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The future of crushing

By |  June 13, 2016

What will crushing machines look like in 100 years?

The writers of the 1985 film “Back To The Future” might conjure up a massive jaw riding a giant hoverboard. While that concept is fun to think about, the more credible question is this: What will be required of rock crushers over the next 50 to 100 years?

There are a number of key drivers that increasingly impact how manufacturers and producers approach crushing operations now and into the future. In truth, past-century cones and jaws operated via the same basic principles as present-day machines, making it a bit challenging to forecast crushing technology trends into the far-off future.

John Garrison

Headshot: John Garrison

But, what we do know is that the need for bigger, faster, stronger and safer equipment will always rule – and that it’s certain that overall plant systems integration and crushing circuit automation will continue to grow, expanding quickly in capabilities over each coming decade.

From the rock face to material loadout, fully automated plants and nearly labor-free remote operation will likely become common over the next 50 years, with process improvements being fueled by next-generation advancements in telemetry systems, telematics, informatics and wireless data transfer protocols.

While the need for greater efficiency is a big factor, safety is another key driver. Ultimately, increased automation will limit or even eliminate human interaction around major crushing plant components to achieve zero harm. Machines will continually feature next-level condition monitoring and remote adjustment systems operated from the smartphones of the day.

A constant need for lower operating costs per ton will drive significantly streamlined maintenance needs. From oil changes to wear parts replacement, routine maintenance intervals will be fewer and further between as various technologies develop, such as advancements in design, metallurgy, lubricants and fluid power.

It is not inconceivable that the crushers of the future will require only once-a-year maintenance versus daily, weekly or monthly schedules – and more and more operations may turn to their equipment manufacturer for sophisticated lifecycle management and remote equipment monitoring programs that guarantee maximum plant uptime and production capacities.

mike-shultz-superior-headshot

Headshot: Mike Shultz

Ever-increasing government regulations will continuously boost the demand for energy efficiency and environmentally sound operation. While we keenly focus on the latter challenges in the machines we build today, we know emission controls will become tighter, pressing manufacturers to respond more quickly over the decades with cleaner, more economical solutions than those currently available.

Material specs and regulations will become even more stringent. For example, a number of countries have already banned the use of natural sand in their mixes, which will generate a need for more manufactured sand operations.

We also see the potential for increasing numbers of highly specialized crushing plants that focus entirely on a specific high-valued product or the crushing of a specific material.

The bottom line: As reserves dwindle, more countries will tightly regulate what can and cannot be mined and what materials can or cannot be used. Dwindling reserves, combined with tighter regulations and product requirements, create a perfect storm where machines must always be designed to process at higher capacities, and at lower costs per ton. That need will never change over the next 100 years.


John Garrison serves as vice president of sales for Superior Industries, and Mike Schultz is crushing product manager at the company. Garrison can be reached at john.garrison@superior-ind.com and Schultz can be reached at mike.schultz@superior-ind.com.


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