Texas Crushed Stone’s approach to a bustling market

By |  January 13, 2020
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Among those leading the charge in aggregate production in the Lone Star State is Texas Crushed Stone Co. Photo by Joe McCarthy

The Lone Star state is booming.

In 2018, Texas boasted a population of about 28.7 million people. That figure represents a 14.1 percent increase from April 2010 and positions the state second in the nation in terms of population.

As more people make the move closer to the southern border, Texas aggregate producers are tasked with ramping up production in order to provide the material needed for the growing number of construction projects. Because of the high demand for aggregate, Texas produces and consumes more construction materials than Florida and California combined.

Among those leading the charge in aggregate production is family-owned Texas Crushed Stone Co.

In 1947, Edwin Snead incorporated Texas Crushed Stone when he opened a second quarry in Austin, Texas. When the limestone reserves at that location were nearly depleted, Snead searched for a new quarry site and ultimately found one in Georgetown, Texas.

“We made the move because there was a railroad for sale,” says Bill Snead, the son of Edwin Snead and the second-generation president of Texas Crushed Stone. “The Missouri Pacific Railroad was shutting down the branch line around here, and my dad thought it would be good to ship by rail. He thought it would be wise to take advantage of a short-line railroad.”

Edwin worked with other businessmen to purchase what is now known as the Georgetown Railroad, positioned his third quarry alongside its tracks. Edwin originally began production with 600 acres, but like other Texas producers, the Texas Crushed Stone operation has grown tremendously.

Today, under the leadership of Bill, the operation spans 8,000 acres and stretches between Round Rock and Georgetown, Texas. The operation features two primary crushing facilities, a secondary crushing plant and a two-mile-long conveyor that all contribute to producing between 8 million and 9 million tpy of crushed stone and manufactured sand.

The operation has gradually built on the foundation Edwin Snead established in the 1940s. Today, the Snead family is still active in the mega operation’s success.

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This conveyor belt transports crushed rock two miles from the Round Rock primary crusher to the secondary crushing plant on the Georgetown side of the operation. Once rock completes the two-mile journey, it is deposited into a surge pile before it is carried into the secondary crushing operation. Photo by Joe McCarthy

A day in the life

The first wave of employees report for duty at Texas Crushed Stone at 6 a.m.

Production starts at the face of the quarry, with drilling and blasting operations. According to Bill, the company conducts most of it drilling and blasting work in-house, but outside contractors occasionally lend a hand.

After rock is blasted from the quarry face, Caterpillar 992K wheel loaders load rock into a fleet of 11 haul trucks that mainly features Cat 777s fixed with Philippi-Hagenbuch tailgates. Bill likes the aftermarket tailgate additions to his haul truck fleet because they prevent any spills and hiccups to the hauling process.

These massive trucks each haul about 100 tons, which, according to Bill, are deposited into a hopper every 30 seconds or so.

Texas Crushed Stone features two primary crushing plants that feed into a centralized secondary crushing area. The Georgetown and Round Rock crushers, appropriately named after the city each resides in, alternate days of operation. This is to allow for preventative maintenance and other work that needs to be done so production does not miss a beat.

The Round Rock crusher, which was in operation during Pit & Quarry’s visit to Texas Crushed Stone, crushes the rock deposited from Cat 777 haul trucks before it passes over a triple-deck screen to separate 1.5-in rock from the rest of the load. The 1.5-in material, which is used for road grade construction and is the company’s most popular product in terms of tonnage, is stockpiled nearby before it is loaded into customer trucks.

The larger material produced from the Round Rock crusher finds its way to a two-mile-long conveyor belt that transports material to the Georgetown side of the plant. The belt was installed in the mid-1980s, Bill says, and is the link between the primary and secondary crushing operations.

Once material completes the two-mile journey, it is deposited into a surge pile where it awaits a turn through the company’s secondary crushing plant. From there, McLanahan bi-directional secondary crushing units process the material further before moving it to a wash plant or to a nearby manufactured sand plant via a set of conveyors.

Finished material is either stockpiled or stored in a silo. If material finds itself in a silo, tractors move loads closer to the truck entrance so two-pass loaders can fill customer trucks with the appropriate material.

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This Cat 777 haul truck fixed with a Philippi-Hagenbuch tailgate dumps about 100 tons into a hopper. Photo by Joe McCarthy

According to Bill, about 1,500 customer trucks come through the operation every day. The plant operates a total of five scales – three on the Round Rock side and two on the Georgetown side – to accommodate the traffic. Efficiency is the goal when it comes to loadout. As Bill describes, one truck passes through the scales every 12 seconds.

“The faster we can get trucks in and out the better,” he says.

Of course, the Texas Crushed Stone also ships via the Georgetown Railroad.

Two-pass loaders aid in the quick and efficient loadout process. The operation utilizes loaders from four different equipment manufacturers. The reason, Bill says, is to determine which is best for the operation.                       

Equipment variety

Over the last 18 months, Texas Crushed Stone added about a dozen new pieces of equipment, with haul trucks and front-end loaders representing the latest investments. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act played a factor in the investments, according to Bill.

“The new law tax law accelerated our equipment buying,” he says. “The ability to depreciate the equipment rapidly or even instantaneously is a draw.”

When visited, Cat 992K loaders worked near the quarry face loading Cat, Komatsu and Terex haulers. The front-end loaders were added to the rolling stock toward the end of 2018, and the majority of haul trucks were introduced to production over the last nine

According to Bill, the company works with Holt Cat, an equipment dealer based in San Antonio, for most of its equipment needs.

“Dealers have a good service value,” Snead says. “The support of the equipment is probably more important than the equipment itself. Getting equipment fixed and having the parts you need when you need them is very important.”

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Cat 992K wheel loaders work with a mixed fleet of 13 haul trucks at the massive crushed stone operation. Photo by Joe McCarthy

Efficient equipment that stays out of the shop is crucial to production, especially at an operation that sees production climb as high as Texas Crushed Stone. As equipment ages, Snead says, the need to renew equipment over time increases. Brand loyalty isn’t a deciding factor to Texas Crushed Stone. Instead, testing equipment in a real-world application is the key to determining what’s best for the company.

Texas Crushed Stone took this approach with its two-pass loaders. Four two-pass loaders from John Deere, Komatsu, Volvo Construction Equipment and Cat were added to the company’s loadout operations. The company is giving each manufacturer a shot to see what’s best for Texas Crushed Stone moving forward.

With so many moving pieces of equipment running across 8,000 acres, maintenance is key to keeping up with production. Outside of dealers, Texas Crushed Stone utilizes its own maintenance facility to keep equipment operational. The facility, built during the 1980s, playing a crucial role to the everyday operations at Texas Crushed Stone.

“Maintenance is a huge part of rock crushing,” Snead says.

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Joe McCarthy

About the Author:

Joe McCarthy is a former Associate Editor of Pit and Quarry Magazine.

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