Nov 05

Panama’s New Canal Expansion opening in 2016!

Concrete pumping

Courtesy of Canal de Panama

Originally built in 1914, the Panama Canal has been working at full capacity for years and was plagued by congestion due to an ever growing international trade. The size of ships having also increased over decades (from Panamax to Post-Panamax ships), the creation of a larger third set of locks was the agreed long-term solution. The idea isn’t new since the US started the construction in 1939 but came to a grinding stop in 1942 when it joined the allied forces in WWII. It is now almost completed, but it wasn’t done overnight!


  • Create 2 new lanes and increase by 1 ½ the maximum width and length of the channels to accommodate Post-Panamax ships. These lanes will be able to carry twice as much cargo and a result double the current canal’s capacity by 2016. In addition to increasing capacity, the third set of locks will also improve productivity, efficiency and safety. It will eliminate the congestion that occurs every year during the high season between December and March that can cause up to a week in delay.
  • Raising 1.5 feet the maximum operational level of the Gatun lake and widening the navigational channel will also increase the water reserve capacity, the quantity of water used by the locks without impacting the supply of water for human consumption.


The new channels will each have three chambers and water saving basins. The third lock in each channel will be re-utilizing 60% of the water thus using 70% less water per transit/lock cycles compared to existing locks. The basins will be filled by gravity (without water pumps) like their older counterparts.


Sept 2007 – The project breaks ground.

July 2009 – Contract is signed with Consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPA) to undertake the project.

Sept 2009 – Dredging of Canal’s Atlantic entrance starts (removal of approx. 14.8 million cubic meters of material!)

2010 – Dredging of Pacific section completed (4.6 million cubic meters of material).

July 2011 – Start of pouring structural concrete in the third set of the locks project.

Oct 2011 – 1.4 million cubic of water are used to partially flood the channel (1,300 acres area).

Sept 2012 – Extension of the 14 existing gates allowing a 1 1/2-foot increase the Gatun spillway’s maximum operational level.

June 2013 – Both Pacific and Atlantic maritime entrances are now wider and deeper.

2014-2015 – Installation of 16 new gates.

June 2015 – Both Pacific and Atlantic locks are filled and gates are tested.

April 2016 – Official completion of the project.


Panama Canal concrete placing

Panama Canal Expansion Project – Courtesy of Canal de Panama

To create a larger lock, two 1,400-foot long by 180-foot wide by 60-foot deep lock facilities were built. One to access the Pacific side and the other for the Atlantic side. View complete drawings of the Canal new lock system.


Being prone to landslides, unstable banks and flooding, the job site required a mobile and flexible system for placing material. Concrete and gravel was first placed to lay the foundation. Six Telebelts TB 130 telescopic belt conveyors were chosen because they allow the placement of different types of material with one piece of equipment. Also, if changes in terrain conditions were suddenly to occur, the equipment could quickly be teared down, moved and setup again elsewhere.


Used Putzmeister Katt-kretter pump

Putzmeister Katt-kretter pump

In addition to the 6 Telebelt TB 130 telescopic belt conveyors, Putzmeister America and its Special Applications Business group (SAB) supplied Thom-Katt trailer pumps and boom pumps for a complete pumping solution-based approach.


To complete the third Set of locks:
– 39,238 cubic yards were excavated.
– 4,486 cubic yards of reinforced concrete were poured.
– 260 tons of reinforced bars were used.
– 1,060 ton on cement was placed.

With over 47 years of experience in the construction industry, United Equipment Sales has advised on several international large projects similar to the Panama Canal and is always available to help you find the best deal on pumping equipment (pumps, hose and accessories) and aerial lifts. Give us a call!



May 27

Underwater Concrete Pumping

While most concrete jobs are done on dry land, there are many uses for concrete underwater, like building dams, bridges, sea walls, underwater foundations, repairing coral reefs and more. The first successful attempt to build under water is credited to the Greeks and dates as far back as 600 BC with the discovery of pozzualana, a
special calcined lime found on the island of Santorini.

Coral Reef in Florida

One interesting case was the underwater project that repaired the Molasses Reed, the third largest barrier reef in the world,  that was damaged by a shipwreck 6 miles Southeast of Key Largo, Florida. This accident caused the destruction of a major habitat for fish, marine and coral life. The solution was to create modules by combining small lime stone boulders, fiberglass reinforcement bars, concrete and sand. Then to lower the modules underwater and pour concrete in these modules with a hydraulic concrete pump to tie them to the damaged reef. A Putzmeister Katt-Kreter pump was used to complete this project along with a 4-yard mixer truck on the barge. Its ability to reverse the concrete back to the hopper was essential to the success of the operation.

