The super-mobile track-mounted crusher is saving time, money, and natural resources on excavation job sites across the nation.
Long popular on the European front, the track-mounted crusher is finally achieving life-of-the-party status on a number of US-based excavation and demolition job sites—and not surprisingly, as the track-mounted crusher is a natural fit for today’s fast-paced and regulation-filled construction climate. It’s easy to transport and permit, sets up in minutes, and maneuvers well in tight spots. Although its undercarriage components make it a more costly option, its payback may even the score by allowing contractors to become road-ready recyclers who save time, money, and natural resources. Mobility makes the track-mounted crusher ideal for demolition and roadwork in heavily populated areas. Crushed asphalt and concrete material can be reused onsite or, at a minimum, reduced in bulk to save trucking costs.
“Track-mounted crushers transport rather easily and are ready to work almost immediately,” says Tony Grygera, manager of product marketing support for Metso Minerals Industries Inc. “Once onsite they self-propel to follow the material to be processed. With a stationary plant, or even a conventional wheel-mounted portable system, there are hundreds of trips bringing material to the plant for processing and return trips taking finished product back for incorporation as road base. Mobile equipment affords more ways to use your productive resources. It reduces or eliminates the equipment and personnel costs related to haulage; plus it conserves fuel while improving the bottom line,” he says.
But Grygera is quick to point out that mobility is no substitute for effective crushing and screening. “These plants would not be so successful if they could not handle the feedstock, make properly shaped product, and produce tonnage comparable to their stationary counterparts,” he says.
With that said, let’s take a look at how track-mounted crushers and screens are rolling into performance across the nation.
Along the East Coast
David Berg, a 20-year demolition industry veteran, says that mobile crushers are a cost-effective solution. With the increasing cost of landfill processing and the high price of trucking out materials—especially if there is nowhere close to haul the materials—Berg has found that having mobile crushers onsite greatly reduces costs. “Everything these days is more expensive to get rid of,” he says. “Anybody can tear down a building, but tearing it down the most cost-effective way is how you stay in business.”
Berg owns two companies, Berg Corp. and the Crushing Corp. of America, which focus on demolition and contract crushing work in Baltimore; Washington, DC; and northern Virginia. Berg stresses efficient management of materials onsite, including the immediate crushing and removal of concrete debris. Recently he added two new Komatsu BR550JG mobile crushers to his fleet of equipment. By using a mobile crusher, Berg says that the company keeps its sites clean, while recycling and selling the crushed materials to other contractors. For example, 99% of a recent project was recyclable.
The Komatsu BR550JG-1 is transported to a different worksite every other week or so, making mobility an important factor. The model was chosen because it uses the same track undercarriage as Komatsu’s excavators, which makes it very easy to relocate. “What I really like about the BR550JG-1 is its mobility and ease of setup,” explains Rick Maska, vice president of operations for Berg Corp. “You take it off a low-boy and within an hour you’re ready to crush.”
Berg says that besides mobility, the BR550JG-1 has certain productivity features that make it a good fit for the demolition business. “It’s the power and size of the jaw that has helped us increase production rates. We have the ability to run an abundance of material through it because of this particular jaw. So far, it has handled everything we’ve given it and has completely surpassed my expectations,” he says.
Additionally, the BR550JG-1 utilizes a two-step grizzly feeder that vibrates the material in an elliptical movement so that the materials being loaded into the feeder are separated and fed evenly into the jaw.
“The double deck vibratory feeder on the BR550JG-1 is terrific,” says Maska. “What I like is the way the material comes off the first deck and drops down to the second, so if there is mud or other debris, it breaks apart and falls freely to the belt beneath. Ultimately, it increases production by reducing the amount of material that we have to send through the jaw.”
