Concrete The Backbone Of Coast Construction

It is noisy and busy at Coast Concrete. Heavy equipment, gears and rolling conveyor belts crank out the mix that will become slabs for new homes, or the foundation of condominium towers.

So, what exactly goes into concrete?

Kelli Swilley, a former high school drama teacher, now helps run the operation at Coast Concrete. She also has the answer about the ingredients that make-up concrete.

"The cement, fly ash, sand, gravel and water. Those are your basic ingredients for any strength of concrete," she explained.

The strength is measured in PSI, pounds per square inch. 3000 will do for your basic home slab, a condo foundation may require 5000.

A heavy equipment operator makes sure the plant is kept primed with raw materials.

"His job is to constantly keep what they call 'bins.' He keeps them loaded with sand and the gravel," said Swilley, "The plant will literally stop if it does not have the sand or the gravel to load into the truck."

The raw materials come together in specific amounts, dropped on conveyors. Despite all this heavy duty gear, it's a computer that oversees the individual orders.

"You just tell the computer what type of mix you want, how many yards you want. You get your truck in place. You press the appropriate buttons and it drops the accurate amount of your ingredients into the truck," says Swilley.

Ice is also a part of this operation, but the ice isn't used to keep the workers' drinks cold. During the heat of summer, bags of ice are actually added to the truck loads of concrete when the order calls for keeping the mix at a certain temperature.

The final product is the backbone of coast construction.

"Once you get that concrete laid down and you can get that concrete poured, then the rest kind of falls in place. So, it's the stepping stone, the very first one," Swilley said.