With so many products and brands available in the crushing and screening segment globally, it can be daunting for quarrying producers to make an informed choice. Ed Sauser explains why an OEM’s vibratory product range can provide a significant point of difference.
In recent months, Quarry has reported how original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Superior Industries, based in Minnesota, USA, is seeking to provide quarries globally with innovation and product differentiation in its products. This is particularly important at a time of major disruption in the Australian and global supply chains, in which consolidation of OEMs has led to a narrowing for quarry producers in the quality, quantity, and choice of plant, equipment and support services.
Superior Industries engineers, manufactures and supplies bulk crushing, screening, washing and conveying systems plus all related parts and services for the quarrying and mining industries. The 50-year-old multinational began life as a fabrication shop and over time developed a solid business in the manufacturing and distribution of conveying systems and portable plants. Since 2015, Superior has diversified into the crushing, screening and washing market, offering some popular product lines to US producers such as the high speed Patriot cone crusher and the triple-shaft Guardian horizontal screen.
Most importantly, Superior Industries can customise its products to fit static, modular and mobile applications. This fits the OEM’s mission to provide its customers, based off their input and feedback, with a “one-stop shop” of viable plant and equipment from the quarry face to the load-out.
In Australia, Superior’s distributors include Tricon Equipment (east coast) and 888 Crushing & Screening Equipment (west coast). Some of Superior’s renowned washing plant and equipment has already been installed in some east coast quarries.
Ed Sauser is Superior Industries’ vibratory product manager. Although he has only been involved with the company since late 2020, he has worked across the extractive industries for 33 years. As a design engineer for a major OEM, Sauser oversaw the production of aggregate processing equipment from conveyors to vibrating screens to portable plants over three decades. In that period, he was a product manager for 12 years, being responsible for his employer’s overall aggregate processing lines. In December 2020, he joined Superior Industries.
“I’m responsible for the product lines for Superior’s vibratory incline screens, horizontal screens and vibrating feeders,” Sauser said of his role at Superior. “The role covers all aspects of the products, from the building of the equipment to procurement of the parts, the servicing, the product line development, and the training of the sales team people on the product lines. One of the goals of the company is to make those products the best in class, not only in the product itself but in the production and the support of that equipment, so I am involved in all aspects of it.”
A strong perception of quarrying plant and equipment, particularly of crushers and screens, is that it has not evolved dramatically in the past century and there is little visibility of difference between brands. Sauser said it’s a common sentiment of customers that screens work off “the same DNA” but he added there are subtle differences “they don’t see when you get into the guts of the machines and the production processes”. In particular, he argued that Superior prides itself on its versatility, including the capacity to build plant and equipment for multiple applications in a quarrying environment.
“What’s unique about Superior is that we package more screens in washing applications than any other major manufacturer,” Sauser explained. “That’s mainly because of our expertise in the packaging of our washing and screening equipment. We place a lot of our equipment into washing-type applications, and in doing so we realise there are ways we can improve our processes. We manufacture enough of our own turnkey systems to see how we can improve. When constructing vibrating mechanisms to keep out water and dirt, we’ve developed what we consider best in class plant.”
He added that the upshot of product improvement is that “we maximise the uptime. The screen is only one aspect of the process but it is a very important part. Crushers and processing equipment tend to be more expensive than screens but having downtime on a screen potentially takes the whole system down.
“Our focus is to make our screens the most reliable products they can be. The best way we can do that is through sealed construction, to protect the bearings and gears to get the longest life out of them. We can mechanically seal joints in our equipment that other OEMs don’t do,” Sauser added. “We do shot blasting of the metal before we do the welding for a cleaner product. I don’t see anyone in the industry who does sealing systems better than we do and that’s derived from our experience in washing equipment. We’ve paid attention to how all the components are assembled to handle those applications. The more durable our products are, the greater the uptime and the efficiencies.”
Superior Industries offers four key products in its vibratory range. The high energy Anthem inclined screen, available in twin- or triple-deck configurations, operates at angles of 15 to 20 degrees to move continuous feeds of material up to 406mm in a circular motion down the decks and through the media. It can be used in modes from heavy scalping to fine finishes and is most commonly employed in stationary applications.
The Guardian horizontal screen, available in two-, three- or four-deck configurations, operates at a flat angle from zero to 10 degrees, with a series of vibratory shafts that push material the length of the screen. Larger material (up to 254mm) is confined to the top deck while smaller rocks and stones (from 150mm down to 3mm) pass through four layers of uniquely sized screen media. The four-deck configuration offers a five-product split (four end products and one oversize). Horizontal screens are typically used in portable or mobile applications.
Sauser said of the Anthem inclined and the Guardian horizontal machines that they reflect a “higher degree” of low angle, horizontal and low slope screens.
“Elliptical motion is becoming more popular,” he elaborated. “Screen design in the past 20 years has moved a lot in that direction. Elliptical motion is more efficient, in terms of separating materials, as it goes through the upstroke, the media approaches the material at a perpendicular angle, so it has the highest probability of aligning similar particles. That’s why manufacturers have promoted that. We’re seeing more interest in elliptical screens because of the higher efficiency. Linear strokes are also popular in the crushing space for higher efficiency.”
