What’s trending in aggregate tech

By |  January 16, 2024
Kevin Yanik

Kevin Yanik

The South Carolina Aggregates Association (SCAA) afforded me the opportunity to deliver a presentation last month at its third annual Workshop & Exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina.

As I prepared for the breakout session, titled “Innovations in Quarry & Plant Technologies,” a series of recent industry developments kept pointing toward two trends: digitalization and sustainability.


The aggregate industry has historically been slow to change. Given the sheer volume of tech on our phones these days, there’s surely a plethora of untapped opportunities for producers to enhance core aspects of their businesses.

Tom Hill, the chairman and CEO of Vulcan Materials who served as a keynote speaker at the SCAA meeting, might agree. Hill detailed in Columbia how smartphones and tablets are becoming more prevalent in use at Vulcan.

Digitalization isn’t necessarily anything new to aggregates, though. Some plants have been automated for decades, but what I’d describe as today’s “digitalization” has more to do with tech that provides users real-time insights about the performance of their equipment.

From crushers and screens to pumps and belt cleaners, many manufacturers are equipping their hardware with devices like sensors to give producers the chance to react and make better decisions. Producers are empowered to better manage their maintenance, squeeze more life out of equipment and jump on a problem as it happens – rather than before it’s too late.

From my standpoint, I’d say the last year or two produced more refined digital products. Producers aren’t being overwhelmed with data today like they were five to seven years ago, when many manufacturers first introduced digital systems to support their equipment. The latest iteration of products seems to be simplified, with key metrics immediately making their way to users and “everything else” residing in the background should someone want to engage it.


Today’s other obvious tech trend is sustainability, with the most notable push in this area being an outside push to shift from diesel to another energy source.

Most producers aren’t buying this right now, and maybe the market never transitions to electric or some other alternative fuel. But manufacturers, for their part, have already started down the alternative energy pathway.

“Electric is the first kind of start,” says Rod Schrader, chairman and CEO of Komatsu North America. “I don’t think it’s the only, and it may not even be the winner. There may be other technologies that occur.”

Might hydrogen or natural gas emerge as the “winner” decades from now? Or, is diesel here to stay? With governments putting aggressive net-zero carbon emission mandates in place, the conversation around sustainability is one to keep an eye on.

Related: How producers are leveraging tech to their advantage (Part 1)

Featured Photo: P&Q Staff

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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