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Clever Ways To Cut Aggregate Crushing Costs

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World Cement,

Michael Metson, Komatsu, walks through five top tips that operators can implement to reduce the costs of crushing aggregates.

Crushing material at cement production plants is a challenging and complex process that can be costly, impacting the bottom line and potentially eroding profits. Without cost-effective crushing equipment, operators may suffer from expenditures that spiral out of control. Excessive energy consumption, material variability, inefficient size reduction, fines generation, sticky and wet materials, large civil works, unplanned maintenance or downtime, and other aggregate crushing challenges can derail a plant’s profitability.

The good news is that crushing technology has evolved to become much more efficient in meeting these challenges, with new opportunities for cement producers to significantly lower their total operating cost (TOC). Today’s innovative crushing technologies are more advanced and sophisticated, with machines that use less energy, do not require an expensive installation procedure, and can process different materials with less wear and tear and minimal fines generation.

By implementing the latest and greatest crushing and aggregate processing equipment at their plants, such as reclaim feeders, surface feeder breakers, and sizers, operators can lower their TOC in five ways – with the added benefit of greater productivity.

Achieving energy savings

Energy usage is a major expenditure in any cement plant, and crushing is the most energy-intensive function. A few facts:

  • According to the US Department of Energy, the cost of energy (as part of the total production costs in the cement industry) is significant, typically at 20 – 40% of operational costs.
  • Digging down further into the electric power consumption associated with crushing, roughly 60 – 70% of the total energy consumption is used for sizing down material.
  • The average energy consumption for crushing is 2.5 kWh/t.

With such large expenditures, energy-efficient crushing technologies that can perform as well or better than traditional, less efficient equipment – i.e. cone, jaw, impact, or hammer crushers – can have a major financial impact. For instance, feeder breakers and sizers that exploit tensile strength crushing technology to break up material are much more energy-efficient than conventional equipment that crushes material using compression. Tensile strength crushing was pioneered in feeder breakers produced in the 1970s under the Stamler brand, with five thousand units sold globally to date, proving its merit and value.

Conventional equipment that utilises a compression crush and pushes material together – squeezing it to break it apart and size it down – requires a substantial amount of energy: “With a jaw or a cone crusher, you’re squeezing the rock until it reaches the point of maximum elasticity and fractures,” says Peter Janssen, Director, Crushing Product Strategy at Komatsu. “The amount of energy to compress the rock to the point of natural fracture can be phenomenal.”

Tensile strength crushing pulls the material apart with replaceable picks that drive into and split each piece with tension – a much more energy-efficient process. This is because the tensile strength of most minerals is less than 10% of its compressive strength. This makes feeder breakers that use tensile strength crushing highly effective and energy-efficient in breaking down materials, particularly in cement applications.

“Any savings generated in this space would significantly impact the overall cost of any extraction and processing operation,” says Janssen. Besides energy cost reduction, an added benefit of equipment that employs tensile strength crushing technology is less wear and tear on the machine, reducing downtime and maintenance costs. Tensile strength feeder breakers and sizers use replaceable picks that are simple and fast to replace with little downtime.

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