M Con Products Inc. Upgrades its Concrete Batching Facility in Canada

Concrete pipes and precast concrete products are the mainspecialties of M Con operating in Ontario through their facility in Carp. M Con Products Inc. was established in 1989in Carp, Ontario, but its roots go back much further, all theway to 1956 when Central Precast Inc. was founded in Ottawa. Central Precast Inc. was established to service theOttawa and Eastern Ontario areas with high quality precastproducts. Included were circular maintenance holes, catchbasins and valve chambers. As the City of Ottawa and surrounding areas grew, so did the need for new and innovative sewer infrastructure products, M Con Products Inc. wasfounded with the aim to provide this fast growing marketwith high quality products on time and at a competitiveprice.

When it came time to replace M Con’s aging and under capacity batch plant. M Con reached out to several major suppliers of batch plants. After a thorough review of the proposals for the retrofit of the batching plant that feeds the factoryin Carp, including several trips to investigate solutions andsuppliers throughout North America and Europe, the management at M Con selected the simple and efficient solutionproposed by the MCT Group. MCT’s custom design expertisewas clearly demonstrated throughout the preliminary designdevelopment. Along with ideas and knowledge acquiredfrom the various plants and factories visited during the process of selection of the suppliers, MCT’s convinced the most. 

The complex project included the replacement of the combined aggregates and cement tower plant as well as the aggregates receiving hopper and bucket elevator. Along withthe six new aggregate storage hoppers, two new 180 m3 splitcement silos were also installed. The complex series of screwconveyors has the capacity to feed all four cements into eachof the three mixers, this is extremely important when blendingof various cements is required to meet the ever stringent design specifications. Also part of the retrofit is the aggregateand cement dosing equipment and the concrete distributionsystem from the three planetary mixers to feed six productionpoints.

Further challenges for this project were: the location of thetower in the building layout, the connection with existing supporting framework and civil work. The timeframe for theretrofit, scheduled to be carried out during the winter shutdown of the factory added additional challenges for everyonebecause of the cold and snowy Ottawa winters.

These types of challenges are the specialty of MCT, and theirteam approached the project from the beginning with the aimto design a ‘modular’ solution in order to minimize the installation time and the impact of this retrofit on the existingequipment. Immediately following the handshake for the contract, a team of engineers went to the site to inspect the plantand the structures to be recovered, to check and survey allthe dimensions for the customized design and to organize theinstallation.

The supply consisted of a new primary receiving hopper tobe installed in the existing pit, an 80’ bucket elevator with aggregates dispensing system by rotating conveyor, to the newaggregates storage tower with six compartments for approximately 450 ton total capacity, with extracting devices consisting of both clamshell gates and extracting conveyor belts. Theplant also consists of two aggregates and three cement weighscales with a combination of screws and conveyors to supplythe three planetary mixers. Concrete holding hoppers at each of the mixer discharge gates and a series of conveyor beltswere used to supply concrete to all the production machines.Included in the project, the replacement of the access stairtower to the top of the aggregates storage and the completenew cladding of the tower, which supporting structure are integrated in the plant itself. As typical for MCT, all the structuresand aggregates storage panels are hot dip galvanized.

The aggregates tower in particular is one of the masterpiecesof MCT’s design, with 50 years of experience in this field andhundreds of tower plants installed on every continent. Themodular design, uniquely developed in the MCT technical departments over 30 years ago, allows the installation of thepanels modules entirely on the ground, with minimal use oflifting equipment and in the safest way for the workers. Themodules are then coupled very quickly at no more than 3 mfrom the ground level, so to have the complete ‘cube’ pre-installed on ground, and ready for the lift in its final positioningon the top of the lower structures with the need of importantcranes only for one day. The smart coupling with the lowerstructure is performed by a pin system, which secures the installation in place for the whole aggregates storage module(in this case at M Con a lift of approx. 50 tons) very quick andsafe. 

Additionally, all of the tower accessories are pre-installed atthe MCT factory first (where they are already wired and tested)including the aggregate dispensing system on the top of thetower, with switchboards and conveyors.

After the ‘big lift’ is completed, only the major power feedingconnections have to be performed and the whole system isnow ready for commissioning.

The cladding panels as well are pre-installed on the towerplant module while on ground before the lifting, leaving onlysome roof panels and trim pieces to be installed on the topof the plant when installed in place. This minimizes the issuesof installing the cladding panels at high elevations, which inenvironments such as Ontario during wintertime is a hugeadded value in the installation schedule.

Basically all the work required in the installation of the MCTtowers is then planned to be performed on ground, minimizing all the activities at the elevations of these modules (usuallyover 25 m or 80’) to ensure the optimal and safe working environment for every phase of the installation, as well as thequickest possible time for the plant commissioning.

The retrofit project also included the replacement of the automation control system for the whole plant. As part of thecomplete package offered by MCT, the customized development of the control system was another key component of theproject. The MCT ‘Compumat’ platform integrates both thebatch plant and concrete distribution in the same control system and this special system developed for M Con is composed of a central ‘server’ station located in the central production office and six ‘satellite’ stations located at the production machines. This layout allows the operators working onthe production lines to deal with their portion of the controlthemselves, performing the concrete calls and all the operations from their station. The central reporting platform thencollects all the process information and stores the data in the‘server’ station, which is also a supervision spot connected livewith all its ‘satellites’.

The automatic aggregates and cement loading systems havetheir independent control automations operated by a touchscreen interface and always connected with the central batching system.

“MCT brought an innovative design solution, which satisfiedour complex operation. The overall design is robust, includingthe structure itself, galvanized steel used throughout and topelectrical components”, comments John Mion, Vice Presidentof M Con.

“MCT assembly and installation crews were very knowledgeable and experienced. As expected during a retrofit project,there were unforeseen challenges that arose. The MCT crewswere able to make modifications and decisions on site tokeep the project moving along.

The sales and ownership of MCT were always in contact forsupport throughout the project. 

Through smart design, the retrofit enabled us to increase ouraggregate storage creating efficiencies in the overall production process. It also eliminated the need for aggregate storage bins we had on the ground outside the plant.”

“This is another key plant in Canada”, says Eng. AlessandroDiCesare, MCT General Manager for North America. “The nature of this project is the perfect platform for MCT to create astrong partnership with our customer, who becomes a crucialplayer in our team to develop new solutions based on thechallenges presented by his requirements. We at MCT encourage and support these challenges, working to adapt ourexperience and solutions to the customer’s needs, not theother way around. This ensures long lasting relationships withour clients, and in this case we are very pleased and proud towork with the Mion family.”

Once again, the MCT customized design skills both for hardware and software ensured a successful project, carried outunder important critical requirements such as: design challenges, location of the project, scheduling and organizing ofspecial lifting equipment in addition to the timeframe and duration of the project during the cold winter season.

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