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Synergies & Solutions


A well-planned plant consolidation helps Arizona-based Fort McDowell Yavapai Materials hit high standards with efficiency.

By Mark S. Kuhar

Located in Maricopa County, approximately 23 miles northwest of Phoenix, the Fort McDowell Yavapai reservation is renowned for its many successful commercial endeavors – one being its highly productive aggregate-processing operations founded in 1980 under the name Fort McDowell Yavapai Materials, a company comprised of five concrete batch plant sites, one granite quarry, and a sand and gravel facility which mines via an underwater dragline that feeds a “uniquely configured plant,” according to Bill Jondahl, director of operations.

When planning needed processing upgrades at each location, Jondahl favors a strategy of carefully planned consolidation.

“Whenever you can eliminate a lot of individually located smaller plants and can combine components into one high-performance plant, your efficiencies go way up and your costs go way down,” he said.

Reflecting the latter, the company reconfigured its granite pit plant some five years ago, and recently did the same with its sand and gravel facility – assembling a plant which can be described as operating with “synergistic interaction.” In other words, this well-thought-out mix and match of existing, and newly acquired equipment components function together to produce an optimum result. Each piece of equipment enhances the productivity of the others and in the end – the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

To achieve the desired synergies and solutions, Fort McDowell worked closely with KPI-JCI and its Arizona-based dealer, Reuter Equipment. Key components at the heart of the plant consolidation are a JCI Kodiak 400 cone in the secondary circuit; two JCI 6-ft. x 16-ft. two-deck low profile screens; and a JCI 8-ft. x 20-ft. triple-deck low profile screen outfitted with Polydeck synthetic rubber screen media.

An existing jaw brought over from the granite pit is the primary. Ultimately the new plant setup allows Fort McDowell to double tons-per-hour capacity and efficiently produce a greater volume of high-quality spec products – while taking two other cones offline and eliminating three loaders. Consequently, they are able to significantly decrease labor, fuel and maintenance costs. “It’s a do-more-with-less situation and the savings are tremendous,” said Jondahl.

Going Underwater
Material is mined underwater at a depth of 30 ft. The plant is fed with two feeders, one for fines and one for coarse materials. Combined with the jaw, Kodiak cone, and multiple screens, Jondahl says that the new plant configuration allows them to dial in their gradations, and remain flexible in the production of a variety of specification products, which include various base materials, a #57 blend, a 1- to 3-in. and 3- to 6-in. natural river rock, and particularly, a 1-1/2-in. rock with a 98-percent fractured face.

The latter product is crushed and sized from 6-in.-plus rock that is scalped and stockpiled. “Prior to the new plant, we were never able to make a 1- to 3-in. and a 3- to 6-in. river rock, and we had to have a totally separate plant to make the 1-1/2 in. rock. So we always had to use costly loaders to transport material to other crushing and screening plants,” Jondahl added.

The new plant also features a radial stacker that allows the operation to feed a surge tunnel for wash plant material stockpiling. “We can easily switch over to the wash plant as needed. In fact, we can outrun our wash plant as it only takes about four hours to stockpile wash material with the crushing spread,” said Jondahl. Importantly, he stresses that in the past – and even with more equipment – the operation was only able to achieve a capacity of 300 to 400 tph. “Now we are consistently able to get up to 900 tph.”

Kodiak Cone
Jondahl attributes much of their new efficiencies to the Kodiak 400 cone. “First, the Kodiak has an automatic relief system. Should we have a plug, I don’t have to have workers in harm’s way trying to clear it out. We just steadily run throughout the shift,” Jondahl said. “Next, we have the benefit of cutting back on the maintenance man hours that were required before when we ran a smaller 1140 cone plant. Anywhere from two to three times per week, our crew had to come in and tighten down the old cone – which was a two-hour process. With the Kodiak we can adjust everything on the fly, which keeps us dialed in on our rock. For example, when we are making our 1-1/2-in. rock, we achieve 85 percent from 1-1/2 in. to 1-1/4-in.; and 15 percent from 1-1/4 in. to 1 in. Those are specs that no other operation in our area is able to hit.”

As to the new horizontal screens, Jondahl says that they deliver significant flexibility and reliability. According to KPI-JCI engineers, this optimum application flexibility is the result of the unit’s adjustable oval motion length and timing angle.

Additionally, each model offers standard, medium or heavy-duty scalping configurations. And importantly, the inclusion of a triple-shaft vibrating mechanism provides maximum resistance to blinding and plugging, while also ensuring longer bearing life.

“Having our 8-ft. x 20-ft. screen allows us to scalp the way we wish to; and having two 6-ft. x 16-ft. screens allows product flexibility. These kinds of tools make us good at what we do,” said Jondahl, adding that their ability to hit such high product standards has enabled them to supply the region’s biggest corporations with a large percentage of the concrete rock they require.

Lastly, Jondahl said that when completing major plant upgrades, he looks for teamwork. “I may buy what a manufacturer or dealer recommends, but they have to back up their products and deliver on their promises,” he said. “I need solutions, not finger pointing. KPI-JCI and its dealer are willing to work with any issues and find the solutions. I look for equipment that is best for the guys who run it. That means greater productivity and better night’s sleep.”

Fort McDowell Yavapai Materials provides employment for up to 75 people, 75 percent of whom are members of the Native American community. In addition to its production of construction and concrete aggregate, the operation provides materials for residential and commercial landscaping, and for the development of the nation’s most revered golf courses.