Orchard Fencing upgrades production with bespoke Rapid International plant

Based in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, Rapid International recently supplied Orchard Fencing with a new bespoke static concrete batching plant in Erith, Southeast London. The plant can produce up to 22m3 per hour of concrete. Orchard Fencing aims to produce 1500 precast fencing products per day in addition to interlocking blocks.
Concrete Plants, Equipment & Applications / February 21, 2024
By Guy Woodford
Rapid International recently supplied Orchard Fencing with a new bespoke static concrete batching plant in Erith, Southeast London. Pic: Rapid International

The £2 million upgrade also involved concreting the entire facility, new warehousing, reconditioning the existing precast machines, two new forklifts, and new Coote Engineering machines and moulds.

Established in Welling, England, in 1989 by Neil Hubble, under his leadership, Orchard Fencing expanded its operations with depots in Catford, Welling, and Erith. Serving London, Kent, and the wider Southeast England area, the company specialises in retailing and wholesaling fencing products and aggregates. Notably, in 2012, Orchard Fencing supplied security perimeter fencing for the London Olympics.

Motivated to focus more on precast fencing products and confronted with an outdated plant over 30 years old, the company recognised the necessity to invest in new production facilities. Reflecting on this, George Hubble, Orchard Fencing managing director, said: “My grandfather Terry invested in a plant and a precast machine many years ago which served him well. However, as Orchard Fencing expanded, the old machinery simply could not keep up with demand. We knew that if we wanted to expand and improve our in-house precast production, a major upgrade would be required.”

Orchard Fencing’s new bespoke Rapid concrete batching plant offers outputs of up to 22m3 per hour. Pic: Rapid International

After a conversation with Coote Engineering during the purchase of a Coote dry cast machine, the company learned of Rapid International and its extensive experience in designing and manufacturing custom batching plants.

The company subsequently contacted Victor Pickering of Concrete Technology, Rapid’s GB mainland sales partner. Hubble added: “Victor was very helpful and knowledgeable. He conducted a thorough site visit, enquired about our requirements, and advised us on what specification of plant would best meet these. He then passed this information to Rapid’s in-house design team, who produced initial layouts, followed by 3D renders.”

He continued: “Victor also arranged a site visit to a previous customer of Rapid, Brett Landscaping, whose plant was installed 30 years ago and is still fully operational. Brett spoke highly of the plant. He also gave us five further customer references, who we contacted and who all spoke highly of Rapid.”

“Victor really put us at ease, and with Brett Landscaping, Coote Engineering and the five other customer recommendations, I felt confident that we were making the right decision and the plant was going to be good.”

Orchard Fencing’s new bespoke Rapid concrete batching plant offers outputs of up to 22m3 per hour. The new plant has three 12.5 tonne aggregate hoppers, with an integral 600mm weighed belt conveyor, which discharges into a mixer loading skip. This skip subsequently feeds a 0.75m3 output Rapid RP750 planetary mixer housed on a mixer platform with the production facility. The platform allows maximum maintenance and cleaning access at the mixer level. On mixer maintenance, Hubble commented: “I find the Rapid mixer much easier to clean and maintain, with the fewer blades and no centre, compared to our previous German Pan Mixer.”

Two discharge chutes are under the mixer doors to direct the material into the receiving hoppers on the Coote Engineering dry-cast machines.

Cement is stored in an 80-tonne storage silo with a screw conveyor, which conveys material from the silo to the weigh hopper. A 500kg cement/powder weigh hopper is mounted on loadcells with aeration pads and a vibrator to aid discharging. The plant also features a single-compartment additive weigh system, which offers flexibility in additive batching.

Rapid International's installation for Orchard Fencing was part of a wider £2 million site upgrade by the Southeast England-based company. Pic: Rapid International

The plant includes a Rapid Jetwash mixer washout system fitted with three spray heads to streamline mixer cleanout. The system operates at 2000 psi, offering high-pressure cleaning and maintenance of the mixer.

The plant is fitted with a Pneutrol Dynamix batching control system, which enables the operator to oversee the entire batching process and offers unlimited recipe storage, manual control via the PC and remote operation. The plant controls are housed in an anti-vandalism control cabin, ensuring security.

On the installation process, Hubble remarked: “We had a few minor issues at the start, but everything was taken care of by Keith (head of Rapid installation) and the installation team. Keith was brilliant and guided us through the whole process with organisation, attention to detail and precision. Everything has been no hassle, and any minor issues we’ve encountered have been sorted via a quick phone call. Installation was very professional and streets ahead of anything we’ve encountered.”

On the plant, “We’re really pleased with it! We can now be totally self-reliant and have improved quality and service for our current customers and stockists. The new semi-dry machine requires a very accurate mix, which would be very difficult to achieve without the Rapid static batching plant; the moisture probe inside the mixer calculates exactly how much water to add, which gives us a fast, consistent and accurate batch every time.”

“The steelwork is heavy-duty, unlike some of the alternatives in the market, which can be really lightweight. It’s nice to see it’s been built properly, and it’s clearly going to last. The automation is very clever and user-friendly – PIL were excellent. Aftercare has been very good.”

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