More than media

By and |  January 14, 2014

Sustainable screening solutions combine media panels with bigger-picture benefits.

Sustainability is a major mission for CalPortland, the Northwest’s largest supplier of stone, sand, gravel, cement and ready-mix concrete. Operating in the Portland Harbor since the 1960s, the company transports its high-quality products into the marketplace primarily by barge, helping to alleviate road congestion and keeping prices competitive. With each barge representing between 60 to 100 truck loads, thousands of truck trips are eliminated annually. And that is just one example of the company’s many energy-saving practices.

From its Santosh aggregate plant in Scappoose, Ore., sand and gravel is shipped up the Columbia and Willamette Rivers for use in general construction, FAA, WDOT and ODOT projects throughout the region. The operation mines a sand and gravel deposit established by the cataclysmic Missoula floods that swept down the Columbia River Gorge at the end of the last ice age.

In line with the CalPortland mission, the Santosh Plant has often been recognized for its energy efficiencies, as it fosters a steady, sustainable focus regarding every facet of its facility, from its lighting fixtures to its conveyor motors; and to the screen media on each of its nine processing screens.

As to screening circuits, CalPortland Santosh Plant Manager Gene Northway maintains a more-than-media attitude. In other words, he feels that although the screen media product itself is important, its true benefits are not felt without the addition of three key driving factors: specification expertise; proper stocking and inventory control; and ongoing service support.

Specification expertise
Santosh plant management partners with Polydeck Screen Corp. to meet all of its screen media requirements. As applications and specifications change, the Polydeck applications engineering team, along with Polydeck West Coast Manager Alan Tindall, works closely with Northway and his quality control manager to specify the optimum panel types and opening sizes to meet the given gradations.

“First, we correctly match the media to the vibrating screen parameters, making sure that the circuit will keep pace with the crushing side. Then we review all the potential product mixes so that potential gradation inconsistencies and plant bottlenecks can be identified and adjustments made,” Tindall says.

He goes on to explain that Polydeck combines “hands-on” plant experience with customized software tools to capture the critical processing statistics. “We run ‘what-if’ scenarios to optimize media specifications to the applications, while examining how changing variables within screening operations will affect overall efficiency.”

Polydeck specified its Armadex rubber screen sections for the primary scalping circuit. “This product is essentially a rubber-coated steel panel, which combines a proprietary blend of natural gum rubbers with a high-strength, low-alloy steel plate backing, making it ideal for tough, abrasive scalping applications,” Tindall says.

For its wet decks, the operation utilizes specially formulated 1-ft. x 1-ft. Polydex polyurethane screen panels. The dry decks are supplied with 1-ft. x 2-ft. Rubberdex Flexi panels, which are particularly effective in minimizing any potential blinding on the bottom decks of the main plant finishing screens where fine sizing occurs.

“Due to the multitude of screen types and opening sizes, as well as the variety of installation methods, it is very easy for us to change out panels to meet varying product and specification requirements. And, if we have any questions or technical support needs during changeouts, Polydeck is always accessible to us,” Northway adds.

Proper stocking and inventory control
To meet ever-changing product and specification needs, the Santosh Plant maintains a highly controlled inventory management method, keeping certain panels stocked and others reserved for just-in-time demand. “To reduce the lead times on both polyurethane and rubber panels, we stock a significant inventory at our Spartanburg, S.C., manufacturing plant,” Tindall says. “We have also implemented a stocking program for the Santosh operation at one of our remote warehouses, allowing us to cut lead times to an average of three days,” he says, adding that Polydeck recently opened a new 2,100-sq.-ft. warehouse in McKinney, Texas, just 30 miles north of Dallas.

“Our Eugene, Ore.-based dealer, AggReCon West, also assists with servicing customers in Oregon and Washington,” says Tindall, who visits the Santosh operation every four to six weeks to inspect the screening circuits for optimum performance, and to check on remaining inventory, making sure he can anticipate any upcoming needs.

“Polydeck has really helped us streamline our inventory management, which in the long run saves us a lot of money,” Northway says. “One of the most successful strategies is that they have specified certain screen panels that can be used in multiple applications. So rather than stocking a multitude of different panels, we stock panels that can be used in more than one circuit and more than one deck,” he adds, explaining that the plant is able to get a useful life out of a panel in one location, then move it to another application where it will function for a period of time, as well. “We are also easily able to change out and relocate installation systems and side wear plates when needed. So everything is becoming highly interchangeable. We can stock fewer replacement components, and this reduces our costs,” he says.

Ongoing service support
According to Northway, the operation obviously likes the product itself, but it’s the service that really makes the difference. “We’ve developed a great relationship with Polydeck and with our representative Alan Tindall. He works very hard to help us save money and certainly that is very important,” Northway says. “Alan even lets us know when we can purchase slightly used panels, which are discounted after being changed out of a start-up job perhaps,” he explains.

Northway also stresses that whenever the maintenance crew is ready to put in a new deck, there is always someone from Polydeck there to help out. “For example, when we were going to change to a new style of wear plate, Alan personally came out, brought his tools, and worked with the crew for the first couple of installations. To me, the service that we get is every bit as important as the quality of the panel,” he says.

Sustainable screening solutions
As energy costs rise and profit margins remain slim, sustainable processing becomes ever more important. Where screening is concerned, a “more-than-media” approach is the strategy that may deliver the difference between merely adequate returns to that of superior net results. Certainly, the bigger picture illustrates the benefits of product, specification expertise, inventory management and ongoing service working as one.

Take note
As energy costs rise and profit margins remain slim, sustainable processing becomes ever more important.

Carol Wasson is a veteran freelance writer for the aggregates and construction equipment industries.

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