State permitting news PG6 | New equipment PG8 | Conveyor accessories PG35
Yo u r g u i d e t o p ro f i t a b l e p ro d u c t i o n
March 2017 | www.AggMan.com
Improve your water management
Avoid common mistakes with drones
Cut through the confusion on berm requirements
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Pre- and post-flight inspections help to ensure that a drone will perform as expected during its flight.
On Our Cover: A high-quality blast begins with planning. Cover photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
KCM Corp. rolls out its Tier 4 Final version of the 80Z7 wheel loader.
TABLE OF CONTENTS MARCH 2017 |
VOLUME 22, NUMBER 3
COLUMNS & DEPARTMENTS
Six Sigma Drilling and Blasting A steady management approach to drilling and blasting can help operators lower their costs and achieve better fragmentation.
28 Your Eye in the Sky
Drones 101: A primer to help you avoid common mistakes, improve maintenance, and store your drone between uses.
35 Crisp Conveying
The right accessories and equipment help to ensure smooth transportation of aggregate throughout your operation.
3 Editorial Presidential priorities: how they may affect you. 4 Data Mining The latest financial analysis of issues impacting in the industry and Aggregates Manager’s exclusive aggregates industry outlook. 6 State and Province News A roundup of the latest news in North America. 8 RollOuts Komatsu’s new PC650LC-11 hydraulic excavator, and other new equipment for the aggregates market. 39 Rock Law When it comes to berm requirements, the case law is sometimes contradictory. Learn when berms may and may not be required. 42 Advertiser Index See who’s who and where to find their products.
Effective Water Management
A proactive approach to water management can reduce consumption and lower costs.
43 Classified Ads Aggregate industry classifieds. 44 Carved in Stone Aggregates and the environment: Like hydroponic systems, gravel and aggregate cultures have created alternative options for plant growth.
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Vol. 22, No.3
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief email@example.com
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Aggregates Manager TM magazine (ISSN 1552-3071) is published monthly by Randall-Reilly, LLC copyright 2017. Executive and Administrative offices, 3200 Rice Mine Rd. N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406. Subscription rates: $24 annually, Non-domestic $125 annually. Single copies: $7. We assume no responsibility for the validity of claims of manufacturers in any advertisement or editorial product information or literature offered by them. Publisher reserves the right to refuse non-qualified subscriptions. Periodical circulation postage paid at Tuscaloosa, Alabama and additional entries. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage retrieval system, without written permission of the copyright owner. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 507.1.5.2); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to Aggregates Manager, 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406.
uring its early days, President Trump’s administration relied largely on executive orders to signal that there is, indeed, a new chief in town. While issues such as the travel ban have garnered much attention, many aggregate operators are watching for movement on issues that most directly affect their businesses. At press time, confirmations were taking place for many cabinet members and legislative initiatives had not yet been rolled out. “It’s a different dynamic to issue executive orders and do the kinds of things you can do as a new president than it is to begin to work with Congress and start to engage in a dialogue to drive results a different way,” said Michael Johnson, CEO of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, during a recent government affairs teleconference. Johnson noted that President Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell share the same basic governance policy, but have strong personalities and each believe in their own approach to issues, which may make the minutiae of policymaking a more slow-paced process. Infrastructure investment was a key plank of the President’s campaign platform, and it was one of his first priorities following the election. Descriptions of his plan range between $500 billion and $1 trillion. Draft versions of these plans, however, indicate that those figures are not solely for highways and roads. Investments could also be made in airports, ports, public buildings, and even a fiber optic network. Operators should also be aware that the figures represent a one-time investment over a 10-year window rather than an ongoing funding mechanism. While some White House advisors have indicated the President’s preference for infrastructure investment through private-public partnership, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has expressed a desire to see direct funding as well. Hopefully, the administration relies on Chao’s experience and recognizes that not all infrastructure investments are suitable for private-public partnerships. That is a good talking point to communicate with your legislators. It will also be interesting to see how the President and Congress address the Highway Trust Fund issue. Long-term funding streams need to be identified and put in place while the Republican party has control of both the White House and Congress. Regulatory issues are another top concern for operators who have had to contend with overzealous regulators for much of the last decade. Key concerns include what will happen with the workplace exam rule, how asbestos will be defined by the EPA, and the future of the Waters of the U.S. rule. The President’s Jan. 31 executive order, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, requires that, for every new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination. It will likely provide some relief to small producers, in particular. A recent survey by the Small Business Association found that small business owners report spending an average of $12,000 per year on regulations. Early indications are good, but as the administration fleshes out its proposals, we’ll keep you up to date. Check in at www.aggman.com for developing news. AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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United States $2.558 One Week -0.004 q One Year +0.550 p
Company Cemex, S.A.B. de C.V.
New England $2.661 One Week -0.001 q One Year +0.460 p
Central Atlantic $2.763 One Week -0.007 q One Year +0.539 p
Lower Atlantic $2.508 One Week -0.002 q One Year +0.549 p
Midwest $2.492 One Week -0.008 q One Year +0.563 p
Gulf Coast $2.403 One Week -0.005 q One Year +0.507 p
Rocky Mountain $2.515 One Week -0.001 q One Year +0.601 p
West Coast $2.856 One Week +0.011 p One Year +0.620 p
West Coast less California $2.748 One Week +0.004 p One Year +0.675 p
California $2.944 One Week +0.017 p One Year +0.575 p Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (dollars per gallon, prices include all taxes).
Eagle Materials Inc.
Granite Construction Inc.
Heidelberg Cement AG
LafargeHolcim Ltd. ADR
Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.
MDU Resources Group, Inc.
United States Lime & Minerals, Inc.
Vulcan Materials Co.
Sources: Wall Street Journal Market Watch. Currency conversion calculated on date of close 2/08/17.
East Coast $2.618 One Week -0.004 q One Year +0.531 p
DU Resources MDU Resources Group Inc. Group, Inc., (MDU), parent company of Knife River, reported 2016 earnings from continuing operations of $232.4 million, or $1.19 per share, compared to 2015 earnings from continuing operations of $175.7 million, or $0.90 per share. Construction materials and services performed particularly well, with earnings of $136.6 million, a 21-percent increase over the prior year. The exploration and production business and the refining business didn’t fare as well, and MDU exited those markets and shed its interest in a natural gas processing plant. “Our continuing operations increased earnings per share by 32 percent in 2016, led by record results at our construction materials business,” said David L. Goodin, president and CEO, in the company’s guidance. “As we move into 2017, we expect to build on our momentum through organic growth opportunities, and we are open to strategic acquisitions as they are identified by our construction materials and services and regulated energy delivery businesses.” Previously, MDU Resources announced a five-year, $1.9 billion capital plan with an additional $300 million available in 2017 and 2018 for ‘high-value projects.’ The construction materials business, excluding construction services, reported record earnings of $102.7 million for 2016, up 15 percent from record earnings of $89.1 million in 2015. It saw higher margins and demand in all regions except the North Central, where activity was down in North Dakota. Asphalt and aggregate volumes and margins increased as well. The construction materials business ended 2016 with a record year-end backlog of $538 million, which is 10 percent higher than the previous year-end backlog of $491 million set in 2015. “We are building a strong America and have solid momentum going into 2017,” Goodin said, noting that the construction materials business anticipates more projects being bid from the FAST Act.
Source: Market Watch
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AGGREGATES INDUSTRY OUTLOOK
In each month since the November presiAggregates Industry Outlook dential election, the Aggregates Industry Outlook has gained ground. In February, it 140 131.68 surged 12.16 percent to an overall score of 136 124.24 139.35, its highest score to date. A single 126.03 132 139.35 122.43 question — regarding the month’s sales 119.44 128 from a year-over-year perspective — drew 128.99 124 128.15 128.61 109.80 a lower response than those given in Janu120 111.42 ary. It fell 0.09 points compared to the last 108.08 116 month’s rating, however, it is 0.07 points 112 higher than the rating given in February 108 111.00 2016. All other forward-looking questions 104 drew favorable increases compared to Jan100 Mar. Jun. Feb. Apr. Jul. Aug. Sept. Oct. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. May uary responses. The highest ratings were 2016 2016 2016 2016 2016 2016 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2016 returned in response to the industry’s outlook for the next 12 months. That rating was 4.38 on a 5-point system, with a score of 5 indicating a very positive response. It reflects the most optimistic outlook given since we began asking industry leaders for their perspective in 2015. Bidding remains very active and, with the renewed optimism in the economy with regards to the material sector, I anticipate a strong construction season.
(There is) general market excitement about the direction of the new administration. Oil prices have stabilized, and jobs are coming back to Houston. On the public side, there is a strong backlog of TxDOT and municipal work.
— Daryl Zeiner, Sales Manager, The H&K Group
— Rob Van Til, Managing Partner, River Aggregates, LLC
We are hopeful that the bipartisan support for a real infrastructure program proposed by President Trump comes to fruition. — Bill Schmitz, Vice President, Quality Control and Sales, Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc.
