Feasibility Report On Concrete Block Production
Cellular concrete blocks are the major building materials in most regions of the world. This study is carried out to check the economic and structural feasibility. The integrity of the blocks as well as its industrial production process compared with local and international standards. Recommendations for the concrete block production have been given in this paper. Samples from 10 local factories of total 60 blocks have been collected and tested at the University Laboratory. The carried out tests covered the dimensions, compression strength and water absorption of the samples. The results of this research study were compared with the requirements of the national and European specifications. They showed that the products of all factories do not fulfil the specified requirements. The dimensions of specimens exhibited relatively high deviations with no recommended tolerances for dimensions of the blocks. The results analysis showed that the weight of the 400x200x200mm block size was about 20-23 kg and the size of the represented voids was about 60% of the volume. This study made some regulatory recommendations to standardize the concrete block production in the area.
Table of Content
- 1.1 Background of the Study
- 1.2 Statement of Problem
- 1.3 Objective of the Study
- 1.4 Research Questions
- 1.5 Hypothesis
- 1.6 Significance of the Study
- 1.7 Definition of Terms
- 1.8 Organization of Study
2.0 Review of Related Literature
- 2.1 Conceptual Review
- 2.2 Concrete Block Making
- 2.3 Types of Concrete Blocks
- 2.4 Materials for Concrete Blocks
- 2.5 Production Process
- 2.6 Building With Concrete Blocks
3.0 Materials and Methods
- 3.1 Specimens
- 3.2 The Blocks’ Density
- 3.3 The Blocks’ Water Absorption
- 3.4 Testing Procedure
4.0 Results and Discussion
- 4.1 Economic Feasibility
- 4.2 Market Potential
5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
- 5.1 Summary
- 5.2 Conclusion
- 5.3 Recommendation
1.1 Background of the Study
“Concrete is one of the most basic building blocks of modern life that most people take for granted” (Neville, 1996). Historical records show that concrete mortar as a building product was used by the Romans as early as 200 B.C. to erect stone walls in the construction of buildings. By fall of the Romans Empire in 5th century much of the learned concrete technology was lost. It was not until 1824 that the English stonemason Joseph Aspdin developed Portland cement, which became a major component of today’s concrete products (GOI, 2012).
To In 1890 the first hollow concrete block was designed by Harmon S. Palmer in the United States. After 10 years of experimenting, Palmer patented the design in 1900. Palmer’s blocks were produced in 203 × 254 × 762 mm3. The blocks were so heavy they had to be lifted with a small crane (Hornbostel, 1991). “By 1905, an estimated 1,500 companies were manufacturing concrete blocks in the United States. These early blocks were usually cast by hand, and the average output was about 10 blocks per person per hour. Today, concrete block manufacturing is a highly automated process that can produce up to 2,000 blocks per hour” (Cavette, 2007). Most sub-Saharan African countries have been going through a rapid building boom since 2004. Due to geopolitical situation of these regions commercial building materials have largely been limited to concrete products in particular concrete blocks. The use of concrete blocks is found suitable in region where other building elements are costly, and not available (Barbosa, et al., 2010). These blocks are being widely used in construction of residential, factories and multi-storied buildings (see Fig. 1). Despite these facts, the composite strength of hollow and cellular block concrete block masonry still represents a real challenge in the region.
In general the concrete blocks as precast masonry units such as Hollow and Solid normal and lightweight concrete blocks of different sizes are used for erecting walls in various conditions. Depending upon the structural requirements of masonry unit, concrete mixtures are prepared using components available locally or most economical distance (Chandra and Bhise, 1994).
Concrete mortar was used by the Romans as early as 200 B.C. to bind shaped stones together in the construction of buildings. During the reign of the Roman emperor Caligula, in 37-41 A.D., small blocks of precast concrete were used as a construction material in the region around present-day Naples, Italy. Much of the concrete technology developed by the Romans was lost after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century. It was not until 1824 that the English stonemason Joseph Aspdin developed Portland cement, which became one of the key components of modern concrete.
The first hollow concrete block was designed in 1890 by Harmon S. Palmer in the United States. After 10 years of experimenting, Palmer patented the design in 1900. Palmer’s blocks were 8 in (20.3 cm) by 10 in (25.4 cm) by 30 in (76.2 cm), and they were so heavy they had to be lifted into place with a small crane. By 1905, an estimated 1,500 companies were manufacturing concrete blocks in the United States. These early blocks were usually cast by hand, and the average output was about 10 blocks per person per hour. Today, concrete block manufacturing is a highly automated process that can produce up to 2,000 blocks per hour.
1.2 Statement of Problem
A concrete block is primarily used as a building material in the construction of walls. It is sometimes called a concrete masonry unit (CMU). A concrete block is one of several precast concrete products used in construction. The term precast refers to the fact that the blocks are formed and hardened before they are brought to the job site. Most concrete blocks have one or more hollow cavities, and their sides may be cast smooth or with a design. In use, concrete blocks are stacked one at a time and held together with fresh concrete mortar to form the desired length and height of the wall.
Now days, hollow concrete blocks and bricks are becoming very popular. These blocks are being widely used in construction of residential buildings, factories and multi-storied buildings. These hollow blocks are commonly used in compound walls due to its low cost. These hollow blocks are more useful due to its lightweight and ease of ventilation. The blocks and bricks are made out of mixture of cement, sand and stone chips. Hollow blocks construction provides facilities for concealing electrical conduit, water and soil pipes. It saves cement in masonry work, bringing down cost of construction considerably. This study is therefore a feasibility report on concrete block production.
