Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Small Certification

Over a few months around the end of 2014 / start of 2015 we gained four National Small Series approval documents from the United Kingdom Vehicle Approval Authority, the VCA. This means that Schwing Stetter (UK) is:
"able to prepare for vehicles built in full conformity with this approval to be presented for registration."
The four certificates were for DAF, Mercedes, Scania and Volvo and mean we can mount mixer drums on these chassis and do all the bodywork with the national authority confident that the work will be carried out to the standard required for registration.

The actual certificates are three pages long and we decided it would be nice to display these, together with the vehicles they refer to. These four displays, shown above, now sit proudly in our board room.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

All Lined Up

A long-standing client of ours, Easymix Concrete recently decided to all get up very early one Sunday morning and get some promotional shots of their fleet including Volumetric Truck Mixers and Concrete Pumps. They also made a short video of the exercise (above) which really looks rather good. It turns out that their marketing guy, Ben, also has a background in video production.

It was a big event for the company. They gathered all of their vehicles very early on the Sunday morning and drove across their hometown of Croydon. The whole company came out in force to show off the growth of the business over the last 10 years, and friends and family joined them in the yard for lunch afterwards.

As Ben told me, as well as general promotion, the reason for this was that seeing as their fleet has grown in size so much, they were curious to see how it would look altogether on the road. What is particularly heart warming is that every concrete pump in the fleet is a Schwing. For the record that's four Truck Mounted Static Pumps and one S20 Mobile. Here they are on the right (taking pride of place...)

It's great to see our customers doing well and reaching such important milestones.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Fulfilling A Tall Order

Over in Saudi Arabia, what will be the tallest building in the world is currently under construction. Kingdom Tower in Jeddah will be over 1km high which is taller than four Canary Wharf towers standing on top of each other. It will house over half a million square metres of floor space across 240 floors. At 120m down, the foundations go deep enough to bury the London Eye or just leave the rooves of the three Barbican residential towers visible.

If you have already guessed that Schwing Stetter will be playing a major role in this development you would be absolutely correct. Indeed Schwing Stetter construction equipment and expertise is being used across the board.

To avoid long drives and unpredictable delays in the concrete supply, the concrete is being provided by two on-site Stetter HN 3.0 Batching Plants. This is being pumped through 3,750 meters of pipeline by four Schwing SP 8800 D stationary pumps and placed by five Schwing Separate Placing Booms (3 SPB 35 and 2 SPB 30s). There are also four Schwing S42SX, truck-mounted concrete pumps.

Pumping concrete to these heights means that equipment will be working at pressures significantly above 200 bar. Every part of the pumping equipment, delivery line and fastening equipment will need to be reliable and durable so as to handle this pressure with high output volumes for the long period of time it will take to complete this project. This is when it's good to know about Schwing Stetter's reputation for reliability.

Given that a Schwing pump holds the record for the highest ever vertical pumping distance, it is perhaps not surprising that Schwing Stetter was asked to provide equipment and expertise for this work. For more details please see the full news story on our website.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Everyone Happy

Leading concrete frame specialists MPB Structures have just taken delivery of four new Schwing Concrete Pumps. MPB have been in the industry since 1987 but have only recently been a Schwing Stetter client, having previously sourced their concrete pumps elsewhere.

Having purchased a Schwing S36X late in 2014 and received it in early January 2015, they were so happy with the equipment and level of service from Schwing Stetter (UK) Ltd, that they placed further orders for a Schwing SP1800D tier 4i, 2 more S36X’s and an SP2800D. All have now been delivered.

Everyone here works very hard to ensure our customers get the best possible service and equipment and it is very fulfilling when this is recognised by our customers through further orders.We are extremely happy to be working with MPB who have invested in a broad range of Schwing Stetter technology and we hope this is the beginning of a long lasting partnership.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Good Investment

Yesterday we were officially recognised as an Investors In People accredited company.

According to the Investors in People website: "Investors in People signals an organisation that puts people first." 

What this means for us is the recognition that Schwing Stetter (UK) values its employees and wants to see each member of the team reach their potential. It was also an opportunity to tighten up and formalise some of our internal processes.

