Breaking it down: Crusher evolution prompts contractors to rethink aggregates
April 22, 2019 by Jillian Morgan
The steep cost of hauling off and disposing of rubble from job sites, only to purchase and truck in virgin aggregate from far-off quarries, has motivated the construction industry to turn its garbage into gold.
Geoffrey Faber, territory manager West at Rubble Master Americas Corp., says crusher OEMs are taking notice.
“Contractors are spending more money every day than they were the day before,” he says. “Manufacturers have changed their mindset when it comes to crushers because they see the opportunities. They see contractors that are actively paying trucking costs, paying disposal fees, paying repurchase prices and they say, ‘Look, if we can build a crusher that could alleviate all of that pain, there’s a market here.’”
Crushing materials for use on job sites, namely road building projects, has become a more attractive venture in recent years with the evolution of mobile, track mounted crushers. High-powered operation, low fuel consumption and intuitive technology form the bedrock of innovation across all models.
Both on- and off-site, contractors are taking advantage of material recycling to drive productivity, save on costs and lower their environmental footprint.
TAKING CONTROL OFF THE JOB
Builders behind the Regina Bypass, Saskatchewan’s largest-ever transportation infrastructure project, have taken material quality into their own hands.
At a well-oiled crushing operation off-site, crews processed upwards of 10,000 tons of material each day over the course of two seasons — totalling two million tons of aggregate — to be used for the road’s infrastructure.
The $1.2 billion project encompasses 40 kilometres of new four-lane highway, 20 kilometres of resurfaced four-lane highway, 55 kilometres of new service roads, five kilometres of twinned highway and 12 overpasses.
“Within that, we’re placing about a million tons of asphalt,” Garrett Doyle, the project director with Graham Construction, says. “In terms of other granular materials, probably three or four million tons of granular materials between road base and foundations for the roads and the seawall backfill.”
The project, slated to wrap up in 2019, is led by a joint venture comprising Graham, Parsons Canada Ltd., Carmacks Enterprises and Vinci Canada. A subcontractor completed all crushing for the project at a pit provided by the province.
Processing materials from a single source allowed the team to quickly produce quality materials, Doyle says, which helped the project to meet its daily efficiencies and reduce overhead costs.
“When you’re controlling the crushing operation you have better control of your quality,” he adds. “[Getting] an efficient operation running that’s producing quality material, [without] any rework or any rescreening or re-crushing, is really key and that went really well here at the bypass.”
READY TO GO ON-SITE
While off-site crushing plants boast big advantages for contractors, the introduction of mobile track-mounted crushers in the last couple decades has marked another major advancement in the equipment.
Jeff MacDonald, president of Mississauga, Ont.-based Amaco Construction Equipment Inc., says those models have made on-site crushing a viable option for more construction companies.
“These track plants – you come in, you track it off the float and then you’re crushing in like five minutes,” he says. “It’s made the ability to be more productive very high.”
Faber echoes MacDonald, adding that Rubble Master’s crushers are fully hydraulic, making for a speedy set-up.
“You can set up a Rubble Master crusher on a job site in 25 minutes flat – done, over-with, ready to work,” he says. Unveiled in October 2018, the RM 120GO! track-mounted crusher is just one of the company’s models offering this key advantage. “That’s a major advancement, especially for contractors,” Faber adds. “Years ago, you’d bring the crusher and then you’d have to bring the screen and you’d have to bring all these conveyors just to do simple recycling.”
Now, all of those components are packaged up in one machine – an innovation that saves more than time.
“[The machine] comes in, the return system folds out, you do a safety inspection and you start crushing,” Faber says. “You’re immediately ready to go and you’re immediately making money.”
For MacDonald, the rise of track-mounted models has made crushing more affordable for contractors.
“That’s why it’s taken off so much,” he says. “When you crush it on-site, you actually have a useable product that has value… With virgin materials being more rare and farther from market, the recyclable materials are a viable resource to turn into a construction building product.”
Now that on-site crushing is becoming more commonplace, the industry is looking beyond concrete rubble.
“Our line of compact scalping screens, which are used to screen dirt or classified dirt or soil… have become much more popular in the last five years,” Faber says. “[Contractors have] taken that mindset to concrete rubble pretty well with on-site crushing. Now, they’re looking at other materials and trying to minimize their costs and their impact on the environment by reusing as much as possible on the job site.”
Despite the drive to advance mobility and ease-of-use on-site, OEM’s aren’t forfeiting efficiency and power.
Seamus Loftus, technical sales manager at Wirtgen Group, says high production capacity and fuel efficiency are core offerings for Kleemann GmbH, a subsidiary of Wirtgen.
“Our jaw crusher and cone crusher interlink measure the feed rate and balance the plant so that the feed and output are fully utilized for optimum performance,” he says. “A constant feed to the cone results in great product cubicity, fantastic fuel efficiency and good, even metal wear, all the while maintaining a constant production flow. All big pluses to anybody who is crushing on the job.”
The company’s flagship machine, the Kleemann Impactor, has “proven itself time and time again in quarry and site,” Loftus adds. “Aggressive pre-screen, underpan feeder and closed circuit plant, once again bearing fuel efficiency in mind, are just some of the main features that make it such an impressive plant,” he says.
The push for fuel-efficient operation is just one of a number of advancements trickling down from Europe, with another being telematics, which allow owners, operators and manufacturers to see how a plant is operating, MacDonald says.
“Much of it has to do with power,” he adds. “With the change… to Tier 4 diesel, there’s always an interest in looking to see how the cost of powering a plant can be reduced because the cost of running diesel engines gets higher and higher.”
While the last several years have been marked by a shift away from mechanical plants to hydraulic-drive operation, MacDonald says the next wave of innovation will focus on electric.
“Everybody’s trying something different, something new,” Loftus says. “A lot of our larger stuff can be run off line power; by running the electric plant we can really get ahead of the game with fuel savings.”
Kleemann’s MOBISCREEN EVO screening plants, launched in early 2018, feature a hydraulic drive designed to produce high output with low fuel consumption and a mobile control panel.
Manufacturers are keeping an ear to the ground to better respond to the needs of contractors. Many of the recent advancements in crushers are the result of manufactures listening to their customers, Faber says.
“We have direct relationships with our end-users and we learn not just about what they want to do with their crusher but we learn about their business as a whole,” he says. “Then we take the information and we relay it back to the design engineers and we relay it back to the owner.”
MacDonald says the end-user is looking for reliability. While the initial investment in a crusher might seem intimating, he says the equipment will ultimately save contractors money.
“They need a machine that’s safe, they need a machine that’s simple, and they need a machine that’s easy to operate,” Faber adds. “Those are the three keys to success from say, a 100-foot view. That’s what you’re looking for if you’re a contractor.”
This article first appeared in the April 2019 issue of On-Site. You can read through the full issue here.