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Metso Powers Fox River Operation With Technology

Sat September 15, 2001 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Located 40 mi. west of Chicago in the Fox River Valley, Fox River Stone Company was at its capacity to provide rock products to its customers due to the increase in new-housing and road construction in the area.

The quarry had adequate reserves but needed to increase capacity and lower operating costs. Consequently, in the spring of 1999, Rein, Schultz & Dahl, Fox River Stone’s parent company, decided to invest in a state-of-the-art aggregate processing facility.

The company developed design criteria and sent out bid packages. The packages asked for bids for a plant that would provide a 50-percent increase in rock produced per hour and rock that would meet Illinois Department of Transportation specifications. The bids also asked for a turnkey delivery that included everything from planning the production flow to installing the crushing plants.

When Metso Minerals received the request from Fox River Stone, Jack Lange, manager of systems application and design, and his team of 11 people went to work developing a plan that would meet the quarry’s needs.

Operation Analyzed

The Metso Minerals team created a computerized flow chart of the plant and determined the optimum production capability for each required product. The plant was then analyzed for complete flexibility in producing new products, re-screening of products and operating at reduced production during maintenance periods.

The team then developed a total design that incorporated the correct processing equipment that met the design criteria of the customer. The processing equipment was designed to be automated and operated by one man in a control tower at the secondary plant. Because of the engineering expertise and detail of the bid package, Fox River Stone chose to go with Metso Minerals.

“Of the eight bids we received, this bid was the most comprehensive,” said Mike Lacke, vice president of operations for Rein, Schultz & Dahl. “They designed a plant that met our capacity needs and would meet rigid quality standards.”

Portable Machinery Replaced

The Nordberg-brand system replaced old portable crushing and screening plants that were no longer meeting the demand for rock. The previous machinery produced 500 tons (450 t) per hour; the new Nordberg primary crusher produces 750 tons (675 t) per hour with a maximum capability of 850 tons (765 t) per hour. Crushing that much rock keeps three 50-ton (45 t) trucks busy making a total of approximately 21 trips an hour between the quarry and the crusher.

Yearly production capacity will increase and provide customers the opportunity to purchase up to 2 million tons a year, which is a 36-percent increase more than previous years.

Construction on the new plants began in November 1999, while the quarry was still in operation. All footings were poured and support materials were put into place before the plant was shut down to install the new crushers and update the conveyors.

Metso Minerals provided an on-site project manager during the construction of the plants, and even though all of the mechanical and automated systems were tested at the company’s Milwaukee facility prior to installation, Metso Minerals sent technicians to the quarry on a regular basis to ensure everything was working properly.

Fiber Optics Installed

An important part of the project was the development of a computerized operating system tied together with fiber-optic cable, allowing the primary plant to be controlled by the secondary-plant operator. Metso Minerals worked with Fox River Stone and an integrator to install a system that became the eyes for the plant operator.

The primary crusher has two television cameras that are monitored by the operator in a control tower at the secondary crushing plant. Previously, the primary crusher had an operator in a control room watching the plant 100 percent of the time.

In addition to monitoring the equipment, the automated system tracks much of the statistical data of the quarry. Reports can be produced showing the number of hours the crushers have run; how much down-time has occurred; tons of each product produced per day; total primary and secondary plant tonnage per day; and other statistical data that enables plant managers to make effective plant-management decisions.

The automated system also provides data which is used to schedule repair work and preventive maintenance. The crushers, screens and the 4,000 ft. of conveyer belts are monitored by sensors that route information through a programmable logic computer, which is interfaced with a desktop computer. This computer has custom-designed graphics that show the operator the product flow through the primary and secondary plants as well as which pieces of equipment are running and their operating condition.

Sensors Can Stop System

The sensors allow the operator to know what is going on with the machinery in real time. If a problem occurs somewhere in the system, the computer shuts down the plant sequentially. This prevents a pile-up of rock, unnecessary clean-up and serious damage to the equipment.

Sensors also allow plant operators to pinpoint problems and eliminate guess work. And, in the event the automated system goes down, a backup manual system is located at the primary and secondary control towers.

“Due to the automated system, this plant can produce more product and allows the plant to run at a higher uptime than previously,” said Dale Erickson, plant foreman.

Not only is the machinery more productive, but the automated system also allows employees to concentrate on the little things, like clean-up, lubrication and preventive-maintenance checks that make the quarry run smoothly. And Lacke is happy to relate that no employees were let go as a result of all this automation.

“We’re going to be able to increase production by 36 percent over last year and keep the plant’s manpower at the same level,” he said. “We now have a computer system that does the mundane duties, allowing employees to be more productive with their time.

