Following two months of extensive upgrades, concrete block will now be made a lot faster
at Kirkpatrick Concrete’s Guntersville production facility.
Ricky Mead, general manager of Kirkpatrick’s northern division, says temporarily closing the company’s only block plant was somewhat painful for customers, but the resulting increase in efficiency will make the downtime worth it. “Here in our area, we're pretty strong with block,” says Mead. “A lot of schools go with block because they’re fire-resistant. Also, with us being in a storm area, you can also fill the cells in block and make them pretty resistant to tornado-type winds,” says Mead.
Manufacturer Columbia Machine, based in Vancouver, Washington assisted personnel with upgrades to the three-at-a-time block machine. “The machine is only about four or five years old, but these changes will really speed things up for us,” says Mead. Each cycle, the block machine can turn out three eight-inch concrete masonry units every six to eight seconds.
Tsali Burch, operations manager for the plant, says the modifications are already paying off. “Production is up,” says Burch. “We have the capacity now to produce four kiln a day, that’s about 10-thousand block in an eight to nine-hour day. For this plant, that is extraordinary,” he says.
The Guntersville operation is adjacent to the ready-mix plant and exclusively produces gray lightweight concrete masonry in a number of sizes. These units are lighter and easier for masons to handle. Block sales are made to residential and commercial customers in a 35-mile radius of the Marshall County facility.
“We value our block customers in Northeast Alabama,” says Mead. “It’s the cornerstone of building in this area because without a good foundation, you don’t have a good house. So, concrete and block, that’s what it’s all about,” he says. “I think over the next five to ten years this plant is going continue to do well.”