to a minimum.

Another factor to consider when laying out pipes is how pressure increases, and the concrete flows slower when the concrete passes through a larger diameter pipe to a smaller one. If varying pipe diameters are called for, the best option is to use reducers. When doing so, the longest reducer available would be perfect since not only will it decrease the concrete’s dimension, but it will decrease the required pumping as well.

  1. Fixing the Pipes

Crew members must never fix concrete pipes directly onto reinforcements, formworks, or any embedded parts. For horizontal pipelines, they should be fixed with accessories such as brackets, pads, spreaders, etc., at a safe distance wherein there is space to disassemble the segment in case of blockage or maintenance works. If the pipe is vertically placed, it should be fixed either the wall, column, or on top of the floor with embedded parts. There should also be a single fixed point for vertical pipes, typically on a reserved hole located on each floor. Steel support for vertical pipes must also be prepared to avoid putting weight on elbows on the lower floors. If scaffolding is used as support, it must be reinforced to support the pipe safely.

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  1. Pipe Quality

With high pressures and varying aggregate textures involved, the impact that pipes endure during pumping is harsh. This calls for the need to use the best quality pipes available, which could withstand the pumping conditions. Pipe maintenance is essential to ensure that the pipes do not have cracks, bumps, or bends that may raise safety issues on site.

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  1. Weather Conditions

Assessing weather conditions whenever concrete pumping systems are used is essential to protect the whole pumping system from damage from intense heat or frigid temperatures. It is best to cover the pipes with wet cover cloths, warm grass bags, or similar materials to protect the pipes from extreme heat during hot seasons. During cold seasons, insulation material should be used to cover the pipes to prevent frost build-up.