WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS OF THE MOVE TO MODULAR FOR MATERIALS PRODUCERS?
By Mark S. Kuhar
In recent years, quarry operators have seen the topic of modular equipment become even more popular. But what are the main benefits of the move to modular for materials producers? Is it really going to deliver on the requirements of the industry?
Material washing specialist CDE Global is one manufacturer that has embraced the move to modularity and Joel Prince, regional manager, North America and Tiff McMullan, business development executive, North America, explain the rationale for these developments and how they will positively impact the industry in the years ahead.
A look through the CDE project portfolio from recent years reveals a range of materials washing projects where the modular approach has been employed successfully. Here in North America the company has completed 10 projects over the last two years, from the replacement of sand screws with their EvoWash cyclone based sand washing plant to turnkey plants producing specialist golf sands.
The modular approach was a key factor in winning these projects. “The modular design of complex sand processing plants represented a new approach for the sector,” said Prince. “This type of plant was expected to be a large, static installation.”
Prince goes on to outline how the first challenge was to gain acceptance from the customer that modularity did not mean compromising on the specification of the equipment to be provided for these projects.
“Unfortunately, when people hear the word modular there is a tendency to think it means smaller,” said Prince. “This is a perception that has been created, particularly in the construction materials sector by the use of the term ‘modular’ when referring to equipment with a reduced capacity, compromised maintenance access and reduced stockpile capability. This doesn’t reflect the approach CDE has taken – modular doesn’t compromise on anything. It’s simply the best way to ensure the most efficient delivery of materials washing projects.”
Whether installing a static washing plant or a turnkey modular system all the equipment specified remains the same – feed arrangement, screens, sand washing plants, logwashers, attrition cells, and water recycling and sludge management technology.
Modular Versus Static
CDE defines its approach to modular design as “Intelligent Process Integration,” which involves combining several processing phases onto a single chassis to ensure the most efficient transfer of material from one processing phase to another.
For example, the M-Series modular washing plants includes feeding, screening, sand washing and stockpiling on the same chassis and allows for the production of up to five washed and graded products. There are several options within the range allowing for maximum production of 450 tph from a single machine.
The AggMax portable logwasher comes in a variety of configurations and includes pre-screening, scrubbing, product grading, trash removal and stockpiling on a single chassis.
The driving force behind this approach to equipment design is a commitment to create value from waste, according to Prince. “This is a philosophy that has always been at the very core of everything we do,” he said. “Whether we’re working with sand and gravel, crushed rock, C&D waste, scalpings and overburden, iron ore, silica sands – our starting point for a successful project is to maximize product yield and minimize waste from the process.”
In terms of how this approach translates into real quantifiable benefits for customers, the first port of call for Prince is to discuss the product yield that customers enjoy from their reserve. “By maximizing material retention within the circuit and building each plant based on a careful analysis of both the feed material and the customer’s final product expectations we help our customers to achieve the quickest return on their investment,” explained Prince.
He goes on to explain that this also meets the sustainability agenda by ensuring the most efficient exploitation of the natural reserves of which we as an industry are merely the guardians.
“As the pace of global development gets ever faster demand for our finite natural reserves will continue to grow,” Prince said. “Our approach to equipment design ensures that we are able to support the efficient exploitation of these reserves while minimising environmental impact.”
The downstream effect of this for the industry as a whole is that we extend the working life of the reserves we manage but also potentially make the planning process for new extraction permits less painful as a result of a clear demonstration of our commitment to the sustainability agenda, according to Prince.
As well as the wider sustainability agenda the modular approach also has a number of efficiency benefits for material producers as highlighted by McMullan. “Put very simply, it ensures that you’re up and running in the shortest time possible,” he said. “Every day earlier that we can get our customers producing new material they are a day closer to a return on the investment.”
