The common man might think that talking about concrete isn’t very interesting. Let us convince you otherwise (not that you’re part of the common folk, you might be a die-hard concrete enthusiast, but we never know!).

Back to our concrete! (Uh, sheeps)

dalles béton rustica et forestaThe story of a concrete product begins with a touch of magic – YES, a blend of passion and typical Patio Drummond sparkling madness – and a specific need.

Chapter 1 : Ideation

We start by envisioning the product and try to describe it as best as we can to our designers. The initial spark that drives us to create a new product can come from a market need or a specific request from a customer. Once the initial discussion is done, we begin the drawing and 3D planning of the product.

Chapter 2 : Design

Once we have received the plans, we begin designing the mold in which the product will be cast. Molds can be made from various materials used together or individually, such as high-performance plastic, rubber, wood, or metal. Several parameters help us determine which material to use: the size of the finished products, the total quantity to be manufactured, the machine or department that will cast the piece, and the complexity of the pieces.

One of the most important steps in mold design is planning for demolding. We have to think about everything: negative angles, edges of the piece, size for handling, how the reinforcement fits into the piece, if there’s finishing involved, and so on!

This is the stage where we scratch our heads or stroke our beards with a thoughtful air. The mold requires ALL our attention. There’s no room for error when manufacturing multiple products with the same mold!

Once the mold is made, the testing phase begins: it undergoes greasing, and we validate its compliance. This means we cast several pieces and subject them to all sorts of tests. Like Père Fouras in Fort Boyard, we can be quite sneaky and thorough. If the mold doesn’t allow us to create a product that meets our expectations, we start over until we have the perfect product.

Depending on what we have to produce, we may consult an engineer to ensure, for example, that the concrete pieces produced are compliant, safe, and won’t fall on anyone’s head – it has never happened, but we’d rather not take any chances!

Chapter 3 : Production

Our favorite chapter! This is when we start to see the fruit of our labor. We organize the work to be as efficient, ergonomic, and fast as possible. Depending on the pieces being manufactured, we clean and grease the mold. We then place the reinforcement if it’s part of the item. An inspection may also take place at this stage depending on the nature of the piece and the project (we don’t systematically inspect every product because if we take our 18×18 Pavé slab, with over 10,000 slabs per day, we wouldn’t be very efficient!) – However, we inspect balconies that are installed on multi-story buildings several times in the production process.

The concrete placement follows and will require more or less finishing and vibration depending on the type of concrete used for the product (we don’t vibrate our products for fun; it evens things out and removes air bubbles). Here, we work with three types of concrete. We’re pretty proud of that: having three concrete specialties on a single production plan is unique! Depending on the type of concrete, the placement process is very variable; dry concrete is worked a bit like dough for making cookies with a cookie cutter, while hydraulic concrete (more “wet”) is poured into a mold, somewhat like a birthday cake!

After the concrete placement, we let it cure – this can be done in different environments depending on the nature of the product. The curing time (hardening of the concrete) can vary from one product to another, but we usually calculate one day.

Fun fact, during curing, concrete gives off a lot of heat and humidity due to the energy released by the chemical reaction involved in the concrete powder mix (concrete returns all the energy that was needed to make the powder! Long live magic! Or… chemistry!)

Chapter : Finishing

Over time, we have become experts in the manufacture of concrete products. It’s true; Patio Drummond is like the Merlin of manufacturers – afflicted with madness but endowed with immense knowledge! Sometimes, a magician is required to make minor touch-ups or repairs to ensure that we deliver a turnkey product to our customers!

Finishing also means: special requests. At this stage, we take into consideration the needs and requests of our customers, such as sandblasting or the application of a high-performance sealer. We can also proceed with the polishing of certain pieces or the installation of reflective strips to provide additional visibility. As we say, “Sky is the limit.”

Chapter 5 : Packaging and Identification

We try to use as little packaging as possible. Packaging a 16′ x 12′ balcony would require A LOT of wrapping paper. Our slabs are stacked on reusable wooden pallets and then wrapped in plastic film for safe transport. All our products have identification that withstands outdoor storage, allowing us to load and deliver orders quickly!

Storage and handling after production are analyzed and efficiently managed by our specialized handlers. We move large quantities of stock every day: small and large products, the whole gang! We’re fortunate to have several impressive machines (lifts, overhead cranes, etc.) for all types of projects – and let’s not forget, a touch of magic!

Chapter 6 : Transportation

Transporting concrete products isn’t always easy, but we make deliveries all over Quebec every day, and several carriers come to our administrative center to pick up various products. Sometimes we face challenges related to the dimensions of the pieces to be delivered. This is when we call in escort vehicles, flashing lights, and other measures. To comply with certain safety rules on construction sites, our customers have cranes and machinery for unloading and installing our pieces.

Chapter 7 : Retailers

Our customer base is very diverse, and although many of our products end up in hardware stores to be distributed to consumers, where they live happily ever after (Maybe not until the end of time, but concrete is very, very durable, so still for a very long time!), we also deliver to construction sites, municipalities, or agricultural sites!

The End! So, that was the (brief) story of a concrete product at Patio Drummond!