We've been placing concrete floors for a long time. One might think that everything that was going to be invented for floors already had been, but some people are never content. Two of the most innovative people (or companies) in the industry are Allen Face and the folks at Somero. Face, of course, was instrumental in the development of the F-number system during the 1980s; Somero is best known for the Laser Screed. Now, Face is back with a device he calls the Screed Rail to improve elevated floor slabs and Somero has introduced the HoseHog to help move heavy slick lines around during floor placements.
“It was one of these bolt-from-the-blue ideas,” Face says about the Screed Rail. “We were working on something much more complicated—a new kind of vibrating screed—when it just hit me: The problem is not that we don't have devices for striking off concrete, the problem is that we don't have a way to guide those devices.”
Most elevated slabs are built using wet-screed techniques. It's relatively quick and inexpensive and the quality is usually acceptable. “Most of the time the results are adequate,” says Face.
Face observed that a lot of time was spent establishing the wet screed guides so if he could eliminate that work, there would be some time and money to put toward the installation and removal of a rigid side form that would allow more accurate strike offs using hand-operated vibrating screeds.
“The breakthrough for me,” says Face, “was the realization that you could have a rigid form that was supported on one end by a float—that we could use the concrete that has already been struck off as the reference for the next section of the pour. We developed the Screed Rail to have one end floating on the previous pour and then we simply position a laser receiver on the other end and jack it up so that it is spot on grade and there's the guide for the screed.” Face started field testing in late 2005 and got excellent results. “All of a sudden the numbers were twice as good as what we could achieve using wet screeding: FF numbers in the high 60s and FL as high as 49. Wet screeding has trouble getting much higher than an FL 16.”
Sold in pairs, so that workers can be positioning one rail while screeding off the other, the device weighs less than 50 pounds so one worker can move it; even carry it up a ladder.
Thomas Edison said that “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” and that is the model Somero Enterprises uses for innovation. The HoseHog evolved from several earlier attempts to find a way to move the pump hose around on a deck—one was actually a hovercraft. Now comes the HoseHog, a 13 hp device that can lift a 4- or 5-inch hose or slickline filled with concrete and move it easily during concrete placement on decks where a pump mast can't reach.
Dragging heavy hoses is a backbreaking and labor-intensive task. The Somero HoseHog, typically sold in pairs, has a gas engine that powers the wheels and a lifting clamp that picks up and moves your slick line around the pour site allowing you to place concrete faster, eliminate back injuries from pulling hose, and keep your crews fresh. The axles are designed such that the wheels can turn completely perpendicular to the hose so that the assembly can be moved easily in any direction. There is even a clever little pan that fits beneath the joints in the slickline to allow it to skid on the concrete without damaging the surface. According to Somero, the HoseHog can increase productivity by 20% to 30%.