A New York State of Mine


November 1, 2008

Tilcon New York upgrades quarry to boost production capabilities to meet demand from the Big Apple.

As the closest quarry to New York City, Tilcon New York’s West Nyack facility is in a good position due to steady construction growth and expansion in the greater New York area, according to Bernardo Bulnes, plant manager at the West Nyack quarry. And Tilcon is certainly aware that with privilege comes responsibility. “We are responsible for providing quality aggregate at a reasonable price for the market,” he says.

That said, business is good for West Nyack and its two sister sites – the Tomkins Cove and Haverstraw quarries – located in Rockland County, N.Y., just north of and across the Hudson River from Yonkers. In fact, while aggregate producers in some parts of the country have had to cut back production goals, the West Nyack Quarry is slowly working toward a projected increase in production of more than 35 percent.

“There are a lot of big infrastructure projects going on in New York City, as well as work on the Freedom Tower and building sports complexes for the Yankees and the Mets, work on high-rises, etc. Having a source of aggregate nearby is a great benefit for these contractors,” Bulnes says. “And at this location, we produce trap rock, which is very abrasive. So it’s also excellent for high-friction applications and specialty paving projects such as airport tarmacs and Superpave.”

The West Nyack location was originally owned by the Trap Rock Co., which started operations in 1911. But Bulnes says the quarry can actually trace its roots back as far as the mid-1800s as a source for providing stone to the area. “This site received one upgrade in 1958. Then in 1999, it was upgraded again to produce 2.5 million tons per year,” Bulnes says. “And now we are in the process of another upgrade, with the eventual goal of producing 3.2 million tons per year.”

A vast venture

The West Nyack Quarry has several working benches. But in order to increase production, Tilcon New York has been working to open new areas for mining and also taking other areas from mining to processing as it moves its crushing and screening stages to make best use of the 150-acre property for future production. And the company has invested in some equipment upgrades, as well.

At the end of 2007, the facility’s crushing process included an Allis Chalmers 42-inch by 65-inch primary gyratory, a 7-foot Symons secondary crusher, a 5-1/2-foot Symons tertiary crusher, a Raptor XL400 quaternary cone crusher from FLSmidth Excel, and a Svedala H4000 quaternary cone crusher.

“In January 2008, though, we replaced the H4000 with another Raptor XL400 for our quaternary stage. And right now, we’re setting up new sites to locate the primary and secondary crushers. We’re getting a new H7800 cone. We’re making room to move our tertiary. And, we also will install a new primary that will be the first of its kind ever in operation: it’s a 54 series gyratory (55-inch by 83-inch) heavy-duty top-service gyratory crusher from FLSmidth Minerals,” Bulnes says, explaining that design of this gyratory crusher allows service to be performed on the unit by pulling necessary parts from the top, which eliminates the need to send personnel down into the crusher unit. “This feature will be a great advantage from a safety standpoint,” he says, adding that the primary tower will be completed in December 2008. The crusher will be delivered in December 2008, with startup planned for March 2009.

Bulnes says with all of Tilcon New York’s preparations to date, it is the addition of the second Raptor cone crusher that has helped the West Nyack Quarry to turn a corner, of sorts, as it began to increase production in 2008. “We bought the first Raptor cone in 2005. And it was actually an emergency purchase, which can be harder to justify than a planned purchase. But we needed a new cone to replace a failed H4000,” he explains. “We wanted a cone that was comparable to the old cone, but that could provide better throughput and production for future goals. We needed a manufacturer that was reliable and that could support the machine. We looked at customer response and parts availability. And when we looked at the Raptor cone crusher, we knew it was Excel’s first XL400 cone produced – serial number 001. But we had used Excel for its rebuild services in the past, and we trusted their capabilities. The price and warranty were attractive, and at Tilcon, we’re not afraid to experiment with new products. So we decided to give them a shot. I guess you could say with it being serial number 001, we were going out on a limb, but it turned out to be a good decision.”

Tilcon New York West Nyack’s production manager Wayne Hardick says the XL400 ran alongside a second H4000 for a couple of years, and began to prove that its production capabilities provided improvement over the older cone. “When we began to work toward our production increase, it became evident there would be a bottleneck at that (quaternary) stage,” he says.

According to John DeAngelis, maintenance supervisor at West Nyack Quarry, “The older cone had about two-thirds the capacity of the Raptor cone crusher, so we had to send more material to the Raptor cone than the H4000. If the Raptor cone was shut down for maintenance, then it caused production issues because the older cone couldn’t produce fast enough. Also, the H4000 wasn’t as automated. So we replaced it with a second Raptor cone at the beginning of the year as a step in our upgrade to increase production, match our goals, and automate the process as we completed our crushing circuit.”

The design of the Raptor XL400 cone crusher lends to its production capabilities. It is said to feature a high pivot point and large crushing stroke that offers better crushing action throughout the crushing chamber than many competitive models. An active feed opening creates a desirable end product shape for high production of salable material. With a large head diameter of 52 inches (1.3 meters), the XL400 can accept feed that is up to 25 percent larger than can be accepted by a crusher with less throw or head diameter.

