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Fundamentals of Launching a
Precast Concrete Segmental
Operation for Bridge
Construction Projects

Arthur M. Palmer
Lead Construction Engineer
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Seattle, Wash.

Precast concrete segmental bridge construction is This article explores the necessary facility upgrades
continuously evolving to keep pace in a competitive a precaster will need to successfully undertake
environment. As segmental bridge construction the comprehensive planning, coordination, and
increases in national popularity, a number of transformation process required to enter the seg
precasters will consider upgrading plant facilities mental bridge production arena and lists sources for
to handle this relatively new product. Historically, industry technical support for this endeavor. While
general contractors have produced the majority the challenges of upgrading operations to include
of precast concrete segments for existing precast precast concrete segmental bridge components
concrete segmental bridges, and it has been the are considerable, bold innovation and careful risk
exception when a con tractor has purchasedsegments management and system integration can establish
from a precast concrete manufacturing facility. this product line as a true precaster product.

n experienced precaster is the project within 150 miles (240 km) of Bid Document Review

A best person to understand what

is required to run an efficient,
successful business in today’s competi
an existing precast concrete operation,
the information presented in this arti
cle will be beneficial to the company’s
The next step is to derive an antici
pated contract award date and identify
project milestones to extract erection
tive construction market. The forward- future success. dates. Use this knowledge to formulate
thinking precaster may wish to consider The following list of publications will a general inventory for casting yard
expanding plant operations to include be handy reference material to start the start-up requirements, segment cast
a new and growing product line. Most segmental library; other sources will be out time frame, and maximum segment
precasters have some knowledge of listed throughout the article: storage area needed.
segmental bridge construction but may • “Deck Segmentation and Yard Carefully review contract drawings
have steered clear of segmental assem Organization for Launched to determine segment types, quanti
bly because of its perceived complexi Bridges” by M. Rosignoli;l ties, weights, anchor block configura
ties. Upgrading a precast concrete op • “Casting Box Girder Segments” tions, and special project requirements,
eration to handle production of bridge by Moreton and Janssen;2 including mixture proportions, curing
segments can understandably seem to • “Segmental Bridges: The Best in regimens, and testing protocol. Deter
be a daunting task. the Business” by Barber;3 mine quantity and type of formwork
While a segmental product line is • American Association of State required, and identify the required
not the correct choice for every pre Highway and Transportation versatility of each form to efficiently
caster, this business potential should Officials’ (AASHTO) Standard handle the project schedule. Map out a
not be dismissed without understand Specifications for Highway preliminary casting yard layout, poten
ing the assembly line accuracy, high Bridges and Guide Specifica tial workforce requirements, and exist
tolerance, and geometry control pre tions for Design and Construc ing (but in need of modification) and/or
cision of this next generation of pre tion of Segmental Concrete new equipment needs.
cast concrete products. This article Bridges;4 in particular, thoroughly understand
will explore the necessary upgrades • PCI’s Bridge Design Manual, ing the geometry control aspects of a
that an existing precaster must suc MNL-133;5 segmental product line will ensure a
cessfully navigate, including the • “Contractor Checklist: Precast successful outcome. A healthy fear of
planning, coordination, and transfor Yards” by Palmer;6 a costly mistake is not a bad business
mation processes. The approach taken • American Segmental Bridge perspective to maintain, and successful
here will demystify the start-up pro Institute’s (ASBI) Construction precasters use a detailed, methodical
cess and provide the precaster with Practices Handbook for Seg approach to daily procedures. A com
the information necessary to make an mental Concrete Bridges;7 and prehensive review of software (provid
educated decision. While the limita • For additional reading, review ed by others) and monitoring survey
tions of this article preclude provid a list compiled by the Fed instrument maintenance will keep the
ing all the answers, it is hoped that eral Highway Administration at project on track.
sufficient material is provided herein The theoretical casting curve will be
to allow formulation of the pertinent elibrary.htm. detailed by the contract drawings and
questions in a methodical evaluation interpreted by the geometry control
process. software with the approved geometry
control data files for each bridge span.
PRODUCTION—PROJECT This span-specific data will provide the
EVALUATING A NEW OVERVIEW necessary information to understand
PRODUCT LINE— the vertical, horizontal, and superel
ADVANTAGES FOR THE Depending on facility location, avail evation alignment for the bridge. The
PRECASTER able storage area, transportation, site ac daily, short-line casting operation will
cess, project size, geometric complexity, be controlled by varying the position
In light of the recent Senate pas material specifications, delivery schedule, of the match-cast segment in relation
sage of almost $400 billion in funding quality control (QC), testing/inspection to the casting form or wet-cast seg
for U.S. transportation infrastructure regimens, reinforcing system complex ment. Horizontal control points are
repair and rehabilitation, the use of ity, deadlines, and the client, each seg based on the project plane coordinate
precasters in small to medium-sized mental project will have unique aspects system, using north and east surveying
segmental bridge projects will provide that must be identified by the precaster conventions. The baseline alignment
significant improvements to product during the pre-bid process. First, the pre is established as tangent and/or curved
quality, infrastructure durability, and caster needs to be generally familiar with sections through the horizontal control
project scheduling, all important ad the segmental construction methods and points.
vantages to project owners and con proposed erection scheme. Then the pre Do not limit a review to the con
tractors. caster should review topics discussed in tract’s structural drawings, but further
If there is an upcoming segmental the following sections. identify all electrical and mechanical