Crushed stone and sand and gravel companies seem to be optimistic. I think most hope the new administration will provide the real dollars to rebuild the U.S. road system. I know the frac sand industry is going forward with exploration of new deposits, especially in Texas. They are anticipating additional oil and gas drilling in the Permian Basin; and fracking those wells. — Mark J. Zdunczyk, Consulting Geologist, Mark J. Zdunczyk LLC
Editor’s note: To join our panel, email Editor-in-Chief Therese Dunphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MOBILE EQUIPMENT FINANCED Type of Equipment Wheel loader (250-1,000 horsepower)
Excavator (160-520 horsepower)
Wheel loaders Komatsu WA500-8
Top Cat 982M models Cat 980M financed
Number financed 13 12 12
Excavators Cat 336FL
Top Cat 336EL models financed Doosan DX350LC-5
2/15/17 1:14 PM
STATE & PROVINCE
To keep up to date with news from the United States and Canada, visit www.AggMan.com for daily updates.
by Therese Dunphy | Editor-in-Chief email@example.com
CALIFORNIA The Ojai City Council voted to appeal the Ventura County Planning Commission’s decision to allow trucks from an area quarry to drive past a local high school, the Ventura County Star reports. City council is appealing the decision to the County Board of Supervisors. The planning commission approved Mosler Rock Quarry’s modified permit, which allows the existing quarry to operate for an estimated 30 additional years. It also removes a condition that prohibited loaded trucks from passing in front of Nordhoff High School between 8 and 9 a.m.
CALIFORNIA Investigators are trying to learn more about a human skull dug up in Barstow quarry. According to the San Bernadino County Sun, a man told authorities that his dog had dug up the skull. At press time, the coroner’s office was trying to identify the victim while investigators are exploring the events leading up to the individual’s death.
CONNECTICUT A committee directed by the Westerly Town Council expects to receive a draft version of a proposed regulation aimed at regulating the local aggregates industry. The Westerly Sun reports that the committee has met with a consultant, Patricia Steere of Steere Engineering Inc., to provide an overview of goals for the regulation. Topics discussed include dust, noise, and the effects of blasting. The town planner noted concerns about blasting, comparing a blast that was well within required state guidelines to a scud missile. The committee also discussed whether the new regulation could be applied to an existing operator.
GEORGIA Despite the developer’s contention that a new Douglasville quarry, to be located across the street from an existing quarry, would create economic benefits such as an estimated $7 million in property taxes over 20 years, council members unanimously voted to deny Georgia Stone Products’ permit request. According to West Georgia Neighbor, the company went so far as to offer to buy homes near the proposed location. A local opposition group created a FaceBook page and organized attendance to council meetings to counter the request. Former state representative Dennis Chandler also told local news media that the materials sold at the site, which were expected to be transported largely by train, would add to traffic congestion.
ILLINOIS At Aggregates Manager’s press time, a hearing was expected in Material Service Corp.’s lawsuit against La Grange Village. MySurburbanLife.com reports that the operator filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court in July 2016 in order to stop construction of a pipeline that would drain into its Federal Quarry. The village planned to construct a 54-inch storm sewer pipe that would run to quarry and then to McCook Ditch. A statement from Lehigh Hanson, Material Service Corp.’s parent company, notes that the volume of water that could be discharged into the quarry would threaten safety and “force the company to curtail its mining activities.” The parent company also noted that it had communicated with the village on numerous occasions to determine a mutually agreeable solution, but was forced to file the suit after the village authorized construction on the project.
MISSOURI Conco Companies, parent company of Conco Quarries Inc., purchased Phenix Marble Co. last summer and quietly began production and marketing at the historic quarry. According to the Springfield News-Leader, marble from the quarry was selected to replace the south steps and terrace pavers at the Missouri Capitol building, where it also supplied stone during its construction in 1917. The operation was one of three approved to supply materials for the first phase of the $40 million restoration project and the only one based in the state.
MONTANA TThe Montana Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comments regarding Ventura Stone LLC’s request to mine 10,012 acres at five sites in Cascade County, the Great Falls Tribune reports. The operator is seeking a permit to mine sandstone from the surface of outcrops and hills using an excavator or backhoe. One challenge the operator faces is a guideline, issued in 2004, that quarry operations such as those it proposes be limited to 5 acres or less. The proposed operation has been reviewed and found to comply with the rules for a General Quarry Operating Permit, except the acreage rule. Public comments being accepted would concern the draft environmental assessment.
NORTH CAROLINA At Aggregates Manager’s press time, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners was preparing to vote on increasing setbacks for high-impact uses, including mining. According to the Statesville Record & Landmark, a potential new quarry in the area has drawn concern from a citizens’ group which requested that current setbacks be amended. The group asked for setbacks of 1,500 feet from all property lines. Current setbacks are 200 feet from residential zoning, 100 feet from commercial zoning, and 50 feet from industrial zoning. The planning board unanimously voted to recommend setbacks of 300 feet. Prior to the vote, two commissioners toured Martin Marietta Materials’ quarry to view day-to-day operations.
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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Quality. Performance. Reliability. Materials Testing Equipment you can depend on!
PENNSYLVANIA The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) set a public hearing to address a proposal to extend mining in the Oak Hall Quarry, the Centre County Gazette reports. Hanson Aggregates Pennsylvania LLC is seeking a revision to its permit, which would allow it to mine an additional 200 feet below its existing approved pit floor elevation. Parent company Lehigh Hanson told the newspaper that “extensive hydrologic testing” has been performed to ensure the deeper mining would not adversely impact the local water supply.
WISCONSIN Following a 5-1 vote from the Town of Burke Plan Commission to grant a conditional-use permit, Madison Crushing and Excavation’s request to expand its quarry there will head to the county zoning committee. According to The Star, the town board will hold a public hearing on the permit request. The planning commission recommended 22 conditions of approval, including outlining access points, hours of operation, seismographic records being sent to the town and county zoning, and right-of-way excavation.
PROVINCE NEWS An impasse continues at a Texada Island quarry, the Powell River Peak reports. Union members were locked out of the quarry in mid-October after negotiations between the United Steelworkers Local 816 and LafargeHolcim fell through. The sticking point revolves around job classifications. The company sought to streamline a system of 22 classification levels. According to the company’s communication director, Jennifer Lewis, LafargeHolcim tabled an offer that removed the language around work assignment to which the union objected. It also included “significant improvements in benefits, plus annual cost of living increases in wages for each year of the contract.” The union has not voted on the offer.
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AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017 3:26 PM 2017-02-01 2/6/17 9:27 AM
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Your complete guide to new and updated equipment and supplies in the aggregates industry.
by Therese Dunphy | Editor-in-Chief | email@example.com
Built for production loading Komatsu America Corp. rolls out its new PC650LC-11 hydraulic excavator, which matches for loading of 30- to 40-ton trucks. With an operating weight between 140,456 pounds and 145,284 pounds, it maintains the productivity and transportability of its predecessor while improving fuel efficiency, cab design, and serviceability. Equipped with the latest Komtrax technology, it tracks fuel levels and other standard operating parameters while also offering a new Operator Identification System for up to 100 ID codes. A new Auto Idle Shutdown function helps reduce idle times, and a Komatsu SAA6D140E-7 Tier 4 Final engine provides 436 net horsepower.
Komatsu America Corp. | www.komatsuna.com
Sand plant recovers fines, reduces moisture Superior Industries, Inc. introduces the Spirit Sand Plant for sand production and fines recovery. The unitâ€™s configuration includes a cyclone, dewatering screen, sump pump, and slurry pump to classify and produce salable manufactured sand. The 12-inch and 16-inch models are made with cast urethane of 3/8-inch to 1-inch thickness. The material is said to be lighter, easier to handle, and have better wear properties than steel. The 24-inch and 36-inch models are built with structural steel and a poured urethane liner. The cyclones are built with a unique geometrically offset feed. The design is said to eliminate inefficient turbulence, boost the precision of classification, and reduce wear to the components. The dewatering screen reduces moisture content to as low as 8 percent. The Spirit Sand Plant is available in four models, with outputs ranging from 60 to 200 tons per hour.
Superior Industries, Inc. | www.superior-ind.com
Tier 4 Final loader improves fuel efficiency KCM Corp. announces the Tier 4 Final version of its 80Z7 wheel loader. Designed to be more fuel efficient than its predecessors, the loader is equipped with a 4.2-cubic-yard general purpose bucket and produces 200 gross horsepower from its Cummins QSHB6.7 diesel engine. The KCM IntelliTech Operating System provides control of all systems and includes a variable-speed reversible fan that minimizes parasitic power drain while providing maximum cooling as needed. A lock-up clutch in the transmission provides better hill climbing, faster acceleration, and greater fuel economy. The loader achieves Tier 4 Final standards through the use of a diesel oxidation catalyst and selective catalytic reduction technology that injects diesel exhaust fluid. A super-wide angle rear view camera provides a clear view to a monitor easily viewed by the operator. Steering is available with a conventional steering wheel or joystick steering. KCM Global e-Service telematics are standard.
KCM Corp. | www.kcmcorp.com
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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Weighing instrument offers web interface Fairbanks Scales, Inc. releases the latest generation of the FB6000 weighing instrument, featuring a dynamic web interface that enables rapid calibration, as well as custom ticket formatting. The new weighing instrument is compatible with both analog and digital weighing technology and is well suited for mid-range truck applications, including In/Out, Gross/Tare/Net or one button In/Out weighing. An intuitive web interface replaces previous front panel programming to allow for quick formatting of custom tickets, which can be created with drag-and-drop functionality. The scale system can be calibrated from a remote location with a laptop computer or tablet on the same network.
Fairbanks Scales, Inc. www.fairbanks.com
We make it. We donâ€™t just stock it.
Monitoring system expands capabilities 4B Components Ltd. extends the capabilities of its Watchdog Super Elite monitoring system for bucket elevators and conveyors with the introduction of NTC and PLC expansion boards. The NTC expansion board allows up to 12 additional NTC inputs to be added for additional temperature monitoring. The PLC board provides four solid state relay outputs for belt speed, belt misalignment, bearing temperature, and plug indication. The system processes signals from up to 27 sensors on bucket elevators and conveyors. When an alarm condition is detected, the system logs details, sounds an alarm, and provides shutdown control of the elevator/conveyor and feeding system.
