Evolution of shotcrete in time
Shotcrete has become the most popular method of ground support because it is safe, versatile, reliable, and fast. In addition, shotcrete allows you to build the support in less time, leading to an increase in production and cost savings.
Since the birth of shotcrete in 1911, concrete spraying equipment has been modernized, spraying techniques have been optimized, and in recent years there has been significant innovation in the field of chemical additives such as superplasticizers, retarders and accelerators.
But will shotcrete still continue being improved? Where will we find the next innovations?
What will be the future of shotcrete?
Trend: automation of processes
In mining, the goal is to automate all processes, including shotcrete, applying machinery and standardized procedures to achieve greater control.
The automation of shotcrete process means:
- Improved safety during application
- Reduction of human errors
- Time savings in the execution of working cycles and therefore increased productivity
- Cost reductions when large quantities of shotcrete are sprayed
Trend: spraying methods
Globally the shotcrete process is trending towards the wet spraying method due to the multiple advantages it offers compared to dry spraying.
However, dry spraying will not completely disappear, maintaining a secondary role being applied where the wet spraying method cannot be used due to logistic reasons.
Trend: equipment improvements to increase shotcrete quality
Shotcrete equipment manufacturers and companies engaged in the application are increasingly concerned about improving shotcrete quality, so shotcrete equipment is continuously being improved:
- Improvements of the concrete pump to reduce its pulsation and achieve high quality, homogeneous spraying finish
- Improvements of accelerator management and dosage, controlling the additive pump’s pulsation through a closed circuit
- New nozzle and diffuser designs to optimize the spraying process
- System to register consumption parameters for increased cost control
- Improved ergonomics for operators
Trend: qualification of operators
Properly educating operators is key to achieving high quality standards and improving the application of shotcrete:
- Nozzleman certification courses educate operators in wet spraying. Currently, the most recognized course is the official EFNARC certification
- Simulator training allows operators to practice handling the equipment at a low cost and without interfering with actual mining operations