Equipment mix

By |  November 10, 2014

Improved market conditions create a need for new equipment at CalPortland’s Colton, Calif., operation.

As one of the largest and oldest producers in the western United States, CalPortland Co. has irrevocably woven itself into American history with its rich, storied past.

Established in 1891, CalPortland Co.’s first operations began in Colton, Calif., with a cement plant that supplied cement for the erection of the Hoover Dam. The company is also famous for the Colton Liberty Flag on top of Mt. Slover, which was first raised in 1917 and at the time was one of only three locations in the United State permitted to fly the flag at night (the other two being the nation’s capital and Frederick, Md., over the grave of Francis Scott Key). The 38-ft. x 24-ft. flag served as a landmark for decades on Interstate 10 until 2013, when it was permanently retired owing to new mining activities on the mountain. The flag now resides at the San Bernardino County Museum.

Today, CalPortland Co. is a major diversified building materials and construction solutions provider to the western United States and Canada, but its roots remain at the Colton site. Although the cement plant operations in Colton were idled after the economic downturn in 2009, the aggregate operations have significantly increased in recent years in response to a pickup in the marketplace, according to Chad Warren, regional aggregates manager for southern California.

And with that increase in market activity came the need to invest in equipment that could meet the company’s demands for flexibility, mobility and high production.

Productivity and flexibility

CalPortland’s Colton site is comprised of three primary materials, which include limestone, schist and a granitic-type rock, as well as varying amounts of fines that come with the natural materials on site. The diversity in material made it necessary to select equipment that was not only highly productive, but also flexible in application.

“All of our materials have their various characteristics that make them either conducive or difficult to process,” Warren says. “Some tend to make more dust than others; others are more abrasive. It’s an everyday challenge to keep the right blend of those materials in the plant, so we had to make sure that we could adjust to the changing conditions of the materials. It was critical for us,” he says, “to select equipment that would allow us to make adjustments on the fly to maintain our production capacity and not force our operators into performing a lot of manual labor.”

Already familiar with KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens thanks to a successful wash plant purchase in 2007, CalPortland chose to consider the manufacturer once again as it sought to invest in equipment that could meet production goals of up to 2 million tons per year of material for local ready-mix operations and the local construction market.

Ryan Dahlke, sales representative for local dealer Goodfellow Corp., worked with CalPortland to select the proper spread of equipment, and said flexibility was the main concern for the setup.

“They needed a lot of flexibility due to the different types of material that they’re going to get into,” Dahlke said. “With this plant design, with whatever types of material they get into, they’re able to make adjustments, either by swinging off a radial stacker to make base, or shoot material up to make product for asphalt, as well.”

Today, CalPortland utilizes an extensive spread of equipment, including a CS3055 portable jaw plant, 6203 scalping screen, two 8203LP screens, two Kodiak Plus K400+ cone crushers, six 36-in. x 100-ft. radial stackers, a 42-in. x 12-ft. VGF feeder, an FT4250CC horizontal shaft impact crusher, an FT300DF cone crushing plant and an FT3055 jaw crushing plant.

Adding mobility

Although the first equipment CalPortland’s Colton operation purchased was stationary, the company quickly followed up with track-mounted equipment that could be moved around the site. CalPortland chose to remain with the same manufacturer it had previously found success with to save time and money in stocking parts, training crew members and hauling material.

“Once we selected the CS3055 jaw crusher for our primary plant, bringing aboard the FT3055 track-mounted unit was just a natural choice,” Warren says. “This compatibility saves us from having to stock different parts and training maintenance crews to do two different procedures when working on the equipment.”

By investing in the same track-mounted version of the new primary plant, CalPortland was also capable of moving the crusher around the site and save a “tremendous amount of money on hauling,” Warren says. The company also saw up to a 30 percent increase in production by replacing its old equipment with the new crushing plant and was able to process larger rocks in the crusher.

In addition to its FT3055, the company is also utilizing an FT4250CC horizontal shaft impactor to crush asphalt grindings for the asphalt plant on site at the Colton facility. By recycling the asphalt grindings, the company is able to recapture a product that otherwise would be thrown away and incorporate that back into the asphalt mix, ultimately saving money, producing a superior product and helping the environment.

“We were utilizing a different brand before, and once we brought the FT4250 on site, the production capacity for our recycled asphalt product increased immensely and the maintenance and repair on the unit is half of what the other unit was,” Warren says. “Blow bar changes can now be done in half a day, whereas before it was taking a full day. That makes a huge difference when your margins are as tight as ours.”

Further production increases

CalPortland also saw significant improvement when it replaced its older equipment with an FT300DF cone crusher to make base material. By introducing the FT300DF cone crusher to the site along with the FT3055 jaw crusher, the company saw an instant increase in production, Warren says.

“We were able to increase our production by at least another 50 to 70 tph over what we had been using, and we got our work done in a quicker period of time,” he says. “It was also a lot less maintenance for my personnel to keep that plant ready to run every day. When you operate a facility for more than 100 years, you’re going to have piles of material that weren’t put there in the best of conditions. The track-mounted equipment will allow us to deal with the variability in this material and process it as quickly and efficiently as we can and turn it into a viable product.”

Although Warren had never used a roller bearing crusher before his purchase of the K400+ cone crushers and the FT300DF, he says he’s been “very pleased” with the experience so far.

“If you ask 25 people, they’re all going to give you their own opinions, so I was curious to experience the roller bearing design for myself,” Warren says. “And so far, with about 100,000 tons through the two K400+ cone crushers, I’ve been very pleased with the experience. We put a number down on paper that we wanted to hit, and we’ve exceeded that number on all levels of production.”

A wealth of knowledge

When CalPortland first began evaluating its options for its Colton operation, it wanted to find an established equipment line as well as an established local dealer to take advantage of dealer knowledge and support they would need. After meeting with Goodfellow Corp., a dealer just minutes from the Colton site, “everything just seemed to click,” Warren says.

“In the very first conversations we had with them, we definitely got the feeling that we were going to get the plant that we wanted, not the plant they wanted to sell us,” he says. “And that was really key. They were very quick in getting everything set up, but also flexible. When we found something we wanted to improve during the installation process, it was a very easy process to get that done. There weren’t a lot of hoops to jump through; the folks that could make the decisions were all right here together.”

Factory training and support was also an important factor in the purchase decision. Warren and his employees visited both the South Dakota and Oregon manufacturing facilities of KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens, and were able to see how the equipment is manufactured and attend the company’s Professional Results Oriented (PRO) Training school.

“I brought my plant foreman to the manufacturing facility in South Dakota, and we had a really great time meeting the personnel there and seeing the equipment built in person,” Warren says. “That’s not something every equipment manufacturer is able to provide. I also had three employees recently attend additional training for the cone crushers and screens at the Oregon facility and they came back with a wealth of knowledge and the confidence to keep our equipment in top condition.

“They learned several things to help optimize our operation, which we have already put into use. For example, the auto-zero function on the K400+ cone crusher. That’s something we take advantage of daily, and our operator now has that process down to a science.”

Operations will continue on the Colton site for the near future; however, reclamation will begin on certain portions of the site. “The company has already begun planning some of the reclamation processes that will occur concurrently with the mining operations,” Warren says. ”The equipment we have now will be key in performing those reclamation operations, all the while allowing us to maintain our production levels and meet our sales demands.”

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