4B Components Ltd. www.go4b.com
ACROSS THE COUNTRY Domestic weaving and regional presence allow us to offer the best service and on-site expertise for all Unified products. Contact us today for solutions to reduce downtime. firstname.lastname@example.org www.unifiedscreening.com 866.968.3697
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ROLLOUTS Customized dust control Dust Control Technology rolls out a technology that complements its existing line of stationary dust suppression rings with the ability to produce geometric shapes, bars, or other configurations to meet the needs of the application. Each design is specially-engineered for the application and equipment of the individual operator for customized dust management. The solution is said to offer more reliable dust suppression on radial stackers, crushers, and screeners. At the core of the system, water is pumped into a stainless-steel manifold and atomized by a series of specially designed nozzles that fracture the water into a cascading mist.
Dust Control Techology | www.dustboss.com
Chip-resistant tires for underground applications Yokohama Tire Corp.â€™s Y67 off-the-road lineup is available in three new tread patterns and is designed to provide the traction needed for optimal performance. Available in sizes 36x1115 24-ply, 32x15-15 28-ply, 35x15-15 32-ply, and 38x16-15 36-ply, the tire is said to offer cut and chip resistance due to an advanced tread composition, while a non-directional tread design provides traction in tough, rocky underground surfaces. An optimized rubber-to-void ratio balances cut resistance and traction with tread life, while dual bead construction makes the use of a core optional, allowing for enhanced performance in high-pressure applications.
Yokohama Tire Corp. | www.yokohamaotr.com
Idlers designed to handle higher loads Superior Industry debuts an expanded line of Mine Duty Idlers. A new double tube design features inner and outer tube construction to give the idler increased rigidity for higher load ratings. The design has a 20-percent higher load rating than CEMA to improve service life. The inner tube insulates the bearing from vibration, reducing misalignment and increasing the life of the bearing. As the outer shell wears, the inner tube maintains the structural integrity of the roller. The double tube models are available in belt widths up to 120 inches and are equipped with bearing sizes up to 60 mm.
Superior Industries Inc. | www.superior-ind.com
Expanded on/off road tire offerings Continental offers three new on/off road tires, including the HCS, HTC1, and HDC1. The HCS is a heavy construction service all-position tire designed for on/off road, mining, and heavy mix axle applications. It balances heavy-duty traction and on/off road performance. The HTC1 is a heavy trailer construction tire. The wide-base tire is designed for on/off road with mixed service applications that far exceed the trailer designation. The HDC1 is a heavy drive construction traction tire designed for severe on/off road applications and is said to provide superior traction in the toughest conditions.
Continental | www.continental-corporation.com
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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Bill Reynolds (front), President, Wear-Tek
An ironclad partnership. W
ear-Tek Inc. in Spokane, Washington, specializes in casting long-lasting, abrasion-resistant components for the aggregate processing industry. They melt high-chrome white iron, steel and other alloys at extreme temperatures and pour them into custom-built molds to cast components for rock crushers, asphalt pavers and other machinery. The company has also cast its own industry niche. Wear-Tek is strict about selling replacement parts only to the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) it serves. They put their customers first. It’s a level of integrity that has attracted OEMs as far away as the U.S. East Coast and Midwest, and is a big reason why, during 16 years in business, sales have grown from $2 million to $18 million. Wear-Tek’s commitment to a winwin philosophy is why the foundry likes partnering with Avista for its energy needs. Avista is essentially made from the same mold. Avista works closely with commercial and industrial customers like Wear-Tek, offering energy advice, helping to pay for energy-efficiency upgrades, and solving for immediate and future energy requirements. “Avista worked to understand our project needs and was a great partner in helping us plan for the future expansion of our business,” said Wear-Tek President Bill Reynolds. “Their expertise has set us up to be a strong leader in our industry for many years to come.”
Andy Paul (left), Mechanical Engineer, Avista Doug Kelley (back), Regional Account Executive, Avista Mike Summers (right), General Manager, Wear-Tek
Wear-Tek expanded recently because its metal-melting capacity was not keeping pace with its ability to more quickly fabricate custom product molds. The foundry casts metals in parallel production bays with six melting pots (furnaces). There was only enough power, however, to charge three melting pots at once, so it became necessary to keep the furnaces running 24 hours a day. At times, tight production schedules even forced workers to use a crane to move molten metal between bays. They needed to be able to power a fourth melting pot, but that would require much more electricity. To help Wear-Tek with the situation, Avista crews replaced the foundry’s 7640 kilowatt power line with one carrying 13,200 kilowatts (which is roughly the same capacity required to run the Spokane International Airport). Avista analyzed WearTek’s estimated total electricity usage and demand, and recognized that they might be eligible for a more advantageous rate (designated for very large power users). There was one dilemma, however. They were required to have their total electrical usage recorded on a single meter. As WearTek expanded, it absorbed nearby buildings and constructed a pattern shop, which meant they had multiple meters. Avista engineers recommended a plan to ultimately combine all of WearTek’s meters into one. Wear-Tek worked with Avista to have a vault and two new underground transformers installed so that the foundry could wire its new equipment
and buildings downstream from the same meter. Wear-Tek has already added a control panel for its air and water cooling pumps. Up next is to wire their plant to run the additional melting pot furnace, which will increase their maximum tons of molten metal produced per hour by 40 percent. Wear-Tek also has a new grinding/finishing shop in the works, so should soon meet the load threshold to warrant the rate for large electric users. “You wouldn’t think a company that sells energy would be so eager to help us get a more advantageous rate,” said Reynolds. “But time and again, Avista has proven that they want us to get the full value of every energy dollar.” Over the past six years, Avista has provided Wear-Tek with more than $116,000 in rebates to make energyefficiency upgrades. “The upgrades have resulted in Wear-Tek saving more than 1,800,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and over $123,000 in energy costs,” said Avista regional account executive Doug Kelley. For more information on Avista’s energy- efficiency programs for commercial and industrial customers, visit avistautilities.com/bizrebates or email email@example.com.
2/6/17 9:23 AM
SPECIAL REPORT by Anthony Konya
Blasting A steady management approach to drilling and blasting can help operators lower their costs and achieve better fragmentation.
common problem for engineers and consultants for aggregates mines is the critical challenge of achieving proper blasting. Many of the problems faced came from operational inefficiencies in the drilling and blasting program. Most mines believe that better blast design will help save costs, improve fragmentation, and decrease vibration, and, while this is all true, none of this can be achieved if the design cannot be achieved with reasonable accuracy. By achieving this accuracy, before implementing better blast designs and processes, most mines save upwards of 15 to 30 percent on their blasting costs. There are many ways to achieve accuracy, such as designing for inaccuracies, automating jobs, and blasting management.
Designing for inaccuracies How does one design for inaccuracies in blasting? This is a common question when inaccuracies are first encountered, because engineering out these inaccuracies is one of the easiest options with the least capital cost. However, this
approach is extremely costly in the hidden costs of drilling and blasting. One of the first people to study drill deviation on a large scale was Langefors. Langefors documented his extensive results from dozens of mines in his book The Modern Technique of Rock Blasting and discussed ways to ‘engineer out’ drilling inefficiencies. He did this by analyzing the average errors in drilling from: • Collaring location – the drill setting up in the wrong place, causing the hole to begin in the wrong location; and • Alignment inaccuracies – this includes drilling improper angles and the deviation inside of the borehole when drilling. When Langefors studied a large multitude of blasts in Sweden, he concluded that, on average, improper collaring locations accounted for 4 inches of deviation, and alignment inaccuracies were approximately 0.04 inches per foot in bench blasting. To most, this may seem insignificant, but this is almost ±6 inches on a 40-foot bench. This means that between two holes the spacing may be reduced by 1 foot and the burden increased by 0.5 feet.
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Forsyth et. al studied this same problem and reported up to 0.12 inches per foot on longer blast holes with a 7 ¾ inch drill bit. As the drill bit is reduced, the drilling errors are larger based on the stiffness of the drill steel. In this case, both studies were with larger drill bits. To determine the significance of this, we can look at a fragmentation prediction method called the Kuz-Ram model. The Kuz-Ram model is a way to predict fragmentation before a blast and has a variable to define the drillhole deviation. Let’s analyze the drill deviation with an example blast in limestone using the following specifications: • Drillhole diameter – 4 inches, • Explosive – ANFO, • Burden – 8 feet, • Spacing – 11.5 feet, • Bench height – 40 feet, • Subdrill – 2.5 feet, and • Stemming – 5.6 feet. Drill Deviation Impacts on Fragmentation
Table 2 - Engineered out solution
4 inch ANFO
1 Passing Percent
To overcome this drill deviation, Langefors suggested to reduce the burden to account for this deviation. He suggested that the actual design burden should be the optimal burden subtracted by the deviation per foot. This is what is meant by ‘engineering out’ deviation from drilling. While this can be a good method, it has some drastic ramifications. By engineering out deviation, not only will the burden change, but all blasting parameters have to be modified. To analyze this effect, the Kuz-Ram model will again be used for the design in each of these situations:
4 inch ANFO Burden
4 inch ANFO Burden
No Drill Deviation
10 15 20 Fragmentation (inches) Langefors Deviation
Figure 1 - Drill deviation on fragmentation From Figure 1, one can observe the actual impact of drill deviation. In this graph, the horizontal axis is the fragmentation (screen size) in inches from the blast, and the vertical axis is the percent passing that screen size. Table 1 has a summary of these results, with the term PX meaning the screen size that ‘x%’ of the material would pass through. This table shows that, with increasing deviation, the fragmentation oversize significantly increases, which will increase crushing costs as well as secondary breakage costs.