May—June 2006 33
insufficient for the loads, overall size,
or delivery schedule for the pending
contract, the precaster must consider
upgrading facility trncking capability
or bidding the segments as freight-on-
board (FOB) plant.
Concrete Batching
Examine project concrete batching
and delivery requirements to properly
match all aspects of existing facility Ca
pacity with the specific project require
ments and to identify any requirements
that may be beyond existing plant pro
duction capacity. Seriously consider
the benefits of value engineering pro
posals or a schedule acceleration, each
of which have the potential to dramati
cally increase the chances of a success
ful project. Concentrate on particular
Fig. 1. Warm-climate casting yard.
in-house corporate skills or talents
that present a clear advantage over the
piping work to be installed within the to keep abreast of project changes and competition or capture value-added ad
segments. All hardware and embed specifics, develop contractor contacts, vantages that may augment the overall
plate inserts should be laid out in the and know the competition. Most contrac sales volume.
segment shop drawings provided by tors will welcome the precaster’s partici Determine any concrete batch plant
others, but assume precast concrete pation and will provide answers to any component upgrades necessary to han
plant installation of all these items ac questions. Carefully determine a com dle segmental batching requirements,
cording to plans and specifications. All prehensive scope of work to complete the including the adequacies of central
incoming material deliveries should project while addressing risk concerns. mixer size (production and volume),
be inspected and logged into a project cement silos, aggregate bins, and ad
inventory system. Monitoring material mixture dispensing setups. Perform
usage and reorder points is usually the regional cost comparisons of concrete
precaster’ s responsibility because com An important aspect of a manufactur materials that meet project specifications.
plete inventory control directly affects ing facility’s in-house self-examination Form Enclosures
the production schedule. is to analyze existing plant and staff
strengths and weaknesses. A snapshot The type of casting enclosure re
Specifications, Testing, and perspective of the existing company quired for proper concrete curing
Certification depends on the climatic zone of the
assets is vital to properly assess addi
Material specifications and testing tional action items for each department production site. In a warm or temper
requirements of the concrete need to to undertake for this new product line ate climate, the precaster might use a
be closely reviewed. Typical require to be competitive in the marketplace. temporary wood or fabric structure for
ments include petrographic analysis of If the concept stage is not brought to a protection during inclement weather to
the course and fine aggregates, testing thorough visualization by each depart maintain productivity and enhance the
for alkali-silica reaction, determining ment, followed by a managerial cross- concrete curing process (Fig. 1). A cold
modulus of elasticity, and evaluating checking analysis to avoid omissions climate may require a more substantial
creep and shrinkage. These procedures and questionable areas, the overall pro structure to protect the concrete and
will provide a critical analysis of the cess will be incomplete. ensure uninterrupted productivity. The
mixture proportions to ensure concrete If the existing facility is not large precaster may use an existing structure
durability and structural longevity. enough to handle a proposed project, or set up a pre-engineered metal build
Certain tests will require completion the next step is locating a suitable man ing to manage the anticipated adverse
by an AASHTO-certified lab at the ufacturing facility with an adequate climatic conditions.
precaster’ s expense. casting yard area. Once the casting site To obtain a comprehensive picture
Assess any requisite casting per is determined, the next step is to calcu for each segmental form layout, the
sonnel certifications and experience late the maximum segments to be erect approximate preliminary footprint will
needed, especially that of specialized ed per day and determine appropriate need to be known. For form assembly
labor for post-tensioning and grouting transport and site-delivery methods for width, consider the widest segment on
operations. Attend all pre-bid meetings the segments. If existing transport is the bridge and add 6 ft (1.8 m) to each

