Mobile Concrete Mixing Plants can aid recovery in Zimbabwe’s national rail network upgrade.

Mobile concrete mixing plants are eminently suitable for use in the renovation or rebuilding of railway networks and no less so in Zimbabwe. The current board of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is being restructured in order to revamp the strategic entity and should be completed by October 2020. This exercise forms part of a number of initiatives the parastatal is pursuing in order to turn around its fortunes and to recapitalise operations, aligning with the country’s Vision 2030 initiative.

How do concrete batching plants assist railway construction projects?

From 2015 to 2019 Blend Plants International assisted the London Underground to slab track the underground line, between Baker Street and Finchley Road, without closing the line for two years. Success was achieved due to innovative technological versatility and the Blend specially automated plant 17m long with a carrying capacity of 15 m3.

Whilst a similar requirement is unlikely to be needed in Zimbabwe’s plan to upgrade the railway system, BLEND Plants’ horizontal silos can be loaded onto inter-connected railway wagons or trucks and work in tandem with the mobile concrete mixing plant in order to operate on any site (at any time) with concrete preparation done as needed.

Concrete slabs and Railway tracks – a modern partnership

A traditional track structure supported rails on wooden cross-ties, partially embedded in a stabiliser of crushed stone or other aggregate, resting on a foundation of varying load capacity. However, due to the limited availability of hardwoods for the ties, rail technology has advanced to using precast or cast-in-place concrete slabs.

Although the concrete ties are more stable and durable than wood, they can still deform due to constant load and natural degradation, so periodic upkeep is required for proper surface and alignment.

As both road and rail maintenance in Zimbabwe has not been done for many years, the rail network now faces huge resource issues. Technology has, however, progressed during the wasted years, so contractors involved in the redevelopment of the rail system (passenger and transit) are able to take full advantage of the new advancements.

Southern Africa, like most of Africa outside East Africa, uses the same gauge, the Cape gauge, which is about three quarters of the standard gauge used in most of Europe, America and Asia. Zimbabwe will thus be able to rehabilitate a regional rail grid with the same wagons running from ports in five countries into the whole of SADC. Huge volumes of concrete will be required, as will the latest equipment and technology to enable the restoration to be done effectively.

Using Blend’s mobile mixing plants’ railway solution

As the Zimbabwean railway infrastructure will require vast kilometres of upgrade, mixing plants will have many advantages by being located on the relevant site (and can even service multiple sites in near proximity):

  • Separate hoppers for the different materials enable the pre-designed mix to discharge the relevant proportions without machine downtime.
  • Blend’s all-in-one mobile concrete batching plant provides versatility with the available selection of concrete, cementitious mixtures, sand filling and even cold asphalt.
  • The easy-to-use feeder and loader do not require multiple operators on site.
  • As this kind of plant is lighter and safer than traditional concrete mixing plants (especially when compared with premix units), efficiencies are improved and wastage of materials can be reduced.
  • As BLEND plants only require 70 litres of water for full cleaning, environment impact is minimised.
  • BLEND’s S-Series horizontal silos are available in different widths so are adaptable to the narrower Cape gauge which is the standard track in Zimbabwe.

Innovation is a fundamental feature of Blend Plants Africa, paying attention to all aspects of the construction industry. Their professional teams recognise customer challenges and needs, leading to the development of solutions that will beneficially impact such activities.  Blend Plants’ goal is to offer equipment that will improve the quality, the efficiency and, particularly, the profitability of all their customers’ projects.

MMI’s BLEND Plant solutions can cater for a wide choice of applications whether it be stabilisation cement, bridge mix, laboratory specified mix, colour cement, backfill, cold asphalt or standard concrete. Contact Blend Plants for more information on your specific needs.