With his Arocs concrete pump, Bernard Batelle supplies the building sites of Pas-de-Calais
Vehicle & Technology
Bernard Batelle delivers concrete to the building sites of the Pas-de-Calais department. Mounted on an Arocs, the concrete pump has a truly impressive range thanks to its 52-metre-long concrete placing boom.
The front wheels of the green Arocs 8x4 are suspended in the air. That's quite normal! Bernard Batelle has extended the front supporting legs of his truck high enough for the truck's concrete pump to be in a horizontal position on the slightly sloping roadway. After that, he has pivoted the 52-metre-long mast over the huge hole that's been excavated in Wimereux. In this small bathing resort, 12 kilometres north of Boulogne-sur-Mer, a new building complex with apartments and retail units is currently being developed.
While the concrete mixer is docking on to the funnel from the rear, the driver tells us about his job: "We don't always have three hundred cubic metres to pump like today," he says. "That's really quite a lot!"
Bernard is an employee of Transports Samyn, a company that specialises in leasing building machines, dump trucks, crane vehicles and concrete pumps.
All of which may be leased with or without a driver. "Usually, the concrete plants order the pumps," he explains. "And because operating the pumps requires a sure instinct and a lot of experience, they need a machinist like me." But usually, the construction manager chooses which concrete pump will be used. If the manager is not quite sure which pump to choose, a specialist from Bernard's company will visit the building site in order to determine the requirements.
"I like this job. You're in the fresh air, and there are always people to talk to."
Bernard Batelle, concrete pump driver with Transports Samyn
Our 52-year-old machinist has been a truck driver for thirty years, and has been pumping concrete for twenty-eight years. He therefore has worked with all sorts of machines: rotor-type and piston pumps, pumps with an 18-metre concrete boom and pumps with a 52-metre one. "In the city, you can't just get everywhere with a 52-metre mast," he says. "You do need sufficient space in order to set it up."
Bernard loves his work and leaves no doubt about that: "You're in the fresh air, and there are always people to talk to." He especially appreciates his high degree of autonomy. In the evening, he receives his assignments for the next day by telephone.
"I'm also on the road with crane vehicles or flatbed trucks." But when he needs to be pumping concrete on the following day, he drives his Arocs home in the evening. And, not to be forgotten: the pumping itself is better paid than his other tasks.
Photos: Hans Müller