The whole process began last year with an initial induction and staff interviews. Then with expert guidance we went through the process necessary to achieve the core standard. In many ways this just meant formalising things we were already doing. The very low staff turnaround rate already showed that people here feel valued and generally 'invested in'.

Some of the things that needed to be evident were staff:

  • being aware of their management line
  • feeling happy to contribute ideas
  • having the opportunity to progress in their career
  • having the opportunity to receive training
  • understanding where the company is going
  • having opportunities to discuss targets, achievements, shortcomings and possible solutions
  • not turning up each day just feeling like a number

Demonstrating all of these and other things has taken a short while but it has certainly been worthwhile for the company. It is also good news for our clients who can see that our staff care about the company, the products and service they are offering and the clients who benefit from them in the end.

You can see this and our other accreditations on the accreditations and memberships page of our website.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Why Pump Concrete?

The continuing refurbishment of the offices continues to yield items of interest. A few months ago we filled up a bunch of boxes with 'inessential general office stuff' (for want of a better phrase) and packed them away in storage. We recently brought them back and had a bit of a sort through, unearthing a not insubstantial collection of corporate videos.

Not wanting to lose these historical, if not interesting corporate records, we thought we'd transfer them to DVD.

old Schwing Stetter video tapesThe first of these, which can be seen above, is 'Why Pump Concrete', a 1990s 10 minute justification of using concrete pumps for building projects. All the concepts still apply today, but what is interesting is that the advantages of pumping concrete needed to be pointed out, indicating they were not so self evident back then as they would seem today.

The collection of videos contains a fairly wide scope of material including some interesting short documentaries about tunnel building, assembling a Stetter Compact Batching Plant, a 'catwalk' parade of Schwing Pumps in front of a cheering crowd and how to service a flat gate valve, right through to one which started with a promising soundtrack but soon became a not-so-riveting 15 minutes showing a chap shotcreting a wall.

Most if not all of these will make their way onto our dedicated YouTube channel so feel free to subscribe if all of this sends you into shivers of anticipation...

The promised Utiform video is still in post production (these things do take a short while) but should be ready in the not too distant future. (Keep watching this space...)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Boom's Eye View

Rob from R Pomphrett Pumping very kindly sent me some images recently including this spectacular shot from the top of his Schwing S24X boom.

He was using the pump to pour the footings for his own home extension in September last year and had a mate helping him out who had brought a GoPro camera with him. So while they had the opportunity they gaffa-taped the camera to the end hose, set it to take a shot every 30 seconds and extended the boom fully upwards.

They ended up with numerous good shots - this was about the best one. (Click on the image for an even bigger version.) What a great picture!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Blast From The Past

This week we are moving the server to a new home in what was the stationary cupboard (as part of the downstairs refurbishment). So last week we were cleaning out the old stationary cupboard and as you can imagine, there were things hidden away in there that hadn't been seen for ages.

One such little nugget was this pile of promotional ash-trays, back from a time when handing out promotional ash-trays was an entirely acceptable thing to do. They came emblazoned with out telex number(!) and our phone number beginning with the area code 01. I'm sure this had become 0108 by the late 1990's and I think there was an 081 version since around 1990. That makes these at least 25 years old!

As expected this was from the time when we were still Burlington Engineers and wouldn't become part of the Schwing Stetter group for at least another 16 years (see more about our company history here).

Of course we were still working with Schwing pumps back then. In fact we had been doing so since before 1962 when we were made the UK and Irish distributor for Schwing GbmH. Compared to that length of experience, this ash tray is positively modern!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Hope For A Schwing From Above

Andrew at Camfauds Concrete Pumps recently alerted me to a story in The Construction Index about the building of a wind farm in Scotland, featuring a really good aerial shot (thanks to 360 Aerial Imagery Ltd) of the works. What was interesting to us was the two Schwing concrete pumps also in shot doing the work.

Scott, our chief engineer here was able to look at the picture and straight away identify them as a Schwing S34X and a Schwing S39SX. He even knew who they belonged to.

