Concrete Pump Trucks: How They Save You Time & Money [plus a ton of work!]
Updated: Jul 21
If you work on a concrete crew or have ever helped with a concrete pour, you know how backbreaking the work can be!
The job requires you to place rebar, heft wheelbarrows of cement over uneven terrain, and smooth the concrete. Plus, due to the precarious nature of wet cement, it's a race against the clock as soon as the concrete arrives!
Are you ready to start turning out quality concrete jobs in no time?
Let's look at how hiring a concrete pump truck can help you do that.
What is Concrete Pumping?
A regular concrete mixer truck can’t get concrete into all the hard-to-reach places and corners. This means you must cart the wet concrete around in wheelbarrows to get it in all the spots.
That’s both back-breaking and time-consuming!
Thankfully, there is a solution:
A pump truck is a machine that can pump wet concrete into all the nooks and crannies of your job site that mixer trucks can’t reach, saving you valuable time and effort.
A pump truck can easily move concrete over, under, around, and through obstacles and pour it quickly and accurately, helping you maximize your time on the job.
Types of Pump Trucks
There are two main kinds of pump trucks: Boom pumps and Line pumps.
Let’s take a look at each one.
1. Boom Pumps
Boom pumps use a remote-controlled robotic arm (or boom) attached to a truck or trailer to move large volumes of concrete quickly and accurately. The concrete flows through a pipe attached to the boom. A boom pump moves concrete over obstacles and up to second stories.
The truck or trailer has a hopper on the back where concrete mixers can unload their concrete. The hopper churns the concrete with an auger to keep it liquid, and the concrete goes through a grate before it enters the pump to filter out large chunks that could cause a clog in the system.
A boom pump generally stays in one place for the entire pour. The stationary location of a boom pump allows for efficient traffic flow on the job site.
Boom pumps deposit a large amount of concrete in a short time and can move concrete vertically as well as horizontally. They are great for filling up large concrete forms quickly and for maximizing efficient traffic flow on a bustling job site. Because of this, they are typically used for large jobs such as industrial projects and high-rise buildings.
2. Line Pumps
Line pumps (sometimes known as ground pumps) are also mounted on trailers or trucks. Line pumps use a series of steel or rubber hoses to place concrete in hard-to-reach spots. You can snake the hose along the ground to get around corners or down into ditches and transport the concrete far away from the truck without wheelbarrows!
Line pumps work similarly to boom pumps, only without the robotic arm. Both types of concrete pumps use twin-cylinder hydraulic pumps to move concrete from the hopper to the pipe/hose to the prepared destination.
Unlike boom pumps, line pumps are better for big jobs with large amounts of concrete. They are better suited for smaller jobs like swimming pools, patios, low-rise construction, and sidewalks.
However, some larger line pumps can reach hundreds of meters away from the truck and can work for tunneling jobs or high-rise construction.
3. Conveyor Trucks
A conveyor truck is an alternative to a pump truck and is similar but with a different design. Conveyor trucks have long conveyor belts to move concrete and are less expensive than pump trucks.
Conveyor trucks only work for moving concrete horizontally, not vertically. A pump truck is better if you move concrete up and over an obstacle. However, pump trucks can only pump concrete, whereas conveyor trucks can move other materials such as dirt, gravel, small stone, and more.
Which type of pumping truck is best for you?
Boom pumps work best if you:
Are working on a big project
Are working on a project with a second story
Are working on a busy job site with lots of traffic
Need to move a lot of concrete quickly
On the other hand, a line pump is a better option if you:
Are working on a smaller project, such as a swimming pool, patio, or sidewalk
Need to transport materials other than concrete
Need to transport concrete into a basement or through a house
Or, you may choose a conveyer truck if you:
Only need to transport concrete horizontally
Need to move coarser materials like gravel and stone
Pump Truck Operators
Pump trucks require skilled operators. A pump truck is likely the largest, most complex, and most expensive piece of equipment on the job site, so operators must be responsible and well-trained. Experienced operators can earn substantially higher wages than almost anyone else on the job site.
Operators are responsible for inspecting their trucks at the beginning of the day and safely setting up and operating them on the job site. They must clean their trucks and inspect them for the next day.
Operators must also work well with others and maintain friendly and professional relations with contractors.
What to expect when you hire a pump truck
If you hire a pump truck and operator, here's what you can expect:
The pump truck arrives at the pre-arranged time, and the operator prepares it for concrete pumping by finding a good place to park the truck and stabilizing it with outriggers. Then the operator primes the pump, fills the hopper with concrete, and starts pumping.
The operator works with your crew to deposit the concrete where it needs to go. The operator controls the boom with a remote controller, and your team works with the concrete as it comes out at the end of the pipes.
When the concrete pumping is done, the operator cleans the pump and departs, leaving you to finish the job.
Benefits of Concrete Pumping
Hiring a pump truck will make your concrete pour so much easier! In some cases, the job would be impossible without a pump truck.