According to McMullen, the integration of processing phases onto a single chassis delivers this enhanced return on investment as a result of the accelerated installation and commissioning phase that it allows. Through the modular approach, all of the CDE equipment is pre-wired, pre-assembled and factory tested prior to dispatch and this significantly reduces the time required for installation.
“With individual equipment items supported by large structures a lot of time is spent on site to ensure all transfer points are optimized,” said McMullen. “This is all taken care of at the CDE factory so that the installation phase is completed as quickly as possible.”
At the end of October 2015 CDE hosted a demonstration event in Fort Worth, Texas, at a new sand and gravel washing plant installed for Metroplex Sand & Gravel. Keith Newell of Metroplex spoke about the installation phase for the project and confirmed the benefits of the CDE approach.
“Our plant arrived in 30 containers,” Newell said. “From the day it landed we had four Metroplex people working plus Joe Owens of CDE, and the mechanical install was completed in 16 days. For a complex washing plant this is considerably shorter than anything we have had done previously.”
Another benefit of the modular approach is the reduced footprint of the plant. This is not only an important factor when space is at a premium but also contributes to lower overall project costs as a result of a reduction in the amount of concrete required for the pads needed to support the plant. “This also contributes to the sustainability agenda as the reduced concrete volumes mean a reduced carbon footprint for the installation,” explained McMullan.
A recurring theme for CDE when discussing this subject is the integration that exists between the business benefits and the sustainability benefits. “The two go hand in hand,” said Prince. “We understand that for materials producers the business case most exist but the sustainability benefits can’t be ignored. As manufacturers and an industry we need to get better at promoting the good that we do to minimize the environmental impact of our operations. Our industry is essential to the future growth of the economy not only here in North America but across the world. As an industry we have a huge job to do to portray this as an industry that is as relevant today as it has always been and that understands its obligations as the guardians of our natural resources.”
The connection between the business and sustainability benefits of the modular approach can also be seen when we look at the issue of transport. As the equipment can be delivered in fewer loads there are obvious cost benefits for material producers. The sustainability benefits come from the reduction in transport movements, reducing fuel costs and emissions, and therefore reducing the overall environmental impact of the investment in new equipment.
The compact nature of the equipment on site also has a number of advantages during day-to-day operation of the plant. Transport movements of site vehicles are reduced due to the fact that everything is a lot closer together. The elimination of the requirement for very high supporting structures and independent transfer conveyors means that the distance traveled by material before it hits the product stockpile is reduced.
The benefits of this include reduced power consumption, reduced pipework requirement and potential reduction in the requirement to invest in additional sumps and pumps. It is worth noting that all of these factors introduce both cost and sustainability benefits to materials washing projects.
CDE also report that the potential for future development of the plant through the modular approach is something that customers are very keen on. “From the outset we’ll work to develop an understanding of the future requirements of the business to establish what may be coming down the tracks in terms of capacity upgrades or additional processing phases,” said McMullan. “This allows us to configure the plant to allow for these changes to be made quickly and easily.”
A critical factor here, according to Prince, is that CDE designs and manufactures all of the equipment within its range and is as such able to ensure that each machine will easily integrate with each other. “Feed systems, screens, sand washing plants, attrition cells, logwashers, thickeners, conveyors – we manufacture all of it ourselves,” said Prince. “We also partner with world leaders in sludge management technology and have more than two decades of experience integrating other third-party equipment such as crushers.”
The final benefit of the modular approach refers back to the first point about modularity being delivered without compromise. In this instance this refers to the access provided for essential plant inspection and maintenance.
“Too many so-called ‘modular’ plants actually compromise maintenance access – from the outset we were fixed on a path that would deliver static plant access on our modular equipment,” concluded McMullan. “This is founded on an understanding of how to ensure the efficient operation of the plant on a day to day basis. By giving people room to work efficiently and safely we reduce the time required for essential plant inspection and maintenance but we also contribute to a safer, happier site workforce – which is a more productive workforce so everyone wins.”
Information for this article courtesy of CDE Global.