“Our employees have worked hard to learn how to operate and maintain the new plant, which has contributed to the success of this project,” said Lacke.

Lacke and Erickson noted that one of the benefits of working with Metso Minerals was the training and hands-on assistance they received. During construction and on-site testing, and even after the plant was up and running, Metso Minerals personnel were on site to ensure the plants were running smoothly and construction was on schedule. This was especially true during the difficult start-up and debugging stage when Metso Minerals was there to fine-tune its design.

Employees Are Trained

Fox River Stone employees also attended training sessions at Metso Minerals to learn about the equipment and receive hands-on training on maintaining and repairing the plants. They also were trained in the operation of the automated systems.

Fox River Stone was shut down for a month while the machinery and automation systems were installed and final testing was completed. It was operational by May 2000. During the down-time, the quarry continued to sell rock. Fox River Stone had stockpiled rock and worked with customers to continue to meet their needs while the new facility was put in place. As a result, the changeover caused little adverse impact on customers.

Also providing support for the start-up of the turnkey operation was Roland Machinery of Bolingbrook, IL, a Metso Minerals distributor. Lamont Cantrell, general manager of the Chicago division of Roland Machinery, explained that because Metso Minerals designed the entire system, a lot of testing and tweaking occurred, “similar to a shake-down cruise on a ship.” He said his company acts as a communication liaison between Metso Minerals and the quarry.

Roland has been a Metso Minerals distributor for more than a year. “We represented another crusher manufacturer previously, but we also sell Komatsu, Ingersoll-Rand and other leading equipment makers,” said Cantrell. The wheel-loader fleet at Fox River Stone is all Komatsu.

Represents Industry Leaders

“Our strategy is to be able to go into a customer with the leading equipment in the industry. That’s why we switched to the Nordberg brand. Metso Minerals is an industry leader, responsive to our needs and, consequently, the needs of our customers.”

No stranger to quarry operations, Roland sells a variety of equipment ranging from permanent and portable crushers to stationary and mobile screens for quarries in Illinois and Missouri through its six offices. The company also has a full-time aggregates specialist on staff to assist its sales people in responding to technical challenges.

In addition to its rock customers, Fox River Stone supplies crushed dolomite products to asphalt and concrete companies. The product is utilized in the construction of basements, sidewalks and state and local road projects. Fox River Stone is a state-certified quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) supplier for Illinois Department of Transportation projects and meets all Superpave regulations for state and federally funded projects.

The quarry was opened in the 1930s and is one of five quarries owned by Rein, Schultz & Dahl. Fox River Stone employs 14 people in its quarry operation. Because it is located in a growing residential area in South Elgin, it is allowed to operate only 12 hours a day, and 10 hours on Saturday.

Mining Execution

Fox River Stone’s mining process employs a contractor to remove 68 ft. (20.7 m) of soil and clay to expose a 38-ft. (11.6 m) depth of mineable rock. This equates to about 150,000 cu. yds. (14,684 cu m) of overburden to be removed monthly, which is used to reclaim mined-out areas. Land that has been mined and filled is planted with native grasses and trees to complete the reclamation process.

A buffer of trees and grasses surrounds Fox River Stone and, to the delight of its residential neighbors, a high-pressure, dust-suppression system is installed on plant equipment. In addition, water trucks constantly moisten the roads in a further effort to reduce dust.

The turnkey operation by Metso Minerals is one of the few the company has done in North America. “Metso Minerals has been doing turnkey operations in Europe for almost 40 years,” said Lange. “However, these operations are still fairly new in North America, and we’re proud to say this one was completed in record time.”

Metso Minerals’ presence starts at the primary crusher, a Nordberg C3055 jaw crusher plant. The 6-in. -minus (15.2 cm) rock then travels to a secondary cone crusher, a Nordberg HP300, is screened, and if necessary, is processed through one of two tertiary crushers, both Nordberg HP400 cone crushers.

Space Is Efficiently Utilized

The site of the secondary and tertiary crushers, along with the conveyor belts, is 600 ft. (183 m) long and 135 ft. (41 m) wide. The primary crusher is located approximately one-half mile from the secondary plant. The plant layout was designed to most efficiently utilize the area the company has available for processing.

Lacke sees the Metso Minerals turnkey operation as the way to go. In fact, Rein, Schultz & Dahl are discussing installing Metso Minerals turnkey operations in its other quarries.

Craig Harman, area sales manager-Central Region for Metso Minerals, said the Fox River Stone project is evidence that, “We not only have the best crushing equipment available, but we also are able to supply the customers worldwide application expertise, turnkey solutions, product training and a factory Test Center, as well as local parts and service support through our distributor network.”

For more information, call 800/558-6818 or visit

This story also appears on Aggregate Equipment Guide.

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