No deviation 1.6 inches Langefor 4 inches Forsyth 2 inches
No deviation 11.9 inches Langefor 11.9 inches Forsyth 11.9 inches
No deviation 17.64 inches Langefor 19.6 inches Forsyth 27.6 inches
Table 1 - Fragmentation comparison
11.5 feet 40 feet Subdrill
2.5 feet Stemming
40 feet Subdrill
40 feet Subdrill
A few problems are brought to light instantly when analyzing these patterns, even before looking at the fragmentation. 1. The small burden will cause face blow-outs, scattering rock across the entire pit. 2. The large powder factors of the ‘engineered patterns’ can cause large air overpressure. 3. The cost will significantly increase (to be analyzed later). When analyzing the fragmentation in Figure 1 and Table 3, one can see the extreme results this can have on the fragmentation. One can observe that, in terms of the fragmentation, Langefors method works well with his drill deviation, however, with larger deviation such as Forsyth, this becomes impractical and costly with a large increase in fines and boulders, with relatively little good material. AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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SPECIAL REPORT Engineered Out - Fragmentation 1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0
5 No Drill Deviation
Figure 2 – Engineered-out fragmentation Table 3 - Engineered fragmentation
No deviation 1.6 inches Langefors 2.42 inches Forsyth
No deviation 11.9 inches Langefors 7.5 inches Forsyth 4 inches
No deviation 17.64 inches Langefors 13.2 inches Forsyth 32.5 feet
Not within accurate modeling
How much does this ‘engineering out’ method cost a mine? The figures below show the cost for blasting a bench that is 60 feet long by 22 feet wide, based on a drilling cost of $5 per foot for drilling and $0.30 per pound of ANFO. One can clearly see that by engineering out the solution, the cost is increased drastically. If better fragmentation is achieved, some of these costs can be offset in reduced crushing and better product. But what if large deviation, like in Forsyth, are displayed at the mine?
Automation Many large mines are now going to autonomous drilling, with claims of highly improved accuracy. However, these drills are only as accurate as the GPS and instrumentation and still have errors associated with them. With drilling, a significant portion of the drilling deviation occurs when the steel is in the borehole (shown in Figure 3). This deviation is not normally controlled by these autonomous machines, and, while they will reduce deviation, most mines do not possess the capital to incorporate these for the improved drilling set-up location.
Figure 3 - In-hole deviation (photo by T. Sinkala)
Six Sigma blasting In order to improve a mine’s blasting, management techniques must be employed. Even with engineering-out a blast, deviations must be minimized to achieve proper breakage. One famous management technique is Six Sigma, and it is being used to improve drilling, blasting, and fragmentation. The goals of this program include: • Employee buy-in, • Reduction of drillhole deviation, • Improvements in loading technique, and • Improved efficiency in blasting. Without proper employee buy-in, projects generally are unsuccessful and results are not as expected. This is the same with improving a drilling and blasting program, so how can management, engineering, and driller/blaster all work together and buy-in to the project; especially when it has increased work-loads for all levels? According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Figure 4), a person is motivated at a higher level by belonging, self-worth, accomplishment, and personal growth. In most cases, mine employees at all levels have safety, job, insurance, food, and water. In general, people are longing for an increased belonging and accomplishment. This is where the Six Sigma effect has large benefits.
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Aggregates Manager_Incline Screen_16-12.indd 1 Untitled-16 1
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Selfaware personal growth
Self- actualizing needs
belonging, love, family
Safety, steady job, insurance
Food, water, shelter, air, warmth
In cases where contract drilling and blasting is done, the management should require that the contractor attend these meetings and achieve certain parameters. If these parameters are not met, the contractor should have a financial responsibility for poor performance. This will ensure the contractor will listen, however, many times contractors have a knowledge that can help the mine. Good communication between parties is critical and will result in better performance. This team generally functions under the DMAIC approach (Figure 6). This means that the group will: • Define – Define objectives of the program; Sponsor • Measure – Measure the inputs and outputs of the blast; • Analyze – Analyze using statistical means how the inputs are influencing the outputs; • Improve – Find ways to improve these inputs; and • Control – Ensure that these inputs are controlled to within limits for desired outputs.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1943) Figure 4 - Maslow’s hierarchy of needs Six Sigma functions as a team role, where all levels of management, engineering, and the drillers and blasters work together to accomplish these goals. This team is composed of: • Sponsor (management) – Those who will oversee project at high level and ensure obstructions from above are not in the way for the team; • Leader (any level willing to lead team) – This person will check in with entire team, report results, and help lead team in direction of goals; • Black Belt (expert in the field of improvement) – This person will need a deep understanding of drilling and blasting, generally someone who is extremely technical in the area or a consultant; • Green Belt (those knowledgeable in the field) – Drillers, blasters, and engineers to help the team collect data, do interpretation, and suggest improvements; and • Team Members – This role can range from showing up at monthly/bi-weekly meetings, to reading the report, or to helping the team in other aspects.
Six Sigma Team Sponsor
Figure 5 - Six Sigma team By having all levels involved in the team, all members will feel a belonging and want to improve their work, and that of others, to ensure team success. Little wins for the team will give all members a sense of accomplishment and continue to motivate them toward the goal of improving.
Figure 6 - DMAIC approach
Define In the define phase, the team will need to come up with the goals of the program, these could be topics such as: • Reduce all vibration at nearby neighbor to “X.XX” inches/second, • Have a P80 from blasting of “X” inches, and • Decrease cost of blasting (increased drill and blast efficiency can result in ability to expand pattern). Clear goals are needed to achieve, and multiple goals can be decided on, with an order of importance. For example, one mine had the following goals: 1. Decrease the cost of blasting by 30 percent through increase performance of blast, 2. Have a P80 of 6 to 8 inches, and 3. Increase speed of drilling and loading bench. Once the goals have been established, the next step is
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to define the key performance indicators (KPI) for the drilling and blasting program. These are for both the inputs and the outputs of the program. Examples include the following:
Inputs Borehole Depth to Intended Depth Borehole Location to Intended Location Borehole Path to Intended Path Actual Burden to Intended Burden Actual Spacing to Intended Spacing Actual Subdrill
3. Burden and spacing (tape measure) The burden (toe burden) and spacing are critical parameters in blasting and need to be field verified to ensure proper placement. This can be done by simply taking a tape measure and measuring the distance from the center of one hole to the other. 4. Burden and spacing (GPS) For a slightly more accurate, more expensive, and quicker way to measure the burden and spacing, a GPS surveyor can be purchased and used to get exact location of each borehole. These can then be imported into a CAD program and easily measured.
Outputs Fragmentation Size (P80, P50, P10) Air Overpressure Ground Vibration Cost to Blast Time to Drill/Load Muckpile Height and Throw Crusher Power Output
Measure The measure phase of the program is when the driller, blaster, engineer, and supervisor will take field measurements of the KPIs. There are many ways to now effectively and quickly measure these KPIs. A few of these are discussed below: 1. Borehole depth The simplest way to ensure that the proper borehole depth is reached is to get a tape measure that has the length of the borehole +10 percent and tie a 5- to 10-gram lead weight on the end (fishing sinker). This can be let down the hole until the bottom is felt and the depth can be recorded. The depth is important in many places, such as: • Measure immediately after drilling to determine the depth drilled, and • Measure immediately before loading to determine the slump into the hole.
5. Burden and spacing (drone) Another method to very quickly and accurately get the coordinates of the borehole is to use a drone to capture the locations. This is normally more expensive than other methods, but has a pay-back in the time to analyze. This can also be contracted out to another company, and videos of blasts can also be monitored to see what is happening. 6. Borehole tracker (borehole length and deviation) A more accurate method to determine the length and deviation of a borehole is a borehole tracker. These devices are inserted into the borehole and take coordinates as they are lowered. When loaded into a CAD program or other software, one can see the exact path of the borehole, including angles, curves, and length. 7. Face profiling system Many laser and photogrammetric face profiling systems exist, which allow mines to create a point cloud of the face of their blast. This can be combined with options such as the borehole tracker and drone to create a 3-D image and calculate exact parameters of all variables.
If the depth of the bench is known, this method can be used to analyze the depth of the subdrill (borehole length – bench height). The subdrill is often critical in leaving a toe and fragmentation throughout the shot.
8. Boulder counting One quick and easy way to measure the fragmentation performance of a blast is to use a boulder count. This is counting the number of boulders over a certain size on the muckpile. To refine this method, the loader operator can count boulders throughout the pile. This method can be deceiving and doesn’t accurately display fragmentation, but will accurately assess the secondary breakage reduction of blasting.
2. Flashlight test The flashlight test is a relatively primitive method of determining borehole deviation, but can be useful and provide valuable information for mines with limited capital. This involves tying a flashlight onto the end of a rope with ½- to 1-foot increments marked. The flashlight is then put into the borehole with the light shining out so one can see it. This is lowered until the light no longer shows (caused by drill deviation) and the depth is recorded.
