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Match making: crushing equipment providers offer increased output and mobility to better serve the market.

Throughout 2004, Congress has kicked around different versions of a transportation-spending bill, but no actual spending reauthorization package has been approved by the House, the Senate and the Bush administration. (An extension of the existing bill remains in place, with Spring of 2005 as the target date for a new bill to be passed.)

The punting back and forth of this political football has helped keep highway spending in check in most parts of the country, with many financially strapped states largely dependent on an infusion of federal spending for road and bridge improvements.

Fortunately for concrete recycling companies, several other segments of the industry have fared better in 2004, with the demolition segments and commercial construction segments helping to keep crushers busy at job sites other than interstate highway projects. While paving contractors and the suppliers and sub-contractors who serve them are anxious for a federal transportation bill to get that segment moving again, concrete crushing continues to enjoy its status as an established business practice.

The good news for concrete recyclers and makers of crushers designed to handle concrete rubble is that the wisdom of recycling is firmly established, and thus so is the market for crusher sales into this segment.

"I think for the most part the market is established," says Bill Royce of Eagle Crusher Co. Inc., Gallon, Ohio. "I think on the East Coast and in the Midwest it's accepted, and out on the West Coast as well. There are still some open parts of the country where they go ahead and dump it, but it really does save money and resources, so it's really been accepted widely in the past few years."

Robert Turner, president of Lippmann-Milwaukee Co., Cudahy, Wis., also sees overall acceptance of the concept. "I absolutely believe it has gained acceptance; every year you see leaps and bounds of growth," he remarks.

LITTLE DOWN-TIME

Getting a handle on crusher equipment sales overall can be difficult, as many manufacturers of the equipment are not publicly traded and do not release sales results.

But despite the flat roadbuilding numbers caused by a delay in transportation funding, crusher companies are still reporting good sales numbers in 2004.

"In the recycling market, we've seen growth smaller than in prior years, but still good company-wide growth," says Turner of Lippmann-Milwaukee's year. He says both the uncertainty of the transportation bill and the presidential election put a damper on some spending plans.

Royce says the Team Eagle sales force and the manufacturing plant in Gallon have stayed busy throughout 2004. "In general, it has been our best year ever," he remarks, adding that a lot of the sales have been into the demolition segment, "which is where a lot of the [crushing] jobs are."

Astec Industries, Chattanooga, Tenn., is a publicly traded firm with aggregates and paving equipment as a major part of its business. Through the first nine months of 2004, Astec has reported a sales increase of more than $70 million, and as a company has recorded a net income gain for the year versus a loss after the first nine months of 2003.

However, the company's chairman and CEO has noted that results could be even better if paving contractors feel more confident in the federal government's ability to pass a spending bill. "The sales increase of 10.5 percent in the third quarter over the prior year was less favorable than the first and second quarterly improvements as we continue to operate in an industry which prefers to make large capital expenditure commitments with the positive visibility that a six-year highway bill provides," Astec's Don J. Brock remarked in comments released along with the company's quarterly results.

But even with that lingering uncertainly, Brock notes that Astec's market in 2004 is on the upswing. "We expect that long-term legislation will be passed next spring which will provide a more positive environment for larger capital expenditures by our customer base," says Brock. "Another positive factor is our open order backlog, which is 64 percent ahead of last year at this time."

Astec's results seem to be in line with those of other equipment makers who serve the construction, demolition and sub-contractor markets.

Respondents to a survey conducted by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Milwaukee, expect construction equipment markets to close out 2004 with double-digit gains in the U.S. with a 16.1 percent increase over 2003 sales.

The survey is sent to makers of more than 75 types of equipment used on construction and demolition job sites.

Some of the equipment makers have enjoyed more favorable export conditions, thanks to a booming construction market in China and a more favorable exchange rate for the U.S. dollar in some other export markets. "Optimism is definitely the mood as our industry continues to recover from the business slump of the past few years," says Charles Stamp, AEM chairman and vice president of public affairs worldwide for equipment maker Deere & Co., Moline, Ill.

