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Elematic’s E9 optimizes hollow core for Colonial Precast

Located in Placida, Fla., a small community on the state’s Gulf Coast, Colonial Precast Concrete continues its more than two-decade tradition of utilizing Elematic machines to produce custom precast hollow core. With the purchase and installation of Elematic’s E9-1200e extruder in March 2017, Colonial Precast is able to pour multiple thicknesses—8-, 10-, and 12-in. hollow core planks—and rips with one power unit. Since installation, the company has used it exclusively for a timeshare expansion project in Kissimmee, Fla. (see sidebar on p. 58).

Launched in 2014 (“Elematic extrusion technology: Automation, speed, concrete optimization,” Concrete Products, April 2014), the Extruder E9-1200e combines shear compaction for concrete savings and marked surface smoothness improvement; a modular design able to change thicknesses in half the setup time; and, a unique digital control system. The E9 can record production data as it extrudes slabs, and interfaces readily with MES, Elematic’s plant-wide manufacturing execution system. This opens up the possibility of plant-wide automated production, including software for enterprise resource planning (ELiPLAN), batching and mixing (ELiMIX), concrete distribution (ELiDIST), machinery positioning (ELiPOS) and tools for CAD integration and maturity control.


The E9-1200e was designed for continuous production. It’s a robust machine with a long lifetime—mainly because it does not vibrate. It is sturdy and durable, fast to clean, and easy to maintain. “[Elematic has] made a lot of improvements for when you need to replace [parts],” notes Mike Lewis, production manager for Colonial Precast. “[You] don’t have to pull the shafts completely out to get to the screws or tubes off of it. They got rid of all the rubber bushings they used to use for the leveling plate, everything is on sling rods now.”

The company has poured with the E9 in all types of weather, including during Florida’s hot summer days with temperatures inside the machine reaching up to 157 degrees. Despite the elements, the machine has run consistently at the same speed with no major repairs. In fact, Colonial has poured around 320,000 square feet of hollow core in 10 months with the E9 and has only replaced one chain.

A testament to Elematic as well as Colonial Precast’s mechanic, the company has Elematic machines in the yard dating back to 1998 that are still working. Along with the E9, Colonial also has two E-900 extruders that produce 10- and 12-in. and 8-in. hollow core planks, respectively, and two E-600 extruders that produce 6- and 8-in. planks, respectively. The machines help the company achieve 50,000 square feet of hollow core a week, if all 12 of its casting beds—ranging from 1,000 feet to 450 feet—are poured.

“We’ve always had Elematics in here,” explains Ron Heilbron, PE, president and CEO of Colonial Precast. “Given the geographical location—west coast of Florida—being an outdoor plant, [the E9] is the best machine out there right now for us. We’ve had other machines in here that were good machines but they would never run as fast. And it was either they were used to a harder stone or bigger stone. If you took those machines to the Carolinas, they would probably be just as good [as the E9], but for us here, this was the perfect fit.”

Working one shift Monday through Friday, the company splits its production with the E9 in two phases: 25,000 square feet of hollow core one week, and 20,000 square feet a second week with a week off in between each phase. The machine provides high casting speed with Colonial noting that it averages 65 inches per minute consistently. The company also produces 4- to 16-in. solid precast slabs, precast stairs, inverted T beams, ledger beams, and spandrel panels within its 20-acre production yard.


PHOTO: Winter Park Construction