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Leveling Off

An Application of the High-Density Polyurethane Injection Foam Proves to be a Successful, Cost-Effective Solution for the Stabilization of a Slab Supporting a 34,000 lb Boring Machine

When a structural problem arises that could potentially hinder, delay, or even completely halt operations and productivity inside a factory, the company operators tend to be hasty when coming up with a resolution. So much so, that said company is willing to break the bank in order to get operations back up and running as soon as humanly possible.

When dealing with uneven concrete slabs, building operators often opt for slab replacement. In other words, they’d rather replace the unsound slab before repairing it. The reasoning behind this decision might derive from the fear of a contractor merely patching the problem as opposed to fixing it, thus generating further, more costly problems down the road. However, once operators become aware of the effective power of polyurethane (PU) foam in reinforcing concrete slabs, they often rule out slab replacement altogether. But since most people don’t know about the ability PU foam has to level concrete, it’s up to the specialists to become educators. This was precisely the case during the award-winning concrete leveling project that took place at one of Ruhrpumpen, Inc.’s machine shops in Hampton, Virginia.

Characterized as “an innovative centrifugal and reciprocating pump technology company,” Ruhrpumpen, Inc. provides operators of pump systems a wide range of quality products and is
vertically integrated with its own pump manufacturing plants, service centers, and machine shops. At their Virginia-based machine shop, Ruhrpumpen, Inc. encountered a major issue when a newly installed 34,000 lb. piece of machinery inside their facility was getting out-of level on a weekly basis. Aside from an apparent structural problem, the machine’s work production was greatly diminished after it went into an automatic shutdown. This was due to the machine’s programming, which required the machine to be calibrated down to precisely 1/1000th of an inch to perform its work. The change in elevation caused by the unstable slab underneath prompted the machine to go into an automatic shutdown that could not be overridden, which rendered the machine out of commission until the precise elevation was restored.

To rectify this, Ruhrpumpen, Inc. initially entertained the idea of a slab replacement, which would have entailed disassembling the 34,000 lb. machine, jackhammering out the existing concrete slab, stabilizing the subsoil, pouring a new slab, and finally reassembling the machine – this translated into nearly a four-month-long process that would have resulted in excessively expensive downtime that Ruhrpumpen simply could not afford. That’s when they consulted with RPC Industries’ JACKCRETE division. JACKCRETE Solution Specialists arrived on site and, upon inspection, determined that the underlying problem was loosely compacted soil coupled with voids beneath the slab, confirming the need to stabilize the slab from any further settlement. JACKCRETE then created a mock-up of the application using their in-house estimating software and calculated the required amount of PU foam that was necessary to complete the job. After assessing the situation, JACKRETE brought an alternative solution to the table.

“We offered the idea to stabilize the underside of the machine’s area using a specialized polyurethane foam,” said JACKCRETE’s Bryan Heldreth. “We were able to convince Ruhrpumpen, Inc. that they had a great chance of success of resuming their operation by way of this method, which was cost-effective and would significantly reduce their downtime.” After a couple consultations, they gave JACKCRETE the green light.

“Planning beats execution,” said Heldreth. “We did a lot of research and pre-engineering before we went ahead with the application and this allowed us to mitigate any potential challenges and complete the project even faster than we previously had imagined.”

On the day of execution, the fiveman JACKCRETE crew set up a grid pattern around the affected areas that constituted the drilling of 50, 5/8-inch holes through the facility’s epoxy flooring all the way down to the underside of the concrete slab. They set down plastic bags over each drilled injection point to protect the epoxy flooring during the polyurethane foam injection process. The crew then proceeded to inject 12 lb. JACKCRETE-formulated polyurethane foam through the holes and into the underside of the slab using a modified Graco GX-7 plural-component spray gun connected to a Graco Reactor E-30 proportioner. Six hours and one injected set of foam later, the project was done. While the JACKRETE team worked, the rest of the facility remained opened. Barring the machine’s individual stagnated operations, there was virtually no downtime at the facility.

“The polyurethane foam was able to stabilize the slab without having to lift it,” said Heldreth. “Our solution resulted in a major cost savings to the customer when compared to the expenses of breaking down revenue generating machinery for an extended period of time, tearing out, and pouring a new concrete slab. We were also able to reduce the downtime of the machine from a few months to a few hours. Couple that with the convenience factors such as less disruption, less noise, less downtime, and quicker installation.”

JACKCRETE backed the results of the application with a special 1/1000th of an inch guarantee on their two-year warranty, which appealed to Ruhrpumpen, Inc.’s management prior to moving forward with this approach. Notwithstanding, the results delivered; a solution was provided; the machine resumed operations and has been working steadily since the injection foam project took place; much to Ruhrpumpen, Inc.’s delight. According to Heldreth, Ruhrpumpen, Inc. was so satisfied with results of the foam that they have plans to utilize JACKCRETE again to have additional slabs stabilized as part of their expansion plans. Moreover, JACKCRETE has followed up with Ruhrpumpen, Inc. regularly for status updates and received nothing but positive feedback. “This is a prime example of a polyurethane foam success story,” said Heldreth. “Since we completed the application, there have been no setbacks in the machine’s operations and 0/1000th of an inch of settlement in the slab.”

JACKRETE’s work on Ruhrpumpen, Inc.’s Virginia facility was recognized during the 2016 SPFA Sprayfoam Convention & Expo, as JACKRETE took home the first-place award in the category of Specialty Application

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