Here are a few of the things that a pump truck will help you accomplish.
1. Move concrete past obstacles
Many construction sites are obstacle courses, with trash piles, lumber, equipment, vehicles, and people to work around.
You can circumnavigate some obstacles with a mixer truck, skid steer, or wheelbarrow, but some are only possible to get around with a pump truck. After all, you can’t get a wheelbarrow over a wall!
And often, the pour needs to take place in tough spots. Footers are usually in ditches; sometimes, you must get concrete up high on a second floor or roof.
A pump truck makes it easy to transport concrete wherever you need it, all without the back-breaking labor of carting it by hand.
2. Avoid the time crunch
If you've ever received your concrete too soon, you know the panic and pressure it can cause! No one wants to run around frantically trying to get all the drying concrete into place before it solidifies. It can be very stressful!
Luckily, with the efficiency of a pump truck, it’s easy to get all your concrete poured and finished before it solidifies.
3. Save time
Time is money, and a pump truck helps you maximize your work time. Using a wheelbarrow to move your concrete to the corners and hard-to-reach spots takes considerable time and effort.
With a pump truck, you can avoid that extra effort and efficiently complete the job.
4. Save money on labor and equipment
In addition to saving time, pumping your concrete also saves money since a pump truck does the job of many employees.
You will no longer need to haul your concrete everywhere in wheelbarrows! This saves you money on wages as well as carting equipment such as wheelbarrows and skid steers.
5. Pour with precision
Sometimes a concrete mixer truck deposits all the concrete in the right spot, but often there's a corner or two it can't reach. Then you have to haul out the wheelbarrows.
On the other hand, a pump truck can convey concrete to every corner, no matter how odd or inconveniently placed, with ease and precision. The operator can use their remote control to move the boom anywhere it needs to go.
More precision also means less mess. You can deposit the concrete right where you want it, and nobody will be spilling wheelbarrows!
6. Fill tall forms with ease
Pump trucks are very handy if you are filling a tall form for a wall or a pillar. It is often incredibly challenging to pour concrete into a tall, narrow wall form.
A pump truck minimizes inconvenience and makes the pour simple and easy.
7. Keep trucks out of the mud
Most construction sites get muddy and messy. Concrete trucks are massively heavy, and they can’t drive on soft ground, or they will get stuck. Nobody wants to pay for a tow truck to come and pull out a stuck concrete mixer.
A pump truck can stay on safe ground and pump concrete from afar with its specialized hoses or boom.
No tow truck needed!
Plus, keeping out of the mud helps you avoid making a mess out of paved roads, adjacent highways, and the areas around your clients’ homes. Your clients will thank you!
By now, you can see that hiring a concrete pumping truck can save you a lot of time, money, and stress!
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions that you may have about concrete pumping.
Frequently Asked Questions About Concrete Pumping
What does it cost to hire a pump truck?
Most concrete pumping companies charge by the hour. Prices may range from $150-$200 an hour. Most companies will have a minimum rental time, which is usually in the ballpark of 3-4 hours.
Some companies will send an operator along with their truck free of charge, and some will not. Some may charge for the addition of an operator. If you are not highly experienced, it’s best to get an operator. A concrete pump truck is not something to attempt to operate if you don't know what you are doing.
In addition, you will also have to pay for the concrete that the truck pumps. Companies usually charge by cubic yard. Mixed concrete usually costs around $125 per cubic yard.
Can you pump concrete in all weather?
Yes. You can pump concrete in the wind, sun, rain, or snow. You just need to take different safety precautions with different types of weather.
How far can a pump truck reach?
Line pumps can reach almost 500 ft. The boom on a boom pump can generally reach around 235 feet.
Pump trucks can come in different sizes, and you can also get additional extensions for some pump trucks.
Is pumped concrete weak?
For years, people believed that pumped concrete was weaker because it had to have more sand and less large aggregate in it to make it pumpable.
There are lots of factors that go into concrete strength. A pump mix may actually be a better product because it will have better gradation and possibly more cement in it.
Also, today’s pumps can pump lots of different types of mixes.
How fast does a pump truck pump concrete?
Some pumps can pump concrete at a rate of 30 to 100 cubic meters an hour. That’s much faster than carting it around by hand!
What about smaller pumps?
If you don’t need a full-blown pump truck, there are smaller, portable concrete pumps that you could rent or buy.
If you are a small concrete business, you could look into these.
You may also be interested in our blog post on 23 Tools Every Concrete Contractor Needs.
Concrete pumping can save you a lot of time and trouble on the job site!
At Gra-Rock, we don’t want any contractor to experience that panicked feeling of being in a time crunch.
That’s why we offer quality concrete pumping services and reliable operators that will meet your needs.
We’re excited to offer you the many benefits of working with us:
Hundreds of proven mixes and designs
Over 15 years of concrete experience
Quality concrete to ensure longevity and optimal performance
1-2 business day delivery
Available concrete hand tools for rent
We also offer educational resources, including:
Contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you.