One of the things we do here at Indigo is handle some pretty large and fairly complex pieces of equipment. One of the biggest and most complex are cement mixers. Front discharge or rear discharge, they present a challenge that requires everyone on the team to work not only hard, but to work smart.
Usually, we can turn around a mixer in about 7 business days, but that can vary by a few days on either side of that timetable.
A mixer is a machine that gets a tough workout every day. Mixers carry lots of weight, and hauling a material that is both heavy, wet and turns into a rock once dry presents challenges to equipment and maintenance. The machines are also expensive, so refurbishing saves money by lengthening the working life of the mixer.
In many cases, when a mixer comes to us for work, it’s being pulled out of service, although some come during the coldest months when demand for concrete is lower. Because they are being pulled from service, this means the time it’s in our plant matters to the owner, every day it is not on the road hauling concrete it costs them lost revenue.
There are four basic steps to re-painting a mixer. Power washing, sandblasting, painting and vinyl installation. Each step usually involves prep and/or masking work as well, but these steps are the core of our process.
We start with a comprehensive power washing of the entire mixer. At least a day, sometimes a day and a half, we work to get everything clean and out of the way for blasting. The accumulated road salt, rock chips, cement remnants, grease, grime and general dirt have to be removed so the blasting crew can see the paint, mask the brake lines and all the other areas that need to be protected from abrasive blasting. Included in prep is removing taillights and other parts that will either not get blasted or painted, or both.
Truck rims sometimes need redone also. Nearly all mixers have several axles that can be raised when the mixer is empty and lowered to spread the load when the barrel is full. If they wheels are steel rims, the customer may want them blasted and painted. If their on the lift axles, it’s simple, but if they are on the drive or steer axles it’s tougher as you need to remove them one or two at a time at various stages to get them done, so that adds an element of challenge as well.
After washing, we move it to the blast booth for paint removal. Depending on the brand, the customer needs, the layers of paint and the overall condition and age of the mixer, this can take between a day and a half to three days to get down to a paintable surface. Once blasted and inspected, it is rinsed off for paint prep work to begin.
Additional masking takes place, depending on color schemes, this might have to be done two or three times. Masking completed, it is driven into the paint booth and priming and painting commences. Given the style and colors, painting can take another day and a half to three days.
Painting complete, it’s time to reassemble, and if the customer requires it, to install the vinyl color trim, company logo and name, and any other USDOT and PUCO information on a mixer.
Start to finish, mixers utilize many of our basic services, and done right, once finished are ready for years of good looking road service for their owners.