side; this measurement should be close functioning properly, and local frost area relegated to the project based on
enough for a preliminary layout. Next, conditions do not have the potential to the parameters set by the contractor’s
form assembly length will be about adversely affect curing. A 12-in-thick bid schedule. An aerial photograph
3.5 times the length of the longest seg (305 mm) concrete floor slab in the plant showing the approximate storage area
ment—usually 10 ft (3 m). The form should be regarded as a minimal thick (crosshatched) with estimated acreage
assembly overall height will be 3 ft to ness for segmental operations; driving is helpful.
5 ft (1 m to 1.5 m) plus the height of piles will be required to establish a
the tallest segment, with additional al solid mechanical foundation. When a
lowance for safety rails. Special limita straddle crane will be extracting seg
tions should be discussed with the form ments, the equipment foundations for Concrete Placement
manufacturers. the casting formwork should be iso There are a number of choices for con
One option for an existing precast lated from the lift crane travel lanes to crete placement in segmental production
concrete manufacturing building that is prevent adverse vibratory effects. depending on the material volume de
too narrow in general plan is to consid mands, project size, and expected budget
Segmental Unit Storage Capacity
er that the mandrel form can use rails (reimbursement). Options for concrete
to run outside the building. Another Figure 2 shows pier segments in placement range from a crane and con
option is to have completed segments storage ready for shipment to the bridge crete bucket delivery to using a station
moved along the rails to slide outside construction site. The assumed casting ary or truck-mounted concrete boom.
the building proper to be removed by schedule compared with erection de Determining the most reasonable deliv
crane or straddlecrane to the designat livery dates will determine maximum ery method will depend on the number
ed plant storage areas. storage capacity requirements. Obvi of forms, the total volume of concrete,
ously schedules change—due to ad the needed height of forms versus clear
Casting Forms, Foundations,
verse weather or labor problems—and height to ceiling supports within the
and layout
a significant buildup from an assumed building, and the proximity of the batch
Determine plant casting yard layout casting schedule could occur. Even plant and overall plant volume.
with an eye toward maximizing effi environmental regulations protecting
cient workflow and minimizing equip Segment Geometry Control
nesting birds at bridge sites have been
ment usage. Precise foundation design known to shut down construction. It A short-line casting procedure uses
for the casting formwork is crucial to is important, therefore, to consider at a stationary casting form to match cast
maintaining proper and consistent ge what point the available storage yard succeeding segments against the previ
ometry results in the completed seg will be filled and whether overflow ous unit. The first segment is cast be
ments. Review the plant site to ensure contingencies are established. tween bulkheads. Successive segments
consideration of these items: Concrete Another layout consideration pro are cast, one at time, against the bulk
slab thickness is adequate to support posal point is to clearly address the head on one end and the previous cast
production weights, site drainage is assumed maximum segment storage segment on the other end. A thorough


May—June 2006 35
L.abor Requirements

Forpreliminary estimating, start with

a direct labor force of a five-person
crew on forms and a four-person crew
on reinforcement jigs, and then adjust
the number of workers according to
the size and complexity of segments.
Discussions between management and
production can further identify the di
rect and indirect personnel needed for
the project, including any specialized
equipment or tooling and integration
H’ of existing machinery to meet project
.J material demands.
0. Site Delivery Requirements

a, A successful general contractor must

‘- r
0 provide the maximum number of seg

r -
— — —
ments to be delivered per day to sus
Fig. 3. Reinforcement jigs produce daily reinforcing steel cages. tain the construction schedule and the
overall erection schedule for bidding
Accelerated Curing purposes. For transport of precast con
review of geometry control provisions crete segments, contact the appropriate
will lead to selection of appropriate A steam generator is typically state and local authorities to determine
survey equipment followed by the erec used to accelerate the concrete cur permitting authority for special haul
tion of a survey tower layout. Keep the ing process. A I million to 5 million ing loads and permit requirements and
survey tower layout simple, depending BTU unit will service most casting costs. Normally, the majority of bridge
on the existing facility/site floorplan yard production output. The steam segment shipments will require over
limitations. When setting up multiple machine manufacturer will provide weight permits, perhaps even vehicle
forms, try to utilize each survey tower a piping design to optimize the unit; or police escort services. Axle load
for maximum utility for more than one any variation on this design will dras ing diagrams will be needed to specify
form; this will reduce survey equipment tically affect equipment performance. trailer capacities, and several transport
needs and surveyor time restraints and The steam generator units can be out dealers can usually provide techni
will speed up the casting cycle. fitted with a variety of options, from cal assistance. A drop-deck or lowboy
simple manual controls to a sophis trailer configuration will often be nec
Reinforcement Fabrication ticated computerized system with essary to lower a transport load’s center
The Concrete Reinforcement Steel thermocouples at each form. Com of gravity. Never assume existing facil
Institute’s (CRSI) Manual of Standard puterized steam systems can be pro ity trailers will be adequate to fulfill the
Practice is an excellent source of prac grammed to start the unit after con requirements of segmental transport
tical information on reinforcing steel crete preset, provided that the correct without a complete analysis of project
8 Figure 3 shows jigs pro
standards. ramp up to optimum temperature is loads, sizes, and estimated delivery
ducing the daily reinforcing steel cages set and that the ramp down setting the cycles.
necessary to maintain the established unit for proper release strength is also
casting schedule. A consideration in calibrated. Carefully weigh the cost DOCUMENTATION
fabricating bent reinforcement for seg benefits for each option—manual or
mental construction is whether to set automated—especially if the equip
up an in-house shop or hire a local re ment capital outlay can be expensed
inforcement fabricator. Depending on over multiple projects. The multizone The complexities of undertaking a
the complexities of the segmental rein systems can increase cost but add segmental unit operation demand a
forcing steel assembly, some caution is versatility and efficiency to the cast thorough analysis of every start-up,
advisable to avoid casting delays when ing operation. A multizone system inventory, production, testing, QC,
contracting existing reinforcement fab will separate each form into a sepa and delivery task. The more complete
ricators. Their equipment is primarily rate concrete curing chamber using the analysis, the more clarity can be
set up to handle CRSI tolerances and a computerized value system, which achieved and expressed by the plant
not special bar bend tolerances typical is programmed to introduce enough team members. In this detailed and col
of segmental design, which will have steam to provide the proper curing laborative effort, the precast concrete
to be specified. time and temperature controls. company energizes and empowers all

