When considering aluminum systems, contractors need to closely examine their businesses and decide whether they're doing enough work to make up for the up front costs. "We think they should be pouring 50 to 75 foundations a year to really look at the cost of aluminum," Fearnow says.
"You really have to look at the type of market you're in because there are markets where a guy could use the forms 10 times and the aluminum would make sense," Engelken adds.
Larger aluminum forms, as with other forming systems, need to be set with a crane, but there are some sizes that can be set either with a boom truck or by hand. The use of a boom truck rests with the contractor and whether or not he feels he's doing enough work to make up for the cost of the truck. "There are contractors who like the boom trucks because they are a lot faster in moving forms in and out of a foundation and you can set them down in place; other people use roll-offs, trailers or modified trucks where they put on their own racking design. The boom truck is really the less labor-intensive system to use," Fearnow says.
Manufacturers in the industry have recently introduced aluminum form systems that are lighter weight, adjustable in the field and have fewer parts for more efficient setup and stripping. Aluminum forming panels that impart a brick or stone pattern onto the finished wall have been available for years, but recently manufacturers have started introducing more patterns to choose from. These systems can be used in conjunction with the smooth-face panels to achieve different surfaces on either side of the wall. Engelken says he expects much more in the way of advancements in the aluminum forming system in the coming years. "One thing I can say about the aluminum forming market is even though it's 50 years old, I believe it's still in its infancy."