Automated features include advanced overload sensing technology that detects crushing force overload. A simple alarm is activated, or the system can be configured to automatically take corrective action. This same advanced automation system can be used to optimize crusher performance, with feed control, setting adjustment, and monitoring of all critical lubrication and hydraulic parameters.

The crusher employs “fail safe” hydraulics through an internal relief valve within the dual-acting tramp release cylinders. This feature ensures the machine stays protected from mechanical overload in the event of an accumulator bladder failure. An additional safety feature standard on all Raptor cone crusher models is the counterclockwise rotation crushing action that protects the machine if adjustment ring movement is excessive or if the ring gear brake fails.

Bulnes notes that Tilcon New York has placed three Raptor XL400 cones in other locations between the installation of its first and second XL400 at West Nyack. “The decision was based off of the success we had with the first one,” he says.

“In addition to the new cone, our winter 2008 upgrade also included a surge bin upgrade; we replaced our belt feeders with vibratory electromagnetic feeders, which have helped our throughput and performance,” says Bulnes, adding that a new dry classifying system cuts the minus-200 mesh material from all 1/4-inch-minus manufactured sand product, and new conveyors have prepared the plant to fully handle added capacity. Additionally, the site will add new loaders to better feed the new gyratory primary crusher when it is in place.

“It’s been a bit of a puzzle,” Hardick says, “moving, adjusting, and fine-tuning the whole plant to handle the increased production.”

Progress within the process

At the West Nyack quarry, the first three crushing stages are open circuit. The primary gyratory crushes the stone to 8-inch minus and sends it to a surge pile. At the secondary stage, the 7-foot cone crusher reduces material, and it is screened to 1-1/4-inch minus and 1-1/4 inch by -1/2 inch. The 5-foot cone crushes the oversized material and sends it to a three-deck screen that sizes it to 3/4 inch, 5/8 inch, and 3/8 inch. The quaternary stage is closed circuit, where the two Raptor XL400s are set at a 1/2-inch closed-side setting.

Hardick says the two Raptor XL400 cones can each produce at 750 tons per hour, which allows the company to send stone to one or both cone crushers, depending on production needs. “Anything over 750 tons per hour, and we have to split the production between them,” he adds.

“The science of breaking rock hasn’t really changed in recent years,” Bulnes says.  “Mechanically, equipment is pretty much the same. But it’s how you optimize and manage your equipment, make use of automation, and interface with computers that help to improve the equipment’s performance. For instance, we can control both Raptor crushers with one computer program and one screen, which is a big improvement over our other setup where we had to go back and forth between two computer programs.”

“Being able to set the size on one screen in the control room helps us to fine-tune the process, which raises our quality,” DeAngelis says, adding that he also appreciates the cones’ ease of maintenance. “The controller tells us how much the liners have worn, so it’s easier to schedule liner changes. And there are very few moving parts, so they are easy to work on,” he continues. “We’ve enjoyed a lot longer uptime with these machines than with crushers we’ve used in the past. That makes it easier for us to produce the stone we need to match our sales.”

Hardick agrees. “The Raptors (cones) are awesome,” he says. “The controller package allows us to adjust them automatically. And if we keep the (fluid) levels correct, and change the oil on schedule, they’re practically maintenance free. We typically go 400,000 tons before we need to make a liner change.”

“Now, until we get the FLSmidth gyratory into production, the bottleneck is at the current primary,” Bulnes says. He estimates at the upgraded production rate, the West Nyack property will still have approximately 35 to 40 years of material reserves.

Extra efforts yield community benefits

The West Nyack Quarry essentially runs year-round, only shutting down for six weeks in January and February for maintenance, repairs, and crusher rebuilds. According to Charlie Beers, the operation’s pit manager, “We blast just one or two times per week at noon. We blast bigger shots this way, but we’ve found that for neighbor relations, it’s better to shoot more material less often. We also have started to drill and blast down in the west side of the pit.  It’s deeper in the hole, so it’s quieter,” he adds.

Beers explains that another part of the operation’s current upgrade includes moving stockpiles to better accommodate the new primary and organizing other stockpiles to help ensure leaner overall throughput. “Transportation costs more than the stone now,” he notes. “We are working to organize things better to eliminate such problems as returned product.”

These additional efforts to upgrade the operation emphasize Tilcon New York’s dedication to improving more than the quarry’s production numbers. For instance, one project that was completed during the summer of 2008 was a $300,000 restoration of the historic Storms Tavern that is part of the property, which has helped to raise opinions of Tilcon New York in the eyes of area residents.

Also, Bulnes explains that while the West Nyack Quarry is west of the Hudson River, it is located between Lake Deforest, which provides potable water to New York City, and the Palisades Mall, a popular three-story indoor shopping center. “This actually is a very urban area, and we have been working to address community concerns with noise, dust, and traffic. So by the end of 2009, we will close the current entrance by the lake and open a new one off of the interstate, which will greatly cut down on truck traffic,” he says.  “We spray material at all crushing stages and conveyors as a dust control measure. And from an aesthetic point of view, the old buildings that have been here since 1958 will be gone by the end of the year.”

Do some of these efforts seem to be overkill? Bulnes says he doesn’t believe so. Because with privilege comes responsibility. “We’re the closest quarry to New York City,” he says. “All eyes are on this plant for a lot of reasons.”


Article and photos courtesy of FLSmidth Minerals.

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