Father of Invention
Facing the abrasive hard rock common to the Southwest, roll crushers were in constant need of repair, and those repairs often lasted only a week before additional service was required. Mason and Neil believed there had to be a better way to crush rock into chips and sand. In May 1965, they had just wrapped up an 18-hour shift of welding hard-face repair to a roll crusher that was providing material for the Heron Dam project near Chama, N.M. The roll crushers were in need of continuous repair, sparking through the night while they attempted to crush the hard New Mexico granite. As the pair lay in their sleeping bags staring at the starry night, they agreed there just had to be a better way.
Growing idea into reality
In their quest for a solution, Neil and Mason discovered existing vertical shaft impact crushers, but quickly realized their design failed to offer a practical solution. The castings simply weren’t sound enough to handle that hardness of material. The two options available, the Tornado and Simplicity D’cintegrator, consumed a significant amount of parts and eventually self-destructed.
“There are few things harder than New Mexico granite,” Hise says. “It’s why our repairs would only last a week. We knew we would need to find the right design and material to create an alternative option.”
Mason and Neil asked Les Edminister, owner of West Coast Alloys, if he could construct a new style of crusher wear parts from the same alloy as the hard-face welding rod he provided for the Hise’s repair shop. Les didn’t hesitate and quickly brought in other management at the foundry to tackle the challenge. Meanwhile, Neil took pencil to paper and, using his education and experience, began drawing bearing cartridges, shafts, and crushers in an effort to change the design concept that existed to a more practical solution.
In 1966, Neil sketched a shaft design and took it to a local machine shop. He asked the crew to build three shafts: one for the concept, one back-up in case the original broke, and a third to be used in a second crusher, if there was ever going to be another. Two weeks later, he returned to measure the results; all three were different sizes.
Realizing that success required consistency and accuracy, Neil and his team purchased a used lathe and began making the parts themselves. That’s how Cemco began its transition into manufacturing.
“Looking back, I have to laugh,” Hise says. “That lathe we bought was likely a century old, but it took all the money we had. In the end, it got the job done.”
Before long, the team was building keyways and constructing bearing housings. In 1986, when Cemco exhibited at its first industry tradeshow, realization struck. Cemco was no longer a service and repair company. It had evolved into a small, yet full-fledged, manufacturing company and would one day be a global solution provider.
Spreading from one crusher
While it’s truthful to say Cemco’s production doubled within a year of making its first crusher with West Coast Alloys, selling a single machine one year and two the next doesn’t make a company a world-known manufacturer. It provided a good start for future success, though.
That first crusher still operates today in northern New Mexico crushing perlite, which is used for ceiling tiles, brake pads, and many other items. Today, it’s joined by several additional Cemco crushers — a testament to the company’s belief in the product and its reliability.
Within a couple of years of designing that first crusher, Cemco introduced the Turbo 54, its first mass-produced model. The small machine handled 80 to 100 tons per hour and was sold to diverse customers from Alaska to Mexico solely by word-of-mouth advertising.
In 1970, Cemco produced its first semi-portable crushers. By the 1990s, the introduction of variable frequency drives made manufacturing portable machines easier and more effective.
As the years passed, Cemco diligently searched for ways to continue to improve on Neil’s first pencil-sketch concept. The units were adapted to make it easier to get inside to change out parts. The company ensured some mechanical parts could be purchased at local stores for customer convenience and paid attention to the small things that proved to make a big difference. Recognizing the huge radial load and big thrust load cast upon the bearings, Cemco developed a bearing system that would last longer under those strenuous conditions.
Through three generations of love, sweat, and toil, the family has developed a design and product that has stood the test of time and emerged as the leader. Today, Cemco manufactures eight sizes of crushers and understands the science of crushing in order to customize the machine to each customer’s specific needs. A limestone crusher in Ohio, for example, won’t function as well in Virginia, because the limestone differs significantly in chemical composition and hardness. Cemco understands the differences and reconfigures the internal mechanisms on each unit to best accomplish the job for a particular customer.
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