Putzmeister Katt Kreter Pump (Side-view)








Usual settings include a boom pump or placing boom either land based or large barge mounted. In addition, there are a few challenges operators must keep in mind:

1) Placing the line below water surface requires the line to be grouted or “primed” in a way so that no water is in contact with the priming material before the prime reaches the discharge end of the pumping system. If this doesn’t happen, the grout can become too diluted and no longer properly lubricates the system, which will cause plugs. This will cause costly delays and extra steps to clear them.

2) To grout a water filled line, we recommend using 2 sponges suited for the size of the pipe line placed above the water level. Concrete must be pumped slowly so that it never passes the sponges and the water is displaced by the concrete without ever contaminating one another. Another way to achieve this is to place the concrete line inside existing concrete. Even though concrete is poured in water, the line must be kept out of the  This is essential to the integrity and strength of the resulting poured concrete.

3) In terms of cement material content, operators must include a high volume of fly ash and silica fume and chemical admixtures.

4) One of the biggest risk is overloading the pumping boom.This requires close collaboration between the pump and crane operators. Both should check to see a droop in the hose between the placing boom and the additional system to make sure it doesn’t happen.

If you are looking for a great deal on concrete pumps for a job on dry land or underwater, don’t hesitate to call Dick at (503)283-2105.

Recommended further reading:

May 09

Milestones in Concrete Construction

We thought we would take a trip into the past to find out some of the major milestones in the history of concrete construction. After all, how can we appreciate the technologies we have today, without knowing the work that countless individuals have contributed to this industry by giving their lives, passion and vision to better our world. The timeline below is by no mean everything but covers some of the most important milestones.

12,000,000 BC – It turns out that cement compounds can be found as a result of a natural process where limestone came in contact with oil shale in a process of spontaneous combustion. It was discovered in Israel.

5600 BC – First form of concrete discovered in Europe in the region of the Danube River in Yugoslavia. It was used to make floors in stone age huts providing a major upgrade in the quality of life for hunters and gatherers.

3000 BC – First known use of concrete-like material in China with the building of the Great Wall. Made from a mix of sand, pottery shards, bones and water, this cement was greenish-black.

Egyptian pyramid

2500 BC – The practice of binding bricks using mud mixed with straw appears. The addition of lime and gypsum mortar to the process can be seen in the Pyramids in Egypt.

800 BC – The first use of bitumen (a.k.a. asphalt), a semi-solid form of petroleum that can bind stones with bricks is credited to the Babylonians and Assyrians.

600 BC – Use of the first concrete that can harden under water and in the air was made by the Greeks, thanks to the discovery of pozzuolana (a.k.a. pozzolan or calcined lime) on the Island of Santorini.

Roman Colosseum

82 AD – The Colosseum in Rome is completed using tons of Roman concrete which bears no resemblance whatsoever to Portland cement, since it is never in a plastic state and is more like cemented rubble made by manually packing mortar around stones of various sizes.

AFTER 400 AD – With the fall of the Roman Empire, the art of concrete is lost for almost 1300 years, reverting to lime based mortars and concrete.

1756-1796 – Multiple patents are filed in England for hydraulic cement (stucco), hydraulic lime etc.

1825 – Creation of the Erie Canal launching the need for cement in the United States using hydraulic lime.

1828 – First application of Portland cement used to seal breaches in the Thames Tunnel.

1850s – Building of the first concrete roads in Austria, England, other European countries and the US.

1850-1880 – French builder, Francois Coignet popularizes the use of concrete in construction.

1856 – First patent filed for the use of reinforcement in concrete using iron bars and wire mesh in small rowboats by French gentleman farmer named Jean-Louis Lambot.

1891 – First concrete streets built in the US, in Ohio.

1904 – First concrete skyscraper is built in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1905 – The National Association of Cement users is created, which will later become the American Concrete Institute.

1911 – Shotcrete is invented, allowing for the first time placement of concrete on vertical or horizontal planes.

1913 – The first concrete pump patent is filed.

1936 –  The Hoover Dam and the Grand Coulee Dam, are the first concrete dams built.

1970s – The first fiber reinforced concrete appears on the market.

