Granite Sets its Sights on the Future
A 750-foot-long tunnel runs beneath the sand stockpiles. The tunnel houses two conveyors, yet is still wide enough for a Bobcat or small front-end loader to drive through. This makes cleanup easier after a belt break or material spill inside the tunnel and helps to reduce material contamination and downtime.
“This is the first tunnel of such width that we’ve put in a plant,” Kremer says. “It’s probably 4 feet wider than the largest tunnel in our other facilities.”
One of the tunnel’s conveyors feeds the HMA plant. The very first job for the finished asphalt plant was to repave the roads leading from the plant to the nearby highways.
To keep particulate emissions under control, the company built containment boxes at all the transfer points in the plant to allow the particulates to settle. A combination of high-pressure, low-volume water sprays and vacuum collectors enables the plant to be very clean and to exceed compliance regulations.
Power is typically a big concern with aggregates operations, but it is not an issue at the Vernalis facility. The plant has 120,000 volts of available electrical power and has its own power substation where the electricity is stepped down to 12,000 volts. Since the electric company doesn’t have to do the step down, the plant gets a cheaper rate for its electricity.
“Everything on the property is tied together with a fiber optic backbone system,” Claunch says. “This allows the control room operator to monitor everything throughout the plant.”
Once the plant was finished, Granite began bringing in existing as well as future customers to view the new facility and products being made. “They’re very excited about how we process and are all encouraged by what we’ve done this far,” Bunting says.
“In this particular project, we constructed the entire facility, which includes the egress and ingress and all the site work and paving,” Kremer says. “I’m extremely pleased that we came in under budget. And with the amount of people that were involved in the construction process, there were 0 reportable injuries and 0 reportable incidents.” That’s a track record that anyone would be proud of.
“Survival for Granite is not a question,” Bunting says, “the question is how do we want to come out of this [economic downturn]? We’ve downsized and made ourselves more efficient with the work we do.”
When the economy finally turns around and the market improves, Granite will be poised to claim its share of materials and asphalt sales, thanks to its new Vernalis facility.
Randy Kremer — the Man Behind the Screens
In 1973, Randy Kremer began working for Granite Construction, Inc. while going to school. What began as a part-time job became a long-term career highlighted with great accomplishments, benefiting both Granite and the aggregates industry as a whole.
At a time when Granite was only supplying materials for its own construction projects, Kremer helped the company realize that it had the potential and capacity to supply materials for other building contractors as well, thereby increasing profits.
“Since we provide for ourselves, we know the product quality needed by other contractors,” says Kremer, currently vice president-manager of construction materials at Granite. “That sets us apart from someone that isn’t vertically integrated.”
Kremer also spearheaded the drive to get mining and engineering schools across the nation involved in the aggregates industry. In the early 1980s, he visited the South Dakota School of Mines and spoke with a professor. As a result of this visit, and visits to other campuses, Kremer helped the schools develop aggregates curriculum to better prepare students for a career in the aggregates industry.
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