Size Reduction: Buying Equipment or Knowledge?Size Reduction: Buying Equipment or Knowledge?
May 6, 2010
Seeking size reduction equipment manufacturers with full service test facilities and knowledgeable application specialists is critical in choosing the optimal size reduction equipment. Hundreds of size reduction methods are employed to make a final, sized product to the end user’s specifications. Choosing the optimal machinery for your process is critical. Simple devices like the mortar-and-pestle and technologically complex machines like the giant mining crushers perform the same basic task: making big things smaller. Finding the right company to supply equipment for this critical process step should begin with the question, “Do we need size reduction equipment, knowledge, or both?”
Size reduction expressed in the simplest form is: “Adding energy to materials to make large particles smaller.” While the nuances of size reduction are infinite, commonly encountered industrial size reduction applications use equipment that achieve reduction through one or more of the following: impact—hitting a friable material to break large parts into smaller ones; shear—tearing or ripping material; and compression—squeezing and pressing down on a material until it breaks.
Experienced, knowledgeable size reduction equipment suppliers will guide a customer through the correct questions and recommend the best suited method for any specific materials. Reputable suppliers will often refer customers to other equipment manufacturers with better suited styles of equipment when their own products are not suited to the application.
Internet keyword searches can lead potential buyers to a variety of suppliers: used equipment dealers, OEMs, and authorized dealers. Used equipment can be a good choice for low initial capital costs. Many size reduction OEMs have factory-refurbished used machines that can carry the same warranty as a new machine. OEM reconditioned equipment warranties minimize the uncertainty inherent in buying used and allows access to OEMs knowledge base. Whether buying used or new equipment, choosing an equipment supplier with testing facilities and knowledgeable application technicians is the best choice for a size reduction partner.
Let the buyer beware! Crushing and milling equipment manufacturers vary as to product offerings. The best suppliers will have a range of different sizes and types of machines. Many crushing and milling circuits require more than one machine to achieve the final product specifications. Partnering with companies that manufacture several crushing product lines avoids having a manufacturer oversell their style of machine. Buying equipment improperly suited to the application results in a sub-optimal solution that can be a silent drain on your plant’s profits.
Why test? Selecting the equipment most suited to the material and quantifying the specific operating parameters and costs prior to any purchase should be facilitated by a good manufacturer’s test plant. Sending a bulk sample for testing, at a minimum, should resolve: particle size distributions before and after crushing; moisture analysis; bulk density—pre and post crushing; operating costs for wear parts (parts and maintenance labor costs); operating costs for energy consumption (electrical, compressed air, steam, etc.); and additional up and down stream process equipment recommendations.
Taking “full service” service to a new level, the leading size reduction manufacturers offer much more than just machinery and a test plant. The best-of-the-best also offer a menu of services including: product engineers to customize machine designs for special application requirements; systems and process engineering; financing assistance (lease or direct purchase); factory-trained service personnel; and turnkey crushing system design-and-build experience.
Supplier or partner? Do you need an equipment supplier or a size-reduction savvy partner? Can you live with less durable equipment or is high value design important to your plant’s profitability? Bottom line: selecting the best equipment for your plant’s size reduction needs should start with an equipment manufacturer with a deep experience base and a full-service test plant that can provide guaranteed results on your material.
Chris Nawalaniec is the national sales manager at Stedman (Aurora, IN), a 176-year-old manufacturer of size reduction equipment and systems. Nawalaniec graduated from the University of Cincinnati (BSME, MBA) and has more than 20 years professional experience in size reduction and particle size separation. Nawalaniec oversees new machinery and system sales, as well as the full service test plant that has been operating at Stedman for over 80 years.
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