How producers can extend a crusher’s lifespan while saving money

By |  August 6, 2020

This has certainly been one of those unforgettable years.

While aggregate producers came into 2020 with high hopes, they were faced almost immediately with the pandemic, the related economic downturn and other unforeseen developments.

Still, many producers continue to wake up every day and report to work, meaning machines are experiencing their regular wear and tear. But what happens when a trusted crusher finally breaks down during a time of uncertainty? One option producers have is to rebuild it through an equipment manufacturer or dealer.

The rebuild process

Photo: Mellott Company

Mellott Company will rebuild any make or model crusher, including track-mounted jaws, cones and impactors. Photo: Mellott Company

Mellott Company, for example, begins its crusher rebuild process with an inspection of all major crusher components and the bearings. The company then communicates its findings and discusses options with customers.

“Once agreed on what method of repair we want to complete, a quote is provided and repairs begin,” says Jim Levy, vice president and general manager of crushing and service operations at Mellott Company. “We encourage the customer to visit during the repair process to see progress of their rebuild. Once complete, we ship to [the] site and will have a service technician on site to commission the rebuilt unit.”

The rebuild process at Kimball Equipment, another equipment dealer, begins by disassembling the crusher to ensure the inspection is thorough. According to CEO John Kimball, most customers are interested in repairing and rebuilding the full extent of what Kimball Equipment recommends.

“Our rebuilds are fairly complete,” Kimball says. “Quality is important to us.”

While Kimball Equipment works on multiple brands of crushers, it specializes in rebuilding Cedarapids crushers – particularly cone crushers such as the RC45, RC54, 380X and 450X.

Mellott Company, meanwhile, will rebuild any make or model, with the majority being track-mounted jaw, cone and impactor plants, as well as screening plants.

Seasonality & timing

Keep in mind, though, that a rebuild can take weeks, if not months, to complete. Most complete rebuilds happen during the irst and fourth quarters of the year, when customers aren’t in peak production mode.

“A lot of customers will send their crushers in to us in October to have completed by January and installed in February to begin their crushing season in March,” Levy says. “The others will send them in January for a March delivery, April install.”

The dealers recommend pushing through the summer season when activity is high – if the crusher can make it to winter.

Emergency repairs

Photo: REMco

In some instances, manufacturers can address a serious crushing problem in the field. REMco, for example, can generally refurbish its Model 9000 and 9500 crushers upon request in three or four days. Photo: REMco

Still, crushers do break and, on occasion, at inopportune times. So what happens when a crusher breaks in the middle of a busy season and the producer can’t stomach the tremendous downtime associated with a full rebuild?

Alternatives can be offered in this scenario, with REMco being one company that offers an in-between solution for customers.

Instead of sending the crusher to the factory for a full rebuild, REMco’s customers can opt for an emergency repair, which fixes the “problem part” without needing to rebuild the entire crusher. This way, the crusher can make it through the production season.

“With those, we sort of do a ‘get-me-done,’” says Kevin Cadwalader, president of REMco. “[The factory] obviously can’t have the eight or nine weeks to get it done. If we just get it back together so it will run again, we can do ‘this.’ You hit some sweet spot where you can give the customer some amount of reliability to get [them] back running and producing material.”

Although those emergency repairs can be done quicker than a full rebuild, the equipment still needs to be taken to the REMco shop because some repairs are just too difficult to do in the field.

Kimball Equipment, like REMco, expects emergencies to happen. It keeps an inventory of rebuilt components for those inevitable crusher breakdowns, aiming to get equipment back in the field as soon as possible.

“If somebody wants to rebuild and they want it done during the busy season, we quite often just sell them rebuilt components, take their components, record credit and get them back up and running within a week,” Kimball says.

REMco offers a similar in-field service, refurbishing equipment while the surrounding equipment, in many cases, continues to run.

“With some modification to the new design and some field modification of the frame, we could indeed fit a new crusher body into the old frame,” Cadwalader says. “We could do it in the field. It would take a couple of days. [We] send everything in [and] build the crusher. Within three or four days out in the field, the old crusher body is out, the frame is modified, the new crusher body is in and we get the customer running with the new system. He’s saving probably 45 to 50 percent versus buying a new one.”

The benefits

The most obvious benefit of a crusher rebuild is cost savings. Equipment can be expensive in the first place, and buying new can add up quickly.

So instead of investing in a brand-new crusher, a rebuild or refurbishment gives producers an option that does not necessarily have to “break the bank.” According to Levy, a rebuild typically costs between 45 and 75 percent of a new crusher.

“Experience has shown that failure begins to occur after 6,000 hours,” Levy says. “Our customers demand options, and they trust the brand they’ve operated for years, but they can’t afford the downtime or the cost of a new machine.”

A rebuild has the potential to extend a crusher’s lifespan by decades, with Levy noting that Mellott Company is now rebuilding a crusher for one particular customer for the third time.

“We are doing the third rebuild on one customer unit at 36,000 hours,” he says. “The first [rebuild] was at 5,000, the second at 15,000 with a factory engine rebuild, and the third will be at 36,000 hours.”

Additionally, Levy points out that opting for a rebuild versus buying new means the operator already has preexisting knowledge of how to run the machine and the technology involved. Therefore, no additional training is required.

“With a rebuild, you have the advantage of revitalizing an existing asset,” Levy says. “You have the comfort and familiarity with your existing machine; no new training needed for site personnel; no new emission issues along with continued support from us throughout the life of your machine.”

Editor-in-chief Kevin Yanik contributed to this article.

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About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) is a former Associate Editor for Pit & Quarry.

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