What Is the Best Way to Manage Excess Material?
Deciding how to remove the overburden at a quarry site isn’t just about what machine to use. It’s also about whose machine to use.
And that’s where it gets tricky. It may make sense to use your own equipment. Then again, it may be better to rent the right equipment. Or maybe the best bet is hiring a specialized contractor to handle everything and let you focus on production.
So … should you use existing equipment, rent equipment, or hire a contractor? First, make sure you understand the basic rules for maximizing return in earthmoving operations:
- Move materials over the shortest possible distance.
- Handle materials as few times as possible.
- Expend the minimum amount of energy to move the maximum amount of material.
- Choose equipment to maximize utilization and return on investment.
- Select equipment that’s appropriate for weather and terrain conditions.
That’s the basics. Also consider …
- Part of the decision on what equipment—or whose equipment—to use depends on what is being done with the material. Is it being placed in berms surrounding the operation, used as backfill for reclamation, stockpiled for later use, or sold and hauled off-site?
- Many quarries use the same machines for stripping as they do in the quarry. That works if production schedules allow and ground conditions suit the equipment. But it may not be the most efficient and economical alternative. Remember, this type of earthmoving usually adds nothing to the revenue side of the ledger—though it is environmentally important.
So what should you do? It all comes down to this:
Option 1. Contract it out. Sticking to core competencies (aggregate mining and processing) is frequently the most economical. Also, some operations can negotiate a good rate with a local earthmoving contractor to work at the quarry when the contractor’s normal work is slow, such as during the winter. You likely have the luxury of waiting until the cost is lowest.
Option 2. Use your own equipment during the slow season. This approach keeps skilled operators employed. That’s the upside. But it doesn’t make economic sense to remove skilled operators from jobs that require their expertise. If you’re doing that, you’re hurting efficiency at your operation.
Option 3. Use a combination of rental and your own equipment. For example, you could rent a large excavator to work with company-owned haul trucks in a situation where your wheel loader would not be economical to use (such as a tough overburden). You also can rent smaller machines for odd jobs such as clean-up around conveyors. That way, you conserve capital and reduce owning and operating costs on your existing fleet. It also gives you the opportunity to test new machines and attachment capabilities before you purchase them.
But are you utilizing workers in the best way possible? If not, reconsider.