department staff to focus the combined day following casting, a thorough seg casting requirements of the plan and
expertise of each individual to ensure a ment review should take place. specifications. However, it is important
successful project. to remember that the manufacturer will
Post-Tensioning and Grouting
QC Manual understandably design for form fabrica
tion ease for cost reduction, so the pre
A concise and comprehensive QC The project specifications will de caster must review the contract drawings
manual detailing every step of every tail the required concrete compressive from the perspective of labor analysis
process is a vital tool to underscore the strength to achieve prior to casting. To and in-house constructibility. Form
thoroughness of the precast concrete ensure a highly productive environ needs are determined based on the tight
plant and, moreover, to ensure the cli ment, the concrete should be at post- est horizontal segment radius and maxi
ent and owner’s representative that tensioning strength two to three days mum lengths of each type of segment.
every aspect of segmental production after casting. Prebagged grout mixture It is wise to analyze all of the form
has been carefully considered. If there suppliers can discuss equipment needs manufacturer proposals and make sure
is an existing QC manual, consider and technician availability for plant to look beyond the recommendations
augmenting the manual to include a training purposes. It should be noted of the lowest bidder. It’s very easy to
precast concrete segmental operation. that most project specifications reject base formwork purchase on price alone
prepackaged grout mixtures over six without considering an apples-to-
Geometry Control Manual
months old. apples comparison to identify what the
A geometry control manual is typical Specialized post-tensioning suppli overall proposal includes and excludes.
ly provided by the contractor’s segmen ers bidding the bridge project can dis The initial form set up time and daily
tal engineer and will provide an excel cuss the particular requirements of the operational costs are affected by labor
lent detailed account of daily operations, systems and can assist with employee costs and existing plant and equipment
including the geometry software pack training. The supervisor responsible for needs to successfully transition or ac
age procedures and hand calculation ex grouting operations should have cur commodate these new forms through
amples. Request a copy of a previously rent certification from the ASBI Grout all the setup configurations. Efficient
used project manual for review and the ing Certification Training Program. form layout and plant set up are cru
program software with some sample cial for smooth production cycles
data so the plant surveyor can become (Fig. 4). Make sure that a technical
acquainted with program operation. representative will be at the plant for
Purchasing Segment Casting Forms form assembly. Normally, three to five
Repair Procedure Manual
Precasters forward contract drawings weeks is considered standard in the in
Even if a repair procedure manual and specifications to segmental form- dustry. Maintain complete installation
is not mandatory for a given project, work manufacturers and discuss project overview responsibility, making sure
it is a highly recommended document requirements. The form manufacturer segmental form assembly ensures that
because it details numerous common will provide a design that satisfies the daily casting productivity is optimized.
plant repairs and lists any prior imple
mentation approval required. Outlin
ing a general agreement on a variety
of repair issues, materials, equipment,
and techniques will foster confidence
in the precast concrete team’s ability
to address typical industry concerns
regarding plant production, reliability,
and efficiency.
Prepour and Postpour Review
Prepour review consists of three main
inspections: raw material receiving and
inspection, reinforcement cage assem
bly review when completed in the jigs,
and a thorough review of the segment
blockouts prior to casting. An initial
postpour review is conducted after
casting and prior to the match-casting
process. Postpour review involves a
structural inspection and a visual check
of the bulkhead face that will be used
to match cast the next segment. On the Fig. 4. Segmental casting machine setup before fixed bulkhead is installed.