9. Fragmentation analysis (WipFrag, WipWare) If fragmentation is a key output to the mine (which it normally is), the Wipware systems are a great way to accurately measure the fragmentation. I have used this at many mines to help identify fragmentation. This involves taking a picture of the muckpile, in several locations, and using the software to determine the fragmentation of the muckpile. At least nine images at varying locations on the muckpile should be used per muckpile. AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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10. Fragmentation analysis (Reflex System) To simplify this process and achieve more accurate results, WipWare has introduced a Reflex System which uses stationary cameras to take pictures of almost the entire muckpile. The camera can be placed on a dump-point (crusher), a point all trucks dump, or the front of a loader/shovel. Chemical Lime Corporation - Ste. Genevieve, Missouri North Pit Zone 7 - July 23, 2007 WipFrag© Win Version 2.6 Build 6 Fri 03 Ang 2007 Merged Analvsis (59 images) September 08, 2014, 10:31:35 AM Eastern Daylight Time 100 90 80
70 60 50 40
40339 Particles: min = 20.867 mm max = 1048.846 mm mean = 133.225 mm stdev = 86.224 mm mode = 150.000 mm D10 = 104.423 mm D25 = 132.674 mm D50 = 220.785 mm D75 = 330.531 mm D90 = 470.514 mm sph = 0.763 Non-Calibrated: Xmax = 1048.846 mm X50 = 220.785 mm Xc = 268.908 mm b = 4.840 n = 2.758
30 20 10 0 1.
Size (mm) 1000.00 500.00 300.00 150.00 125.00 100.00 75.00 50.00 40.00 37.00 35.00 31.00 25.00 16.00 12.50 10.00 8.00 6.70 5.60 4.75 4.00 3.35 2.00 1.40 1.00 0.85 0.60 1000.
% Passing 99.90% 93.16% 71.73% 30.58% 22.53% 7.31% 2.50% 0.57% 0.26% 0.21% 0.17% 0.10% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Diameter of an Equivalent Sphere
Figure 7 – Analysis of muckpile
Analyze The next step is to analyze all inputs and determine which key inputs are relied upon to achieve the desired outputs. This can take many blasts to determine, and, often, the bad blasts are more important than the good blasts for this. By monitoring both, one can determine the changes in the different parameters. This, along with pre-blast simulations of performance, can be used to carefully manipulate variables to determine the key inputs. Important topics to look at in the statistical determination of blasting parameters include: • Mean, • Medium, • Standard deviation, • Normality of data, and • Correlation to outputs.
Improve After the analysis phase is complete and the key inputs are mapped and correlated to the outputs, the improvement phase begins. Improvement is the most difficult step and can be handled in many ways by the mine. In certain situations, it is training an employee on proper techniques for drilling or loading. It might be providing employee motivation to achieve measureable goals. Or, it might be purchasing new equipment or technology to help achieve the goals.
The improvement phase is the area in which the black belt will need to take the lead, using help from the green belts, to determine the exact way the mine will improve a system. This can come from engineering implementations as well. Like Langefors suggestions, if minimal deviations exist, other engineering methods include: 1. Designing holes to be drilled slightly deeper (1 foot) and measured before loading. If slumping has partially filled these holes to the proper loading depth, loading is done. If they are a little deep because no slumping has occurred, the blaster can kick in some drill cuttings to fill the hole to the desired load depth. 2. If burden and spacing are commonly an issue, parameters such as burden setbacks can be used along with timing changes to change the direction of movement. 3. If drilling is consistently a problem, having the driller fill in the bad hole and re-drill a new drillhole can also be used (if a contractor driller, this is done at no additional cost).
Control Finally, the control phase is implemented to ensure that the parameters are met. This is normally in the form of quality control charts with maximum acceptable and minimum acceptable limits. Periodic monitoring should be done (much less than measure phase) to ensure everything is consistent. In many cases, the outputs can be monitored creating an easy, successful control plan. Without the control plan and excellent documentation in place, mines may implement this process and spend a lot of time on it only to have new people come in and change it. One of the benefits of the Six Sigma team is that an entire team will rarely leave the site at the same time. This ensures that knowledge can be passed down, and the mine’s drilling and blasting can be maintained.
Summary Improper drilling and blasting procedures can result in major blasting costs, which go relatively unnoticed. Design changes and new products will not be beneficial unless proper drilling and blasting management is in place. While some corrections can be made to the design to ‘engineer-out’ inaccuracies, a steady management system is one of the only ways to consistently ensure desired performance. The Six Sigma drilling and blasting approach has proven itself in the trenches. Based on teamwork at all levels, clear goals and measurements of systems, and a control system, it can help any mine achieve excellence in their drilling and blasting program. AM
Anthony Konya is a project engineer with Precision Blasting Services. He can be reached via email at Anthony@idc-pbs.com.
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PULL-OUT GUIDE By Tina Grady Barbaccia, Contributing Editor
Effective Water Management
Be proactive and engage stakeholders for collaborations.
Comply with legal rules and requirements.
Conduct a site-level assessment and establish corresponding actions. Be proactive and engage stakeholders for potential collaborations.
Establish an operation water footprint. Regularly review water management plans; revise as needed.
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Conduct a water audit
Managing Water Use and Recovery
water management program needs to not only focus on recovery, but also on conservation, environmental impact, and planning. Water is integral to aggregate operations. As the need for aggregates continues, the need for water is necessary. “All water should be recycled from tailings ponds, runoffs, and wheel washes whenever possible,” says Lance Griffin, director of aggregate operations for Cemex in Texas and New Mexico. “You should always look for ways to better manage and conserve this limited natural resource within your operation.” Follow solid engineering practices by keeping a plant’s flow, design, and operation simple. “Prepare for breakdowns by making the plant as simple to repair as possible and look at current and future water needs,” Griffin says. “Many water recovery plants are undersized and don’t perform to expectations. A complete water audit is a great place to start when considering a water management system.” At LafargeHolcim, water management plans in place are reviewed every five years to get a better understanding of consumption. Water flow diagrams are put together, indicating all points of consumption. “Plants change, operations change, and things move around,” says Joel Nickel, head of land and environment in the United States for LafargeHolcim. Reviewing the plans and water flow provides an accurate snapshot of water consumption. “It has provided
good learning,” Nickel says. “We have found leaks in water lines. Repairing those has made a big difference.” Nickels points out that, at one operation, nearly 1 million gallons were saved by repairing water leaks. “We recognized through metering of water that we were consuming more water than we were putting through the plant,” he says. “By doing a diagram, we found water was going somewhere we didn’t know.” Now, the level of awareness about water management and its importance is quickly being raised as an industry, especially because it is quantifiable, explains Tom O’Brien, engineer and consultant for Paschal Associates LLC. “Fifteen years ago, it was just dirty water,” he says. “Now, it has become a cost center and a point of focus. We can now evaluate a plant’s waste effluent (stream) and create a model for necessary fines recovery equipment, including capital and operating costs.” Ultimately, good water management can contribute to a producer’s bottom line. Although there may be an initial investment in the equipment necessary for fines recovery, there is a return on invest because there is a lower operating cost in handling all the water, O’Brien says. “Some of the larger operations I service will use up to 35,000 gallons per minute,” O’Brien says. “If you are not using some kind of recirculating system, that is a lot of water. The amount of waste or mud washed off can be as high as 500 tons per hour. When you get into those volumes, it just makes sense to recirculate it.”
Regularly conduct a water audit to determine how and where water is used at your operation. Look for areas where the most consumption is taking place and determine if there are any opportunities to optimize use and efficiency. Use opportunities such as harvesting rainwater or using stormwater or recycled water for haul road dust suppression or to wash lightweight aggregates. Recycling water minimizes the risk that an operation might have to curtail operations as a result of drought conditions or increasing water costs. Be sure to inspect equipment and waterlines for leaks or worn-out parts that may be contributing to excess use.
Plan for current and future needs
Water is integral to aggregate operations. As the need for aggregates grows and the area and community around an operation develops, there will be a greater need for water. Adequately plan so the water recovery plant meets expectations. To help improve efficiencies and meet the demands of a booming Texas economy, Cemex’s Balcones Quarry installed a base stone circuit, a state-of-the-art tertiary washing and crushing plant, a new mobile repair shop, and an environmentally sensitive oil storage area, along with overall quarry and plant improvements. The new water recycling plant uses 90 percent less water annually than previously used by the aggregate operation’s wash plant.
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RATIONS ILLUSTRATED Effective Water Management 2
Develop a water flow chart
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Compose a brief narrative, photographs, and site plan describing how the plant captures and uses stormwater. Provide documentation that there is a system in place to measure the volume of stormwater harvested and used in plant operations. Putting together a water flow diagram with all points of consumption can make a big difference by understanding where the water is going. At LafargeHolcim, the producer saved about 1 million gallons by repairing water leaks at one operation. Water metering showed that more water was being consumed than being put through the plant. The plant identified that water was going to unanticipated places.
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Understand the necessary regulations
Prior to planning a new water management system or reusing or recycling water, companies should understand applicable laws, regulations, permitting, and other requirements for local operation and design needs. Some states do not allow recycled water content in DOT- or state-specified jobs, but other states allow up to 23-percent recycled content water in the mix. In LafargeHolcimâ€™s Northeast region, the operations look at ways to put water consumed back into concrete processes. Starting at 1 to 3 percent of water put back into the concrete, it was 13 percent by 2015. However, be conscious of legal constraints â€” such as in Washington, D.C., where virgin water must be used for concrete.
Implement performance improvement
Continually improve water usage by establishing how and why it is being used and trying to avoid discharge of water. Set parameters and try to partner or work with other operations or organizations at a regional level to develop better efficiency. A water management program needs to not only focus on recovery, but also on conservation, environmental impact, and planning. All water should be recycled from tailings ponds, runoff, and wheel washes whenever possible. Vehicle-washing areas should also be paved so that the bottom is sealed, because the wash water cannot be discharged to surface or groundwater.
Educate employees and stakeholders
Water management may not have the same meaning to everyone, so it is important not to assume employees view water management in the same way as you. Educate employees on water conservation, and ensure the management team shows a commitment to conserve. The reduction in water consumption reduces the burden on local water resources and can also reduce water costs. This can be a significant operational expense, particularly in areas affected by drought. Even small operationscan conserve water by simply fixing leaks, turning off water systems when not needed, and by educating employees on proper water and dust management.
