Award-winning operation evolves to meet customer, community needs

By |  December 31, 2015
Color-coded signs, above, help customers find their way to specific stockpiles at Cemex’s Krome Quarry, while, below, a haul truck loads material into a crusher.

Color-coded signs, above, help customers find their way to specific
stockpiles at Cemex’s Krome Quarry.

Imagine having to return a rental car to an unfamiliar airport without signs directing you where to go.

You might eventually stumble into the rental car return area, but you’d likely be driving around aimlessly searching for your destination. Critical minutes will pass by, and the rest of your day could be altered because you weren’t able to efficiently return the car.

Fortunately, practically every airport in the United States is designed with signs that simplify rental car return. But what about aggregate-producing sites?

Finding a destination in a quarry can be equally challenging, especially to those visiting for the first time. Truck drivers who need to pick up a load of sand or stone can find themselves in this dilemma. If drivers don’t know where a particular pile is, one wrong turn can get them lost – or, worse, put them somewhere that jeopardizes their safety.

The employees at a Cemex quarry noticed this issue a few years back. Truck drivers frequently got lost when visiting Cemex’s Krome Quarry, located about 20 miles west of Miami in Kendall, Fla.

“Anytime an employee sees a hazard or a near miss – it could be somebody being lost – we talk about it,” says Ray Valdes, plant manager at the Krome Quarry. “We noticed we had a lot of truck drivers stopping by [the office] and saying ‘Where do I go? What pile?’”

To eliminate the confusion, Cemex developed a system of color-coded signs that direct drivers to specific piles. Drivers first visit the scale house, where a scale operator points them down the main road. Once down the road, drivers arrive to an area containing a number of piles. That’s where the quarry’s color-coded and arrow-coded system goes into effect.

Say, for example, drivers are instructed to pick up 57 stone. A series of color-coded and arrowed signs direct drivers to the 57s pile.

“A lot of people come in here and say they’ve never seen that kind of system,” Valdes says.

Steady production

A haul truck loads material into a crusher.

A haul truck loads material into a crusher.

Although a number of trucks regularly visit the Krome Quarry, most aggregates are shipped off site by rail. According to Valdes, the limestone quarry produces about 15 products ranging from lawn sand to 3-ft. boulders. The quarry’s No. 1-selling stone is 57, but embankment material is poised to take over the top slot based on increasing momentum in certain Florida markets, he says.

“We’re working our way back up because Florida is starting to move now,” says Valdes, who adds that the quarry is projected to produce about 3 million tons of material this year. “We have a lot of project jobs [such as] the expansion of [nearby] Krome Avenue. There are a lot of highway jobs we’re starting to produce for, and builders are starting to build houses again.”

The Krome Quarry’s reach is greater than the Miami area, though. Valdes says rail gives the quarry access to central Florida, including Orlando. Six tracks stretch onto the quarry site, in fact, and most aggregates the Krome Quarry produces are shipped up north.

The number of trains and railcars that stop at the quarry generally reflects how business is going there. The quarry isn’t at its peak today in terms of shipments, but Cemex’s Krome Quarry is moving back toward the peak.

Other signs point to a construction resurgence in Florida, adds Jenna Emerson, Cemex’s legislative and public affairs manager for Florida and the Carolinas.

“The economy as a whole is getting a lot better in Florida,” she says. “We’re hiring a lot more. We’re still waiting on a highway bill to get funded, but even with that not settled there are still private jobs going on.”

Operations, community relations

Ray Valdes, Krome Quarry plant manager.

Ray Valdes, Krome Quarry plant manager.

According to Valdes, 25 years of reserves remain at the Krome Quarry, which he describes as a wet mine. A P&H 2355 crawler dragline with a 26-cu.-yd. bucket is key to the mining process there, he adds. North American Coal Corp. handles the dragline operations for Cemex at the quarry.

“We dig 55 ft. deep,” Valdes says.

Previously, four Manitowoc 4600 draglines were used to excavate the mine. The P&H 2355 covers what the four 4600s used to handle, he says.

“When we first started with the 2355, North American Coal came out with it and told me that the dragline was going to throw up as much as four draglines would put up,” Valdes says. “In the beginning, I thought ‘I want to see this.’ When they started that thing, it started slow, sped up and it produces material like crazy.”

Drilling and blasting is another area the quarry outsources. This is a particularly sensitive area because operations have moved closer to the surrounding neighbors in recent years.

As many quarries do, Cemex hosts meetings to address neighbors’ concerns. Emerson says the company is open to neighbors’ suggestions. Cemex has performed additional seismic analysis to determine the best delay times and is using electronic blasting caps to ensure vibration is minimized in the area.

The Krome Quarry was named a Plant of the Year three consecutive times by Cemex.

The Krome Quarry was named a Plant of the Year three
consecutive times by Cemex.

“We understand people live near us, and we want to be the best neighbors we can be,” Emerson says.

According to Emerson, the Krome Quarry faces somewhat unique scrutiny because of how the area around the site has developed over the years.

“It used to be all agriculture,” she says. “If you come down [U.S. Route] 27 the back way you think you’re in no man’s land. As you cross Krome Avenue and get more toward the quarry, the development is amazing. The quarry has been there a long time – even before homes were built.”

The Krome Quarry also reaches out to local schools to show that Cemex is part of the community.

“Specific to Krome, we just did a campaign where we delivered checks to help the schools with what they needed,” Emerson says. “Then, their students come out to visit.”


cemex-bioDetail oriented

Cemex’s attention to detail at the Krome Quarry extends beyond driver signage, says plant manager Valdes.

“We also organize a lot of tools and equipment so when an employee does a job and needs something – say an idler and it’s 42 in. – we have everything in place on a slab exactly where it belongs.”

So rather than devoting 10 minutes to locating a part, a task takes an employee just a minute or two.


Take note

Cemex’s Florida/Carolina Aggregate Division has named the Krome Quarry Plant of the Year three years in a row. The award is based on the company’s core values: ensuring safety, focusing on customers, pursuing excellence, working as one Cemex and acting with integrity.

Photos: Cemex’s Krome Quarry

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