The actual story was about Hope Construction Materials having supplied the concrete for the foundations for 19 new wind turbines at Aikengall II Community Wind Farm, East of Edinburgh. The turbines, set to be commissioned in August 2016 will stand 145 metres tall and apparently be amongst the tallest in the UK and will collectivly generate 68.4 Megawatts of locally sourced energy, supplying more than 42,000 homes.

Hope provided almost 12,000 cubic metres of ready-mixed concrete from their Dunbar and Dalkieth ready mix plants for the project being built by renewable energy specialists Community Windpower Ltd.

It would seem Schwing Stetter was helping out too, pumping and placing the concrete.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Beer and Browse

The London Build 2015 Expo took place at the end of last week and I thought it might be worth a quick visit. So I headed over to the old Millennium Dome on Friday afternoon to see what the great and the good of the UK Construction industry had to offer.

I was interesting to wander round and see the various businesses touting their wares and services but I have to say the show itself scored a real winner with the offer of free beer and wine!

The overall show was not as big as I had expected it to be and there were no exhibits dedicated to concrete pumping - I suppose it is rather a niche market, even within the confines of the construction industry.

However it was a pleasant way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Shut It

As part of our drive to modernise the workshop, yesterday saw the replacement of the decrepit old roller shutter with a brand spanking new one.

The battered old manual door (now a pile of scrap - pictured left) which took up extra space poking horizontally into the workshop when open has now been replaced with an all singing, all dancing (well all rolling anyway) new version (pictured right), bring us rolling into the 21st century, at least as far as entrance to the workshop is concerned.

All the better to present new concrete pumps and mixer trucks to the world from...

Update (12th June)

I had a message from a reader yesterday posing what I suppose is a fair question. He asks:
"does the new roller door in the workshop have anything to do with the tricks with the 36X a few weeks ago?"
He was of course referring to the demonstration of the flexibility of the boom on a Schwing S36X as shown here.

The answer is of course no! Our engineers are quite adept at manoeuvring large pieces of equipment about and pump booms is one of their specialities - as you would expect!

The old roller door has needed to be replaced for quite a while. It was costing money in maintenance and repairs and it's time had come.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Evolving Concrete Show

Last week I popped in to see the newest London concrete-centric exhibition, Evolving Concrete. This was held in the Business Design Centre in Islington so it was relatively easy to reach (being that I am based in London).

What was nice about this one was that it was being put on by the Concrete Society itself rather than an 'events organisation'. So it was conceived with the specific needs of the industry in mind.

It was a fairly small affair - the picture above more or less shows the extent of it. However I did speak to some interesting exhibitors about various aspects of concrete and particularly, as the name would suggest, how concrete and its production is evolving. One of the most interesting nuggets of knowledge I picked up was about cement-free concrete which uses ground blast furnace slag in place of Portland cement plus a special additive. My second (but main) question was, "Does it react the same way to plasticisers, retarders and other admixtures?" - or in essence, is it just as easy to create a batch to send through a concrete pump? According to the gentleman I spoke to, the answer was 'yes'.

The main thing lacking from the show was the big machines you normally see at these things. It was clearly not possible to put a large mobile concrete pump or batching plant on the floor of this particular exhibition space and the only large piece of kit was parked outside across from the entrance.

I think it is good to have a concrete specific show in London - there are certainly a lot of people in the industry working close by. Although it certainly wasn't packed when I was there, which was around the middle of the day on Wednesday.  It was suggested that many people would turn up later in the afternoon when they had finished on their various building sites.

Perhaps the next one will evolve to be at a venue with more scope for larger equipment as well...

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Still Hold The Record

I was recently looking into records for concrete pumping and was pleasantly surprised to find that we still hold the word record for vertical distance pumping of 715m which was achieved using a Schwing SP4000S stationary concrete pump by the team working on the Parbati Hydroelectric Project in northern India back in 2009.

The project was to create two pressure shafts each 1550 m long x 3.5 m diameter inclined at 30° to create a vertical drop of 750 metres. The main contractors, Gammon India Limited, chose Schwing-Stetter to provide all the concreting equipment for the job including batching plants, transit mixers and concrete pumps.

