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The success of industrial sizing, feeding and processing equipment manufacturers is becoming increasingly linked to their ability to understand and quickly respond to the needs of their customers’ customers, the users at the end of the value chain. These end users are constantly adapting to innovation and having to position themselves to address the ongoing pressures exerted by the global market’s regularly shifting demands.
As such, vendors selling material handling and sizing machinery can no longer just rely on existing customer relationships and a great portfolio of machines and services for long-term viability. Even loyal, long-term customers need to have confidence that their machine suppliers are providing honest assessments about whether current machines in use are still relevant or can be retrofitted to meet end users’ changing expectations or adapted to complement new or different types of equipment. Given the evolving requirements further down the value chain, the expectations of what makes the “best” solution have expanded.
Too many vendors, especially those in the third-party replacement parts businesses, still default to a position of “solving” customer needs according to a vendor’s established solutions or product portfolio, even though a proposed solution or suggested machine may not be an appropriate fit for fulfilling the end user’s actual needs. Whether the end user is reworking the chemistry of a specialty product or wanting to increase production to meet spikes in market demand, customers need to trust that their sizing machine vendors can provide unique, cost-effective and data-based recommendations on the most appropriate machinery to achieve end user goals. These recommendations can only be derived from thorough analysis of the end user’s material needs within the context of a customer’s specific capabilities and overall business objectives.
In general, customers looking at sizing solutions in the mining space are most interested in meeting end user expectations while also gaining the highest possible yield, reducing waste or fines, and ensuring the long-term durability and relevance of their core machinery and wear parts. Although many factors are involved, the success of sizing-machine vendors will come down to being able to deliver on the following “best solution” criteria:
All paths to success lead through the ability to conduct integrated material testing
Although any reputable equipment vendor is going to be able to deliver on the last three bullets in the list above, many vendors have not fully invested in advanced testing facilities, or they contract out material testing to third parties. The overwhelming feedback we’ve received from long-term customers is that robust material testing and analysis capabilities are the critical evaluation tool they use to gauge the overall quality of every component of a proposed sizing solution. As such, our company has invested in TerraSource’s unique Testing and Demonstration Center in Duncan, South Carolina, an innovative facility that features a complete array of full-size machines and multiple configurations of hammers, rolls and other wear parts to enable objective, field-ready tests of customer materials.
These testing capabilities drive the holistic approach necessary to enable customers’ full awareness of sizing machine options within the context of the relevant application, internal processes, overall costs, engineering inputs and other requirements that shape long-term customer needs, especially as they are impacted further downstream as end users innovate or adapt to shifting market pressures.
Providing real-time feedback on efficient size-reduction options for new lime product
For example, our Testing center in Duncan recently performed tests for a quick lime producer who wanted to use a Reversible Impactor to size 2”-4” chunks of product material down to 3/8” (10mm), with at least 90% passing through at the 3.8” benchmark (the finer, the better, according to customer requests).
Utilizing the capabilities in Duncan, we performed various, real-time sizing tests, being able to quickly change the gap rate between hammer and interior striking area (breaker blocks), as well as varying speeds so the customer could get objective information on wear rates versus crushing capabilities. The tests were done on full-size machines, pushed hard to replicate onsite usage and ensure test accuracy. Many machine producers can perform some level of testing with rolls, but for an accurate and full range of sizing data, capabilities should also exist for variable hammer testing to be performed in their facilities as well, as TerraSource is able to do. In this instance, the customer quickly received a complete data set that enabled them to consult with engineers in an informed fashion to find the right solution – or not – that worked for their current needs.
Looking at the test data set below, you’ll see that having comprehensive, realistic testing and analysis capabilities enabled the customer to see that a solution with nearly perfect efficiency was available to them. This information enhanced their ability to quickly make a strategic decision that better positioned them to meet the needs of their end user.
Enabling a re-assessment of machine capabilities for crushing fine limestone
In another instance, a leading limestone producer needed to find a solution for creating even smaller product while also trying to minimize fines, which is difficult to do with their current Hammermill configuration. The customer was looking for a 3/8” nominal top size with a desired end product between 8-16 Mesh in size and, if possible, the ability to create a “super fine” product at 75 – 200 Mesh.
Given the small, precise product sizing demands of this application, our engineers recommended that various configurations of test crushing be conducted on Roll Crushers, which, given the team’s knowledge of similar applications, would point to a high probability of finding a suitable option for this application. The Roll Crushers in this test featured a gearbox on a timed roll that offered enhanced control of product sizing, delivering definitive end results that provided product exactly to customer specifications.
Giving gypsum customers a high-performance, less-expensive alternative to sizers
A customer recently approached us with a question about changing some aspects of their gypsum operation, with concerns about the costs and physical footprint needed for what they assumed would be a Sizer machine. We wanted to advise on the best option and possible alternatives for them, so we processed several gypsum samples at our Testing facility, the results of which provided solid evidence that Roll Crushers could provide better end product than the common method of utilizing Sizers. Not only did the analysis provide detailed data supporting a new approach to improving performance, this new Roll Crusher solution also offered a viable option at half the price of competitor bids, without forfeiting wear life or long-term equipment durability, all with a smaller physical footprint.
All told, the ability to perform fast, accurate and applicable testing and analysis goes beyond the goal of just advising a customer to purchase or use a particular type of machine. Testing needs to take into account their whole, integrated production system, including analysis of peripheral machinery or upstream and downstream machines, wear parts and circuit design options, all of which can influence customer choice in terms of processes, facility configuration, growth plans, engineering requirements and budget.
Real-time material testing capabilities, performed on a representative array of well-designed machines and informed by engineering and service teams with broad application knowledge, now represent the standard, “best” solution for material sizing machine vendors who want to offer optimal value to customers who must make quick and accurate decisions on how best to service end users through optimized yield, lower overall operating costs, reduced waste and enhanced safety.
By: Steve Hennessey
North America Sales Director