May—June 2006 37
Review component changes necessary adjustment procedures that will be nec form prepping procedures between casts
to adapt form to anchor block modifi essary to maintain the correct geom for productivity and safety concerns.
cations in a typical span. Review and etry control. If the forms have to adapt
Casting Forms—Miscellaneous
approve all form shop drawings prior to different segment configurations,
to fabrication. it is critical that the components are
There are several review parameters modularized to speed operations. The Three to five ton (2700 to 4500 kg)
for analyzing the casting form propos hydraulic jacking system (provided by winch units with a ‘8 in. (9 mm) mini
als. Segmental form limitations must the form manufacturer) can be ordered mum cable diameter are typically used
be checked for the following: scupper with 1 1OV or three-phase wiring, de to move segments along the production
placement, maximum casting lengths, pending on the voltage specified and rail system. A pulley assembly, floor
acceptable bulkhead post-tensioned the voltage that works best for plant mounted on the opposite side of the
blockout locations, tightest radius for operations. You must also calculate any rails, will allow movement in both di
form constructibility, combined upper anticipated costs of integration into the rections using one winch. Air and elec
and lower anchor block clearances, and plant system. trical winches are available depending
keyway layout interference. Questions that the precaster needs to on the plant operator’s particular pref
ask include: Is there a thickened haunch erence. Of course, for extreme econ
Typical Segment Forms (Nonpiers)
area, wing breaks, or scuppers pen omy, a forklift could be used to move
Figure 5 shows the mandrel or core etrating the segmental wingform? How the precast concrete segments, but the
form setup for daily casting operations. does each form manufacturer handle author does not recommend this equip
The form manufacturer will provide in these configuration changes, and will ment for segmental operations.
struction details for either a manual or the solutions or required modifications Within each segment, post-tensioning
hydraulic internal mandrel operation. affect casting labor costs? ducts will be required. Forming blad
Discuss each option with the produc Discussion of the mechanics in ders—basically a long balloonlike liner—
tion supervisor to assess the casting volved in forming the segments will at the duct locations are inflated during
cycle implications and determine cost- provide a clear picture of any necessary casting to avoid migration of concrete
effective needs. changes to complete the project. into the voids and to maintain stability.
Also part of the review of the casting As an operational approach on seg
Pier and Expansion Forms
form proposal is to look at simplicity ments, secondary external vibrators
and ease of daily wing setup and the The size and weight of the interior can be mounted on the lower third of
pallet’s smooth hydraulic operation, pier and expansion form components the form at the outside web area. The
which cannot be overestimated, in par are important. Whether the interior com aesthetic quality of the finished seg
ticular, the rigidity of the fixed bulk ponents are manually set or machine ments is greatly enhanced with exter
head, as any movement in the form will installed will dramatically affect labor nal vibrators, and this optional measure
delay cycling time. Determine the daily costs and casting cycle times. Study all could save costs on remedial patching
after segments are cured. Of course,
all plant safety walkways, stairs, and
fencing installations must meet Occu
pational Safety and Health Adminis
tration (OSHA), state, and local work
- --
place regulations. A complete safety
walk-through and inspection of work
stations at regular intervals is mandat
: ed by OSHA.

-. L Geometry Control

For geometric control of the seg
Th 1
kU .. ,‘
ments, a one-second accuracy the

ir -.: •‘ .-
odolite is used for centerline checks
and elevation readings. A builder’s
level capable of reading to an accu
‘ racy of 0.001 ft (0.3 mm) using an
. invar rod is usually suitable. Review
project specifications thoroughly for
. geometric tolerances. Monopod set
— :-- ups for the survey instruments are
normally used with at least two per
manent site benchmarks for instru
Fig. 5. Mandrel or core form. ment calibration.

Lifting Equipment Concerns Concrete Equipment
The standard choices for lifting Location, capacity, and accessories
segments at a precast concrete facil of the concrete batch plant directly af
ity are a straddle crane or crawler fect material quality. The quality and
crane. Both machines have accept volume of concrete required for the
able capacity and maneuverability, bridge project will dictate the cement
but the characteristics of each ma and aggregate storage capacity needs
chine have implications that bear on and the central concrete mixer capaci
the entire operation. It is easier to ty. Local climate at the precast concrete
train an employee to operate a strad manufacturing site will be the basis for
dle crane than a conventional crane. considering other items, such as an op
In addition, the straddle crane can lift tional water chiller, ice machine, and 0

and transport the finished segments boiler components. Proper component

to the storage area, avoiding exces choices and capacity, quality, and sup
sive plant use of tractor-trailers. The ply of concrete material resources are 0

size of the plant storage yard and ex the keys to producing a consistently Ct
pertise of employees will determine high-quality product. The weight hop 0

which piece of equipment is the best per will need certification for accuracy, 0)