The two tunnels had to first be excavated with a TBM from the bottom up and then a steel liner was installed by lowering each 6 meter section from the top and welding it in place as they went. The surrounding annulus then needed to be back-filling with concrete (around 7,000m³ for each shaft) and this was pumped from the foot of the shaft upwards over a total 1.5km length (and vertical rise of 750m) and into place. We are talking nearly ¾ of a kilometre upwards here!

A total distance pumped of 1½km in a single line push would be impressive in it's own right without even having any vertical component. Setting the vertical record at 715 metres at the same time is astonishing.

The concrete pressure reached was over 220 bar as they pumped to the top section and the concrete at the top continued to flow at 12m³/hr.

What is even more astonishing is that the SP4000 which did the work is a medium range pump and not even Schwing's most powerful model, which is the SP 8800. In addition to that, the only ware parts that needed changing  during the 7,000m³ concrete pour (plus around 2,000m³ of water) were two kidney seals.

To get some idea of the high specification of the machinery we are dealing with here, when cleaning out the pipe with water any gap between the main wearing parts in the pump would have made it impossible to generate the water pressure required. It would have come squirting out of the smallest of gaps. However even after setting such a record pumping concrete, the SP4000 was able to pump water at this pressure - proof of the self-sealing and low wear features of the Schwing ROCK valve.

The Schwing SP4000 not only set the world record for concrete pumping, it took the world record in its stride and kept going! What an amazing piece of engineering!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Schwing Visible From Space

It seems our equipment has been captured by the Google satellites working away in Chiswick last year. If you visit W4 5XU on Googlemaps you will see building No 7 of the Chiswick Park development in the process of being built. Circled above are the low emission Schwing SP2800 static pump and the SPB30 placing boom used to build the new 12 floor, 31,000 m2 building designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners.

Thanks to Andrew from Camfauds who kindly alerted us to this. They were supplying the Schwing concrete pumping equipment to Careys who had the contract for the building.

The structural work was finished earlier this year and building No 7 is currently being fitted out and should be ready for new tenants towards the end of the year.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Reaching Inside

We recently wanted to show how manoeuvrable the boom on one of our S36X mobile concrete pumps is. By way of demonstration we parked it near the entrance to our workshop and poked the boom in through the door to show how easily it can reach into an enclosed space.

As can be seen above the large rotation angle of the tip section (238° since you ask) not only makes it easy to steer the boom into such a space but also increases its flexibility once in place.

As you can also (just about) see, it was positioned using a radio remote (via a Vector control system) - so you can easily position yourself where you can best see what's going on.

I know that I was impressed!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Innovation Award Shortlist

Back in February I mentioned that we had just solved a problem with a bit of innovative customisation regarding the opening of the drum flap on a mixer truck. Well it seems that the client wasn't the only one impressed by the work.

We have been shortlisted for the 'London Innovation of the Year' category of the London Construction Awards 2015.

Its nice to have our work recognised and it certainly shows what a great engineering team we have here. Here is a picture of the finished open drum flap on the truck having now been painted up.

If you want to see it actully working - there are a couple of short videos on our website customisation page here...

Friday, 27 March 2015

Crossrail Video

Back in October last year I was invited to go and visit one of the Crossrail sites where a Schwing pump was being used by Kelly Formwork to pour the concrete 'base' slab inside the rail tunnels. While there I took the opportunity to shoot some video of what was going on. I went back again last week to get some final shots and a couple of extra interviews. Here is the finished edited result...

On the day I was there Kelly Formwork used our SP3500 to pump concrete through over 1.3km of horizontal pipeline, finishing the pour in one of the tunnels and setting a new UK record for concrete distance pumping in the process.

Everyone involved was very pleased with the equipment and service Schwing Stetter had provided - and were happy to say so. It's always good to get positive feedback like this.