1983 –  Invention of Syndecrete™, a light weight concrete that combined cement with recycled materials such as coal fly ash (a byproduct of coal plants) with polypropolene fiber to provide reinforcement (from carpet manufacturers). The finished product is used in kitchen countertops, tile flooring and more.

1985 – Introduction of silica fumes or micro silica into cement to produce the strongest concrete with very low permeability.

1995 –  Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) are being introduced to build homes and to hold concrete, providing greater insulation (temperature and sound) than common stud walls.

Concrete pumping has grown to become a vast industry that keeps expanding its boundaries, and possibilities. Looking back over the timeline, it is interesting to see that French and British have contributed a great deal to the progress of concrete in construction and Ohio leads the way in the US! So, it isn’t surprising that the American Concrete Pumping Association is based in Ohio!

Stay tuned for a future article on newer developments in the world of concrete and what the future of concrete holds. Until then, if you are looking for a great deal on a concrete pump for your next job, why don’t you give us a call at (503)283-2105. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, we can help you solve challenges and work within your budget. We always love to hear from you.

Suggested further reading:

Dec 13

United Equipment Sales Saves The Day in El Salvador!

We all know that building tunnels can be challenging! But making sure they don’t leak can turn into a real nightmare.

We were recently approached by a construction company in El Salvador that had built a 4000 feet tunnel but ran into a big problem when ground water started running down the hill and eventually leak into the tunnel through the rocks.

Tunnel Repair Engineering Drawing

The company first hired a contractor who ended up charging them 1 million USD but failed to fix the problem. Then, they contacted us to see if we could help them find a solution to their problem and work within their budget and source the appropriate equipment for the job.  After a series of meetings with their team of engineers going over the site, dimensions, challenges, limitations, we were able to together design a plan that not only would incorporate a permanent fix, work within their budget but also save them over $150K! This was achieved not only with the equipment we sold them but with the actual solution we came up with. In today’s economy, any savings goes a long way, but $150K, for any construction company is pretty extraordinary!

Worthington 650 CFM compressor

One of the reason the previous contractor didn’t succeed in fixing the problem was that he didn’t use a large air compressor. We suggested and sold them a Worthington 650 CFM compressor that would do the job. The compressor will be placed at the end of the tunnel connected to 4000 feet of heavy duty concrete pipes to be able to cover the length of the tunnel.

Concrete Pipes

So we prepared 400, 3”x 10” feet sections and equipped them with clamps.

Then, we devised a solution for shotcreting the tunnel wall. It required both a Blastcreeter 5000 and a Reed C50HP pump to get the job done.  To shotcrete the seams of the rocks, they would need to mix the concrete with a Bobcat at the end of the tunnel, then dump it into a mixer to mix it up, then dump it into the high pressure concrete pump’s hopper.

Reed C50 HP

The Reed C50HP can shotcrete 1000 to 2000 feet with a robot arm.  The pump is also equipped with a shotcrete nozzle 650 CFM, using air pressure to blow wet concrete between the rocks. The pump would be moved 1000 feet at a time through the tunnel until the job is completed.

Blastcreeter 5000

So how were we able to not only solve their problem but also save $150K? We will do the math for you. A Blastcreeter 5000 costs about $60K new, we were able to sell them a refurbed one for $30K. A Reed C50HP, goes for $106K brand new, we had a used one on our lot for $42K. That’s almost $100K of savings, right there. The solution we came up with also saved them an additional $60-90K, because we worked it out so that they only had to purchase 2 pumps instead of 4.

This is a great example showing how combining real expertise on the ground, with in-depth knowledge of equipment performance with the ability to source discounted dealer certified refurbed equipment, can make the difference in a bid won and a project executed in time and within budget.

Do you have a tricky concrete job or a problem to solve? Check out our Troubleshooting article, our special deals on shotcrete equipment   or call us at 503- 283-2105, we can work with you on any job you have. Give us a chance and we will show you how you too can save and deliver quality results!
Or visit us at: to check our latest deals.

Sep 17

Concrete Safety Procedures

When it comes to safety, we have all heard many wise sayings and one-liners like: “Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent. A casual attitude toward safety = CASUALTY, Chance takers are accident makers”… Some of our favorite sayings are: “Think Safety: some accidents last a lifetime and Work safely: do it for you, also do it for your family” because one moment can shatter one’s life and one ounce of prevention… you can fill out the rest! Another great motto to have on the job is:




Any successful business owner will tell you that to succeed, you have to “Plan your work and work your plan!” Pumping concrete, is no exception and considering the amount of things that could go wrong, this is something that should not be under estimated. Working with machinery/equipment also requires a systematic approach when it comes to operating, maintenance etc. Cut corners and you are guaranteed that you stand to pay for that omission sooner than later and the impact in this case will not only be financial but more importantly, could result in severe injuries for the crew on the job and property damage.

