Aggregates Manager

September 2013

Aggregates Manager Digital Magazine

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OPERATIONSExperience ILLUSTRATED Voices of Chad Ferguson C t essford Construction, a Burlington, Iowa-based Oldcastle Materials company, has built its operation mining smaller quarries and moving its plants several times a year. "The life of our aggregate business has been built with the use of portable plants," says Operations Manager Chad Ferguson. "We have 12 locations, 10 of which are limestone quarries, spread out around 150 to 170 miles. We have two portable crushing plants, one of which is larger and the other smaller, and we move each of them at least four or five times a season." Ferguson says shutdown, teardown, transport, and setup of smaller plants can be completed in three days, under normal conditions and a typical site. "Ten years ago, a similar move would have taken five or six days," he notes. While the larger plant takes a little more time to tear down and set back up, modern features, such as as hydraulic leveling jacks and on-plant conveyors, save hours of work. "The benefits add up," he says. Ferguson notes careful organization is key to a successful move. In addition to lists and proper order of plants, ancillary equipment such as dumpsters, man lifts, and fuel shouldn't be overlooked. The new site should be prepped, and producers may consider drilling and shooting before the plant's arrival onsite. "Make sure you have your permits in place for your heavy loads," he advises. "Permitting can stop the show, if you haven't prepared. "You have to have help," Ferguson adds. "We schedule maintenance personnel to help with repairs and set up. This way, the burden of the setup isn't placed on just those three or five guys who are going to be running the plant." And always, before each task, it is very important to take the time to discuss the safety issues that could arise, he says, adding, "Gather around and talk them over as a group." Paul Brandt P t roducers must keep many things in mind during a plant move, says Paul Brandt, territory manager for Denver, Colo.-based Power Equipment Co. Not all of these items are obvious to a casual observer. "You have to line out and schedule your trucks; that's a given. You sometimes have to arrange for things such as cribbing and possibly a crane. You want to make sure your site is prepped before the plants arrive, but you also can't forget to plan for stockpiles, loader ramps, even the prevailing wind direction," he says. In the West Central region of the United States, smaller aggregates operations serviced by portable plants are the rule, rather than the exception. Many of Brandt's customers move six or eight times a year. He says newer plants with components like run-on jacks and onboard conveyors have made moves more efficient and setup quicker and safer, but can create other considerations for a move. "Manufacturers are always looking to design the better 'mouse trap,' and dealers help to make sure that mouse trap works in a specific region. So, for instance, axle weight limits differ between states. If you're going to move between states, you have to know what the regulations are. For example, in Wyoming, you're allowed up to 74,000 pounds on quad axles, and in Colorado that number is 72,000. If your plant weighs in at 73,000, and it was built for Wyoming, you would be okay. But if you wanted to transport the same plant into Colorado, you'd need a booster axle — and the forethought of building this plant with a booster setup," Brandt explains. Additionally, some states consider catwalks and handrails to be "loose" components on a plant. This means, while the plant might be built with these components onboard, a state may require that they be removed and transported on a separate load. Dave McLaughlin D t ave McLaughlin, major accounts director for KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens, feels looking at the big picture is imperative for a company's success in operating portable plants that serve multiple locations. For instance, planning ahead for a portable plant move should include not only what will be required for the move itself, but also why the plant is being moved at this specific time, he says. "Producers should consider moving days versus production days — reducing the former to increase the latter — and that's important. But planning and adjusting for changing market requirements are also important. Each producer should evaluate sites and determine, 'How much finished product do I need at this site, this site, and this site?' If you don't plan right, you're not making enough of the right products; your inventory will be out of balance," he explains. McLaughlin says poor planning can create major issues if a producer has to bring a plant back to a site to produce additional material to meet market demand. "Today's portable plants are designed to require fewer employees to operate efficiently. But don't reduce your workforce too much. The money you save in wages goes away fast when there's downtime," McLaughlin notes, adding that good preventive maintenance is also a key ingredient in maintaining plant uptime and availability. He explains that using production personnel to handle maintenance can sometimes backfire. "I've learned that good operators are not necessarily good mechanics," he notes. "And if you have an operator running the plant five days a week, for 10 hours a day, do you really want that same operator doing maintenance on a Saturday?" In short, McLaughlin offers his favorite motto: "Formulate a plan, revise as market conditions change, and always consider the end goal." Aggregates Manager OperationsIllustrated_AGRM0913.indd 18 8/15/13 3:32 PM

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