Success in onsite crushing means choosing the right portable or mobile crusher for the application.
Have crusher, will travel—that is, if you have one of the latest portable or track-mounted units that have propelled excavators into new profit centers…and into a host of transportation and material cost savings. Today’s fuel costs make onsite crushing a no-brainer. Asphalt and concrete can be processed into a specification product that can be used right on the job site, dramatically lowering the costs of base materials and eliminating the hauling of material to and from the site.
For those who may be intimidated by the massive nature of the crushing beast, veterans say that once past the learning curve involved in the “process” of crushing, the plant becomes one more fixture in the fleet—but one that can truly deliver a welcome payback.
So if you’ve done your marketing homework and decided that onsite crushing is right for you, how do you approach the purchase of a unit? There are portable and mobile units alike. Portable units are wheel-mounted and on a chassis, while mobile machines are track-mounted. Which one is best for your projects? Do you need an impact crusher or a jaw? How do you choose the right crusher for the projects you’re targeting?
Although there are numerous international and US crusher manufacturers, GX talked with five companies that supply portable and mobile units. Each offers some valuable tips on how to choose the unit that’s best for your applications.
Look for simplicity with convenience when choosing either a portable or track-mounted crusher. Tim Harms, applications specialist for Kolberg-Pioneer Inc. and Johnson Crushers International (KPI-JCI), elaborates on that statement when he stresses that the availability of support is a key factor in any purchasing decision. Is there an authorized dealer in the region for repairs and parts? Will you be able to troubleshoot the unit yourself? Or is it so complex that it requires an expert opinion much of the time? How easy is the machine to operate and set up? And, importantly—what are its safety considerations?
KPI-JCI offers a full line of portable and track-mounted units, each designed and manufactured in the US and supported by a network of authorized dealers. “Our company is experiencing tremendous growth surrounding our Fast Trax line of track-mounted units. For site preparation and the ability to process specification material onsite, track-mounted is the way to go,” says Harms. “You can haul a track-mounted machine on the flatbed, just as you would an excavator, back it off the trailer and in five minutes, you’re crushing rock. Now those 5,000-ton jobs are not a problem to handle cost-effectively,” he says, adding that this ability is in stark contrast to the days when onsite crushing demanded projects of 50,000 tons and up—and the only option was a machine on a traditional chassis. “And regarding safety,” he stresses, “how safe is the conventional portable plant if you’re still lifting timbers to crib it?”
Photo: Trackman Crusher Inc.
|The Rebel Trackmount Jaw Crusher's screening system was designed to prevent dirt and fine particles from mixing in with the final material.
Harms acknowledges that he is definitely pro-track. However, he says, there are places for the portable plant. “Consider an annual production of 500,000 tons. Below that you should take a look at track-mounted. Above that, you should crunch the numbers to see if portable makes more sense. Also, ask yourself how mobile do you need to be? Examine the number of moves you anticipate versus how many tons you will need,” he says.
For those new to onsite crushing, Harms says a common challenge is inexperience with the “process” itself. “Some might look at the track-mounted crusher as being similar to an excavator. You grease it, check the oil, get in it, and run it all day—and the hardest thing to convey is that now you are running a process,” he says. As such, Harms recommends that owners carefully consider the training involved and just who will operate the unit. “Don’t put the number-one excavator operator on the plant. He knows how to hurry up and wait, but does he have an eye for the process? He might. But it’s best to get the person who is the most conscientious and detail-oriented. Someone who is thorough is a lot better than someone who is fast.”
As for an impact crusher versus the jaw, Harms suggests that the impactor is capable of tackling the broadest range of applications. “The contractor can handle more jobs with it while achieving a higher material reduction ratio—so from a capital cost standpoint, particularly, it is the better choice,” he says.
Harms points to the models FT4240 and FT4250 as track-mounted Andreas Series impact crushers (complete with a screen and recirculating conveyor) that offer the greatest application flexibility and will produce an in-spec product with one machine.
“More and more excavating companies know they must move into onsite crushing to remain competitive—and to maintain a “green” mentality,” says Chris Harris, sales engineer for Galion, OH–based Eagle Crusher, a manufacturer that has recently introduced a new track-mounted crusher, but whose mainstay has always been the high-production, portable, wheel-mounted plant in tough recycle applications.