Besides muck and mud, Berg Corp. deals with concrete. There’s always the risk that rebar is in the concrete or junk metal gets stuck in the debris during demolition. In order to reduce downtime and increase the value of the end product, the company bought the BR550JG-1 with an optional magnetic separator. Material being fed into the jaw is crushed, thus separating the steel and rebar from the concrete, at which time the magnetic separator catches the metal and spits it out on the ground or into a container. According to Maska, this was an extremely important feature. “When you’re dealing with demolition, there’s bound to be metal in the concrete,” says Maska. “The magnet separator has done an excellent job of catching the metal and separating it from the final product we actually want.”
The BR550JG-1 has a semi-automatic feeder system, which senses the load on the crusher and adjusts the feed rate accordingly. If at any time the crusher senses an excessive load, the rotating lamp flashes to alert the operator to halt loading. “Safety is my number-one priority and I believe in training my employees well and enforcing strict safety rules,” says Berg. “The BR550JG-1 is an easy, safe machine to run. It works well with our operations.”
In the Heart of Milwaukee
Milwaukee’s Marquette Interchange withstands about 300,000 vehicles per day, roughly double what it was designed to carry four decades ago. Currently that interchange is the focus of an $810 million infrastructure improvement project, the largest in Wisconsin history. Concurrent with the Marquette Interchange Project is the development of 1,200 acres in Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley. Its land is being tapped for use as an industrial park. Because of these projects, several buildings, including the five-story Milwaukee County Courthouse Annex, are being razed. The project is designed to be environmentally friendly with as many demolition materials as possible being recycled and reused onsite.
Demo materials are crushed in place by Tracks Custom Crushing. The company uses its train of track-mounted equipment to turn demo material into a variety of materials from minus-3.5-inch crusher run to DOT 1.25-inch spec material. Recycled concrete is used as road base while the recycled asphalt is used under the new road shoulders. In total, Tracks must crush over 275,000 tons in related projects over an 18-month period, while the Annex job totals approximately 38,000 tons. “This job would not have been possible without the mobility of track-mounts,” says Tracks President Kevin Dahlgren.
|A track-mounted crushing and screening train in front of Milwaukee County Courthouse where the “Annex” once covered the northbound lanes of 1-43|
|Allu’s SMH Screener Crusher attachment crushing building debris|
Prior to the Marquette project, Dahlgren added a new Nordberg ST620 track-mounted, triple-deck screen to his fleet. Tracks’ primary is a Nordberg LT1315 track-mounted impact crusher for maximum reduction and liberation of iron. “That product is fine for backfill. For the concrete and asphalt stone, the LT300HP track-mounted cone crusher gives us the desired cubical shape. But to meet DOT specs for sized product, you need the screen,” says Dahlgren, adding that his equipment selection was made easier via the assistance of Bruce Troxel of R.B. Scott Co. Inc., which supplies crushing and screening equipment in his region.
“Track-mounted equipment gives us a lot of flexibility. We can relocate one or two units or the entire train according to the feed and end-product requirements. It only takes a few loads to transport the entire system to the site. We can relocate onsite and be crushing again in about an hour and a half,” he says.
In Nebraska Corn Country
Heimes Corp. is a well-rounded organization that encompasses excavating, recycling, plumbing, and more. It currently operates one of the largest fleets of mobile concrete and asphalt recycling equipment in the Midwest. Cost-efficiently transported between its Omaha- and Council Bluffs–based recycling yards, its track-mounted crushers and screens reduce haulage costs and landfill charges. “Because the units are portable, we move them very easily to either site and then just leave a loader and operator there [to sell the material] after we finish crushing. Our advantage is that we are versatile,” says Ray Heimes, owner and president of the company.
His fleet comprises five track-mounted units, all manufactured by Crushtek LLC, a global enterprise led by Johann Schmidt, who introduced a trailer-mounted crusher to the US in 1982 and a track-mounted crusher in 1993. Schmidt is hands-on with his customers, often going onsite to share his recycling expertise. He was instrumental in getting Heimes Corp. under way with its Supertrack 1310i impact crusher, its Supertrack 1348j jaw crusher, and its three track-mounted screeners. The equipment can be separated to operate at different sites simultaneously or combined to recycle over 900 tons per hour at one location.