The positive market has been possible because of a U.S. construction segment that has outpaced the overall economy. Figures compiled by the McGraw-Hill Cos., New York, show a 10 percent overall gain for total construction during the January-August period of 2004. The residential building segment has been the star, with that sector up 18 percent. Nonresidential building spending is up 2 percent and infrastructure (highways and utilities) construction is up just 1 percent.

Contractors profiled in C&DR in 2004 have reported solid business conditions for the year, with Dan Costello of Costello Dismantling Co., Middleboro, Mass., seeing his crews work on from eight to 10 jobs at any given time throughout the year.

In Cleveland, demolition firm B&B Wrecking has performed two major projects within three miles of its office. In one case, a decades-old garment factory yielded enough block and brick to keep a crushing crew busy for much of the summer. (See "Tailored Task," C&DR, March/April 2004, pg. 50).

Optimism is prevailing concerning conditions in 2005. "I think it's going to be a good year for us," says Turner. He points not only to good economic conditions, but also to an aging fleet of crushers serving the recycling market.

"Some of the equipment is finally getting turned over that was supplied in the early 1990s and is 10 years old," he notes.

Royce also sees good sales prospects on the horizon in 2005, and is hopeful the ConExpo event next March will help spur some machine sales.

"I think 2005 is looking nice right now," says Royce. He is bullish on the long-term factors driving concrete and asphalt recycling. "Roads are always going to be repaired, buildings have to come down. They're making more people, but not more land."

ON TRACK?

While House and Senate transportation committees were being lobbied in 2004 to pass a comprehensive highway spending bill, business conditions in the energy sector may have been having an equally important impact on the crushing market.

This year, the oil supply-and-demand equation tilted dramatically away from the glut scenario of just a few years ago, as global demand for oil caused a spike in fuel prices.

If demolition contractors needed any additional incentive to crush and re-use material on site (or as close to the site as possible), then the higher fuel costs of 2004 provided it. Calculating debris hauling costs has always been one of the factors in determining whether crushing on-site was worthwhile, and in 2004 this particular factor increased considerably.

Crushing equipment companies have been quick to capitalize on the new market realities, offering equipment that stresses its portability and/or mobility as well as efficiency in getting the job done.

Eagle Crusher Co. Inc. makes impact crushers designed to be towed from site to site on portable trailers. The company has successfully marketed its Stealth 500-05CV model for its status as being "legally towable in most states without disassembly" and offering the ability to be "ready to crush in 30 to 60 minutes."

Lippmann-Milaukee is another manufacturer stressing the portability of many of its crushers. The Lippmann 4818 Prime Mover is billed as a "self-contained crushing and screening plant designed to produce multiple products." The company says the Prime Mover, which has a removable hopper, has been designed to be easily transportable and to offer quick set-up times.

Many other manufacturers are offering models with a mobility factor added to the portability factor.

Erin Systems Inc., Portland, Maine, offers the Powercrusher Jaw, a jaw crusher mounted on tracks that allows it to move around on a given job site. The company says the machine's large tracks offer "better mobility on difficult site[s]."

The company is not alone in offering tracked models, as many manufacturers are proposing tracked machines as being ideal to have on larger job sites. Kolberg-Pioneer Inc., Yankton, S.D. (a division of Astec Industries), now offers the RockyTrax track-mounted jaw crushing plant.

Kolberg-Pioneer says the Rode/Trax "is designed to be driven off the transport trailer and begin crushing." The two tracked models are among several available configured to offer crushing mobility on the job site.

Even though neither Eagle nor Lippmann-Milwaukee currently make track-mounted machines, Royce and Turner acknowledge that a portion of the recycling market has found the platform attractive.

"The largest growth is in the tracked market," says Turner, while also noting that his company and others are also doing well with rubber-tired portable plants.

"We see a lot of rubber-tired production on bigger projects, when there are 40,000 to 50,000 tons or more to be processed," says Turner. "The limitations of the tracked plant, in my opinion, is that it is geared toward a smaller site, or prep jobs."