fit for production. Examine strong- and the plant will need to obtain Na 0
back and rigging needs carefully for tional Ready-Mix Concrete Associa 0
safe and efficient operation. A site- tion (NRMCA) Plant Certification. Fig. 6. The survey tower needs to be
specific safety manual and mandato Concrete handling equipment can stable but can be a very simple design.
ry employee safety training will be vary depending on the overall com
key components for any successful plexity of the project. A more limited ADDITIONAL SETUP
precast concrete operation. operation can be handled with a strad GUIDELINES
When evaluating a straddle crane, dle crane and a concrete bucket. A larg Casting Forms Production Area
consider all equipment specifica er operation may require either a sta
tions, including lifting capacity, tionary boom or boomtruck-mounted Surveyors should lay out the entire
overall height, wheelbase, maxi concrete pump. The distance between facility casting area, including the ac
mum hook height, turning radius, batch plant and the casting production curate installation of brass plugs and
and travel speed. It is important to area and the concrete itself will de wall targets—reference points for es
remember that every aspect of cast termine concrete mixer truck require tablishing form centerlines and fixed
ing, storage, and shipping operations ments. bulkhead setup lines. Double check to
will be controlled by the capacity Concrete consolidation methods, ensure that delivered form components
and limitations of the segmental lift such as internal and/or external vibra arrive based on the required project
ing equipment selected. For material tors, should be used at every 18 in. (460 start-up needs. Depending on the seg
handling, the use of a crane or fork mm) concrete lift (maximum). A small ment and reinforcing assembly com
lift depends on the project size and roller or air screed system to finish the plexity, each form setup should take
precaster preferences. Normally a deck surface is desirable. about three weeks.
forklift will be sufficient to handle Accelerated curing of the concrete is
Geometry-Controlled Equipment
most situations. Plant equipment most commonly handled with a steam
and Setup
selection will largely depend on the generator. Purchase of a steam genera
demands of the daily tasks assigned tor is typically a long-lead item, and The plant’s survey equipment is posi
to each piece. the precaster is advised to obtain a firm tioned in a survey tower using monopod
delivery schedule commitment. setups. Each casting form is outfitted
Successful segment handling can be with manual screws and/or hydraulic
Precast concrete manufacturing accomplished using several options: jacks, which move the match-cast seg
plant personnel must utilize and fol strand picking eyes, post-tensioned ment and casting form into correct geo
low a safety manual and labor train rod assemblies with holes formed near metric position. Survey towers need to
ing schedule to ensure federal, state, the webs, and nylon slings wrapped be vertically and horizontally stable
and local compliance. The quantity under the wings. Each segment-han but can be of very simple construction,
of casting forms in operation will dling option has its advantages and as shown in Figure 6.
add to the daily coordination diffi associated labor costs, and final se
Accelerated Curing
culties. Production efficiencies are lection will depend on the erection
enhanced by keeping activities in contractor’s equipment needs to some If propane is utilized in precast cor
close proximity, but a concentra degree. It is imperative to carefully crete segmental operations, research
tion of work activities requires para evaluate the handling system proposed the proper storage area distance from
mount safety vigilance. for bid purposes. the work zone mandated by OSHA

May—June 2006 39
and perimeter safety requirements. span with each anchor block separately forcement assemblies and positioning
Sufficient total tank or tank farm ca identified. in the forms. Most piers and expansion
pacity will depend on equipment Transporting Segments joints can be pre—tied up to the tops of
usage, local temperature extremes, and the webs, accelerating the casting pro
anticipated hours of operation minus A casting manufacturing yard built cess, which is especially important in
minimum tank pressure capacity alongside the project will probably re match-casting operations.’°
before equipment stops are crucial quire a mobile segment hauler for site
Fabricating Post-Tensioning
operational concerns. delivery. For longer distances, custom
lowboy trailers designed with the par
Post-Tensioning System
ticular local, federal, and state regula Determine quantities of post-ten
A good source of information is Ac tions applicable to the project will be sioning anchorage blockouts or form
ceptance Standardsfor Post-Tensioning required. The precaster should consult assemblies that are not provided by the
9 The contractor will choose a
Systems. the proper authorities to review the in form manufacturer. These items can be
post-tensioning supplier for project tended travel route, permitting process, fabricated with wood or steel depend
components. Review the post-tension and required escorts. Once the travel ing on the plant production manager’s
ing systems being considered because route has been determined, the neces preference. Generally, the symmetry
unique details could add significant sary en route bridge survey data will of post-tensioning design will utilize
specialized labor and equipment alloca need to be checked for minimum clear a given series of similar in repetition.
tion costs. The post-tensioning supplier ance heights. Making an in-house reference mark for
will supply the strand, chucks, jaws, each setup could speed fabrication by
Reinforcement Jigs
and certain bursting stress reinforce having the fabrication shop staff begin
ment. The precaster has to determine Reinforcing steel bar assemblies can an inventory of typical blockouts.”
which raw materials are to be included be made of wood or steel, depending on
Transverse Post Tensioning and
in the supplier’s bid price. a variety of factors. The author recom
mends a minimum of two jigs for each
Reinforcement Fabrication
typical casting form. Each typical seg The majority oftransverse post-ten
Detailed procedures are necessary ment and reinforcement jig assembly sioning and grouting operations will
if reinforcement coatings are required, must operate in a simple, efficient man be completed at the precast concrete
especially if coating processes require ner. These jigs, however, must adapt to facility. PTI Specificationfor Grout
adapting existing plant reinforcement the versatility and variability of the ing of Post-Tensioning Structures is
fabrication equipment. Consider the casting forms that are served. Prior an excellent introduction manual
different reinforcement ordering choic to fabrication, analyze every segment to become acquainted with present
es available in the market, and order configuration requirement to ensure industry standards to eliminate steel
steel reinforcing bars by segment or by smooth transitions between the rein- corrosion. 2

Fig. 7. Casting form prepped prior to placement of the reinforcing steel cage.