The feasibility study is concerned with the first four phases of capital budgeting, viz., planning, analysis, selection (evaluation), and financing, and involves market technical, financial, economic and ecological analysis.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main aim of this study was to carry out a feasibility report on concrete block production. The specific objectives are outlined as follows;
- To ascertain the economic feasibility of concrete block production
- To ascertain the structural feasibility of concrete block production
- To determine the water absorption, block density and compressive strength of concrete block
1.4 Research Questions
In other to achieve the objective of the research, the following research questions were formulated:
- What is the economic feasibility of concrete block production?
- What is the structural feasibility of concrete block production?
- What is the water absorption capacity, block density and compressive strength of concrete block?
- HO1: Concrete block production is not economically and structurally feasible
- HA1: Concrete block production is economically and structurally feasible
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study upon completion will be useful to:
- The government in their policy formulation and implementation
- The federal ministry of works in addressing Issues around smart cities, urban transformation and concrete block production
- Future researchers and studies on areas of related interests on feasibility of concrete block production
1.7 Definition of Terms
Is an assessment of the practicality of a proposed project or system. A feasibility report aims to objectively and rationally uncover the strengths and weaknesses of an existing business or proposed venture, opportunities and threats present in the natural environment, the resources required to carry through, and ultimately the prospects for success.
The concrete commonly used to make concrete blocks is a mixture of powdered port land cement, water, sand, and gravel. A concrete masonry unit (CMU) is a standard-size rectangular block used in building construction. CMUs are some of the most versatile building products.
The action of making or manufacturing from components or raw materials, or the process of being so manufactured. This study focuses on the making of concrete blocks.
1.8 Organization of Study
The study comprises of 5 chapters. In chapter one, the concepts are introduced and the problem of the study is established with the research objectives and questions. Chapter two presents the literature review while chapter three presents the research methodology. The fourth chapter presents the results and discussion, and the last chapter presents the conclusion and recommendation.
5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
This research study shows that most of the blocks produced by the local factories are non-bearing blocks and are used to build internal and external walls of buildings. There are clear issues with standard dimensions of all tested blocks especially in the height of the blocks. This will create issues during application process, such as erecting walls. Normally the blocks are casted on uneven unprepared industrial ground in open space which results in uneven bases for the blocks; therefore there will be need for more mortar during erection of the walls. However the curing of the concrete blocks in the factory remains an issue which was observed during collection of the specimens. Curing is the process of maintaining satisfactory moisture content and a favourable temperature in the blocks to ensure hydration of the cement and development of optimum strength (CCI, 2011) something which was ignored in all visited factories.
Lack of proper industrial production expertise by factories has led to series of shortcoming in relevant to former National Standard NSS of 1987 and modern international standards such as Eurocode. This study has shown shortcomings in density, dimensions, mixtures and comprehensive strength, as well as nonstandard production methods which all related to lack of knowledge, expertise, quality checks, and market responsibilities and accountability.
Laboratory tests using cellular concrete blocks permitted to adequately characterize the block specific market value properties by specimen testing. Tests on these blocks indicate that the non-standard production methods are associated with irregular market and lack of education and specific requirements to establish and operate concrete block production factories. This study has made a series of recommendations to tackle the shortcomings and regulate the market.
This study concluded that three aspects should be monitored to ensure quality masonry units namely strength, dimensions and water absorption. Ideally, blocks should be regularly tested for strength and mixes and production processes modified if necessary. This needs to randomly be observed and quality checked for safety and improvement of building construction materials which consequently raise the quality and structural safety in the construction industry of the region.
This study is conducted on the basis of information and operation available in the production of concrete blocks market and factories. The aim is to provide information to the prospective investors and consumers of regional concrete block factories. It is advised that prior to making a firm decision for investment in the project the investors must verify the various feasibility aspects together along with the requirements relevant to industrial standard of concrete masonry unit production. This needs to become a legal framework for the procurement of plant and machinery and raw materials before they establish a factory.
This is the first research study on cellular concrete blocks conducted in the region. The study shows that none of the monitored factories actually undergone any training or industrial regulatory monitoring system. Their products do not follow any known standards and the product mixtures are prepared using rules of thumbs and trial and error process. None of the factories indicated unannounced visits to collect random sampling of block from their plants.
Regulating the concrete block manufacturer via standard production method, quality control, and imposed national building standard building code can promote the following objectives:
- Increasing the quality of building products.
- Reducing the cost and waste of materials.
- Increasing structural safety.
- Increasing the chances of producing and marketing.
- Increasing the life space of building.
In the visited factories, the blocks were in open air and not kept in shelters from sun and drying winds therefore the curing process were not controlled. Normally it is recommended that after 24 hours the blocks watered and kept damp for several days to allow the cement to hydrate completely (Steven et al., 2003). The longer the curing process the better is the strength. The blocks should thereafter be completely dried prior delivery to the market for application.
This study strongly recommends the implementation of Eurocode in general and Eurocode 6 (Pluijm, 2009) in particular to regulate the concert block market in the region. Guidelines such as Aggregate Concrete Blocks, A Guide to Selection & Specification (CBA, 2007) are simply available to standardize the production method and ensure the stability, resistance, serviceability, durability and economic feasibility of structure based on long global experience and well-studied standards. All factories need to provide full product description that follows the recommended standard for production process (Collins, 2015). To maintain the validity of regulations in line with changes and developments in the field of industry and science, these recommended national standards will be revised when necessary. A professional and governmental entity needs to ensure that manufacturers have valid professional certificates before they are permitted to operate in the market.
Feasibility Report On Concrete Block Production
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