Posted by Reinhard Stoeriko-Pasker - 04 April, 2019
Production machinery is usually extremely expensive, often costing millions of euros. Precision grouts can help protect these investments as they are specially developed to fix all types of machinery as well as railway or crane tracks in position securely, precisely and durably. The material is also used for anchoring steel elements to the foundations of high-rise buildings and other structures. In this interview Reinhard Störiko-Pasker, Technical Product Manager at Master Builders Solutions, explains the crucial role precision grouts in many industries and how they can help protect costly investments.
What precisely are precision grouts?
Precision grouts are high-strength special grouts developed for the secure anchoring and mounting of heavy loads. Huge machinery, gas turbines for instance, must be firmly fixed in place for several reasons. Firstly, a good precision grout not only keeps the machine exactly where it is supposed to be but prevents it from vibrating by conducting vibration forces into the ground. Structural anchoring is specifically required in the case of high-rise buildings, where highly stressed rebar elements or structurally relevant support pillars must be safely anchored to the foundation of the structure. For example, during the construction of the Empire State Building in New York City, which was the world’s tallest skyscraper from 1931 until 1967 and is still functioning perfectly safely today, a precursor of our Master Builders Solutions precision grouts was used almost 90 years ago.
What are the benefits of using precision grouts?
Safety first! Wherever precision grouts are used, they share a large part of the responsibility for ensuring the overall safety of a structure. They also help in saving considerable time and money. Usually heavy machines are parts of a complex production process. If one of the machines needs to be shut down because it is not properly fixed: this may bring the entire production process to a halt, causing delays in addition to the cost of repairing the machines and adapting the configuration of the production area. A reliable, professionally installed precision grout serves to prevent such scenarios from ever happening. And this is exactly what our customers expect: they want their machinery safely mounted without ever having to think about it again.
What makes a precision grout durable and reliable?
There are three crucial properties and combining them in a single product is quite a challenge. First, a good precision grout must be highly flowable, so that the material will completely fill even the smallest gaps between machine and foundation. Secondly and equally importantly, the grout has to be very strong after curing to ensure high levels of energy transmission and thirdly it needs to be “non-shrink”, which means that it must retain exactly the volume that it filled in the fresh state also after being cured and hardened. Precision grouts of the Master Builders Solutions range offer all this and in addition cure quickly - typically they have already obtained sufficient strength for the machine to start operation after twelve to 24 hours. This is a great advantage for our customers!
What are the key factors to be considered during the application process?
In general, applying precision grouts is quite straightforward. Our cementitious variants – MasterFlow 928 and MasterFlow 4800 – are single-component products, which means that they are just mixed with water and, to a large extent, they are self-leveling, reliably filling all voids and gaps. MasterFlow 648 is an epoxy-resin-based precision grout which requires three components to be mixed prior to application. Compared with the cementitious variants, MasterFlow 648 is of higher viscosity but its particular creeping properties means that the material flows to where it is needed. To obtain optimum results the necessary preparations must be made. In particular:
- possible vibration from neighboring machinery must be prevented;
- formwork dimensions must precisely fit, and the formwork must be straight and level;
- flow paths must be projected and calculated correctly.
Given the huge investments at stake, I always recommend customers to consult our local Master Builders Solutions experts prior to critical applications so that they can benefit from their experience and valuable advice directly on site.
What are the main areas of application for Master Builders Solutions precision grouts?
Our grouts are successfully applied all over the world where any type of heavy machinery has to be installed, regardless of its size, specific circumstances of installation challenges or climatic and environmental conditions. Applications range from small special-purpose machines to tracks for container cranes at the world’s major ports to large-scale turbines for energy production. Sometimes, machine manufacturers have precise ideas on the installation of their equipment. Wherever they may ship their machineries, they specify our precision grouts. This clearly shows that customers who have already tried our products and have been satisfied do not want to take any risks. I can say that to my knowledge there has never been a single case of pure material failure related to our precision grouts. This is remarkable in view of the fact that we supply several tens of thousands of tons of grouting materials for projects throughout the world.