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A K400+ cone crusher in operation in a quarry circuit.
A K400+ cone crusher in operation in a quarry circuit.

Faith in cone crusher produces long-term dividends

There’s an old saying that “good things come to those who wait”. As Paul Smith relates, not only did the development of the Kodiak Plus cone crusher occur almost by providence – but quarry and aggregate businesses that embraced its concept early on are today’s biggest beneficiaries …

In terms of their technical knowledge, aggregate producers in the Australian market are some of the most savvy individuals in the world.

They tend to be very thorough when investigating new technologies that might benefit their operations.

When presented with new ideas or potential solutions, they ask plenty of questions, assess the answers, and do their own homework. They are cost-oriented, energy-conscious, lean-minded technical gurus. In essence, Aussie producers methodically mine factual data to derive informative decisions.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a new generation of cone crusher technology is taking hold in Australia.

Johnson Crushers International (JCI), from Eugene, Oregon, in the US, is a subsidiary of Astec Industries, also a US company.

Astec acquired JCI in 1999. Before that, JCI had roots as El-Jay, a former subsidiary of Cedarapids. During that tenure El-Jay was a leading supplier of cone crushers, specifically the Rollercone and later the Rollercone II, products that were synonymous with cone crushers in the quarrying industry for more than three decades.

Bad business decisions centring on a corporate merger within Cedarapids’ parent company led to El-Jay’s demise. The factory was unexpectedly shut down after a record financial performance in 1994.

During that time, a couple of other manufacturers jumped on the opportunity to galvanise the launch of a new generation of high performance crushers.

Looking back, it was all a blessing in disguise …

Like its predecessor the El-Jay Rollercone, the Kodiak Plus platform utilises roller-bearing technology.
Like its predecessor the El-Jay Rollercone, the Kodiak Plus platform utilises roller-bearing technology.


Former El-Jay employees formed JCI as a private company and soon after began to pick up where El-Jay left off in cone crusher design.

Astec saw the potential and convinced the ownership to sell the company. It immediately supported and invested in JCI’s efforts to finish the development of a new generation cone crusher – today known as the Kodiak Plus.

The Kodiak Plus was destined to change the industry. JCI engineers were able to build and refine what others in the market had started.

The Kodiak platform is based on the El-Jay Rollercone design only insofar as it utilises roller-bearing technology. However, that is essentially where the similarities end.

Compared with other market leaders using sleeve bushings, the Kodiak Plus significantly improved the crushing chamber to provide a much more forgiving and efficient design.

Generally speaking, producers noted that the Kodiak Plus crusher operates at five to 10 per cent more efficiency in terms of net production, while also consuming far less energy due to a much lower volume of lubrication oil that must be conditioned.

While the machine design itself was more expensive than its competitors, producers focused more on the long-term cost of ownership compared with the initial price tag.

Generally, a Kodiak Plus cone crusher weighs up to 20 per cent more than comparable models. In taking a closer look, end users see the added weight is in the base frame design, structural steel castings and the bearings.


Specifically, producers appreciated how the cone spindle was “pressed” into the base frame itself. This was done by submerging the spindle in liquid nitrogen to the point where it can be pressed into an interference joint within the base frame. As the spindle warms up it expands inside the base frame, essentially marrying the two parts together as one.

Why did this resonate with local producers?

The Kodiak Plus series has ushered in a new generation of high performance crushers – the K200+, K300+ and the K400+.
The Kodiak Plus series has ushered in a new generation of high performance crushers – the K200+, K300+ and the K400+.

Most experienced with older and competitive designs understood that they incorporate the spindle as well as the struts and outer shell as a single casting. When the crusher is under stress, the spindle undergoes a constant onslaught of compression and tensile loads (pushing and pulling) that fatigues the base of the spindle and the base frame.

The result was that, after the machines ran for a period of time, it was noticed that most, if not all, of the base frame castings had cracked/failed in this area. As such, JCI evolved to the two-piece design.

However, where JCI really positioned the Kodiak Plus was in applying this same shrink/press fit approach to the cone stem of the cone head and the roller pins for the newly designed pin-style roller thrust bearing.

Providing this interference joint allows the assembly to be more resistant to fracture at the base of the spindle and cone stem. Producers appreciate how the base frame spindle and cone stem are readily renewable should they want to rebuild at a later date.

Obviously there are other features of the Kodiak Plus range that appealed to aggregate producers. However, customers most appreciated the net production gains and added robust design, which added service life to the machine and reduced their operating costs.

Having a local company store in Astec Australia that employs technical sales, service and parts experts also adds tremendous value to producers that rely on a local partner to provide or supplement their technical support requirements.

With many new suppliers constantly emerging, offering low-cost “knock-off” designs of older technology, the smart producers that employ technical analysis and maintain a long horizon have chosen wisely in the Kodiak Plus. Many machines have and continue to be installed across Australia and around the world. 

Paul Smith is the international marketing manager for the Astec Aggregate & Mining Group.

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Monday, 16 September, 2019 6:59am
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