There are two types of ready-mix plants. A central mixing plant uses a stationary mixer to mix the concrete. The concrete is then transferred into the transportation vehicle. A truck mixing plant places all unmixed dry materials into a truck mixer. Water is added and mixing is then done in the truck. Many central mix plants have the ability to bypass the stationary mixer, thus making them a hybrid of the two types. Truck mixing plants are simpler and less expensive than central mix plants because they do not have a stationary mixer. This is important because less machinery means less potential problems. For long trips the dry materials can be held in the truck until it reaches the site where water is then added and mixing can be completed. The advantage of central mixing lies within the fact that a mixing truck can hold more completely mixed concrete than unmixed concrete. This means that there can be more concrete delivered with fewer trucks.
Besides a few small exceptions, all mixing plants have the same basic layout. The plants consist of aggregate storage, cement/pozzolan storage, batchers (aggregate batching, cement batching, water and admixture batching), dust collection system, feed system, and some sort of mixer (truck mixer or stationary mixer). Due to modern technology, the ready-mix plant can be operated from a remote location. A batch operator uses video equipment and computer systems to control the crucial areas of the plant.
All systems in a ready–mix plant must be constantly regulated to ensure that all specifications will be met. If a specification is not met, the desired concrete may not be achieved. Faulty concrete can cause significant delays on any project. This could cost the owner money and future business. The owner of the plant is responsible for meeting all environmental and safety regulations. As for all heavy machinery, operators must be educated about the hazards associated with the machines in order to operate them safely and effectively.
The ready–mix concrete industry has been active for nearly ninety years and will continue to flourish long into the future. There have been some technological advancements, but the basic idea remains the same.