Updated: Mar 29
When using cast-in-place concrete it is a much slower process because of the weather dependency. Contractors have to check the forecast each time before mobilizing to the site, digging and shoring holes, excavating, constructing rebar, and pouring the concrete. This can cause many delays which can lead to longer equipment rentals and increased labor hours. With precast, contractors only need to excavate and backfill. The process becomes simpler which leads to less downtime and costs.
You should use precast concrete in construction because you are getting a product that is being manufactured in a controlled environment. When contractors have to cast-in-place, they have to rely on what labor shows up that day to get the job done. It may be a general laborer whose specialty is not tying rebar. In a precast concrete plant, crews specialize in job functions like reinforcement, batching, placing, and finishing concrete. They understand the intricacies of rebar placement, plane placement, and coverage because they are specifically trained for that crew. With a quality control team, there is a guarantee that the product is of the highest quality because it is inspected before the pour, after the pour, and before it leaves on the truck.
Unlike precast, for cast-in-place weather interruptions play a big part in quality because a surprise shower can introduce unneeded water into the concrete mix. This can cause strength reduction, surface bleeding, scaling, damage, and an underperforming product. In the field, if there is bad consolidation from improperly vibrating, nothing can be done to fix this issue because it is already casted-in-place. With precast, the product arrives on site to be inspected and immediately used.
Our friend, Claude Goguen with NPCA, has the perfect analogy. There are two ways to build a fence. You can buy, inspect, measure, and cut each piece of lumber then assemble the lumber into a fence and install it. The other option is to purchase pre-fabricated fence sections where all you need to do is inspect the sections and then install them. The first option is a representation of cast-in-place, and the second option is precast. With precast, you can remove the tedium of measuring and assembling raw materials which results in a much quicker installation. Gainey’s has witnessed projects that have been installed in one day that was estimated to take a month if cast-in-place option had been chosen.
As a precaster, we have to maximize the use of our molds. Through chemical admixtures and tight controls over our mix design, we can strip our forms quicker while still ensuring high compressive strength. When compressive strength increases, so does density. By controlling the environment, we assure a precise cement to water ratio that increases density and reduces porosity. With these two components, durability is amplified. This means that the products will last longer, and chemicals and water will severely struggle to infiltrate.
Performance is an accumulation of everything listed above. Precast is the whole package: reduced downtown, quality manufacturing, rapid installation, and durability. With all of these aspects combined, the product has a 50+ year service life. Contractors are putting their dollars towards a solid investment when using precast. It is a product that will outlast and outperform its counterparts.
Want to learn more about the amazing uses of precast? Gainey’s would love to present to you and your team some case studies where we helped convert cast-in-place projects to precast which helped contractors save money and time! Contact us to book a lunch n’ learn. Visit our lunch n’ learn page to see other topics we present on.