Advance Ready Mix paces 500,000-yd. Battery Park contract
BY DON MARSH
Batching and deliveries for one of the largest concrete supply contracts in North America are proceeding six days a week, two 10-to 12-hour shifts per day on a 2.3-square-mile, Glendale, Ky. site. Advance Ready Mix and fellow project principals have no wiggle room on the schedule as owners Ford Motor Co. and South Korea’s SK On aim to open their nearly $6 billion BlueOval SK Battery Park by January 2025. The joint venture will produce Ford and Lincoln electric vehicle model batteries in tandem with a third facility underway at BlueOval City, a $5 billion-plus operation in Stanton, Tenn.
Lead contractor Barton Malow, based in Michigan and accustomed to work for Detroit auto clients, broke ground in late 2022 at the Kentucky site, whose twin production lines will have more than 220 acres under roof. Louisville-based Advance Ready Mix has proved equal to the project’s urgency, best underscored by peak building or slab concrete and deep foundation grout yardage into the four digits.
After securing the supply contract, Advance Ready Mix mapped an on-site production plan with a new portable Astec/Rexcon tilt-drum central mixed model as the centerpiece. The producer then rounded up a portable transit mixed plant suited for output of grout placed in more than 1,000 deep foundations, some running 140 feet to bedrock. Advance Ready Mix rounded out capacity requirements by contracting with its Great Lakes Region neighbor, Ozinga Ready Mix Concrete Inc., for an ERIE central mixed model geared to slab mixes and as Astec/Rexcon backup.
LABOR, MATERIAL MATTERS
Tight conditions attended not only plant and fleet equipment procurement, but also cement supplies and labor as Advance Ready Mix prepared for the BlueOval SK Battery Park project. The producer secured a commitment north of 100,000 tons from Kosmos Cement Co., whose Louisville plant is about an hour from the central Kentucky job site. Concrete and grout mixes bear rock and manufactured or natural sand from Heidelberg Materials’ Upton Quarry, just down Interstate 65 from the BlueOval SK site, and Vulcan Materials’ Fort Knox pit in Elizabethtown, just up I-65.
Kentucky is not immune to the mixer driver shortage confronting producers across the industry. The labor environment prompted Advance Ready Mix Senior Operations Manager Roger Laslie to exercise an option at BlueOval SK Battery Park: Recruiting candidates who plan to pursue or will consider heavy-duty truck driver positions but do not hold CDLs. Drivers lacking CDLs are not restricted to operating mixer trucks since all Battery Park routes are private and technically off road.
Advance Ready Mix will assist new hires working the BlueOval SK contract with obtaining CDLs after the last yard of concrete or grout is placed in August 2024, the present target. Those drivers stand to find positions at a new Advance Ready Mix plant in Elizabethtown or one of its existing north-central Kentucky sites. The producer’s commitment to workforce development mirrors Barton Malow, Ford Motor and SK On efforts to position less seasoned BlueOval SK Battery Park crews for careers in construction and electric vehicle production from 2025 forward.
The BlueOval SK Battery Park output will support Ford Motor electric vehicle assembly operations in Michigan and Tennessee. When the joint venture finalized plans for a facility of such inordinate scale, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear offered exuberant perspective: “As both the largest economic development project in our state’s history and part of the biggest investment ever by Ford, this project cements Kentucky’s status as the electric vehicle battery production capital of the United States.”