The future of washing

By |  July 18, 2016

Have you noticed how much the telephone has changed in only 40 years?

We started with fixed rotary phones and evolved into carrying smartphones, virtual computers in our pockets. Who would have dreamed this was possible 40 years ago?

Now, look at our quarries, pits and mines. What has changed during the same timeframe in our industry?

Our vibrating screens, crushers and washing technology have barely evolved since their development in the early and mid 1900s. So what’s the difference between the telephone and processing technology? The answer is simple: The size of the dream.

The aggregates industry needs to modernize, become more efficient and give back more than it takes. The key to this? A big dream.

One dream some manufacturers have is to come up with a machine that’s designed to think for itself, communicate with other equipment and minimize its environmental impact. The machine can make saleable product from former waste, increase tonnage per hour, eliminate unscheduled downtime and run completely automated nonstop. The machine will also enhance the image of the producer and the industry.

In terms of washing technology, this dream stands on three pillars: intelligence, connectivity and impact.

Achieving the dream

Florian Festge

Florian Festge

Today, washing systems cannot operate without the human element. An intelligent washing system can incorporate existing computer particle analysis technology and produce more profits by running 24/7. The technology can be paired with a washing system, teaching the system what material is good and what needs to be rejected. Over time, this will eliminate the need for humans to decide whether materials are acceptable.

A plant also needs a central nervous system to connect equipment. For example, the photo-analytical washing system detects a bad batch of product. Then, the washing system tells the conveyor to send the material to a reject pile, ordering the crusher to change its settings or notifying the subsequent vibrating screen to increase pressure on its washing nozzles.

Some modern washing systems are capable of cutting water consumption by as much as 75 percent, but the bar over the next 100 years can be set higher. Until recently, for example, the thought of washing without water was only a dream. Such technology is on the horizon, though.

Imagine technology that uses “scissors” spinning in a washing chamber, forcing the product stream to be in constant contact with itself, scrubbing off difficult-to-extract clays and other contaminants not solvable in water. This is one new direction for washing, cleaning a customer’s waste pile and transforming it from a removal expense to a profit – without water.

Of course, washing without water isn’t possible for all applications. But minimizing water use in any way saves producers money, improves their image and makes permitting easier.

Why stop there, though? Imagine if a washing plant could run solely on solar power, or use its own hydropower? This will all be possible someday.

We want to be a part of shaping an energy-conscious and resource-efficient future by making aggregate producers more successful while treasuring our planet’s increasingly scarce resources. But there’s a key element in fulfilling our big dream: the pioneer.

We want producers to challenge the status quo and travel paths of innovation and change. Together, manufacturers and producers can reduce costs and minimize environmental impact, helping profits of operations rise. From there, technology will take us to unimaginable places by today’s standards.

We’re convinced anything is possible. Just look at the telephone.

Florian Festge is a managing partner at Haver & Boecker. He can be reached at

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