Unique retrofit

By and |  December 29, 2014

A producer successfully incorporates modern replacement parts into a 20-year-old log washer.

Seeking out replacement parts that aren’t genuine factory replacement parts can be a risky move if producers don’t prioritize quality. But for Lloyd Gerbrandt, manager of Butler Brothers Supplies in Duncan, B.C., Canada, updating the parts in his washing equipment translated into less maintenance, more uptime, reduced wear and improved performance.

Butler Brothers is a family-owned, Canadian ready-mix and aggregate producer that’s been serving the South Vancouver Island area with aggregate and ready-mix concrete since the early 1940s. Its main aggregate depot, located in Duncan, supplies 65 different products, including limestone and granite. The company owns 23 ready-mix trucks with three batch plants in Central Saanich, downtown Victoria and Sooke.

The company owns two log washers to scrub 3-in.-minus material and two KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens fine material washers to scrub and dewater sand products, in addition to a number of KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens products, including a classifying tank and feed conveyor.

Three years ago, with 20 years of use in the log washer, Gerbrandt knew it was time to replace the machine’s worn parts. But the problem wasn’t contained to just wear parts. The log washer was situated on the ground on a steel framework and concrete foundation, and the excessive vibration from the log washer continuously cracked the steel and concrete, meaning constant repairs and lost time and money.

Gerbrandt was intrigued for some time by the spiral shaft design on KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens’ log washer, which uses spiraling shafts with overlapping paddles to produce an enhanced scrubbing action. When it came time to look for replacement parts, Gerbrandt turned to Lonetrack Parts Inc., his dealer, and began the process of retrofitting the logs into the old unit.

According to Jeff Wendte, product manager for washing and classifying at KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens, the paddles on his company’s spiral shaft design are continuously in the material. The material is always being scrubbed, he says. There is no lift and drop action, so the unit uses less energy.

“The unique reverse involution spiral paddle configuration found in our Series 8000 log washers reduces shock loading of the logs, bearings, stub shafts and the tank,” Wendte says. “This does several things. It increases the service life of the unit; reduces power peaks and valleys, resulting in less horsepower and more tonnage produced; increases retention time, which improves the scrubbing action achieved; and reduces wear on the individual components.”

No looking back

As soon as Butler Brothers’ spiral shaft design was retrofitted, Gerbrandt says he noticed an immediate difference.

“The first thing I noticed was how smooth it ran,” he says. “It’s absolutely unbelievable how smooth it runs. I would never go back to a standard log washer. In the future I will always stick to the spiral design. We have had no issues at all. It fit right into place and we haven’t had a problem since.”

Although Gerbrandt had some reservations about whether the new spiral shaft could clean the material, he says there have been “absolutely no issues,” noting that both the cleanliness of the rock and the volume met the company’s expectations.

According to the manufacturer, the paddle tips are Ni-hard and have corrugated faces and Ni-hard edges for better scrubbing action and longer life.
“Our paddles are also adjustable,” says Ryan Newman, director of parts at KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens. “As the tips become worn, they can be adjusted out, which further extends the life of the paddle.”

Pricing is also a key consideration for producers when it comes to equipment and replacement parts, according to Don Rand, parts manager for Lonetrack Parts. But to make an operation profitable, the most critical consideration should always be quality, he says.

“There are so many offshore manufacturers who are predators of the marketplace right now,” Rand says. “Right now, there are a lot of replacement parts of lesser quality out there. Sometimes the prices are so far below market price that it does take away business, but the customer then has to deal with those consequences – downtime, reduced production, increased maintenance or worse.”

Those are consequences Gerbrandt is glad he can avoid.

“I expect we’re going to get a longer life on our electric motor, and our gears and our drive assembly will last substantially longer because there is way less stress on [them],” he says. “We just love that we don’t have to worry about any problems with it.”

Newman says he’s seen other customers like Gerbrandt, who quickly convert to the spiral shaft design and continue to retrofit it into other log washers in their operations.

“There are some very significant cost savings the customer can realize with the spiral shaft design,” Newman says.

“Extended service life, reduced energy consumption, cleaner rock and more tonnage produced – these are all things that directly impact our customer’s bottom lines.”

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