Exploring the UK Concrete Market Trends

May 13, 2022, 2:22 PM

Volumetric Concrete Mixers in UK Markets

The concrete mixer industry in the UK has seen several ups and downs over the past couple of years. However, the UK's market size for ready-mixed concrete manufacturing is estimated at $3.1bn in 2022, with a 7.8% growth rate. These statistics are mentioned in IBISWorld's Ready-Mixed Concrete Manufacturing in the UK Industry Report.

The BDS’s Estimated Outputs of Ready-mix concrete companies in Great Britain report found 1,360 ready-mixed concrete plants in the UK in 2020. Most of them were located in England.

If you don’t know what a volumetric concrete mixer is, it’s a mobile mixer on a truck or a trailer. The vehicle has separate compartments for water, cement, sand, and stones.

While ready-mix concrete manufacturing is performed in a batch plant and then delivered to the job site, mobile mixers prepare concrete after arriving at the job site.

A volumetric mixer has automated parts that provide ease to the concrete business. Both ready-mix concrete manufacturing and mobile concrete mixing has contributed significantly to the growth of the UK concrete market.

This post will provide you with valuable trends in the UK’s concrete industry, the working of volumetric concrete mixers, and how automated functions on the mixers have contributed to the mass adoption of this technology in this industry.

The UK Concrete Market

The UK construction industry is an ever-growing market. Even before the pandemic, the industry was doing quite well. Fortunately, this trend continues as the Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

One of the significant growth factors of the concrete market is the integration of technology. In fact, volumetric concrete mixers are now being used, which account for almost 80% of the concrete poured in the UK.

Some recent UK concrete market and construction industry trends include:

  • The UK construction industry reported positive annual growth in the past decade. As a result, the turnover rate of the UK’s construction industry rose from 2011’s EURO 189.5 billion to EUR 277.4 billion in 2018. This rate is expected to hit the EUR 323 billion mark by 2023.
  • The Office for National Statistics states that the worth of construction projects in the country’s public sector has increased from EUR 24,269 million in 2010 to EUR 27,772 million in 2018. This includes construction work for schools, colleges, offices, warehouses, health, housing, etc.
  • The UK’s infrastructure construction output was expected to increase by 9% in 2019.
  • The UK government places the construction industry at the top of the list of high-prioritized industries. For this reason, residential construction has become one of the fastest-growing construction sectors in the country. The country’s HM Treasury states that the expenditure on housing development rose from GBP 5,760 million in 2011-19 to GBP 7,433 million.
  • The market size of the ready-mixed concrete manufacturing industry (by revenue) is estimated at £3.1bn in 2022.
  • The UK ready-mixed concrete manufacturing industry’s market size has declined 5.0% annually between 2017 and 2022 on average.
  • The UK’s market size of the ready-mixed concrete manufacturing industry declined quicker than the total economy.
  • The UK’s ready-mixed concrete manufacturing industry’s market size ranks at 41 in the manufacturing industry. It is the 233rd largest in the UK.
  • The growth of the UK’s ready-mixed concrete manufacturing industry is affected by high demand for commercial building constructions and low imports.

The Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Concrete Construction Product Manufacturing

The UK Concrete Construction Product Manufacturing industry has been moderately unstable over the past few years. The IBISWorld’s Market Research Report (2017-22) stated cyclical investment and activity trends in the construction industry as the major drivers.

The 2016-17’s EU referendum caused increased uncertainty in the UK’s economy. As a result, the concrete construction industry has observed stymied growth over the past five years. This includes the pre and post Covid-19 period.

The unstable economic condition of the country’s economy affected the supply chain due to the slow construction output. The uncertainties in the supply chain resulted in a ripple effect on the demand for products.

Here is how the industry was expected to be in the pandemic-affected world:

  • In 2020-2021, the coronavirus preventive measures, such as social distances, resulted in distorted activity among construction contractors and their supply chains. This led to reduced demand in the construction markets and low revenue.
  • The ease in the pandemic-related restrictions was expected to increase energy prices in 2021. This would increase the purchasing operator costs, followed by the cement prices. Cement is a primary part of concrete production.
  • The Omicron outbreak is expected to adversely affect the growth of the construction industry between 2021 and 2022. This could result in the comeback of remote working, hindering the commercial construction activity growth side by side.

The Concrete Mixers Industry in the UK

The concrete mixing process is an important way of ensuring the strength of a building. Based on the product type, the concrete market is primarily segmented into two types:

  • Ready-mix concrete
  • On-site mixed concrete using volumetric mobile mixers

The ready-mix concrete manufacturing process is done in the mixing plants. The end product, i.e., the required amount and type of concrete, is transferred to the job site, where it is used for the construction.

On the other hand, the on-site mixing is performed in a mobile mixer consisting of a mixing machine mounted on a truck. The vehicle has different compartments for the materials. It allows the construction workers to mix concrete in the exact amount they need at the job site.

As we saw from the above statistics, the ready-mix concrete manufacturing industry has declined significantly over the past few years. This includes the pre-pandemic period as well as after the arrival of the virus. So, the real question is: why did this happen?

Out of several speculations, the advent of technology is one of the main reasons. People now prefer technology-driven vehicles and machinery with automated functions. The automation of concrete mixers helps workers do the job more quickly while tracking the entire procedure.