Royce also sees the size of demolition and recycling jobs as a factor in platform decisions. "Bigger contractors look for bigger equipment because they do bigger jobs," he remarks. "But contractors doing 15,000 to 20,000-ton jobs might get a smaller plant or a track-mounted plant."

OUTPUT FACTORS

As the equipment makers note, while mobility and portability factors are being stressed for some applications, most operators of crushing equipment are still looking for machines that can put out a lot of crushed material in a small amount of time.

Although set-up time and, of course, product quality, remain critical considerations, the bottom line number of how much material can be produced in a given hour or work day still gets the attention of crushing contractors.

Eagle's new UltraMax 1600 is its largest portable crusher, and one that will become the focus of some of the company's marketing efforts. The company says the machine is "designed for high volume production and minimal downtime" to produce material at a lower cost per ton.

Lippmann Milwaukee says its 5860 primary crusher model is "designed for maximum capacity," with a 48-inch infeed opening that allows the model to process large slabs into small sizes for further processing or as finished products.

The company's 4248L Impact Crusher as "a brute that features a heavy-duty rotor truly built to handle the daily punishment of recycled materials."

Sandvik Rock Processing, Appleton, Wis., touts its Impactmaster model as one that "efficiently devours large, slabby material up to four feet wide." The company says its hammer and curtains are made with alloys designed to produce longer wear life even in harsh applications.

Concrete and asphalt recyclers will often use a combination of crushers set up in stages to reduce rubble and slabs to marketable recycled aggregate materials.

Manufacturers thus offer a variety of crushing configurations (most commonly impactor and jaw crushers, but sometimes cone crushers as well) and screening machines on portable and mobile platforms.

Construction Equipment Co. (CEC), Tualatin, Ore., offers impact crushers and screens on tracked platforms as well as jaw crushers and jaw-cone crushes in trailer-mounted configurations.

Castings and wear components can be a selling point (or a source of frustration) for crushing equipment makers trying to separate themselves from others in the market.

The manufacturers say recyclers are well served by foundries offering many different products in today's market. "The market is very competitive, and most of them have good products," says Turner, "and they are making improvements every day."

Royce notes that engine and power component technology is also improving, citing a variable speed fluid-coupling clutch being offered with so me Eagle models. "This clutch costs more upfront, but it really helps limit downtime," he remarks. "Most of our customers, once they try it they say it's the way to go and they see the money it saves andf the downtime it prevents over the life of the machine."

Clearly, crushing contractors have their choice of equipment styles when they go shopping for added capacity. Thanks in part to an industry that has enjoyed growth for the past decade, the variety of crushing and screening equipment available is greater than it has ever been before.

The Shingles Scene

A source of material being explored by paving contractors and some aggregates suppliers involves the recycling of asphalt roofing shingles.

Most commonly, this has been done using factory shingle scrap and excess inventory, as tear-off shingles (those removed from houses by roofing contractors) can provide additional worries for contractors if any roofing nails make it through to a paved surface.

Another difficulty for contractors is that crushing equipment designed to handle concrete and asphalt rubble is not generally suitable for down-sizing stickier, more flexible shingle scrap.

Recycling & Processing Equipment Inc. (RPEI), Peru, Ind., sells Terex Maxigrind equipment to other recyclers, but also does contract grinding itself. For asphalt shingles, the company uses modified Bandit 3680 grinder that with a configuration that allows some hot air to escape during the heat-intensive shingle grinding process.

Dykes Paving, Atlanta, also processes shingles but uses a grinder made by Packer Industries, Mableton, Ga., using the Packer grinder to make 3/4-inch sized chips that are blended into an asphalt paving mix laid onto to industrial driveways and parking tots that need to be durable but do not need to be as attractive as a retail or office parking lot.

The author is editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be contacted at btaylor@gie.net.

On the Web:

ON DISPLAY Read updates on equipment supplier plans and programming offerings for the 2005 ConExpo as they are announced at www.cdrecycler.com.
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Title Annotation:Crushing Equipment Focus
Author:Taylor, Brian
Publication:Construction & Demolition Recycling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Words:2392
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