It was also really great to have a chance to experience the Crossrail project for myself, walk through some tunnels including under the Thames and see the tunnel development process.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Picture This

Having been building up a stock of pictures of our machines out on site hard at work, it was thought time to start putting some of these on display. Here is the result so far - making one particular wall much more interesting.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Heading Up North

On Friday I headed up North to visit a couple of our machines on site. It was a reasonably early 4:30am set off time which meant I reached Leeds a little after 9 o'clock. They were using a Schwing S39SX to pour slabs in a new medium rise construction near the city centre (see below).

Then it was off to Preston where Lancashire Country Council were using a Schwing S43SX to place concrete under a new section of road which they were widening (see above).

There was a light layer of snow blanketing the countryside alongside the M62 on the way to Preston which helped make the area very picturesque. It looked like a lovely part of the country - even if just from the windows a passing vehicle on the motorway.

Everyone I spoke to was very happy with their Schwing equipment which is always good to hear when you have travelled that far.

Come mid afternoon it was time to head back down to London. I arrived back just after 7pm after a long but pleasant and fruitful day.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Under The Banner

The new 'Built With Pride' banner hanging from the top of the Schwing Stetter (UK) factory roof.

Along with the plates and stickers we recently had made up, we also had a banner made by the same people to hang from the top of the factory. This we hung with pride this afternoon.

Simon Densley putting up the new banner
Simon Densley looking up at the half attached bannerOliver Connell (the company as opposed to the person - although it is his company...) were very kind in lending us their scissor lift for a short while to tie it up there.

When I first unfurled the banner across the floor I was very concerned that it was far too big. I had measured it and knew it to be around the right size to fit in the space we had but it just looked huge close up. Now that it's all the way up there stuck to the roof up I can't help thinking maybe it's a bit too small! Mind you, any bigger and it might not fit properly.

Either way I think it makes a nice edition to the premises...

Monday, 2 March 2015

Some Recognition

One of the Schwing Stetter (UK) truck mounted stationary concrete pumps with 'all the trimmings'

First 'Build With Pride' plate being attached
Having churned out numerous custom built truck mounted static concrete pumps and other bespoke work for customers, Rob our chief welder remarked that it was unfortunate that people who saw them out and about wouldn't realise we had done all the bodywork customisation as well. They'll just think we did the pump but they won't know we started with a truck chassis which needed to be cut down and added everything on there ourselves.

So we've had some plates and stickers made up to let people know. Here is Rob proudly mounting the first such plate onto a customised truck mixer. And here it is below...

First 'Built With Pride' plate attached

Thursday, 26 February 2015


Exhibition hall
Yesterday I caught the train up to Birmingham to visit the UK Concrete Show. It's always interesting to see who else is doing what in the concrete pumping industry; as well as all the other new ideas and technologies across the concreting sector.

Having been very busy we decided we weren't going to be able to have a stall there this year and also one at Intermat in April. Transporting equipment, kitting out a space and all the additional requirements twice in almost as many months was going to stretch our resources a bit far. However it was good to pop up and have a look around.

Exhibition hallHeaving it wasn't. I recognised many of the people wandering around as people who I had seen with stands of their own.

A few of us went up separately. One of our engineers left after an hour.

Still I enjoyed the chance to speak to a few of our clients and catch up with some of our sales and backup guys who are more often navigating their way around the great expansive corners of our country as they make sure all is well with our clients.

For those who turned up in the hope of seeing the Schwing Stetter stand, we will instead be showing off our new series 3 43 metre boom pump, our new mid range SP3800 stationary pump and our new Hi-Lo pressure control system at Intermat in April. See you there!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Open To Ideas

A few mornings ago, Rob our chief welding engineer asked me to get some video of something he had just finished customising.

A client had asked if we could adjust a truck mixer so the drum flap could open all the way up so the mixture could be properly inspected. The answer was of course 'yes' - we are an engineering company after all. So here we have the hydraulic fully opening drum flap on a mixer truck, custom engineered by the Schwing Stetter (UK) team.

Apparently the client was so impressed they have ordered a whole lot more of them!

You can see how it works here below. The first video was taken before the safety guard was attached so you can see the workings. The second is after it was put on.

