McNeilus bets on composite drum at Las Vegas

June 1, 2002
Concrete, ready mix, and construction professionals gathered at the McNeilus Companies booth to participate in the unveiling of the first ready-mix drum

Concrete, ready mix, and construction professionals gathered at the McNeilus Companies booth to participate in the unveiling of the first ready-mix drum manufactured with composite materials. McNeilus, a leading North American manufacturer of concrete mixers, announced it was naming the composite mixer model the Revolution.

The Revolution's unveiling during CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2002 and IFPE 2002 (ConExpo) in Las Vegas was a main attraction for many visitors in the concrete and ready-mix pavilion.

The new, composite-material drum weighs approximately 2,000 pounds less than a comparably sized steel drum, said Dan Lanzdorf, president of McNeilus. “Because of its reduced weight, the Revolution mixer can carry approximately one-half cubic yard more concrete in every load, thus increasing its productivity. Additionally, the drum mixes more efficiently, is more durable, reduces mixer noise, and insulates the concrete load on both hot and cold days.

“We believe that the Revolution drum is the single greatest industry advancement since the first truck-mounted mixers back in the 1930s,” said Lanzdorf. “This will turn the corner on a new era in our industry; however, this is more than an interesting technological accomplishment. It will mean an increased efficiency and profitability for many of our customers.”

Lanzdorf said that in addition to higher capacities due to the reduced weight, the drum offers ready-mix producers a variety of benefits:

  • The drum technology integrates auto-reversing fins into the drum shell to improve mixing and discharge speed and efficiency.

  • The fin design and polyurethane interior minimizes concrete buildup, simplifying routine cleaning and maintenance.

  • The drum is expected to have a longer life than a typical steel drum.

  • Corrosion is significantly reduced since the drum is manufactured from composite material.

  • A composite drum shell works like an insulated liner to keep the ready mix at a more controlled temperature on both hot and cold days.

  • The composite material deadens sound, reducing noise during dry and wet batch operations for possible extended hours of operation.

McNeilus and its parent company, Oshkosh Truck Corporation, plan to extend the use of this technology to additional drum sizes and to their S-Series line of front-discharge concrete mixers. Weight savings on front-discharge mixers should be similar to that achieved on rear-discharge designs.

“Reducing vehicle weight without affecting performance or reliability is the single most important purchase consideration for ready-mix producers,” said Tom Harris, McNeilus vice-president of concrete products and project chief for the Revolution mixer.

“Normally, we work diligently to shave ounces, or perhaps a few pounds. Now imagine our excitement when we realized that weight savings on the Revolution mixer is measured in thousands of pounds.

McNeilus and a team led by its Australian partner, Anthony Khouri, invested more than $10 million over the past four years in research, engineering, and prototype building with testing to develop this technology.

McNeilus will invest an additional $15 million to $20 million in capital during fiscal 2003-04 to roll out this product. Leading ready-mix producers in Ohio, California, and Minnesota have conducted field testing to demonstrate the mixer's performance.

The company says it is confident that ready-mix producers will see a short-term payback and is offering a free return-on-investment analysis for ready-mix producers through the company's sales representatives.

The 11-cubic-yard Revolution mixer drum is sized at 497 cubic feet. It features a 42-inch-wide drum opening and 244-square-inch inspection hatch.

McNeilus is planning for steady, but limited, production in fiscal 2002, with full-rate production scheduled for fiscal 2004.

McNeilus manufactures concrete mixers, concrete batch plants, and refuse truck bodies. The company is headquartered in Dodge Center, Minnesota.

About the Author

John Nahas