Lance Griffin is director of aggregate operations for Cemex in Texas and New Mexico. He is a Penn State mining engineer with more than 35 years of experience in underground, surface metal, and non-metal mining operations. He resides in New Braunfels, Texas.
Tom Oâ€™Brien is an engineer and consultant for Paschal Associates LLC. He is a graduate of Penn State University with a degree in mining engineering. He has 25 years of experience in the water treatment and equipment side of fines recovery.
Joel Nickel is U.S. head of land and environment for LafargeHolcim. He has been with the company for 10 years and focuses on improving the business and best practices to make it more compliant and sustainable.
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Voices of Experience Lance Griffin
t the Cemex Balcones Quarry, the operation recently installed a water recycling plant to protect critical local water resources and supply the Balcones wash plant with consistent wash water for its aggregate plant. Lance Griffin, director of aggregate operations for Cemex in Texas and New Mexico, says the company recognizes the importance of water to local communities such as the 2 million residents in the New Braunfels area where the Balcones Quarry is located. He says that although an emphasis on water management and conservation has been a high priority at the operation for many years, New Braunfels is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — making good water management a necessity. “Sustainability is integrated and embedded into our day-to-day operations and business strategy,” Griffin says. “A new water recovery plant was the right thing to do.” The Balcones system uses proven technologies paired with what Griffin says is “common-sense” engineering and full automation. The plant consists of two 60-foot thickeners, two banks of cyclones — one bank for manufactured sand production and one bank for ultra-fines production — twin, 44-inch sand screws, a dewatering screen, pinch values, pumps, and a mixing and dosing system. All of the components were integrated into one automation platform, allowing for total plant control from any location. The water recycling system uses 90 percent less water annually than the previous quarry wash plant. It recycles 12,000 gallons of water per minute for use in the aggregate wash plant. “Any organization looking to install a water management system needs to look at their current and future water needs,” Griffin points out. “Investigate existing plants, aquifers, and technology,” he adds. “Before planning the new system, companies should understand the applicable laws, regulations, permitting, and other requirements for local operation and design needs.”
he key takeaway when it comes to water management is to be proactive, says Joel Nickel, U.S. head of land and environment for LafargeHolcim. “Water will be a scarcity in the United States, if it isn’t already like in some parts,” he says. “It’s good for the industry to start working toward trying to recycle and reduce water consumption (rather) than be regulated in the future.” One challenge is to find a uniform approach that works everywhere. “I look at the U.S. as 50 different countries with 50 different rules,” Nickels says. “We manage this by having tracking compliance documents in our environmental management documents that track the rules of each state.” LafargeHolcim uses a six-step process as its water management (WM) protocol. First, comply with legal rules and requirements. Next, establish an operation water footprint. “Know how much water you are using, discharging and recycling,” Nickel says. Third and fourth, conduct a site-level assessment and establish corresponding action. “After we understand where water is going, we want to see if there are any ways to improve it,” Nickels points out. “Be proactive and engage stakeholders. Talk to the plant guys, the local communities in which you operate, and local water districts to see if there could be any collaborations.” To that end, the LafargeHolcim Morrison, Colo., operation stores water for the town. “It has a need for water storage, and we have an old pit,” Nickel says. “In the arid west, we are creating reservoir space in mined-out sand and gravel operations.” Performance improvement is the fifth WM protocol step. “Set parameters from a regional level and try to work with operations,” Nickels says. The sixth step is to regularly review WM plans and make changes where necessary. “We review the plans and flow diagrams every five years,” he adds, noting that updates ensure accuracy.
ompared to other mineral industries, the aggregate industry is still relatively young when it comes to fines recovery and treatment. “Prior to the last 20 years, the aggregate industry did not need to use any kind of water treatment for fines recovery,” says Tom O’Brien, mining engineer and engineer/consultant with Paschal Associates LLC. “In the last 20 years, we have been forced to do it. Some of the reasons are economic, real estate, and environmental.” The industry’s slow adoption of fines recovery and water treatment is also a result of its fractionation. “Our industry is so diverse and spread out,” O’Brien says. “There are rock quarries all over the U.S. These quarries are owned and operated from large corporations all the way down to small, family-owned operations.” For these reasons, fines recovery and water treatment are more slowly being incorporated as best practices. Water management essentially breaks down into two overall categories – discharge water and processed water, O’Brien says. “If more water is generated than a quarry can hold, it has to be removed from the property,” he says. “In some cases, that water has to be treated with specialty chemicals and must be discharged in conditions in accordance with the government.” Water used to wash aggregate to meet state specs must also be dealt with; what producers do with this processed water varies. “Fifty years ago, quarries were putting the water into a big pond or somewhere where the fines would settle and the water would recirculate,” O’Brien says. “Now, environmental regulations have become more stringent, and there are more liabilities to using big settling ponds — and they have to be repeatedly cleaned.” Economics plays into water management. “Water is a resource, and it is monitored in certain areas,” O’Brien says. “How much water you pull out of the ground becomes an economic driver.”
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3 Ways Drones Can Save You Time and Money While Increasing Safety
A fo F W c p d le s t
Drones are quickly becoming a leading tool for Aggregate companies. Here are three examples of how drones can help you lower costs, improve efficiency and increase safety.
1) Stockpile Measurement Many aggregates companies use a combination of employees on the ground and third-party surveyors to measure stockpiles. Surveys happen a few times a year, using a variety of surveying equipment and take anywhere from a few days to a week to complete. This method is costly, hazardous, time-consuming and the data isnâ€™t immediately available. Even when the data does become available, it can be hard to share within the company or to audit.
Companies seeking a more efficient way to do stockpile measurement are using drones. By using drones, companies can frequently and automatically calculate the perimeter and volume for all their aggregate stockpiles; even odd-shaped piles against walls. Drones enable them to fly a large site in minutes and have pile measurements that same day. Data captured by drones is being used for everything from daily production measurements and spot checks to end of year third-party audits.
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3D Models provide a unique perspective for mine planning
Manual inspection of stockpiles often results in slipping or falling
Using drones saved Whitaker 22% on yearly stockpile measurement costs
Companies can view and download contours
A great example of a company that’s using drones for stockpile measurement is Whitaker Contracting. Founded in 1957 and headquartered in Alabama, Whitaker Contracting, a leading aggregates company, previously used employees and thirdparty surveyors, to measure their stockpiles. By using drones, Whitaker’s combined yearly cost is 22% less than before and they’re able to measure their stockpiles twice as frequently, while spending four times less time.
The aerial maps provide them with a greater perspective on large quarries. Companies are also using drones to compare volume measurements from stripping, takeoffs and mine reclamation work, as well as to estimate levels of reserves. For example, SullyMiller (part of Colas USA) uses the data from Kespry drones to overlay known information such as borehole data, mine limits, property boundaries and setbacks, which ensures that mining is following the prescribed plan and eliminating unforeseen surprises.
2) Mine Planning
Due to the cost of manned aerial surveys, many companies may only do an aerial survey once a year, while using ground-based surveyors in between. In search of a way to collect data on any site at any time, companies are incorporating drones into the mine planning process. They’re finding value in the 2D and 3D models created from data captured by drones.
For staff at aggregate companies, doing inventory at quarries means having to climb up and down stockpiles, while carrying heavy equipment, which often results in tripping, falling or sliding down. By using drones, staff no longer need to access unsafe environments, with data being collected remotely and safely.
To learn how the Kespry Automated Drone System can save you time and money, while increasing safety, visit www.kespry.com/aggregates
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EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT by Jason Hurdis
Your Eye in the
Sky DRONES 101: A primer to help you avoid common mistakes, improve maintenance, and store your drone between uses.
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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Drones are increasingly being used to conduct survey work and volumetric analysis within aggregate operations.
he use of drones for the hobbyist and professional has literally taken off in the past couple of years. Drones can be found flying over back yards, parks, weddings, sporting events, real estate parcels, construction sites, and aggregate operations. In the case of construction and mining, these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are deployed to conduct volumetric analysis and survey work. Acquiring a drone is extremely simple as various drone types and models can be found at big box stores, drone dealers, and numerous on-line suppliers â€“ with prices ranging from tens of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. With this ease of access, relatively low cost to purchase, and the promise of big benefits achieved using a drone for projects, people with little experience in flying, regulations, and maintenance are now â€œdrone pilots,â€? or in FAA terminology, remote pilots in command (RPIC). As with any device that tries to defy gravity, mistakes and mishaps occur. Any drone user will have at least one story to tell about their experience. Most of the mistakes, errors, mishaps, and close calls with drones can be avoided with a few simple rules and guidelines. These rules can be broken down into the following categories: 1. The drone,
2. The flight, 3. The pilot, and 4. Drone maintenance.
The drone Drones come in various sizes and types with varying flight control methods and devices. To be successful and achieve the outcome required from a drone, it is important to select the right tool for the job. Knowing basic information such as what you want the drone to do, how much area needs to be covered in a single flight, and typical flight environmental conditions is critical to selecting the right tool for the job. A quadcopter drone may be perfect for real estate projects, but it may not be the best choice for surveying hundreds of acres in a limited amount of time. So, do your research and start with the right drone platform matched to your project.
