Iowa Pumper Preferred On the Largest Ethanol Plant in the US
How do you go from being a start-up company six years ago to the exclusive pumping contractor on the largest ethanol plant in the United States? “Well, my wife doesn’t see much of me and I used to think my kids slept all the time, since they would be sleeping when I left in the morning and be in bed when I got home,” explains Shawn Jackson, owner of Jackson Concrete Pumping, Dubuque, Iowa. Not lacking for experience, Jackson has been a pump operator for more than 16 years. He also credits reliable pumping equipment, a dedicated crew of operators and a loyal customer base for his success.
Located in the heart of corn country, the largest ethanol plant in the US is being built in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It is in the early stages of construction and will require 70,000 yards of structural concrete to be pumped in 18 months. General Contractor Vigen Construction, Inc. headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota specializes in plants utilized by the grain, feed and flour industries. Tim Lynch, Vigen’s superintendent on the Cedar Rapids facility said, “Shawn bends over backwards for us.”
The level of service that Jackson provides the project means juggling his three pump fleet to keep his other customers happy. “It is hard to anticipate their needs. If it rains, they don’t need me and then when it is dry we go like heck pumping 600 and 1,000 pours regularly. Or they may switch from a 600 yard pour to a 200 yard pour which can affect the rest of your day,” Jack explains, “You just don’t know from day to day how much concrete pumping they will need on short notice.”
Jackson has been on the project “at least three times a week” since the spring and has pumped everything from four-foot thick mats for process equipment to foundations for conveyors that will handle the grain. “We average between 125 and 150 yards per hour per pump on these mass pours.”
Operating in a three state area within 100-miles of Dubuque, Jackson pumps residential, agricultural structures, commercial and state bridge work. His most recent pump, a Schwing S 41 SX has pulled multiple duties, “I bought the 41 for bridge work, but it has the same outrigger spread as a 39-meter so it is compact and handles the residential pours also.” The pump is the longest boom made by the manufacturer that mounts on a three-axle truck and weighs under 60,000 pounds. It is the pump most often getting the call at the ethanol plant.
“I’ve put more than 20,000 yards through the 41 in four months and it has been very reliable,” according to Jackson, “I’ll leave a 200 yard pour at the ethanol plant and do three residential pours before the end of the day.” He credits the Super X outriggers with the fast set-up and “that little bit of an edge” over conventional outriggers. “I get into tighter spots because the Super X style outriggers don’t stick out in front of the truck. And you get to use all of your boom reach.”
Jackson prefers the Roll and Fold design of the S 41 SX over other style pumps he owns, “It works really well on 98-percent of my jobs and I can train an operator three times faster on a Roll and Fold than a Z boom.” The 4-section 41 meter boom reaches 132’10” horizontally and 120-feet vertically.
Another reason that the new 41 meter is getting the nod at the ethanol plant is fuel efficiency. “There is no doubt that this pump is easier on fuel. We will pump side by side with one of my other pumps and the 41 uses less diesel,” Jackson stated. The standard pumpkit in the 41-meter is the 2525H-5 that utilizes 10-inch diameter material cylinders with 98-inch stroke. “It is like a steady stream of concrete out the end hose with those long stroking cylinders,” according to Jackson, “For every one stroke of my 41, my other pumps stroke two times.”
The slow stroking, fuel efficiency of the 41-meter came in handy when Jackson tackled three slipform grain storage silos on the ethanol plant site. Each structure measured 140-feet high and 76-feet in diameter. Pumping was continuous for seven days straight for each of the 1400-yard silos. Workers fed the slipform from buggies filled by the pump’s boom. “The 4.4-inch pipe on this boom seems to contribute to the smoothness whether I’m pumping a harsh bridge mix or the 4,000 psi structural concrete at the plant,” commented Jackson.
Monitoring the pump’s vital signs on the job is a one man job with the Vector control system supplied with the 41-meter. “I can hear the machine working and if something changes in the sound I can check the readout of pumping pressure on the radio remote box, “ Jackson explains, “On a bridge deck when we are going flat-out it is easy to check hydraulic oil temperatures at the remote box.” Other handy read-outs on the two-way communication system include strokes per minute, PTO rpm and the hopper grate status.
Moving between the ethanol plant, hog pit pumping projects, residential pours and other commercial work means no wasted time between jobs. “I really like the Rock Valve because it cleans up in less time and with less water than the valves on my other pumps,” according to Jackson.
Wasted time is not part of Shawn Jackson’s daily itinerary as he provides the same level of service whether it is a residential pour or the largest ethanol plant in the United States. “One thing I really like about my 41 is that if there is any electrical problem I can pull one lever and finish the pour with all hydraulic function instead of troubleshooting electronics.”
Shawn credits the Schwing dealer, Star Equipment, with facilities in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Waterloo with his decision to buy the S 41 SX. “They are right there for me whether it is a boom inspection, a wear part or service.
Project: Largest Ethanol Plant in the United States, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
General Contractor: Vigen Construction Inc., Grand Rapids, ND
Concrete Pumping Contractor: Jackson Concrete Pumping, Dubuque, Iowa
Equipment: Schwing S 41 SX concrete pump