The operation can calibrate its screens to meet a variety of material specifications. “We’re the only company in our area with the ability to produce such a large number of different products. Our screen plants allow us to do that,” says Heimes, who prefers his products over that of crushed limestone in applications such as parking lots, foundation sub-base, and pipe bedding. “While limestone seems to break down, our recycled concrete products deliver greater compaction. While some contractors will use fill sand for a sub-base, we’ve found that it is not a good option. When a concrete truck drives over it, the tires start spinning and the vehicle gets stuck. On the other hand, the recycled concrete bonds, and you can drive right over it,” he says.
Heimes says that his competition may have a recycling yard as well but that their operations are stationary. “My portable crushers will produce as much or more as most stationary plants. Plus, I have two yards and am considering adding a third site. Having multiple yards and mobile equipment is a huge advantage,” he says. “Moving this equipment is no different than hauling an excavator. The conveyor hydraulically folds up and you load it on the truck and chain it down. When you get to the site, you unchain it, drive it off the truck, unfold the conveyors, and start crushing.”
In the Las Vegas Desert
Heavy Duty Construction is building roads and leveling lots on an upscale residential development in suburban Las Vegas. The operation is using a track-mounted crusher to tackle the reduction of material from the rough, rocky job site. “The streets are going up a pretty steep hillside,” says company owner Jeff Fegert. “It’s all solid rock, so we’re doing a lot of drilling and shooting to shape these streets and lots. Then we have to process the material so it can be used to meet processed-rock requirements on this project or be exported and used on other projects in the vicinity.”
Fegert says that his crew started the project with a closed-circuit jaw and screening unit. “Our goal was to get a Type 2 or 0.75-inch [19-millimeter] minus material that we could use elsewhere. The original units worked fairly well, but we were not getting into our 0.75-inch [19-millimeter] minus material quickly enough. We knew we had to use a secondary system, so we brought in an impactor and screen. But we were still not getting the product we wanted,” he says.
After several more trials, they eventually ended up with several pieces of integrated crushing and screening equipment from Kolberg-Pioneer Inc. (KPI) and Johnson Crushers International Inc. (JCI).
Fegert explains that they purchased this equipment mainly as a way to offset the cost of getting rid of the excess material that results from the excavation. “If we don’t crush to the Type 2 size and sell the material, our only alternative is to haul it 2 miles just to get rid of it. As it is, we are able to market our crushed and screened-to-size aggregate to customers on the south side of the valley. Essentially, we are basically trading dollar for dollar—instead of incurring an extra cost,” he says.
The raw material is fed into a KPI FT2650 track-mounted jaw crusher. After being reduced to 6-inch (152-millimeter) minus, it moves to a JCI FT6203 track-mounted 6- by 20-foot screening unit to be separated into two sizes. The 0.75-inch (19-millimeter) material is stockpiled until it can be transported to the job site for use, while the larger material goes back to a JCI FT300 track-mounted cone crusher. The material coming from the cone crusher is then conveyed to the 0.75-inch (19-millimeter) stockpile to await transport.
“After adding the KPI jaw crusher, we found that we were able to increase our output by another 15% to 20%. What we were looking for was something very mobile that would be easy to permit. We also needed equipment that was very compact, because we’re working in really tight quarters at the job site. And of course, the system would have to be highly productive in order to pay for itself,” says Fegert.
Big Recycling Incentive
Current and ever-tightening regulations have changed the way that recycling is viewed. The EPA designates items that must contain recycled content when purchased by federal, state, and local agencies or by government contractors using appropriated federal funds. Beyond that, there are many incentives to recycling. Certainly it reduces the amount of construction debris sent to landfills, while minimizing natural resource depletion. For the contractor, it provides energy and cost savings and the means to avoid high transportation expense, disposal fees, and new material costs.
Author's Bio: Construction writer Carol Wasson is a frequent contributor to Forester publications.