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Precision feeder capabilities are critical to Atlas Sand’s ability to meet energy industry demand for frac sand
Atlas Sand is one of the newest companies building high through-put facilities in the West Texas Permian Basin to meet the growing market demand for frac sand.
Frac sand is a specialized product that is finer and more durable than typical sand, with a higher degree of silica and a more uniform round shape at the granular level. These unique characteristics make frack sand an essential component in the extraction processes of newer, more complex horizontal drilling applications.
Before fracking operations began widespread implementation of horizontal drilling, the market for a finer grade of sand was minimal. However, as fracking capabilities evolved, demand for frac sand has grown exponentially, tripling in volume between 2009 and 2013. Despite a slight downturn after 2014’s peak consumption of 56 million tons, a significant upturn in 2017 has been forecast, with a top line estimate of 73 million tons.
Some of the largest frac sand reserves are located in and around West Texas, and because of their proximity to large oil and natural gas reserves, many industrial sand companies are flocking to the region, eager to set up operations. Not only is the Permian Basin resource heavy, but the production cost of frac sand here is also much lower than in other parts of the country, and the availability of product near actual fracking operations significantly reduces transportation costs.
To separate itself from its growing list of competitors, Atlas Sand has been moving quickly to establish a large presence in the area. The company’s ambitious goal is to produce in excess of 3 million tons of product a year at each of their facilities, bringing it in to line with some of the largest frac sand producers in the Permian Basin. This level of output can only be met, however, if a robust and seamless production pipeline is in place that can process, handle and distribute high volumes of product in a timely and cost-effective fashion.
The efficiency of the company’s production process is heavily influenced by how well it can transport thousands of tons of wet sand through the plant in a controlled, consistent and reliable way. Precision vibratory feeders are essential to making sure unprocessed wet sand is evenly distributed into large dryers to remove moisture, at which point the product can be sorted and ultimately shipped to customers.
“When it comes to feeders, we are really focusing on equipment that gives us the consistent product feed we need to keep our production operating at peak levels,” Tim Stauffer, Atlas Sand VP of Operations, said. “One of the reasons we chose TerraSource for our Texas facility is because we had a very positive experience with them at another sand plant in Wisconsin. Their electromechanical vibratory feeders provide us a more consistent feed, with good reliability and a fair price.”
Not only does TerraSource Global produce many different sizes of electromagnetic and electromechanical vibratory feeders, such as those being integrated into the Atlas Sand facilities, but the company also offers a wide selection of feeder configurations, including pan, tube, grizzly and multi-drive units. These mass feeder designs offer precision material feeding capabilities that are common fixtures across mining operations around the world. All told, TerraSource Global’s portfolio of equipment offers the broad array of feeders and crushers mining companies need to meet their unique material handling and size reduction requirements.