The flight The flight itself is where most errors and mistakes occur. Not a big surprise...the gravity thing again. Here are some basic flight tips. 1. Flight area. Survey the flight area before unpacking your drone. Make sure you know where every
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EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT tree, guide wire, silo, pole, and post are on the site and the height of each of these potential “drone killers.” Try to find the flattest, softest, and cleanest takeoff and landing spot. One of my first drone flights in a quarry resulted in the drone momentarily disappearing in a cloud of limestone dust upon takeoff. I have since learned to carry a tarp or extra ground control point to place on the ground before taking off. 2. Flight condition. Knowing the flight conditions is critical to a successful drone flight. In my experience, flight conditions are second only to pilot error in creating mishaps. Make sure you know and understand the weather conditions that could be experienced during your flight. This includes winds and wind gusts, rain, cloud cover, humidity, etc. All these parameters can affect the drone flight, your resulting control inputs, battery life, and quality of pictures. There are numerous apps available for free or low cost to help you quickly and easily determine weather conditions at your exact flight area. 3. Flight laws and regulations. In the U.S., this topic is very important. As the pilot in command of your drone, you are responsible for its flight and operation. Make sure you know where you can fly, who needs to be notified if you are flying, FAA drone registration requirements, and a host of other national and local laws and regulations. The FAA
website is a great source to start learning about drone laws, regulations, and restrictions. The FAA website also contains information on Section 107 drone pilot (RPIC) certification and requirements.
The pilot The pilot, the person behind the controls, contributes enormously to a safe and successful drone flight. The pilot is also the number one reason for a drone mishap — usually resulting from inadequate skill level, misreading flight conditions, and/or poor pre-flight practices. Some pilot tips are: 1. Practice! Practice! And practice some more! Make sure you understand how your drone operates, how the flight controls work, what all the functions on your controller do and, more importantly, what they do not do. It is best to start “low and small” until you become comfortable with the drone, controls, and battery life. Test yourself with each practice flight thinking and practicing which direction I should go if this happens, or what I will do if I have to land right now. 2. Pre-Flight Inspection. A large majority of drone pilots unpack their drone, slap in the battery, turn on, and go. Next time you are in the airport, look out the window. You will likely see an airline pilot conducting a pre-flight inspection on the plane. Commercial pilots are highly trained
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EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT and skilled professionals who never skip a pre-flight inspection. Drone pilots should never skip a pre-flight inspection either. Not completing one or completing a poor inspection can result in problems and even the loss of an expensive drone. Check over the craft for cracks, missing or loose parts, prop condition, motor condition, battery charge levels, controller charge levels, GPS signal, and strength. Make sure the props are tight, the launcher is set up properly, memory card is installed, camera is on, and everything else possible. I can share another personal experience where I rushed through a Before flying a drone, be sure to do a pre-flight inspection of the drone itself and check pre-flight inspection, conducted weather conditions to determine if flight conditions are right. a great 28-minute flight, taking gigabytes of pictures for volumetdownloaded for free. Get one. Actually, get several of them. ric analysis only to land and discover I had left the camera 3. Skill level. Linked to the first point: A very efficient way to lens cap on! Several drone manufacturers have pre-flight lose or crash a drone is to become too confident in your piinspection sheets that are included with the drone or can be
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After a flight is complete, inspect the drone once again, clean the camera lens with compressed air, and repair any damage. Wait until the battery has cooled to place it on the charger.
lot skills. Flying at maximum height, distance, or speed can easily lead to drone orientation errors and control signal loss. Battery level is another area to keep in the front of your brain. As skill levels improve, generally so does the thinking, “I can keep the drone up for just another minute
Drones are available in a variety of sizes and types. Select the right one for your conditions.
or drop under 5 percent battery life.” Regardless of skill level, set your battery level reminder or watch to ensure you have plenty of power left to return, avoid any obstacles on the way, and land softly. Never outfly your skills and eye-to-brain-to-hand coordination. About the time
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EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT you become confident and comfortable, Mother Nature or Mr. Gravity will give you a pop quiz.
Drone maintenance Like any mechanical device, especially a gravity defying device, drones require maintenance. Depending on the platform, flight experience, and skill level with landings and takeoffs, maintenance can vary. However, the following are some drone maintenance basics. 1. The drone. After every flight, it’s a great idea to conduct a post-flight inspection. Inspect the props for cracks, edge wear, and balance. Inspect the motors and, depending on your flight conditions, give them a shot or two of compressed can air to remove any dirt or dust. Inspect the airframe for cracks, missing parts, bends, chips, and cracks. Repair or replace anything that does not look right before your next flight. A new prop is cheaper than a new drone or lost time trying to find spare parts when you are attempting to fly the next mission. 2. The camera. The camera is a vital component of the drone. Inspect it closely after every flight. Ensure it is functioning properly, the lens is clean and free of scratches, and the memory card has saved the data and formatted properly. Clean the camera with a lens cloth or a compressed air can and install the lens cap/retaining
holders before storing. Depending on the drone platform, inspect the camera gimbal and mount for damage and loose or missing parts, and, if needed, repair/replace before the next flight. 3. The controller. Inspect the controller, including the viewing screen and antennas, for any damage. Wipe the controller down to remove dirt and ensure antennas are retracted or folded properly before storage. Inspect and verify controller battery level and charge or consult manufacturers battery charge recommendations prior to storing. 4. The battery. Most drone batteries will be warm after a flight. Allow them to cool before placing on the charger and keep them out of the sun, sand, and dirt between flights. Most drone manufacturers suggest storing drone batteries at room temperature and at about 40 to 60 percent charge levels. Some drones will actually discharge the batteries after being unused for a day or more. Again, consult your manufacturer’s recommendations for proper charging and storing. Pay attention to these simple rules, and your eye in the sky will serve you well. AM
Jason Hurdis is Caterpillar, Inc.’s senior market professional for Global Construction & Infrastructure.
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CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF YOUNG LEADERS Years
2017 NSSGA Young Leaders Annual Meeting
April 19-22, 2017 | Wild Horse Pass | Chandler, AZ
CELEBRATE WITH NSSGA at the 25th Anniversary of the Young Leaders Annual Meeting.
Sign up by March 17, 2017 to take advantage of early bird registration rates!
All Young Leaders alumni, regardless of age, are invited to attend and engage in this celebration where author and motivational speaker Chris Widener will ignite your passion for success. Hear important insights from aggregates industry leaders on how to take and make that next step in your career: • Mark Helm, President, Dolese Bros. Co. • William J. Sandbrook, President & CEO, U.S. Concrete, Inc. • J. Thomas Hill, President & CEO, Vulcan Materials Company • Steve Trussell, Executive Director, Arizona Rock Products Association • Anne H. Lloyd, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Martin Marietta • Sean K. McLanahan, Chief Executive New this year – food truck Officer, McLanahan Corporation dinner night. Build relationships through interactive networking, team building and community service events. Join us for the 25th Anniversary of NSSGA Young Leaders – reconnect with old friends and make new ones that will last a lifetime.
Visit nssga.org for more information.
NSG3980 YL 2017 Anniv AggMan-FULL.indd 1 Untitled-30 1
2017 NSSGA Young Leaders Annual Meeting
April 19 – 22, 2017
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SUPPLYLINES by Therese Dunphy | Editor-in-Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Crisp Conveying The right accessories and equipment help to ensure smooth transportation of aggregate throughout your operation.
Consistent belt cleaning Asgco says its Super-Skalper HD, which is available in several blade configurations, is designed to tackle tough carryback applications. The one-piece mounting tube and E-Z Torque Tensioner apply consistent and proper pressure to ensure constant cleaning contact throughout the life of the blade. A blade wear indicator allows the operator to monitor blade wear without shutting down the system for inspection. Inspection can be completed in minutes, without tools. Asgco | www.asgco.com
Conveyor belting for steep inclines Continentalâ€™s Select ContiCleat is a conveyor belt for steep inclines and challenging conveyor applications. In 17 different profile options, the cleated belts are said to be ideal for conveying materials such as stone, sand, and gravel. They are available in both U and V shapes. In a 1-inch cleat design, the belts can convey products at up to a 45-degree incline. Continental | www.contitech.us
Modular impact beds protect load zone Flexco says its Modular Impact Beds are engineered with maximum capacity in mind and designed with universal components that offer effective and affordable load-zone protection. They feature a 2-foot sectional design, which allows the users to fit the layout to their load zones, depending on application-specific performance requirements. The beds can be paired side-by-side with each other to match specific load-zone lengths and requirements. They also feature slide-out service in three pieces for service to each section right at the conveyor, as well as long-lasting, 1-inch UHMW bars designed for use on reversing belts. Universal components and field-adjustable trough angles are said to reduce lead time and make the beds easier to service. Flexco | www.flexco.com
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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Patented belt cleaner Martin Engineering says its QB1 Cleaner HD is roll formed from a single piece of steel, which produces a strong product without any welds. The cleaner features the company’s Constant Angle Radial Pressure technology to maintain an efficient cleaning angle throughout service life. The blade profile was also re-engineered to be less complex to produce, and therefore, easier to source. Martin Engineering | www.martin-eng.com
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Lightweight maintenance system Monaflex offers a lightweight conveyor belt maintenance system that, it says, minimizes downtime and decreases maintenance costs. The Monalex system operates at 30 pounds per square inch, rather than the traditional 100 pounds per square inch. The company says the lower operating pressure allows the heavy-duty frameworks of traditional systems to be discontinued since it can be transported in a standard vehicle. Monaflex | www.monaflex.com
Belt cleaner requires no adjustments Superior Industries, Inc. expands its Exterra Belt Cleaners with a mineduty model. Designed for better performance on larger puller assemblies, it is said to solve pain points related to constant tensioning maintenance and difficult installation in tight areas. The belt tensioner features patentpending Set For Life technology that maintains constant, accurate tension during the life of the blade. Operators set the tension during installation and doesn’t have to adjust it again. The scraper blade is segmented into 6-inch chunks, allowing it to contour against the blade. Superior Industries Inc. | www.superior-ind.com
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Get the the most current information with the 2016 Aggregates Industry Atlas and the Atlas on CD. While the printed version of the Aggregates Manager 2016 Aggregates Industry Atlas will become an integral part of doing your job, donâ€™t forget to order your copy of the Atlas on CD to see additional information about companiesâ€™ mine locations, types of rock mined, GPS coordinates, pertinent facts about companies listed in the atlas, and more.