Sauser said the Guardian screen had been the most popular of Superior’s vibratory lines, largely because it was the first vibratory machine that was put to the market. “The incline screen line tends to be more popular in the replacement screen business. They tend to be duplicates of the previous machine. When you have a customer already attached to a product line it’s hard to persuade them to change to a different one.”
The Intrepid vibrating grizzly feeder (VGF) separates and removes undersized materials while providing a continuous feed to the crushing plant. It comprises of a pan section at one end of the machine that is followed by a series of evenly spaced bars at the grizzly end. Material fed to the pan is conveyed to the grizzly section by vibrations that move finer particles to the bottom of the load while discharging the oversized rocks to the crusher. It can be employed in a stationary application or mounted to a wheeled chassis.
The fourth product in Superior Industries’ vibratory offering is the dewatering screen, which is available in portable or skid-mounted structures. It has a total screening area of nearly 13m2 and can process material at a maximum 360 tonnes per hour (tph). Superior’s dewatering screen is unique for featuring urethane screen sidewalls to expose sand to more screening action and remove moisture content (to as low as eight per cent). Combined with a higher g-force, the dewatering screen also has deeper sand depths to physically express more water and to allow for greater tonnages.
“The dewatering screen produces a drier product than a fine material washer, which is a screw-type product,” Sauser said. “It also uses a higher frequency. It’s actually a component within our Aggredry Washer and Alliance Low Water Washer offerings – it’s the dewatering device at the end of the washing process – but it can be employed as part of a regular screening circuit for finer materials. We use our sideliners to decrease the watering area. This gives us the ability to remove more water with more area.”
Sauser reiterated that the advantage of the vibratory range is that it is not limited to any one application and can be adapted accordingly to customer feedback. This means all four of the machines can be adapted to suit static, semi-portable and mobile applications – with certain caveats.
“The large static plants have the engineering and construction management expertise to design systems for 2000 tph,” Sauser explained. “Our portable line can manage up to 600 tonnes per hour. It’s a package that you can put on wheels but it’s a question of weight, there’s a breakpoint there. Pre-engineered, semi-static equipment is popular. Those would typically be under 600 tph. Some of those are creeping up in the 600 tph range because we’re putting more components on the semi-static equipment. In those applications, where the cost per tonne is looked at very closely, and electric power plants are desirable, it’s just a matter of how big a system you want.”
Further, it is entirely possible to, in Sauser’s words, “mix and match the products”. He said the low profile Guardian triple-shaft machines are “very prevalent in our washing applications because of the low slope, to avoid the producer washing product down the media. More and more producers in the sand washing segment are using the Guardian. It has been very popular in the water applications”.
Sauser said that the bulk of Superior’s plant and equipment, not just its own screens, is powered mostly by electrical power units, with a handful of products that are solely diesel-powered and others that are a hybrid of both.
AUTOMATION, FUTURE INNOVATIONS
The vibratory range is, like most of Superior’s products, assisted by modern automation and monitoring features. Sauser anticipates that there will be further advances in automation and sensory/monitoring devices in the next decade and beyond.
“As far as controls go, I would say that Superior is on a par with the other OEMs,” Sauser said. “There will be changes coming in self-monitoring/diagnosis equipment in the industry but it’s not there yet. We currently have methods to examine the motion of a screen and consider ways to make the equipment smarter and monitor itself and be able to tell the operator what it needs. I can see advances moving in that direction.
“To an extent, we’re already doing that on the cone crushing lines, where the equipment is made smarter to monitor itself. It’s not quite the same, though, there’s not the same components on screens like there are on cone crushers.”
Nonetheless, Sauser expects such technology, particularly as part of the Internet of Things, to be beneficial for plant operators. “I expect products to be expecting less oversight and maintenance, and there will be a strong ability for self-monitoring. Uptime is also important because it helps the workforce to do its job better. Self-monitoring equipment will help the operators to achieve what is needed in quicker time and at less expense.
“The challenge, though, is the development of it,” he qualified. “It’s about being able to develop the communication protocols. The Internet of Things hasn’t been talked about for a while but it’s not dead, there are things going on in the background that people aren’t aware of and you’ll see those things eventually in the marketplace.”
In the meantime, Sauser said Superior Industries remains committed to improving the uptime and reliability of its vibratory and other products to deliver “best in class”. The key to that lies in the company assessing industry producers’ input and feedback.
“To be successful in the aggregates machinery business, the product support is key and you have to have people out there supporting the equipment. We take a lot of input about products from our dealers and our distributors. It’s driven by the needs of the customer base that’s fed through the distribution channels.
“Superior is a unique company that acts very quickly and is very dynamic in its responses to problems and solutions,” Sauser concluded. “Our team works very well and has a goal to be ‘best in class’, it’s not just a slogan. Further, our construction management team has a fantastic record in putting systems together. Quarries that want to work with us will realise that we are a company that offers a broad range of quality products and that we are dedicated to supporting those products. People will enjoy working with us, given the opportunity.”
For more information about Superior Industries’ vibratory product range, visit superior-ind.com •
This article appears in the November issue of Quarry Magazine.