“The market has asked for a track machine, but sometimes what the market asks for and what it really needs are two different things. As most dozers and excavators are on tracks, that’s how we think. But sometimes putting a crusher on tracks is a disadvantage,” says Harris. “First, in just comparing apples to apples, the same size crusher on tracks, as opposed to axles and wheels, will cost quite a bit more and is actually less efficient,” he says.
Photo: Eagle Crusher
|Eagle Crusher’s UltraMax 1200-25 is a portable wheeled unit with inline magnets for efficient metal contamination removal and high production.
Harris says that the choice between portable and track-mounted ultimately depends upon the size of the footprint, the total tons to be crushed, the size and type of material feed, and the end product you wish to make. For example, he suggests that track-mounted units are suitable for certain asphalt recycle applications and those projects with low production tonnages and very frequent moves.
“Contractors also need to look at the required specifications when one wants to place material back onsite or be able to sell it. Track-mounted machines have cross-belt magnets that are only about 70% to 75% efficient in removing metal from the processed material—while the inline magnets on the portable plants are up to 98% efficient,” he says. “So with the track machine, you have a twofold problem—more contamination metal in your final product and the loss of at least 20% of the revenue gained from scrap steel recycling—and today that can be a chunk of change,” he adds.
Certainly the advantage of the track-mounted unit is setup time. “But if you go on the Internet and look for used equipment, there are a lot of track machines with low hours for sale, because contractors tried to take them into applications where they just didn’t work,” says Harris.
As to accelerating the learning curve for crushing, Harris stresses that on-the-job training is key. In fact, he encourages potential end users to send their prospective operators to train with an established crusher. That was the case when a new owner sent an operator to train with Klumm Brothers Excavating, an operation in Holland, OH, that got into crushing in 2004.
“We took the new operator for a walk around the portable crushing plant, and then we put him right into the hot seat of the excavator,” says owner Bob Klumm, who allowed the trainee to work with them for four days. “From the excavator he could see what every other person involved was doing. We told him what material to feed and what to kick to the side, such as pieces with rebar more than four feet long. He learned the process fairly quickly. For example, he might see that he was getting a lot of material coming back on the return belt, so then he would know it was time to adjust the crusher settings. In the classroom a person wouldn’t get a clear picture of this,” he says.
Klumm operates an Eagle UltraMax 1200-25 CC portable crusher. “We chose the portable over track-mounted for production and tons per hour. The downside to the track unit is that when you are moving around, you end up with small-volume stockpiles all over the site. I like to have one large volume pile in one concise area. I prefer the portable to the track-mounted any day,” says Klumm.
Jim Schreiner, manager of product application and marketing for Telsmith Inc., says that choosing a crusher involves weighing mobility costs and how much space you have at the site. “Track-mounted plants have taken off so well because so many contractors are looking at really small jobs, and they need that mobility,” he says. “Also, the size of the site is important. When a building has been demolished in an urban area, generally there isn’t room for a larger wheeled plant, stacking conveyors, and a large-volume stockpile. The track-mounted plant is ideal for the small footprint,” he adds, pointing to one of its most popular applications—that of processing material on a road job. “The track-mounted unit can move alongside the job, without obstructing traffic, and process material as it is being milled from the roadway,” he says.
But Schreiner, like others, stresses that the track-mounted plant has its limitations. “They are very compact, so wire, rebar, and pipes in the demolition debris have a hard time making the transitions through the plant. Often these materials will hang up, tear a belt, so your average tons per day start to go down when dealing with these intermittent shutdowns in the process. In tough recycle applications, the wheeled plant will average more tons at the end of the day,” he says.
As to an impact crusher versus a jaw, Schreiner stresses that the jaw is only going to make a product that is 4-inch-minus. “Most contractors will want a 1.5-inch-minus that can be used as a road base, and the impactor is often the choice for that,” he says.
Telsmith has recently introduced its new Quarry-Trax mobile track-mounted primary jaw crushing plant for producers of crushed stone or concrete recycle. To aid in more efficient processing when dealing with large feed and contaminants, the plant’s 3258 jaw crusher features a larger gape and a 58-inch-wide crushing chamber that boosts crushing capacity by up to 15%, says the company. Importantly, the unit also offers a hydraulic tramp iron relief that protects parts and components from overload damage, as well as hydraulic chamber clearing that allows the operator to safely clear the crusher and return to production in just minutes.
