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Nov 30, 2018

Trending now in aggregates production in the Nordics

Sustainability and low cost per ton are the major development drivers in the aggregates sector in the Nordic countries. Tightening environmental legislation is putting new demands on quarries, contractors and equipment providers. At the same time, there is also a constant push to find new innovations to reduce production costs.

Aggregates demand in the Nordic countries is currently influenced by the leveling off in infra building and housing markets. On the other hand, there is a steady demand for better transportation networks and an increase in activity in industrial warehousing, mines and wind parks, to name a few examples. Sustainability in quarrying and contracting is critical. The business models may differ, but the need to look for new innovative ways to recycle efficiently, reduce emissions and save energy are common targets for all.

Sustainability and circular economy in focus

The increasing emphasis on sustainability and the availability of natural deposits impact quarries, contractors and equipment manufacturers around the world, including the Nordic countries. The depletion of easily accessible natural deposits is a major issue for quarry owners. Meanwhile, the recycling of asphalt and demolition waste and the use of manufactured sand are gaining ground.

Asphalt recycling has been a standard practice in the Nordic countries for some time already. The recycling of construction waste material is currently a hot topic and will mean an increased need for the sorting of demolition waste and the regulations to support it. A good example is Denmark where almost all crushed stone has to be imported, and the recycling of asphalt and concrete is very common.

Lokotrack LT1213S mobile crusher at work at a Nordic site.

Using recycled material places new demands on equipment R&D. When recycling demolition waste, you need to be able to separate metal, plastics and wood from concrete waste. In that process, technologies like wet screening and wet handling, as well as noise reduction and dust management are essential. These features are also of interest to our Nordic customers.

Sustainability in the aggregates industry also translates to energy efficiency and the use of electric power instead of diesel. In line with this, efficient, electric-driven and easy-to-transport mobile equipment is becoming more and more common in, for example, Norway and Iceland.

Ensuring a profitable business model

Ensuring the lowest cost per ton is a combination of several factors. Besides the right business model, the right type of equipment is also needed. To ensure the most cost-efficient way to operate, quarry owners in the Nordic countries tend to focus on three major business models:

  1. Own quarry with own equipment, operated with own personnel. This is the most typical business model in Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

  2. Own quarry with hired contractors using their own equipment. This is currently the most common business model for aggregates production in Finland and Sweden.

  3. Own quarry with own equipment and hired contractors. This model is becoming more and more popular with the bigger players in Sweden and Finland.

On the equipment side, the needs vary from country to country. In Sweden, where operations concentrate on bigger quarries, there is more demand for large-capacity crushers. In 1990 there were 4,900 operating quarries/gravel pits, compared to just 1,300 in 2016. At the same time, annual operating production has increased from 20,000 tons to 70,000 tons.

In Finland, it seems that the trend is towards smaller equipment sizes, as the project sizes for the contractors are decreasing. The projects may be as small as 20,000 tons per project, after which the equipment needs to be transferred to the next site. For a contractor, this may translate to up to 40 projects sites per year. This requires compact, easy-to-transport mobile equipment.

Easy-to-transport mobile equipment is also in demand in Norway due to the country’s challenging terrain. In Denmark, large-capacity mobile screens are preferred, and some customers also prefer electric equipment.

Ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow

We have good, open relationships with its aggregates customers in the Nordics. We closely follow the development trends and try to meet our customers’ needs with the best solutions for their needs.

Our Nordic customers are early adopters, always on the lookout for the latest technology. The MXTM Multi-Action cone crusher, launched in 2017, is a great example. It has been well received, and our customers really appreciate the reduced opex and increased availability this new crushing technology can offer. With the MX, the crushing process is also more flexible – thanks to the crusher’s multiple adjustable parameters.

The community-friendly LokotrackTM UrbanTM series, designed to operate even in the most heavily regulated urban environments, is another good example of new technology that has been quickly adopted by our Nordic customers. The mobile crushing unit provides robust crushing power while minimizing the noise and dust emissions around the site. We also offer hybrid units for those customers wishing to use electric power supply. Recycling of equipment wear parts has also stirred interest among our customers. This is something that we offer as part of our service package.

We are one of the forerunners in manufactured sand solutions and we’ve helped design dozens of manufactured sand processes for our customers around the world. The technology is widely in use also in the Nordic countries. High-quality concrete can be achieved only if the grain shape is perfect – and that requires a well-designed process with the right equipment.

As noted above, the equipment needs of our customers differ depending on their business model. Our compact mobile crushers are well suited for smaller sized project markets, but we also have high-capacity crushing plants. In Finland, 90-95% of the aggregates crushing plants we sell are track-mounted, the best-seller being the Lokotrack® LT120 + LT330 combination.

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