The Indian government has placed a strong emphasis on infrastructure development, considering it a paramount priority in its pursuit of attaining a $5 trillion economy by 2025. To realise this ambitious economic goal, the nation is required to channel a substantial investment of $4.5 trillion into infrastructure development through 2030, as outlined by the Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India. Among the notable projects encompassed within this massive initiative are the Narmada Valley Development Project, Chenab River Railway Bridge, Delhi Metro Industrial Corridor, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and many more. The quality and durability of construction materials utilised play a pivotal role in the safety and longevity of these infrastructures. In these materials, Thermo-mechanically Treated (TMT) steel and cement are cornerstones. TMT steel's remarkable strength and flexibility make it indispensable for reinforcing concrete structures, while cement is the binding agent that holds them together. However, the efficacy of these materials can only be protected if stored and handled correctly. In this article, we delve into the best practices contractors should adhere to when storing and handling TMT steel and cement to ensure the structural integrity and overall success of construction projects. Section 1: Storing and handling TMT steel TMT steel bars have a vital place in the construction industry because of their mechanical properties. Comprising a hard outer layer made up of martensitic structure and a ductile inner core made of ferrite and pearlite mass, TMT steel bars boast high tensile and yield strength, superior bending capability and corrosion resistance. These characteristics make TMT steel a prime choice for reinforcing concrete structures, as it effectively counteracts the stresses that buildings endure.
Proper storage practices for TMT steel To preserve the quality and integrity of TMT steel, contractors must adhere to a set of meticulous storage practices:
Keep away from moisture: TMT steel is susceptible to rust and corrosion when exposed to moisture. Hence, it's imperative to store these bars in a dry environment, preferably under cover.
Elevated platforms: Storing TMT steel bars on raised platforms prevents direct contact with the ground, minimising the risk of moisture absorption and corrosion.
Proper stacking: When stacking TMT steel bars, ensure proper spacing between individual bars to allow air circulation. Avoid tight stacking, as it can lead to the accumulation of moisture and potential deformation.
Regular inspection: Periodic visual inspections of stored TMT steel bars are essential. Any signs of rust or corrosion should be addressed promptly to prevent further deterioration. Handling TMT steel with care
Lifting and transport: During lifting and transportation, employ appropriate equipment and methods to avoid bending, kinking or damaging of the bars. Use of slings and cradles can distribute the load evenly and prevent unnecessary stress concentration which can severely decrease the ductility of the bars
Avoid dropping: Droppage of TMT steel bars, even from a relatively low height, can cause microcracks or other damage that may compromise the bars' structural integrity.
Separate grades: If multiple grades and sizes of TMT steel bars are being used, ensure clear separation and identification during storage and handling to prevent mix-ups that could undermine structural calculations and subsequent applications.
Rust prevention: To prevent rust on TMT steel, use epoxy or galvanised coatings. Regular inspections and maintenance must be carried out to check any early signs of rust formation.
Section 2: Storing and handling cement Cement, the binding agent in concrete, provides strength and cohesion to structures. It comes in various types, including Portland cement, blended cement, and speciality cement, each designed for specific applications. Proper storage and handling are essential to avoid issues like moisture infiltration, contamination with dirt or debris, bag damage and to maintain its quality regardless of the type.
Ideal storage conditions for cement
Dry environment: Cement must be stored in a cool, dry place away from humidity and moisture sources. Exposure to moisture can result in caking, which diminishes its usability.
Elevated platform: Similar to TMT steel, elevating cement bags prevents direct contact with the ground and safeguard against moisture absorption.
First-in, first-out (FIFO): Adherence to the FIFO principle, using older batches of cement before newer ones. This ensures that the cement used is of optimal quality.
Handling cement safely
Protective gear: When handling cement, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including gloves and dust masks, to shield against skin contact and inhalation of dust.
Avoid overexertion: Lift cement bags with proper lifting techniques to prevent strain or injury. Heavy lifting should involve teamwork and, if possible, mechanical aids.
Minimise dust emission: Cement dust can pose respiratory hazards and settle on surfaces, leading to potential contamination. Minimise dust emission by using low-velocity transfer methods and covering open bags.
Conclusion TMT steel and cement are fundamental elements of modern construction, contributing to building and infrastructure's structural stability and durability. However, the success of construction projects hinges on proper storing and handling of these materials. Contractors must prioritise the implementation of best practices outlined in this article, safeguarding TMT steel from rust and deformation and ensuring cement to remain free from moisture and contamination. By adhering to these guidelines, contractors can enhance the quality of their projects and contribute to the safety and sustainability of the built structures and environment.
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