Sandvik Construction helps Lafarge quarry boost production by 30%
Replacing a broken crusher made a big difference for the Lafarge Pitt River Quarry. Combining this with a realignment of the facility's existing crushers made an even bigger difference. The inspired equipment solution is paying off in a big, big way for the quarry, due to expert advice from ELRUS Aggregate Systems and the new CH660 cone crusher from Sandvik Construction.
Lafarge's Pitt River Quarry in British Columbia, Canada, is part of a Lafarge North America network of some 900 offices and operations, with the company being the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in Canada and the United States. The Pitt River facility is a Lafarge flagship unit and is located some 50 kilometers west of Vancouver. That places it within the Vancouver metro area, which is a big market for the quarry. Situated near the banks of the Pitt River, it annually ships out 1.5-2 million metric tons of aggregate, loading either river barges or trucks with the prized product. Reserves at the quarry are expected to last for the next half century.
In 2013 operations at the granite quarry were running smoothly, churning out 900 metric tons per hour of high-quality aggregate used in Superpave, asphalt, and concrete applications. When a main frame cracked on its existing 54-inch cone crusher, Quarry Manager Robert Brakes sought solutions to replace the quaternary unit, which was too old to warrant repair. Among the offered solutions was one provided by ELRUS Aggregate Systems, the authorized Sandvik Construction dealer for western Canada, who supplied the quarry's secondary crushing unit, a Sandvik S6800.
ELRUS representative, Mike Wikdahl, believed a common platform unit to the S6800, the Sandvik CH660 stationary cone crusher, would be a perfect addition to the crushing system. After he studied the company's operation, Wikdahl went one step further; "We initially offered what our customer requested: a straight-forward replacement of the quaternary crusher," Wikdahl says. But after studying several flow sheets, he proposed that the quarry rearrange its line-up of machines to take advantage of the CH660's finer product. Specifically, he suggested the company's tertiary crusher be relocated to replace the broken cone crusher and the CH660 replace it in third-stage crushing. He predicted an increase in production of at least 10-15% from the added capabilities of the CH660.
Brakes pored over the flow sheets, bringing to his analysis the perspective of a third-generation quarry operator with 27 years of experience in the industry. He recognized that Wikdahl had done a lot of research but, he says, "It still took me a little bit to read between the lines." In the end, Brakes came to the same conclusion: placing the new crusher in the third position in the crushing sequence would boost output. That has proved to be the case. "The CH660 produces aggregate of a good size for the next stage of crushing," Brakes says. "Now the quaternary crusher isn't dealing with 100-115mm rock, but with 65mm rock. The result is no plug ups and a good flow."
Quarry Assistant Manager, Shayne Daum, agrees that size reduction turned out to be, "a bigger thing than we thought." He explains Wikdahl's analysis showed clearly that the existing quaternary crusher produced an operational bottleneck as 100-225mmh crusher feed would overflow and be dumped to the ground, requiring additional handling, and comments, "With the CH660, the unwanted by-product has gone from a thousand tons a day to zero."
The CH660 went on line in January as a tertiary crusher, and the benefits to Lafarge Pitt River Quarry have been impressive. The most obvious one is the sizeable upturn in total production with the quarry experiencing a 30% increase in aggregate output, reaching 1,200 metric tons an hour. The increase was double that predicted by Wikdahl. "Before, it was hard to hit 1,000 metric tons," Brakes says, adding that "the cost per ton was the deciding factor. We typically were running a shift and a half to get the same tonnage as we now are doing with regular shifts. That's huge when you add it all up: wear on belts, fuel, man hours, and other costs."
Another advantage accruing to Lafarge Pitt River Quarry is better maintenance scheduling. Because of increased production rates, the quarry can afford regular planned maintenance interruptions, which also avoid costlier overtime repair work. "Before we had to run around and chase maintenance needs," Brakes notes, "now we can plan on scheduled maintenance programs."
Systematically maintaining the machinery has other positive implications for the company as now the maintenance occurs regularly, budgeting for it is regular, too, with the cost being spread throughout the year rather than coming in surges at sometimes inconvenient times. The CH660's design adds to the maintenance good news. According to Pitt River crusher operator, Nolan Wall, "changing out the liners is easier and faster, which is significant because downtime is a killer. That's why I like the CH660, it's reliable."
The CH660 liners are also more durable than on the crusher the unit replaced. According to Brakes, liners on the previous crusher lasted 650 hours on average. "Now we are getting a couple hundred more hours on a liner. This is impressive considering the Sandvik is doing more reduction, which means it is working harder." Stephen Dobler, Sandvik Construction's Business Line Manager for crushing and screening in Canada, says the CH660's CLP manganese liners perform better overall because they are engineered to maintain intake capability and chamber geometry longer than the previous crusher.
The CH660 also benefits from more efficient power transfer to the crushing chamber, deriving from Sandvik's Hydroset technology coupled with the ASRi automation system that maintains optimum reduction despite wear. "These features ensure a customer can maximize reduction and reduce the amount of recirculating material, freeing up space to process more material," Dobler says. "So the performance of the crusher and the quality of the product are more consistent."
Breaking rock is a tough job of course, and components do wear out from the constant grinding and can break down over time. As the Pitt River Quarry Manager considered the competing solutions and bids, he points out that he did so with one eye on service expectations. "You cannot afford down-time," says Brakes, who adds, "it can cost $10,000 an hour if you are down, so reliable after-sales service was important in choosing a crusher."
ELRUS Aggregate Systems has an office within a reasonable distance of Pitt Meadows, where Lafarge operates its quarry. That was important to Brakes: "ELRUS is not far from us. If they don't have a part, they typically will have it in Calgary where they are headquartered. That was a key factor in our decision." It also helps that the CH660 has some parts in common with the other Sandvik crusher in the quarry, the S6800. That makes it easier for the company's maintenance department to keep an inventory of machine components on hand. Furthermore, maintenance technicians can fully access the CH660 from above to inspect critical parts and service the machine with the easy access speeding any work.
The combination of excellent advice from a trusted supplier and state-of-the-art equipment from Sandvik Construction has enabled Lafarge's Pitt River granite quarry to boost production. The maintenance features and aftermarket provisions have also provided the quarry with that extra peace of mind, as well as allowing scheduled servicing to further boost productivity thereby providing Lafarge with vastly improved cost per ton operation.
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