See more about our customisation on our website here: http://www.schwing-stetter.co.uk/Pages/Customisation.aspxhttp://www.schwing-stetter.co.uk/Pages/Customisation.aspx.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Expert Advice

S61 SX mobile pump with the boom half openHaving arrived early to ensure I was ready for a meeting first-thing about our quotations procedures, I was asked by Scott (our chief engineer) at about 8am if I could go and pick up a chap from the airport. Apparently his flight had been delayed by around two hours and, due to other commitments Andy wasn't able to pick him up at the later time.

Being in Perivale, Heathrow airport isn't actually very far away from us. If there was no traffic it would be a 30 minute round trip. However at around 8:30am? Middle of the morning rush? 30 minutes is almost taken up trying to reach the end of the road!

However, get there I did in the end (with the meeting postponed by a few hours). The chap turned out to be Andre, an engineer who had popped over from Germany (our main office and factory) for two days to help us sort out an issue with a client's machine.

Giving him a lift to his hotel on my way home at the end of the day, I found out it was one of our S61 SX mobile pumps (which is so big that the 5 axle chassis is dwarfed by the only half extended boom in this picture). He had come to sort out a difficult issue to do with the remote control system - which he had done. So now he was about to enjoy a well earned proper British cider or 2 (which he said is difficult to find in Germany) and a rest before visiting the client the next day.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Unknown Problems

Schwing SP3500 stationary concrete pumpA short while ago I was describing my new job to a friend and telling him about the wonders of concrete pumps. It turned out he had recently watched a documentary on concrete pumps and was genuinely interested in the concept. As he put it:
"It's amazing how many solutions there are to problems that most people don't even know exist."
Indeed until I had joined Schwing Stetter I had never really worried myself with the question of how wet concrete got to the top of skyscrapers. And here I am now selling solutions to that very problem!

It just shows how much knowledge there is out there and how little of it each of us have.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Great View

View of the Milenium Dome and surrounding area from high across the river
One of the things I really enjoy about this job is visiting some of the sites where our equipment is being used and in many cases noting how it is being used and how happy our customers are with it.

During one of these memorable occasions I visited a high rise development in Canary Wharf where they were using one of our SP2800 static pumps.

A Schwing Stetter ad featuring view from the top of a high rise developmentThe offer to go right up to the top was too good to pass up. The view was spectacular (as you can see here.)

View of construction site from top of high rise being builtWhile there, I also managed to take this photo looking straight down with the actual pump visible in the picture and a truck pouring concrete into it.

It turned out to be such a great shot that I flipped it around a bit and used it in this ad which has featured in a couple of trade magazines. (You can enlarge these images by clicking on them.)

And yes, the customer was very happy with the machine!

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Schwing Stetter Blog


The Schwing Stetter factory and offices in Perivale, London
I'm Simon Densley and I'm the marketing manager here at Schwing Stetter (UK) Ltd in Perivale, London (or Middlesex if you want to be particular).

As well as upgrading the company website, organising ads to go in trade magazines and ordering branded clothing, there are many interesting things I find my self doing or finding out about in this role.

For a start, the products we sell are amazing. And I'm not just saying that 'cos I'm supposed to be marketing them. What I mean is the whole concept of pumping wet concrete through pipes and the pressures involved is mind blowing. As Hughie Byrne, one of the directors pointed out the other day, a hand grenade explodes at 40bar (which is around 40 times normal atmospheric pressure). Our pumps are pushing concrete through pipes typically at over 100 bar. Our most powerful machine (SP 8800) can push at 243bar. That's some serious engineering.

That means we can push concrete to the top of any skyscraper or the length of any tunnel. And every part of that system, including the steel pipes and the couplings that join them, have to withstand those pressures, not occasionally, but every day for years and years. And they do. Only working with jet engines I think would surpass concrete pumps.

Of course we sell other concrete related engineering products as well including truck mixers, batching plants and recycling plants and they are all astonishing examples of precision engineering in their own ways when you come to know about them.

The other really amazing this here is how good the engineers are at their job. They are so versatile and can seemingly not only fashion anything out of steel but can add some hydraulics to make it do stuff as well!

So seeing as there is so much interesting stuff going on here, it seems the time has come for a Schwing Stetter blog. Enjoy!