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Canadian Crown Jewel

A new major greenfield precast plant at Coreslab Structures’ Dundas, Ontario, operation is taking shape on the fast-track from drawing board to start up

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At the westernmost tip of Lake Ontario, between Toronto and the Niagara Peninsula region in Ontario, the new Coreslab Structures facility in Dundas is on the verge of becoming the flagship plant for the international Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute member firm, with headquarters in nearby Stony Creek, Ontario.
With much of Canada escaping the effects of the economic downturn that has plagued the rest of North America and the world, Toronto and all of southeastern Ontario continue to enjoy brisk expansion as the most densely populated area of the country. As a result of this growth, Coreslab has answered the endless call for additional commercial and multifamily developments with a new 85,000-sq.-ft. structural prestress and precast facility, constructed beside its 70,000-sq.-ft. hollowcore operation. Appropriately enough, both plants are set on a 60-acre site on Coreslab Road.

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The Coreslab Structures Dundas, Ontario, facility features a large-scale, fully-enclosed production plant, custom designed by company leadership working with a team from the design-build firm Plant Architects. Inset, the Dundas plant under construction earlier this year.

The greenfield expansion at Dundas adds to Coreslab’s 17 operating facilities throughout the United States and Canada, spanning from Los Angeles to Miami and Connecticut to Omaha. Dundas is currently the only Canadian production plant. The company has grown through acquisitions over the years, and has made a point to continuously upgrade its facilities, primarily by partnering with Rober Ober & Associates’ design-build firm Plant Architects + Plant Outfitters for its concrete production facility upgrades.

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A view of the Dundas plant’s new production hall with casting beds being installed. The facility will also feature 5-cu.-yd. custom casting buckets for specialty work.

WEATHER WORTHY
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Other features of the Coreslab Dundas plant, which has already begun its initial commissioning, include MPAQ automation technology, a plant instrument air system, an instrument air process conditioner, and an anti-overfill system for bulk powders.

The Dundas facility features a large-scale, fully-enclosed production plant custom designed by Coreslab President Mario Franciosa and a team consisting of son and company Vice President Frank Franciosa and Plant Architects team members Jeff Harper, Jackson Woodruff and Lloyd Garcia. The company has been upgrading its operations over the last several years, standardizing its mixing technology on the Sicoma-brand planetary and twin-shaft mixers; Dundas was no exception, with management selecting a Sicoma MAO 7500 twin-shaft.

The requirement to feed both transit mixed trucks and a carrousel table with two 5-cu.-yd., wet-cast gantry crane buckets rotating under the plant prompted Plant Architects to incorporate the dual-discharge door option offered by Sicoma. This made the discharge of the wet-cast possible to both delivery schemes in a small-enclosed area under the plant.

Batching plant specifications for Dundas included: four bulk powders, for a total of 800 tons of storage; five aggregates, totaling 800 tons of storage; hot-air heating of all aggregates; instantaneous hot-water heating with quick recovery storage tank; holding hopper above the twin-shaft mixer for pre-weighing of batch; automated carrousel to fill one gantry crane bucket while positioning the other bucket for take away by the gantry; full automation for the production of SCC to 150 yd./hour, with automated moisture and temperature readouts; air seals on the shafts of the mixer, equipped with its own automated compressor; and integral design of the plant into a full winterization package.

FAST-TRACK TO PRODUCTION
Once the concrete batch plant was designed, Plant Architects placed the design with several plant manufacturers for competitive bids. Coreslab and the design team decided on a combination of manufacturers for the turnkey installation under Plant Outfitters guidelines. The fast-track construction schedule saw the design-build of the entire facility take place in just one year, from concept to commissioning.

Coreslab chose to have the entire project under a construction management umbrella provided by Schilthuis Constructors, which worked closely with Coreslab management and Plant Architects in directing the trades on the project.

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Part of the aggregate storage system—five aggregates, totaling 800 tons of available storage—is the ISL heater, which heats all aggregate.

In addition to the Sicoma mixer, the Dundas facility features a batch plant from Stephens Manufacturing; MPAQ automation technology; an ISL aggregate heater; KEMCO instantaneous hot-water system; and a mixer washer system and moisture automation from ScaleTron.

As of early September, the batching facility had undergone a complete commissioning and is in the startup and optimization phase as ancillary items—such as an all-weather in-feed ramp and enclosure—are under construction. The formwork and tables are being delivered, and a Mi-Jack gantry crane was recently deployed as well. Commercial products to be manufactured include a range of structural precast and prestress building units and parking garage components.