While it is important how fast a curb machine can pour and how much concrete it can handle to maintain this rate, there are other factors that make a slip form operation productive. The owner is probably looking at the bottom line and wants the most profit while doing high quality work. His superintendent’s job is to make sure this happens. In between these two are the guys and machines making it happen.
Our slip form machines are easy to run, very precise, and will pour at a high speed to get the results needed. But there are several factors that can influence the production that are out of our reach.
The operator and his dump man can make or break a day’s pour. For starters the operator must have the knowledge to set up and run the curb machine using the correct slump. The dump man has to position the ready-mix truck correctly and in a timely manner to avoid any stoppage. But there are other skills both must possess to take the production to the next level.
A good operator will “know his machine”. That is, he will be able to pick up slight differences in either the performance, the sound of the engine, or just a “gut feel” of the way the machine is running. Maybe just noticing that the one leg is sitting slightly lower when he arrives at the jobsite or the way the engine turns over when he first starts the machine, could avoid a problem later that day. Understanding all the functions of the machine, helps develop this “gut feel”. If the operator knows the elevation cylinder has a lock valve that when working properly, won’t allow any oil to leak past, he knows there may be a problem developing in the valve or cylinder that should be checked soon. He also should pay attention to the suspect elevation cylinder during the pour and relay this info to his superintendent.
If the problem turns out to be worse than expected during the pour, the knowledgeable operator will know he can continue, but will have to make sure the sensors are not locked when the machine is stopped, allowing the elevation tube to drift down and cause a dip in the curb. By understanding how the functions of the machine work, the operator can use a work around and avoid a production killing problem. Repairs can be done at a more appropriate time.
There are many other possibilities either mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical which may start out as annoyances, but can lead to serious issues. Some of these may be easy to ignore, but with knowledge of the purpose and function of the component, future breakdowns can be avoided.
The operator is always on the machine, so he must rely on his dump man or ground man for tips on anything odd or wrong from areas he can’t see. The dump man or ground man is able to spot problems with the concrete delivery, string line setup, obstacles in the track line, or machine issues under the machine that the operator can’t see. If noticed in advance and relayed to the operator, a plan can be devised to avoid or work around the issue without any negative affect on production. Here again some understanding of the operation and function of the machine regarding job site conditions is required by the dump man.
The operator must be aware that these work arounds don’t become the norm. They must be temporary fixes. The superintendent must be made aware of the potential problems, so he can schedule repairs right away.
To get the knowledge to “Know Your Machine”, the operator needs to thoroughly read the machine manual, ask the company mechanics how certain components work, and attend any school or classes offered on the machine. He can also call the Miller Formless service department and talk to a service rep to discuss any issues and get expert advice on what steps to take.