Concrete is the cornerstone of modern construction and there’s a lot that goes into ensuring it’s suitability for a project. While many might focus on the concrete mix ratio or the additives, the delivery method actually plays a significant role in the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and overall success of a project. The two primary methods of delivery are volumetric concrete and ready mix concrete, and each comes with its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, tailored to different project needs. In this article, we will dive into the specific of these two delivery methods so that your next construction project can be completed on-time and within budget.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VOLUMETRIC & READY MIX CONCRETE DELIVERIES?

 

Capacity: The load and flexibility

When it comes to capacity, volumetric concrete deliveries offer unparalleled flexibility. A volumetric mixer is essentially a mobile batching plant that combines the sand, cement and gravel materials on the site itself. This means you can produce as much, or as little concrete as needed without worrying about excess or wastage.

Ready mix concrete on the other hand is prepared and mixed off-site and delivered to the site in a fixed vehicle. The obvious limitation of this is that if the project suddenly requires more concrete than was initially calculated or budgeted, then multiple truck deliveries will be required, which can complicate logistics and scheduling, resulting in costly delays.

 

Waste: Minimising the environmental impact

In modern construction, be it on industrial work sites or domestic home renovations, waste reduction plays a critical factor when selecting a concrete supplier and delivery method. Volumetric concrete excels in this area, since it is mixed on-site and is composed of the amount of concrete required for the job. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re working on pouring concrete for foundations, walls or bridges, the precise batching method minimises overordering and excel material, reducing waste and associated costs of disposal.

In contrast, ready made concrete deliveries are more likely to result in excess material. This can be accidental due to incorrect calculations, or purposeful to allow for some margin for error (especially with inexperienced renovators). Overestimating the required volume can also pose problems if the concrete is left to harden in the truck, since this has implications on both cost and environmental impact.

 

 

Flexibility: Adapting to on-site conditions

As stated previously, volumetric concrete provides superior flexibility since it allows for adjustments to be made in the mix design on the fly. If the project specifications change or if the initial mix doesn’t meet the required standards, the operator can easily adjust the proportions of cement, sand and gravel aggregates right there on-site.

Since the fundamental benefit of ready mix concrete is that the mixture is pre-prepared, the clear drawback is that it therefore lacks this adaptability. Once the truck leaves the plant, the mix is set. This means any required changes must be planned in advance, which can lead to delays if the initial batch does not meet the necessary criteria.

 

Time limitations: The race against the clock

Time is of the essence in concrete work. Ready mix concrete has a finite window of usability, typically around 90 minutes from the time of batching to the actual pouring of the concrete. This constraint can be problematic for large-scale work sites with difficult access points or projects that experience unforeseen delays, potentially leading to wasted loads and increased costs.

Volumetric concrete mixers, however, do not share this issue. Since the mixing happens on-site and in-person, effectively ensuing that the concrete is always fresh and usable, regardless of the time taken to reach the site or any delays encountered during the project.

 

Project Size: Matching Method to Scope

For large-scale projects requiring vast amounts of concrete for a single or handful of applications, ready mix concrete is often the go-to choice for site managers and home renovators alike. Its high production rate and the fact that concrete delivery companies support the dispatching of multiple trucks ensure a continuous supply, which is essential for large pours and maintaining project momentum.

Volumetric concrete shines in smaller to medium-sized projects or those requiring precise mixes for different sections of the project. Its ability to produce different mixes on demand makes it an ideal choice for meeting the needs of a wide variety of applications taking place within the same job site, such as pouring concrete foundations, piles, paths and driveways or forming structural elements like walls, flood defences, conservatories, garden rooms and patios.

 

Cost: Balancing Budget and Quality

In some cases (especially with domestic projects), cost can be the most significant consideration of a potential buyer. As we touched on previously, volumetric concrete can be more the more cost-effective approach for smaller projects or those requiring frequent mix adjustments, as it reduces waste and eliminates the need for return trips to the plant. The higher costs associated with this delivery method tend to be

Ready mix concrete, with its streamlined delivery process and economies of scale, tends to be more cost-effective for larger projects making it a favourite of site managers across the UK. Bulk purchasing of raw materials and efficient production processes contribute to the cost savings, which are particularly beneficial for large-scale projects that require significant quantities of concrete. The central batching process ensures consistency and quality, reducing the need for on-site adjustments and potential delays.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CONCRETE FOR YOUR PROJECT

In the battle between volumetric and ready mix concrete, there is no one-size-fits-all winner. As you would expect, the choice depends on the specific needs and constraints of your project. Volumetric concrete offers unmatched flexibility, reduced waste, and on-demand mixing, making it ideal for smaller, varied or remote projects. Ready mix concrete with its consistent quality, high capacity and cost-effectiveness for large-scale pours, remains the preferred choice for major construction endeavours.

 

Ultimately, understanding the unique benefits and limitations of each delivery method will empower you to make the most informed decisions, ensuring your project runs smoothly, efficiently and within budget. Whether you need the adaptability of a volumetric mix supply or the reliability of ready mix concrete delivery, selecting the right approach is crucial to achieving your construction goals.