A new way to do floors
When building a building, lighter with shorter construction deadlines and less cost are goals that have been confounding engineers and construction companies for years.
And of course strength is important too.
Right now in south Price, the future of prefab concrete flooring is literally rising from the ground.
Trans-American Steel and Concrete has been experimenting and working with prefab panels for flooring in large buildings for four years. And just recently, a project in Ogden was finished with their product.
Now, in downtown Salt Lake City, an apartment complex on State Street is being put together with the panels made and poured right here in Carbon County.
"The idea is to make the actual construction of a building quicker and less expensive than by using traditional floor building techniques," said owner Joe Piccolo. "These panels do that."
With a lot of cutting of steel, welding and machining the shop in Price bends, cuts, and sticks together the frame that creates the strength for the panels. Once the frame and tie ins are completed, then the concrete is poured. But it isn't like traditional concrete.
"This concrete uses different materials in it than regular concrete does," said Piccolo. "It has a patent on its content. Let's just say that it is weighs 20 percent less than standard concrete."
The four inch concrete panels have to stand up to stiff tests. Edge pressure tests have been conducted on the panels only 18 hours after being poured and they can then hold up to 93 tons.
"They are very strong and can be transported fairly easily," said Piccolo.
When finished they are sent to the construction site where they are set in place for floors in multi-story buildings. They can be used for everything from office buildings to parking structures. Once they are in workmen toiling in the building can immediately begin tasks on other things in a building such as finishing the interior or electrical work.
"That's a lot different from pouring conventional concrete floors," said Piccolo. "When those are poured workers have to stay off them for a long time so they can dry properly and hold their integrity."
The panels attach to beams put in for them, so steel work up in the air is minimal for the floorings installation. Most of it is done at the plant.
"So when all is said and done these panels are 20 percent lighter than typical concrete constructed floors," said Piccolo. "That means a building will not need to have the same support structure from the foundation on up to handle as much weight. That saves money."
Once the panels are installed workers do pour a thin bladder over the panels to smooth it out, but that weight is minimal.
The company employs 18 full time people. However, Piccolo says that if he and his partners can get construction companies to look at the paneling system on a regular basis Trans America would look to build a 200,000 square foot manufacturing facility and employ as many as 200 workers.
"I've had a couple of major construction companies come here and look at the process and their jaws dropped," he said. "They didn't think it could be done."
Piccolo is a 50 percent owner in the steel part of the business with Ben Logue. They partner with Laporte Construction for the concrete creation and pouring.
Recently the company were awarded a $42,000 fast track grant for equipment from the Utah State Office of Economic Development.
Piccolo says that their hope is that when the $1.6 billion dollar renovation at the Salt Lake International Airport comes into play, the construction companies Trans America has been showing their panels off to will be one of the successful bidders.
That could be the impetus for that large Trans America facility to be built and all those jobs in the area coming into fruition.