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Commentary: July-August 2012

The Shift to Portability


August 10, 2012
By Andrew Macklin


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If two recent European trade shows are any indication, the shift towards
portable crushing solutions is no longer just emerging; it’s here.

If two recent European trade shows are any indication, the shift towards portable crushing solutions is no longer just emerging; it’s here.

Both Intermat Paris in April and Hillhead 2012 in England in June saw major international manufacturers compete with one another for a foothold in the portable crushing marketplace. European heavyweights like Metso, Sandvik, Terex Findlay, Rubblemaster, Atlas Copco and TESAB have all released new or updated versions of portable crushing equipment in the past year. Add to that the newest innovations from North American companies like McCloskey and Eagle Crusher, and the race to produce the best portable crushing equipment has intensified.

In addition to the competition among the makers of traditional portable impact, cone and jaw crushers, a new option has also emerged: the crushing bucket. Manufacturers like MB and Rotobec have created these attachments to help make crushing on smaller job sites that much easier.

So how does the shift to portability affect the Canadian market, both short term and long term?

In the short term, it is clear that the manufacturers are competing to be the best of the best. The advancements made in the mobile equipment in such areas as serviceability and fuel efficiency show a definitive desire to constantly improve the technology that is being incorporated. Also, the fact that different types of crushers, jaw, impact, and cone, have all been incorporated into efficient portable designs shows that companies are adapting each design to meet the customer’s preference. With Tier 4 Final engine technology just a few short years away from full integration into the heavy construction industry, the environmental impact of portable equipment will be even greater.

What piques my curiosity about the move to portability, and the expansion of the market for said equipment in North America, is the potential impact on the increasing calls for recycled aggregates. Portable crushing options will allow for greater material demolition on all sizes of job sites. In the eyes of the advocate for recycled aggregates, that would allow for materials to be crushed, potentially left at that location, and then used at a later time for a secondary building project. Of course, we know how misleading a notion that is, as recycling aggregates is not as simple as re-crushing and reusing.

The expansion of efficient portable crushing options could thus enhance, or deter, the recycled aggregate movement. Those outside the industry may see the new technology as a win-win proposition, whereas the demolition and aggregate industries will then have to fight to explain how recycling aggregate actually works. With the government of Ontario’s review of the Aggregate Resources Act, and the increased call for recycling aggregates that is coming from those hearings, it will be interesting to see which comes first in this case: full integration of portable crushing equipment or sound practices for use of recycled aggregates.

The move to portable crushing equipment will undoubtedly provide the flexibility that many aggregate, demolition and mining companies currently need. The push by top companies from around the world to make the best machine possible will only help to drive that move forward. But how it impacts the Canadian industry, as a whole, could involve much more than just fuel efficiency and quality manufacturing. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Want a closer look at the latest portable crushing equipment being offered by the industry’s top manufacturers? Check out the Aggregates & Roadbuilding event index for industry trade shows coming soon to a city near you.


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