Keys to ensuring a safe spring start-up

By |  March 6, 2023

Spring start-up isn’t too far off in markets where aggregate operations shut down plants or dramatically slowed production during the winter.

Winter, of course, can do a number on plants in northern climates – including washing and classifying equipment – so operators should take start-up seriously when they plan to ramp back up.

“Regardless of a plant’s geographic location, an annual checkup of washing equipment is recommended in addition to periodic inspections that should regularly occur during a production season,” says Dave Schellberg, product support specialist at EIW (Eagle Iron Works).

Food for thought



Schellberg has several recommendations for producers as they prepare washing and classifying equipment for spring start-up.

A good starting point with any equipment using a reducer or hydraulic power unit is to check gear oil for contaminants and change it in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Schellberg advises operators to check all wiring and hydraulic lines for possible replacement. He also recommends inspecting wear parts closely – including flight wear shoes, paddles and valves.

“Consider ordering spares now so you don’t get caught short in a peak running period,” Schellberg says.

Additionally, for any washer using a pipe shaft such as a sand screw or a log washer, Schellberg says operators should measure the diameter of the pipe for wear – particularly at the machine’s feed entry point.

“Consult with your dealer or manufacturer what the minimum OD should be in advance of a shaft possibly breaking during a production period,” he says.

Additional advice

Alan Bennetts


Alan Bennetts, global product manager at McLanahan Corp., also has a variety of tips for operators as they get into a new production season.

One reminder he issues to operators is for them to take their time as they ramp up production. Operators should make sure employees are trained, do inspections properly and ensure plant maintenance is done thoroughly.

“Downtime at any plant can cause a change in personnel,” Bennetts says. “Take the time to train new hires and provide additional training to current employees.”

Equipment inspections are also critical, he says.

“Inspect the equipment to find any environmental damage which may have occurred during the winter months,” Bennetts says. “Any piece of equipment which could retain water is subject to freezing damage. Pipes and pumps are the most common victims to this type of damage.”

According to Bennetts, the inspection process may reveal maintenance that absolutely must be done ahead of spring.

“Ordering replacement parts should be [done] as soon as possible to avoid delays in start-up,” he says.

Bennetts’ advice regarding washing and classifying equipment doesn’t stop there, though.

“Each piece of equipment should be started up to ensure availability and correct rotation,” he says.

Other considerations

Photo: Matusik


Consider, too, that technology can play a role in ensuring equipment starts up safely following a winter shutdown.

Mike Matusik, customer relationship manager at CDE, says some tech allows operators to monitor equipment trends such as wearing or underperforming components. Tech also affords operators with opportunities to work around unexpected conditions and understand what their plant is doing for them.

“Ultimately, optimization for each plant is key,” Matusik says.

Also, operators shouldn’t get complacent if the winter is milder than usual.

“As everyone knows, the conditions in early spring during start-up can be ever changing,” Matusik says. “Being aware of your surroundings and preparing an adequate plan is always important.”

Featured photo: P&Q Staff

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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