Grout pumps have become increas TYPICAL CASTING FORM CYCLE
ingly more complex in recent years
to ensure proper mixing. Determine The following is a brief list of tasks 10. Complete any anchor block
the precise project requirements be to be performed during an average configuration changes to the
cause most states will require a high- casting cycle; upon closer inspection, mandrel;
speed or colloidal grout mixer/pump the activities that can be completed si 11. Complete QC reinforcement
setup. Adjust the precast concrete bid multaneously will be apparent: cage inspection and place the
numbers accordingly because high- 1. Quality control staff breaks con cage into the casting form;
speed equipment is more expensive crete cylinders from previous cast; 12. Winch the match-cast segment
than regular paddle mixers. A few 2. Uncover segment; into place;
states still allow cement and water 3. Surveyor performs after-cast 13. Surveyor performs preliminary
mix designs, but today most owners survey; survey, and the form is secured
are specifying prepackaged grout. 4. Dismantle mandrel and lower for casting;
Depending on a precast concrete form wings for stripping com 14. Crew preps the reinforcement
plant’s regional conditions, a grout pleted segment; cage, adds utility embeds,
with thixotropic qualities might be a 5. Winch mandrel from casting and completes post-tensioning
good choice. form; components; Figure 8 shows
Many suppliers produce mono- 6. Winch match-cast segment from the precise reinforcement and
strand jacks for post-tensioning, but wet-cast segment and remove post-tensioning layout require
prior to pricing this item, check with from area; ments to produce excellent
the contractor about whether the 7. Winch wet-cast segment into quality;
post-tensioning jacks and appropri match-cast position; 15. Surveyor completes final
ate calibration records are provided 8. Perform QC visual check survey and releases form
by the post-tensioning material sup of completed segment and for casting;
plier. complete postpour report on 16. QC staff reviews the wet-cast
Final Segment Prep the previous day’s match-cast segment and releases for casting;
segment; 17. Concrete is received and tested;
The segment’s match-cast joints 9. Clean and prep the casting form 18. Segment is cast and finished;
will require a light sandblast finish and mandrel for casting; Figure 19. Cover segment and start
prior to leaving the casting yard for 7 shows a casting form being concrete preset; and
erection to ensure epoxy adhesion un cleaned prior to placement of the 20. After preset, begin the acceler
less the project uses a dry-joint system. reinforcement cage; ated curing process.

May—June 2006 41
Contractor Relations
Determine the proper scope of work
and risk assessment on each project.
Pay special attention to inclusions and
exclusions within the precast concrete
bid, especially because construction
updates during the bidding process
will complicate matters. Negotiate an
acceptable mobilization amount to
cover casting production facility setup,
equipment upgrades, and trucking op
tions (Fig. 9), and clearly define the
payment schedule criteria. Discuss
any contract drawing modifications
required to ensure overall quality and
productivity enhancements. Notify the
contractor of strategic milestones for
material deliveries to avoid casting de
The contractor should verify that all
embeds associated with the contract Fig. 9. Segment loaded on lowboy trailer ready for delivery.
drawings are present on the shop draw
ings, including electrical embeds and
fire-retardant fiberglass sleeves, scup- and methods” are present on the shop are obtained before shop drawing sub
pers, standpipes, and anchors for me- drawings, including picking devices, mittals: adjacent closure pour adjust
chanical items. The contractor should erection sleeves, top slab access, and ments, electrical pass-through conduit
also verify that all embeds required openings. Ensure that the following as- alignment, column and pintle place-
by the contract’s “construction means built elevation and detail verifications ments, span length adjustments, and

New Precast Concrete Segmental Contract

The latest PCI-Certified Producer to enter precast concrete segmental ment maintenance facilities, PCI-Certified QC personnel and concrete
bridge casting is Bethlehem Construction Co. Inc. (BCI) in Cashmere, lab equipment, and the use of the BCI plant-established utilities sys
Wash. BCI will fabricate over 2200 precast concrete segments for Sound tems for steam, electricity, and compressed air were strong benefits
Transit Authority’s Central Link Light Rail Project in Seattle, Wash. with value and reduced cost to the general contractor and owner over
The decision to enter this specialized precast concrete market was setting up a greenfield segmental casting site near the job. Precast
made after BCI was approached by PCL Construction Services Inc. concrete crews from BCI would staff the nontechnical production
(PCL) in Bellevue, Wash., about the project. The company had pre- jobs, and PCL technical experts in precast concrete segmental bridge
viously supplied precast concrete beams, columns, girders, stadia, construction would supervise the technical aspects, engineering, ge
double tees, hollow-core, and precast concrete wall panel products to ometry, casting, planning, and scheduling.
PCL on over a dozen other successful projects, and PCL Civil Divi- The BCI plant upgrades to prepare for the project included a batch
sion was an experienced segmental bridge constructor. The concept plant upgrade to allow concrete production to meet the needs of the
of using the combined strengths of each firm to bring an advantage to project when combined with other BCI precast concrete project vol
the project owner was developed over a period of several months prior umes, a yard reorganization to dedicate the necessary area for seg
to the bid date. mental reinforcement jigs, segmental casting forms and handling
Bethlehem’s PCI-Certified plant brought the benefits of an estab- areas, and the acquisition of additional storage area for segments
lished precast concrete facility and precast concrete labor force, in- waiting to be shipped (Fiq. 10).
cluding a concrete batch plant less than 200 yards from the casting From a PCI-Certified Producer’s perspective, this strategic partner-
area, thereby ensuring a dedicated source of concrete with a level of ship approach was an ideal situation to manage the risks associated
control over the high-strength concrete production and delivery. This with the new product that otherwise would not have been possible on
would not normally be possible from commercial concrete ready-mix a project of this scale. From the general contractors and owners’ per-
plants. The use of BCI’s existing casting beds for form and reinforce- spective, it allowed a lower bid price and cost savings to the project
ment jig setup, existing equipment, crane runways, shop and equip- along with the many others benefits noted.

