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The History of Volumetric Concrete

July 30, 2014

Concrete is the one of the most ubiquitous materials in use by humans today, second only to water, and is the single most important component in construction work across the globe.

However, despite being a major feature of the modern metropolitan landscape, concrete is no new invention. In fact, its roots can be traced back to the ancient world, where a number of separate civilizations, including the Babylonians and the Egyptians, combined some manner of bonding material (often clay) and water to form solid building blocks.

Concrete in its modern form didn’t appear until the middle of the 18th century, when a British engineer named John Smeaton added crushed stones to his cement as an aggregate, sparking a number of alterations that lead to what we recognise as concrete today.


Volumetric Concrete

Perhaps the most important introduction to the concrete world in recent times came in the 1960s, when American Harold Zimmerman patented the mobile auger mixer, allowing for users to store all components of a final mix (aggregates, cement, water etc.) in individual compartments and tailor the mix to the requirements of the job.

iStock_000003460137XSmallAlthough modern volumetric concrete mixing utilises contemporary techniques to distribute the right mix and volume of concrete to exactly where it’s needed, the concept of proportioning a mix by volume is not a new one. In fact, the earliest example can be traced back over 2,000 years to those pioneers of modern architecture, the Romans. Here, concrete would always be created by volume instead of weight, helping to build structures that remain standing over two millennia later.

The benefits of volumetric mixing started to become apparent as Zimmerman’s design was improved upon over the decades. Many construction firms and even small building operations recognised the advantage of being able to produce any mix type on site and to order, reducing waste and saving money.

By the 1990s, with the introduction of concrete that could harden faster than ever before, being able to mix volumetrically on site was crucial to getting a job done quickly and efficiently – a particular bonus for highways agencies looking to resurface roads overnight.

building-concreteA wide range of construction projects great and small are now carried out with the help of volumetric concrete mixing, allowing workers to remain highly flexible to the needs of the project in relation to weather conditions, mix strength/type, amount needed and cost. DIY enthusiasts unsure as to how much concrete they would need for a driveway or patio now needn’t worry, while construction firms working on sites to a tight timescale and budget can adapt to the changing nature of the job.


Written by Roadmaster Concrete Mixers; the leading supplier of volumetric concrete mixers across UK and Europe. Our expert team are on hand to provide advice and assistance regarding your needs, and we stock an extensive range of volumetric trucks, concrete pumps and spare parts to ensure that your mixer remains in optimum working condition.

For an environmentally and economically friendly concrete mixing solution, get in touch with Roadmaster Concrete Mixers today.