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Mar 31, 2021

Screening media optimization improved Santa Isabel Quarry’s production quality and competitiveness

Metso Outotec’s high-resilience rubber screening media helped Votorantim to nearly eliminate contamination and fines and increase operational efficiency with 11%.
Aggregates at the Santa Isabel Quarry

Santa Isabel Quarry has been in operation since 1959 and is part of Votorantim Cimentos, one of the largest business groups in Brazil. Located in Mogi das Cruzes, in Greater São Paulo, the quarry serves customers in the metropolitan region of the largest Brazilian city and provides aggregates for civil construction, major works and cement block producers. However, the company’s positive story was jeopardized in 2018.  

The reason is simple: Santa Isabel faced two major challenges. In addition to the retraction in civil construction, the plant was having problems due to aggregate contamination and an above-average presence of fines. Both had a negative impact on buyers’ perception of the final quality and on Santa Isabel’s sales. On the sand and gravel market, buyers prefer materials with controlled levels of contaminants and dust. In other words, “cleaner” aggregates.

With the arrival of the new regional manager, Carlos José Barbosa Silva, the quarry began to implement operational changes, including training employees and addressing the main technical problem – the improvements needed in the aggregate screening process. Specialists from Metso Outotec were invited to assess the operational efficiency of the screens. “We had already faced a similar problem at the Araçariguama quarry and achieved good results with the solution presented. The screens were retrofitted and the wire media were replaced with Metso Outotec’s high-resilience rubber screening media,” comments Carlos. 

Screening media at the Santa Isabel Quarry

Improved performance from screening optimization

The tests conducted at another Votorantim Cimentos plant, Araçariguama quarry, were replicated at the Santa Isabel Quarry. “In Araçariguama, the tests involved simultaneous operation of two screens: one with wire media and another with rubber media. When the media change-out was made, an analysis was performed in the quarry laboratory. We discovered that the use of rubber screening media nearly eliminated the final product contamination and reduced the presence of fines. Even with a smaller open area, the high-resilience rubber media is much more efficient than the wire media,” says Metso Outotec’s screening specialist André Rosa. The tests played a decisive role in the selection of Metso Outotec as a partner for Araçariguama, and later for Santa Isabel.

While the screens alone were not the reason for the improved operational performance, the screen adjustments and the use of rubber media were key factors in the increased production quality. This is supported by an analysis of the end-user feedback. The quarry index of one complaint for every 37 thousand tons produced (2018) decreased to one complaint for every 700 thousand tons produced — an improvement of 20 times better than planned. The current assessment parameter is ten times higher than the specified target of one complaint per 67 thousand tons. “It was a fantastic leap that surprised everyone. We didn’t miscalculate our goal. The results of the changes were significant,” Carlos adds.

We discovered that the use of rubber screening media nearly eliminated the final product contamination and reduced the presence of fines. Even with a smaller open area, the high-resilience rubber media is much more efficient than the wire media.
André Rosa, screening specialist, Metso Outotec

Improved aggregate quality offers competitive advantages

The challenge of the above-average presence of fines was addressed by optimizing the screening solution. In addition, the main action to address the internal contamination, i.e. the unwanted mixture of different products, was training. Internal contamination was reduced by correcting the improper procedures of the loader operators, who were moving products in both operating shifts. Mistakes in the transportation stage from the quarry to the customers – performed by third parties – were also corrected: the errors were identified, and the drivers were given the appropriate guidance. However, the best indicator of success is pricing. In July 2019, for example, the price of stone powder had been increased seven times in a row. The recovery of the price negotiated between local customers and the increase in production were complemented with an even bolder plan in 2020: screening changes that allow the supply of an intermediary product between fine and medium gravel. It improves the quality of concrete block production with lower cement consumption and higher mechanical strength and visual quality.

“There is pent-up demand already being seen, but our production should be able to keep up by making screening adjustments,” Carlos says. The executive also points out that the quarry already takes a lean approach in operations, having increased productivity by 4,000 tons per employee from 2018 and 2019. “Some of the buyers of our sand and fine gravel are concrete block producers, who have automated machines and demand a high homogeneity standard. They were the first to observe the change in the quality and the appearance of our final product,” he summarizes.

Metso Outotec's Trellex 300TS screening media
Trellex 300TS screening media
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