Safety checklist

Safety checklist

So we have put together a few suggestions you can use as a checklist when going on your next job. Whether you are a veteran or a rookie in the art of pouring concrete, you will appreciate this checklist because no matter how experienced you are, under time pressure, it is easy to forget something really important and often not even realize it until it is too late.


Safety is as simple as ABC: Always Be Careful.

Perform a quick inspection of the concrete pump, truck before leaving. If you use your equipment 5 days a week, you should do this pre-inspection every time. It may take an additional 15-20 minutes to complete, so plan your day accordingly. It will go faster if you can split the check list with another person.

On the pump:

  • Check the engine and hydraulic oil levels
  • Radiator and flush box water
  • Safety covers (make sure is properly closed)

For a more complete list, see more great tips in this article on How to save money on concrete pumps.

On the Trailer:

  • Make sure the hitches are closed and locked
  • The safety chains are properly placed and secured (you would not want to lose your equipment on the road!)
  • Lights are working (that’s a great way to get a ticket on the way to your job!)

On the truck (once a week): 

  • Check all fluids (radiator, power steering, brakes, transmission, engine oil)
  • Check system hoses & connections
  • Check all tires & lights are working properly
  • Check for safety cones, fire extinguisher and first aid kits
  • Secure the outrigger and strap the boom of the pumping unit during transportation of the pumping unit
  • Truck registration, proof of insurance and driver’s license
Safety on the job

Safety on the job

Safety & protective equipment for the crew

  • Safety goggles, hard hats, work gloves and boots, reflective vest
  • Safety chains and cables (one per every device hanging from the boom)
  • Tools and grease guns
  • Extra hose fittings, pipes
  • Clean-out equipment

Note: Below is only a partial list but it covers the absolute must on your checklist. You may want to add a few more items depending on the specifics of your job and requirements of your equipment. Remember: “KISS: Keep it Safe and Sound.”

  • When setting up for your job, make sure to park in a secure zone.
  • Go over your plan with the team and walk the area before setting up so that you can identify all potential hazards (power lines, walls, ditches, vegetation, underground utilities etc) that may require reworking your plan.
  • Make sure that area under the pumper and mixers can handle the high weight and load of these machines
  • Once the spot has been found, use the parking brake, lock all outriggers in place and stabilize the equipment with pads (make sure they don’t sink when raising the pump with outriggers)
  • Safely fasten all the hoses with cables or straps
  • Make sure the grate is always placed on top of the hopper
  • Identify an area for clean-up and place concrete washout containers per the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) requirements
  • Establish a mandatory 17-foot minimum clearance from all power lines
  • Select the signal person that will direct the operator (only one please!)


Even though the actual pouring is completed, the job isn’t over until you have completed cleaning up of the equipment and the area and packed your equipment. This means:

  • Remember to retract the outriggers and secure the equipment before moving the truck (may seem obvious but has been done before!)
  • Clean out the boom with a ball or sponge
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instruction to clean your equipment
  • Clear the area

Note: The suggested recommendations above are very detailed and may seem too time consuming for some people. Don’t be overwhelmed and as a results, go from all to nothing approach. You will need to select the routine and the frequency you will commit to follow and stick to it, no matter what happens on the job. This way, you will plan going through this checklist as part of your routine and as a result anticipate needed maintenance and operate more safely. Because, in the end, safety, is in your hands.

Lessons from experience

Most accidents happen when you are tired, pressured to finish before a certain time, on a tight budget, short of manpower, trying to use equipment that may not be really designed for the job size, or getting old… So if you find yourself in a situation where any or all of the above is the case, you should go through your list even more thoroughly because the odds of something going wrong are much higher. So always plan ahead, so that you have bandwidth to accommodate for unknown surprises because in the end, safety doesn’t slow the job down but mishaps do.

We suggest you read manufacturer’s instructions when buying new or used equipment. Call us at (503)283-2105 if you have any question on concrete equipment, maintenance tips etc.

Additional suggested reading material & reference
American Pumping Associate, Certification of Concrete Pump Operators Manual.