A look at the mezzanine-level rectangular and round ductwork in the plant’s finishing building. The round duct uses the EZ-Flange from Sheet Metal Connectors.

People who live near and work in Wells Concrete’s new facility will be able to keep enjoying the fresh upper Midwest air, thanks to a filtration system.

The Albany, Minn., manufacturing plant produces architectural and structural precast concrete for use in parking structures and similar places, along with Wells’ regular products.

The new plant, with its modern filtration equipment, was the result of collaboration between officials from Wells, Glacier Technology, Ellingson Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning, and Sheet Metal Connectors Inc.

“This new facility will allow us to build on our existing customer relationships by supplying them with product in a full-service, one-stop shop,” said Spencer Kubat, vice president of sales at Wells Concrete.

Wells’ main facility is 165,000 square feet, including a 16,000-square-foot finishing and concrete batch plant and a 4,000-square-foot storage area. Company officials say the plant was designed to use lean manufacturing throughout.

The metal shop’s clear-air duct also uses EZ-Flange.

The process

In the batch plant, the raw material is dumped directly into one of 18 underground aggregate bins, avoiding the time-wasting double handling of material. From there the material is weighed while on moving belts and delivered to the mixing floor.

After going through one of two mixers it is discharged into one of three wet concrete hoppers, which will deliver the concrete to a truck or forklift depending on its use.  The concrete is then delivered to the forms from the plant and placed in the forms directly from the truck. When the truck is empty, it continues in the same flow pattern to the finish building where it is washed.

Following the lean ideology, wastewater goes into a treatment system that recaptures, cleans and then reuses the water. All of the water that is used is cleaned and recycled back to the operations.

All these steps are designed to ensure there are no wasted activities in the conversion of raw material to product for the jobsite.

Ellingson officials, along with Design Tree Engineering, provided design-build services for the mechanical and electrical systems of the Albany facility. The systems installed include hydronic in-floor heat for multiple spaces, plumbing, compressed air, smoke evacuation, automated ventilation for carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide control, air-pollution control, electrical distribution, wiring, fire protection, automated mechanical systems and door security.

Building services for water, sewer, natural gas and electrical utilities were also part of the design.

The exterior of the finishing building and part of the pollution control system from Camfil Farr.


Paul Nelson and Gregg Jacobson of Wells, Greg Schreier from Glacier Technology and Ellingson’s Jon Ladwig designed all six dust-collection systems. The woodshop incorporated an underground ducting with automated controls that run the Camfil Farr system when any woodshop equipment is operating. The metal shop uses an ambient weld-fumes collection system, allowing for use of an overhead crane throughout the shop.

The four finishing blast bays all have flush-mounted clean-air diffusers for maximum ceiling clearance, sloped dirty-air duct enclosures for easy cleaning and grated walkways made from recycled heavy sheet steel that allow blasting materials to fall away for a safer working platform.

The system’s airflow design pulls dirty air from floor level under the grated walkways, filters it and returns it to the space through a series of diffusers in the ceiling. This produces a downward flow and keeps the sand blasters’ field of vision clear and the breathing zone safer.

Glacier Technology specializes in industrial air filtration systems. Glacier is also the exclusive Farr distributor in the Dakotas, Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Farr’s Gold Series dust collectors were used at Wells Concrete. A vertical configuration ensures more even dust loading while the cartridges pack greater filtering capacity into a smaller size, company officials said.

The units are located on the exterior of the building to maximize usable floor space.

Ellingson workers installed the entire system. Minneapolis-based Sheet Metal Connectors was contracted by Ellingson to fabricate all of the round ductwork for the entire system.

Ryan Barnes (left), Sheet Metal Connectors; Jon Ladwig, Ellingson Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning; Jennifer Stokes, CenterPoint Energy; Paul Nelson, Wells Concrete; Lee Morgan, Camfil Farr; and Greg Schrier of Glacier Technology stand next to the $18,096 rebate check Wells Concrete received from CenterPoint Energy for installing the dust-collection system.

Connecting the ducts

The company’s EZ-Flange was heavily used on the Wells Concrete job. The system consists of factory-installed flanges on all ends of the spiral duct and fittings, which adds strength to the system. The flanges are attached by either spot welds or button locks - no screws are needed. Factory-installed E-Z Flanges are sealed internally, making an airtight and aesthetically pleasing connection.

The EZ-Flange is fabricated from 16-gauge galvanized steel to fit inside spiral duct and fittings ranging from 26 inches to 96 inches in diameter. EZ-Flange is also available in PVS, aluminum and paint-grip materials and can be used on single- or double-wall duct and flat-oval ductwork.

EZ-Flange is assembled using a barrel clamp system that locks together with two 3/8-inch carriage bolts. No screws are needed. Because there is virtually no leakage at the transverse connection the fan does not have to work as hard, officials said.

It worked well for the installing contractor.

“We saw at least a 50 percent savings on our install labor when using the EZ-Flange system from Sheet Metal Connectors,” said Tom Peterson, the project’s HVAC supervisor. “(It) saved us time connecting the pipe and fittings and since the flanges were factory installed and ready to hang, the system was self-aligning.”

Installing the dust-collection system saved Wells Concrete money. The company received an $18,096 rebate from CenterPoint Energy, the local natural gas supplier. The utility worked with Ladwig to determine the energy savings the new system provided, which determined the amount of the rebate.

The rebate amount was based on the annual natural gas savings of the high-efficiency equipment versus standard equipment.

CenterPoint spokeswoman Jennifer Stokes said the utility company was impressed.

“We were happy to work with Wells Concrete and   Ellingson to provide a custom rebate for their effort to put in a high-efficiency HVAC system at their new Albany location,” she said. “We believe that Wells will see significant energy savings going forward due to the dust-collection system that was installed. We look forward to working with Wells and other industrial customers on finding potential energy-saving projects and providing custom conservation improvement program rebates.”

This article and its images were supplied by Sheet Metal Connectors. For reprints, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail devriesj@bnpmedia.com.