Concrete may be moved from the point of discharge, generaly a ready-mixed concrete truck, to the place at which it is required by pumping. Concrete pumps apply pressure to a column of fresh concrete in a pipe, forcing the concrete through a lubricated pipe-line. Concrete pumps are often used to reach places that are difficult or impossible to reach by other placement methods. For example, pumping is often used on high-rise projects or deep basements. Pumping is also used when the space available for construction equipment is limited.
The main advantages of pumping over other means of placement are that it is faster and can reach areas that are difficult or impossible to reach. Pipelines can be horizonal or vertical, pass through narrow spaces, travel over or under walls, turn sharp corners etc
There are significant savings in manpower and equipment costs and placement can take place under any weather conditions. Pumping frees cranes and hoists for other construction operations such as delivering materials. Pumped concrete can be easier to handle because the flow of concrete is directed to the exact spot at which it is required, whereas cranes and conveyors deposit large piles of concrete that must be moved manually.
A continuous supply of concrete can help to set a steady work pace for the placement crew, thereby increasing productivity. A contractor can vary the speed of placement or add lines to fit the pace of the job. For large pours, multiple pumps can be set up, allowing several trucks to discharge at the same time.
For the safe use of pumps, Good Practice Guide - Safe Use of Concrete Pumps (2013) can be downloaded free of charge from the CPA website at www.cpa.uk.net. Also see BS 8476:2007 Code of practice for the safe use of concrete pumps.