Modular equipment design: the benefit for quarries

A look through materials washing specialist CDE Global’s project portfolio from recent years reveals a range of materials washing projects where the modular approach has been employed successfully.

Here in Australia, the company has completed 10 projects over the past two years, most noticeably a turnkey silica sand washing plant for Tooperang Quarry in Adelaide and a similar plant for Earth Commodities in Bundaberg, Queensland.

According to Terry Ashby, CDE’s regional director for Australia, the modular approach was a key factor in winning these projects, the first of which led to CDE being awarded preferred supplier status by Owens-Illinois for its glass sand manufacturing plants in Australia.

“The modular design of complex glass sand processing plants represented a new approach for the sector,” Ashby said. “This type of plant was expected to be a large, static installation, given the variety of complex processing phases that need to be included in order to produce the kind of product required by Owens-Illinois for their glass sand manufacturing process. We were able to demonstrate the benefits of our approach to both Tooperang Quarry and Earth Commodities.”

Ashby said the first challenge was to gain acceptance from the customer that modularity did not mean compromising on the specification of the equipment provided for these projects.

“Unfortunately, when people hear the word ‘modular’ there is a tendency to think it means smaller,” Ashby said. “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 washingn 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 vs static

So what are the benefits of a modular plant over a static plant?

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 include feeding, screening, sand washing and stockpiling on the same chassis, and allow for the production of up to five washed and graded products. There are several options within the range, allowing for maximum production of 450 tonnes per hour 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 Ashby.

“This is a philosophy that has always been at the very core of everything we do. 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 maximise product yield and minimise waste from the process.”

Sustainable practices

In translating this into real, quantifiable benefits for customers, the first port of call for Ashby is to discuss the product yield customers enjoy from their reserve.

“By maximising 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 achieve the quickest return on their investment,” Ashby said.

He added this also meets the sustainability agenda, by ensuring the most efficient exploitation of the world’s natural reserves, of which the construction materials industry is merely the guardian.

“As the pace of global development gets ever faster, demand for our finite natural reserves will continue to grow. Our approach to equipment design ensures that we are able to support the efficient exploitation
of these reserves while minimising environmental impact.”

The knock-on effect for the industry as a whole is it extends the working life of the reserves it manages, but also potentially makes the planning process for new extraction permits less painful, as a result of the clear demonstration of its commitment to the sustainability agenda.

As well as the wider sustainability agenda, the modular approach also has a number of efficiency benefits for material producers, as highlighted by Paul Stevens, the Australian business development manager for CDE Global.

“Put very simply, it ensures that you’re up and running in the shortest time possible,” Stevens said. “The earlier that we can get our customers producing new material, they are a day closer to a return on their investment.”

According to Stevens, the integration of processing phases on a single chassis delivers this enhanced return on investment, as a result of the accelerated installation and commissioning phase it allows.

Through the modular approach, all the CDE equipment is pre-wired, pre-assembled and factory-tested before dispatch, significantly reducing 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 optimised,” Stevens said. “This is all taken care of at the CDE factory so that the installation phase is completed as quickly as possible.”


Reduced footprint

In October 2015, CDE hosted a demonstration event in Fort Worth, Texas, for the new sand and gravel washing plant that had been 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, the mechanical install was completed in 16 days. For a complex washing plant, this is considerably shorter than anything we had previously experienced.”

Another benefit of the modular approach is the plant’s reduced footprint. This is not only an important factor when space is at a premium, but also contributes to lower overall project costs through 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,” Stevens said.

A recurring theme for CDE when discussing this subject is the integration between the business benefits and the sustainability benefits.

“The two go hand in hand,” Ashby said. “We understand that for materials producers the business case must 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 minimise the environmental impact of our operations.

“Our sector is essential to the future growth of the economy, not only here in Australia 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 in the issue of transport. As the equipment can be delivered in fewer loads, there are obvious cost benefits for materials producers.

The sustainability benefits come from the reduction in transport movements, cutting 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. Movements of site vehicles are less frequent 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 the distance travelled 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 these factors introduce both cost and sustainability benefits to materials washing projects.

Delivery without compromise

CDE has found customers are very keen on the potential for future development of plant through the modular approach.

“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,” Stevens said. “This allows us to configure the plant to allow for these changes to be made quickly and easily.”

A critical factor here, according to Ashby, is that CDE designs and manufactures all the equipment within its range, so the company is able to ensure each machine will easily integrate with the others.

“Feed systems, screens, sand washing plants, attrition cells, logwashers, thickeners, conveyors – we manufacture all of it ourselves,” Ashby said. “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 that CDE highlights refers back to the first point about modularity being delivered without compromise – that is, the access provided for essential plant inspection and maintenance.

“On too many so-called ‘modular’ plants you see hugely compromised maintenance access. From the beginning we were fixed on a path that would deliver static plant access on our modular equipment,” Stevens said.

“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.”

Source: CDE Global

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