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by Benjamin J. Ross
To Berm or Not To Berm Sometimes contradictory case law indicates when portions of an operation are designated as roadways and, therefore, require berms.
Benjamin J. Ross is an associate in Jackson Kelly PLLC’s Denver office where he represents clients on matters falling under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act and other safety and compliance statutes, among others. He can be reached at 303-390-0026 or email@example.com
eadlines in Rock Law and news across the country have focused upon the change in political power in Washington, D.C. as a new president was sworn in on Jan. 20. President Trump’s inauguration promises to change many things about our country and, by now, we have likely seen it affect the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). This month, however, Rock Law will take a break from predictions about future changes and focus on a constant in the mining world: solid, dependable berms. Surface mines often establish extensive berms, and most underground mines also have berms in various areas. The question is: in what area does MSHA require berms? Sections 56/57.9300(a) require operators to construct berms to protect the operators of loading and hauling equipment. The standards mandate that “[b]erms or guardrails shall be provided and maintained on the banks of roadways where a drop-off exists of sufficient grade or depth to cause a vehicle to overturn or endanger persons in equipment.” 30 C.F.R. §§ 56/57.9300(a). In Lakeview Rock Products, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
(Commission) considered whether § 56.9300 required that an elevated truck scale have berms. The Commission remanded the case to the administrative law judge (ALJ) and stated that the elements of § 56.9300 are: (1) whether the area is part of a roadway; (2) whether a drop-off exists of sufficient grade or depth to cause a vehicle to overturn or endanger persons in equipment; and (3) whether any berms or guardrails are at least mid-axle height of the largest self-propelled mobile equipment which usually travels the roadway. Lakeview Rock Products, Inc., 33 FMSHRC 2985, 2988 (December 2011). In Lakeview, the Commission articulated the main issue as whether the cited area was part of a roadway, and the elements identified by the Commission did not take that determination for granted. The scales at issue in Lakeview allowed haulage vehicles laden with product to drive onto them to be weighed. Those vehicles then proceeded forward and left the scales on the opposite side from which they entered. These scales, therefore, inherently required that rubber-tire haulage vehicles move onto and over them on a regular basis. The Commission did not find that scales are per se roadways. Thus, the mere fact that
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
2/15/17 2:21 PM
Cubee the AggMan helping educate children about the importance of aggregate since 1998 “The Story of Cubee the Aggregate” helps teach children at the youngest ages about the important role aggregate plays in their daily lives. Geared for students in grades K-3, Cubee and his aggregate friends will take children on a magical journey from Cubee’s birthplace in the neighborhood quarry to his new home in the schools, roads and other structures that enrich our communities and our lives.
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loaded haulage vehicles move and operate in an area does not necessarily make an area a roadway. As a result, Commission ALJs need to examine the design, location, and use of the area to determine whether the area is a roadway and § 56.9300 applies, as opposed to simply evaluating the type of vehicles that move in the area. Knife River Corp., Northwest, 34 FMSHRC 1109, 1122 (May 2012) (ALJ McCarthy); Delta Concrete Products, Inc., 36 FMSHRC 2903, 2938 39 (November 2014) (ALJ Simonton). Several months after Lakeview, the Commission looked at a “roadway” in the context of berms under the coal standard, 30 C.F.R. § 77.1605(k), and held that an elevated area “is a roadway where a vehicle commonly travels its surface during the normal mining routine.” Black Beauty Coal Co., 34 FMSHRC 1733, 1735 (August 2012). The presence of a rubber-tire vehicle in and of itself did not make an elevated area a roadway requiring berms under the standard. In Black Beauty, the Commission held that the cited area was a roadway during a dragline move because the area was a roadway at all other times and rubber-tire vehicles traveled upon the roadway during the longwall move. Id. Commission precedent suggests that vehicle movement pursuant to work activities alone does not make an area a roadway. In Black Beauty, the Commission found that the “to-and-from haulage across that bench,” and not the use of rubbertire vehicles during the dragline move alone, made the area at issue a roadway. Black Beauty, 34 FMSHRC at 1736. The Commission considered the purpose of the area and not just the type of vehicles in the area. Id. The area was commonly used as a roadway and rubber-tire vehicles continued to use the area, which means that the purpose of the area was that of a roadway and “the dragline move did not alter the bench’s status as a roadway.” Id.
The overall purpose of the area, and not the vehicles using that area, determine the applicability of the berm standards. Now, it is clear that an area that is designated as a roadway remains a roadway when used for another purpose, if vehicles continue to travel upon it. Haulageways, travelways, and any areas where vehicles commonly travel for the purpose of loading or hauling materials are roadways and require berms. Scales that are not part of a normal travelway or exit are not roadways and, therefore, do not require berms. What is currently unclear is whether the berm standards apply to all work areas, given that, in some districts, MSHA interprets the standards to apply to drilling and blasting areas. Commission case law suggests that MSHA’s application is incorrect. Perhaps the enforcement agenda of the new administration will affect even berms, and definitively exclude work areas from MSHA berm requirement. AM
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ADINDEX March 2017
Aggregates Manager Atlas Data/CD Products
Aggregates Manager Community Outreach
BekaWorld (formerly Beka-Max of America)
Bill Langer - Research Geologist
C.L. Dews & Sons Foundry
Cowin & Company, Inc.
Crisp Industries, Inc.
Deister Machine Co., Inc.
Elrus Aggregate System
Equipment World Spec Guide Online
Gilson Company, Inc.
John Deere Construction Equipment
KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens
MB America, Inc.
NSSGA Young Leaders
Progressive Commercial Insurance
Rice Lake Weighing Systems
Sepro Mineral Systems Corp.
Unified Screening & Crushing
United Employment Assoc.
Vertex Railcar Corp.
This index is provided as a service. The publisher does not assume any liability for errors or omissions.
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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Stephen S. Stauffer • 610-437-5040 S.Stauffer@unitedemployment.com www.UnitedEmployment.com
Serving the Concrete & Aggregate Industry for 20+ Years
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Conveyors & Support Systems Bucket Elevators Bin Gates • Grating
• 125 horsepower motor • Modern hydraulic system • Available on skid or portable chassis • Secondary or tertiary applications
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CARVED IN STONE
Bill Langer is a consulting research geologist who spent 41 years with the U.S. Geological Survey before starting his own business. He can be reached at Bill_Langer@hotmail.com
Grown in Gravel Like hydroponic systems, gravel and aggregate cultures have created alternative options for plant growth.
Image by: David Ryan, Rare Earth Nursery.
hose of you who pay attention to details may have noticed that I have a different puppy with me in the photo at the top of the page. Rosie went to the Rainbow Bridge last June. Our new puppy is named Keiki â€” Hawaiian for little one. Actually, a keiki is an offshoot from an orchid. My wife, Pam, grows orchids, and this year, she planted her Vanda orchids in glass beads. All plants, including orchids, require water, light, air, and essential nutrients to grow, reproduce, and perform other critical activities â€” whether they are grown in soil or not. In hydroponics (water culture), plants are grown with their roots in water. However, Pam used glass beads, so she was using a technique more akin to gravel-culture or aggregate-culture. Sometimes growing plants in aggregates is preferred to the hydroponic method because the aggregate helps to support the roots. The aggregate is held in the same type of tank as is used for a water culture system. The nutrient solution is held in a separate tank and pumped into the aggregate tank to moisten the roots as needed. After the aggregate has been flooded, it is drained to provide aeration. Enough water and nutrients cling to the aggregate and roots to supply the plant until the next flooding. I told Pam that this is not new. A case in point was the gravel-culture installation of the Army Air Forces on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic toward the end of World War II. That tiny volcanic island has a climate characterized by mild temperatures and low rainfall; conditions that result in the generation of practically no agricultural soil. The island is so isolated that the large military garrison placed there could only be provided with the essential dietary staples such as grains, meat, and milk products. Fruits and vegetables were either canned, dried, or dehydrated items. Yuck! This was not only bad for morale, but perhaps even to the health of troops. The problem was deemed important enough to justify a determined effort to provide such items as fresh tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, radishes, and cucumbers. Because there was no soil on the island to use conventional growing methods, an aggregate culture installation, using a local gravel, was authorized for the soilless production of fresh salad crops. That operation still stands out as an example of the successful application of aggregate culture in locations devoid of natural soils. More recently, aggregate culture has found an Aggregate culture allows nurseries to grow plants with minimal damage to the application in the production of nursery stock. The roots when the plants are moved. Missouri Gravel Bed (MGB) is a method of handling bare root nursery stock where, during the spring, dormant plants are placed with their bare roots in an irrigated bed of gravel and held for up to a year before planting bare root (in full leaf) in the landscape. The key to MGB is that root growth in gravel is very fibrous and, unlike with healed-in plants, few roots are damaged when plants are removed from the gravel. Donâ€™t let the name confuse you. Missouri gravel bed gardening has spread well beyond Missouri. Some places have even created community gravel bed nurseries for area residents. Aggregate culture is yet another environmentally friendly application of gravel. And just in case you were wondering, yes, an orchid can make a keiki when it is planted in gravel - or glass beads. AM
AGGREGATES MANAGER / March 2017
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