Room to Grow
Plant upgrade opens custom crushing opportunities across the state for a Wyoming operator.
by Mary Foster, Contributing Editor
With just under 533,000 people, Wyoming has the smallest population of any of the United States, although last year it ranked 14th in the nation for production of sand and gravel. In 1996, however, when brothers Bert and Bart Dale decided to purchase and permit 30 acres of land to open B&B Aggregates in Riverton, Wyo., the picture was a little different. At that time, Wyoming ranked 46th in the nation in production of sand and gravel, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But the minerals industry in the state, known for its wide open spaces, has grown exponentially throughout the past 15 years. And so has business for this enterprising custom crushing company.
“Fifteen years ago, I was working for a construction company that was selling out,” says B&B Aggregates President Bert Dale. “This site was for sale, and I had done some aggregate work in the past, so I decided to try it on my own.” Bart Dale chose to primarily remain a silent partner. The brothers gained the required permits and began to supply local contractors with stone.
Bert Dale explains that using a 1048 jaw plant and a 1145 closed-circuit cone crushing plant with onboard screen, B&B Aggregates produced stone at the Riverton pit for approximately nine years — until oil and gas fields started to boom in other areas of Wyoming. In 2004, the opening of a BP America natural gas field gave Dale the opportunity to travel to the Red Desert area in Wyoming to handle some onsite custom crushing. “We bought a larger spread — with a (Terex) Cedarapids 3042 jaw and an MVP 380 cone. At that point, we really were portable, and we were able to go almost anywhere in Wyoming to crush,” Dale says.
Power of portability
Wyoming is somewhat unique among the 50 states in that it is home to few stationary aggregate plants. Most of its producers own only portable crushing and screening setups. The state now has numerous sand and gravel pits, as well as some sites that produce shot rock, but it has only a couple of traditional crushed stone quarries. Because he handles custom crushing as a subcontractor, and much of the state road aggregate is crushed by highway contracting companies, Dale enjoys a niche with little competition. “Still, there were some times when I hadn’t been as competitive as I wanted to be,” he notes. “The jobs got bigger — 100,000 tons and up — and I was having to turn away some work because production from my plant wouldn’t allow me to be competitive. So in 2010, I decided to upgrade my cone plant.”
Dale worked with a local equipment dealer, Paul Brandt of Power Equipment Co.’s Casper, Wyo., branch, who suggested a high-production 400-horsepower portable cone plant from FLSmidth — the Raptor XL400 Cone Crusher. “A 400-horsepower cone is unusual in Wyoming for custom crushing. Two hundred- to 300-horsepower cones are more typical,” he says. But Dale wanted more production than he was getting with his current 300-horsepower cone, and the cone’s production capacity and manufacturer support seemed to make it a good fit.
“When you’re traveling and crushing in different areas, with different geology, parts availability and service for your equipment can be important lifelines,” Brandt says. Although Dale was familiar with the roller-bearing style rather than the bushing style of this cone, he trusted Brandt’s recommendation and purchased the plant.
In and out
B&B Aggregates’ cone crushing plant is built as an “in-and-out” plant. It has its own onboard feed and discharge conveyors, which close the circuit to the Cedarapids 7-foot by 20-foot, three-deck horizontal screen that Dale bought to go with the cone plant. A surge hopper helps to keep the cone choke fed with the oversize from the screen. “This setup is as close as you’ll get to a closed-circuit plant with a portable 400-horsepower cone, and there are advantages to the in-and-out setup,” Brandt says.
Dale agrees. “I had owned a closed-circuit plant with the 380, and I knew I didn’t want another one. They’re hard to work on. This plant closes the circuit for me, but it’s open and easy to access for maintenance,” he says.
Dale runs an efficient operation, with just one full-time employee in addition to himself. In the summer months, his wife, Misty, who is a teacher during the school year, also works with him at the Riverton pit, running a bulldozer or wheel loader to feed the jaw or load trucks as needed. The loader cab has a remote control to operate the jaw, allowing Dale to run the plant with fewer employees.
Dale’s plant setup now includes the 3042 jaw crusher plant, a 7-foot by 20-foot three-deck horizontal screen with surge bin for the cone, the 400-horsepower cone crusher plant, a KPI-JCI Superstacker, and various other portable conveyors as needed. He also recently upgraded his loaders to include a 972 and 980 from Caterpillar.
At the Riverton pit, excavated raw material goes through the jaw to the rest of the plant. When Dale runs plant mix for asphalt production, consisting of 3/4-inch or 1/2-inch, 3/8-inch, and 3/16-inch products, he rents an additional 6-foot by 20-foot horizontal screen that pulls out minus-3/4-inch dirty material after the jaw, sending only clean rock to the 7-foot by 20-foot screen.
Brandt notes that he recommended the cone plant because of the quality of the manufacturer’s customer service. “But the biggest benefit for B&B Aggregates came almost immediately when Bert was able to double his production,” he adds. “Now, he literally gets in, crushes, and gets out.”
“I went from 300 horsepower with my old cone to 400 horsepower with this cone, but my production has almost doubled. I’ve basically cut my time on projects in half, which makes me more competitive with bids,” says Dale. “The bigger screen with the in-and-out setup helps, but that Raptor cone just eats rocks. And I haven’t sacrificed quality, either,” he adds. “You can see it makes a quality product — but the production is the key.” Dale says he gets as much as 500 to 640 tons per hour, depending on the project.
And Brandt adds that even when the closed-side setting is pulled down to 1/2-inch, Dale produces between 120 and 130 tons per hour without any outside equipment. “Before, when Bert needed a lot of 1/2-inch material, he would rent a second 300-horsepower cone, and, with the two cones running together, he would get about 120 tons per hour.” Now, Dale gets that with a single cone plant.
In addition, Brandt explains that, by changing cone liners on the XL400, Dale is able to produce any material his customers require. “With the option of changing to a shorthead liner, it opens a spectrum of versatility. You could use it as a standard primary, or change the liners to shorthead medium and use it as a finish crusher. It allows Bert to truly offer custom crushing,” he says.
“In the past year, my capabilities have grown. I can crush anything for highway jobs now,” Dale agrees.
Ease of use
Dale says the cone is simple to operate and simple to work on. Features that he especially appreciates include the clearing feature and the clamp cylinders. “It lifts and clears the chamber, then sets it right back down to the same closed-side setting. It beats having to shovel it out,” Dale notes. “And the upside-down clamp cylinders keep out dirt and dust.”
Dale also likes that the cone has provided easier liner changes than his previous cone crushers.
While the Riverton pit is open just nine months out of the year because the ground freezes in the winter months, B&B Aggregates operates year-round, traveling to project sites for custom crushing work. “The rock in Riverton isn’t really abrasive, but rock in other parts of the state can be abrasive,” Dale says. “So there has been a bit of a learning curve figuring its effect on the liners into my bids. However, overall I’ve gotten about seven months of crushing 45-hour, five-day weeks on one set of liners. And the plant is so open that changing them is easy.”
B&B Aggregates Equipment List:
• Caterpillar 972H wheel loader
• Caterpillar 980H wheel loader
• Caterpillar D8 bulldozer
• Caterpillar 330D excavator
• Terex Cedarapids 3042 jaw crusher plant
• Terex Cedarapids 7-foot x 20-foot three-deck horizontal screen
• FLSmidth Raptor XL400 cone crusher
• KPI-JCI SuperStacker conveyor
• Various conveyors
• Terex Cedarapids 6-foot x 20-foot three-deck horizontal screen (rental)