Moreover, you can determine the exact amount of materials required to produce a specific amount of concrete for a project.

How Does a Volumetric Concrete Mixer Work?

A volumetric concrete mixer is entirely powered by technology. The volumetric concrete includes batching based on volume instead of weight. Most volumetric equipment is measured by weight, while the materials are transferred to the mixing auger with respect to volume.

This feature results in accurate concrete production with every pour. In addition, the mix designs can also be adjusted on the go without any compromise on the concrete quality.

A volumetric mixture can produce various types of concrete, including fiber-reinforced, slurry, or colored concrete. You can also adjust the number of materials, such as sand, stone, and water, without restricting the job site construction.

Some essential parts of an automated volumetric concrete mixer include a dual auger cement delivery system, mix designs, digital controls for adjusting materials, high-performing hydraulics, and more.

Here is how the best mobile concrete mixers work:

  • Control Display. This feature tracks the quantity and type of materials used in each pour.
  • Roller Chain. This part ensures consistent material delivery with minimal waste and spillage.
  • Air Vibrators. These are electronically managed to ensure a patterned material flow.
  • Pump and Flow. These parts manage valves for precise water control.
  • Mix Designs. The mixer’s ability to quickly change coarse aggregate helps achieve several mix designs.
  • Optional Fiber Systems. They deliver two types of material for fiber-reinforced concrete, including spooled or pre-cut material.
  • Hydraulic Oil Reservoir. The extensive, giant-sized hydraulic oil reservoir on mobile mixers streamlines the operation and prevents overheating.
  • Weight Distribution. The mobile concrete mixers distribute the weight evenly while maximizing your payload.
  • Dual Auger Cement System. It ensures precise cement delivery.
  • Specialized Auger. The efficient auger performs homogeneous mixing of materials.
  • Admixture and Color Systems. This feature of mobile mixers helps workers produce unique outputs.

Many volumetric concrete mixers may have additional features too. These types of machinery work on technology to ensure precise and quick results.

Why Have Automated Volumetric Mixers Become So Popular?

Automation is all about feasibility and efficiency. When the pandemic hit, people became more accustomed to technology and automated work processes. So, it’s quite understandable how the automated features of a volumetric mixture led to its mass adoption in the concrete industry.

You now already have an idea of the benefits of an automated mobile mixer. But is it good for your business? Of course, it is. These concrete mixers ensure accuracy, which, unfortunately, most ready-made concrete plants fail to provide.

Here are five reasons behind the quick adoption of the automated volumetric mixers:

Streamlines Workflow

The concrete pouring business is a lengthy procedure that gets affected or stopped due to several factors. These include the unavailability of delivery trucks and nonfunctional plants.

The long waits for the arrival of more concrete trucks at the job site also hinder the workflow. Hence, the concrete project ends up costing more than expected. The more obstacles, the longer the process would stretch.

However, an automated volumetric mixture can eliminate all such issues and risks. These mobile mixers allow you to produce concrete on the spot, so you don’t have to waste time waiting for the delivery trucks. Your workflow doesn’t get compromised, and you complete the project within the designated time and cost.

Provides Real-Time Data

One of the outstanding features of volumetric concrete mixers is their ability to provide live data for each pour. As a result, you can easily evaluate this data and make real-time decisions right on the site.

These mobile mixers come with a digital control panel that shows all information about all the materials. So, you don’t have to dig through the paperwork to find the required data. In addition, there is no guesswork since you’re making decisions based on real-time data.

Trackable

It’s pretty hard to track every mixer unit daily while taking care of other aspects of the process. In addition, with traditional concrete manufacturing methods, it’s almost impossible to keep an eye on the performance of each fleet unit.

The automated GPS feature of the volumetric concrete mixers makes them always accessible. You can easily track where every mobile mixer is going and how much time it will need to reach a specific destination.

The tracking feature is quite beneficial for concrete businesses since it creates a sense of accountability in the employees. This helps these businesses attract more customers.

Enhances Productivity

The ready-mix concrete manufacturing process can be more time-consuming as the workers have to go back and forth to perform different tasks. Meanwhile, the volumetric concrete mixers have different compartments to store admixtures, water, aggregates, and cement. So, there is no need to run from here and there.

This helps you speed up the process by scheduling more tasks. In addition, these mobile mixers are quite easy to use, so employees can learn how to use them. Thus, they will be more productive at the same time as conventional concrete trucks.

Saves Costs

With high productivity, more return on investment, and minimal human error, the volumetric concrete mixers save considerable money and time. So, they are a one-time investment that goes a long way in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

The Bottom Line

The construction industry of the UK is considered a significant market in the world. The country ranks 41 in the ready-mixed concrete manufacturing industries based on the market size. This indicates that the market is enormous and is earning a considerable profit.

However, the market has seen several ups and downs in the past five years, mainly due to the global pandemic. As a result, the market size of the ready-mix concrete manufacturing industry declined significantly. This could be mainly due to the automated features offered by volumetric concrete mixers.

These technology-driven features include a control display, roller chain, air vibrators, optional fiber systems, hydraulic oil reservoirs, etc. These features allow construction workers to streamline the workflow, make decisions based on real-time data, track each unit, enhance productivity, and save money and time.

So, it’s pretty understandable how these automated features have led to the mass adoption of the volumetric concrete mixers in the UK concrete market.