“Those new to crushing are often cautious at first. There is this misconception that units are too expensive and too complicated to operate—and that the rate of return is not fast enough,” says Matthew Voigt, mobile solutions sales manager for Metso Minerals. “Yes, there are many unknowns, but typically, once contractors rent their first machine, they change their minds very quickly,” says Voigt who estimates that up to 85% of contractors enter the market as a rental customer and receive significant support from the local distributor.
Voigt stresses that contractors should know their market and know where the jobs are before they purchase a unit. “It may be that the market will come to you, or you may have to work hard to create that market,” he says, adding that most approach the market in a progressive manner. “They start out renting smaller equipment, make one or two products and get a feel for the market. Then in many cases, after a month or two, they can’t keep up with demand and end up going with a larger impactor or jaw—or add a second stage of crushing so that they can process specialty products,” he says.
Additionally, Voigt says, it’s imperative to understand the onsite and over-the-road permitting in your region. “Metso manufactures the most compact units up to the world’s largest track-mounted crushers, so you can get any size you want, but if you can’t move it on the highway, it’s of no use to you,” he says.
Metso Minerals has released its new Lokotrack LT96, which is a new size class in the mobile crushing plant series for contractors. The company says it’s engineered to open up new business opportunities with its compact design and efficiency and with its combination of mobility and high crushing capacity.
Compact Concrete Crushers, the North American distributor for parent company Komplet Italia, offers one of most compact track-mounted jaw crushers on the market. “The Lem Track 48-25 weighs in at only 7,400 pounds and can be towed to the job site with a half-ton pickup truck,” says Nick Baker, sales and marketing manager. “The unit will crush up to 48-tons per hour and use only 8 to 10 gallons of fuel per day versus the larger track-mounted units, which consume more than 150 gallons per day,” he says.
Baker stresses that these compact models are ideal for the residential projects or the extremely tight urban footprint. “Contractors who purchase these units are smaller companies who are tired of paying for dumping fees, the CDL driver, and high-cost diesel fuel. It’s for the company that is doing sidewalks, curbs, patios, and swimming pools. They can use the material on the job site, or bring it back to the yard and set up a transfer station where material can be used as base on other projects,” he says.
Available with an electric or diesel motor, four-point lift rings, and remote control, the Lem Track is also suited for city demolition floor by floor, says the company. The new Lem Track 60-40, which will process up to 60-tons per hour, will also be available in 2008.
“Small- to medium-size excavating companies are looking for ways to differentiate themselves—and getting into onsite recycle crushing is one of the best strategies, as it results in such significant cost savings,” says Mark Cosner, sales manager for Onsite Recycling Corp., a Peoria, IL–based distributor of the Rubble Master track-mounted crusher. The dealer is a sister company to Iron Hustler Excavating, which purchased its first Rubble Master unit in 2003. “Our first project was tearing down a hotel. We crushed 11,000 tons onsite and sold every bit of it as state-approved base material for the department store that was to be built at the location,” he says. “It was a huge cost savings.”
In choosing a crusher, Cosner emphasizes that the number-one issue is what the contractor wants to produce. “If they want to produce an end product that will meet state specs, then that is what they must focus on. Many contractors assume that oversized material is the only product they can get from a crusher. We stress being able to make a spec product in one pass by using an impact crusher that is designed and built specifically for demolition and recycle—rather than being a downsized version of a quarry production unit,” he says.
Willie Petersen of Petersen Excavating in Gurnee, IL, operates the Rubble Master RM80. “After five years of looking at crushers, we chose it for the support and also because it’s a ‘green’ machine. It offers a smaller carbon footprint, as its compact diesel engine converts all of its diesel power into kilowatts within an onboard generator. So the whole machine really runs off electricity, allowing us to operate on only about 30 gallons of fuel per day. We’ve been in recycling for more than 33 years, so we wanted an eco-friendly machine,” says Petersen.
The Time Is Now
Onsite recycle crushing is an idea whose time is now. It has never been more important to conserve fuel, cut transportation costs, and minimize the use of virgin materials by using high-quality recycled products. With portable and track-mounted units, cross-country crushing may be a new business sport worth tackling.
Author's Bio: Construction writer Carol Wasson is a frequent contributor to Forester publications.