elevation and layout changes between
projects. Inquire if the contractor will
check post-tensioning jacking clear
ance at all interior anchorages, includ
ing longitudinal and future tendons.
Managerial Assessment
After conducting a thorough review
of the precast concrete plant and equip
ment, scrutinize the existing manage
rial and production team expertise to
handle a segmental operation. Deter
mine if an outside consultant should
be contracted to provide the needed
expertise to properly plan the product
line expansion. While a professional
segmental engineering consultant is an
added cost, remember that costly omis
sions or a slow start-up could cripple

Final Estimate Fig. 11. Span-by-span precast concrete segmental construction using a launching gantry.

Every precast concrete plant depart

ment must provide input for procure strategic planning, the greater chance
ment needs, process, and procedures. After being awarded the segmental of a successful venture.
This input will include not oniy indi contract, immediately open dialog with
vidual cost items but a thorough pre plant staff on enhancements and value
sentation and assessment of problemat
engineering to ease forming restraints
ic areas that have the potential to cause and speed productivity. The more em In some respects, gearing up to han
delays and cost overruns. phasis placed on up-front analysis and dle precast concrete segmental bridge
production is just another product line for future projects. ASBI is an excellent 133. Chicago, IL: Precast/Prestressed
to augment a precaster’s bottom line resource for developing contacts in the Concrete Institute.
(Fig. 11). It is important to bear in precast concrete segmental industry. 6. Palmer, Arthur M. 2004. Con
mind, however, that segmental tech tractor Checklist: Precast Yards.
nology is still evolving in both design ACI Journal, V. 26, No. 10:
and constructionlerection techniques pp. 45—48.
(Fig. 12). There are at present a number 1. Rosignoli, M. 2001. Deck Segmentation 7. American Segmental Bridge Institute
of engineering and erection issues that and Yard Organization for Launched (ASBI). 2005. Construction Practices
need refinement, and this potential for Bridges. Concrete International Handbook for Segmental Concrete
technological advancement can lead to (February): pp. 65—73. Bridges. Phoenix, AZ: ASBI.
a strong competitive advantage for a 2. Moreton, A., and A. Janssen. 1995. 8. Concrete Reinforcement Steel Institute
precaster qualified to cast segments on Casting Box Girder Segments. Concrete (CRSI). Manual of Standard Practice.
regional transportation projects. Construction Magazine (January 1). Schaumburg. IL: CRSI.
Looking to increase future market 3. Barker, J. 1981. Segmental Bridges: 9. Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI). 1998.
share, the precaster is well advised to The Best in the Business. Concrete Acceptance Standards for Post-Ten
consider upgrading facilities to manu Construction Magazine (February 1). sioning Systems. Phoenix, AZ: PTI.
facture precast concrete segments as a 4. American Association of State High 10. Rosignoli, M. 1997. Evolution of a
propitious move to ensure a foothold way and Transportation Officials Technique, Incremental Bridge Launch
toward incorporating future complex (AASHTO). Standard Specifications ing. Concrete International (February).
product lines beyond segmental bridg for Highway Bridges and Guide Speci 11. Palmer, Arthur. 2003. Precast Segmen
es. Understanding the quality initiatives fications for Design and Construction tal Casting Yards: Past, Present And Fu
needed and geometry control aspects of of Segmental Concrete Bridges. Wash ture. PB Network, No. 57 (February).
segmental construction is an ideal busi ington, DC: AASHTO. 12. PTI. 2003. Specification for Grouting
ness opportunity to comprehensively 5. Bridge Design Manual Steering Com of Post-Tensioning Structures. Phoe
prepare the precaster in competition for mittee. Bridge Design Manual. MNL nix, AZ: PTI.
the pending high-speed rail projects and
specialty bridges. Precasters are advised
to promote AASHTOJASBL/PCI precast
This article is presented for informational use only as an introduction to casting
concrete segmental standards in their re
segmental bridge components. The intent is to promote an understanding of casting
spective regions because standardization
will help ensure that purchased segmen yard considerations and does not cover all situations or particular project specifica
tal casting machines will be adaptable tions and plan requirements.


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