The production of crushed stone, gravel and sand is, on a technical scale, a simple and well-known process. So what can you do to differentiate yourself from the competition without getting worse contribution margins? The answer can be summarized in some points:

  • Better mass balance
  • Good experience
  • Use less diesel
  • Automatic operation
  • Maintenance routines

Improve mass balance

In order to achieve good overall economy, there must be a good balance between the pulp produced and the mass sold. Imbalance leads to increased costs for warehousing, and in the worst case, mass that has to be driven to landfill.

Succeeding with better mass balance will give a boost to the contribution margin.

Conveyor for crushed stone mounted inside a culvert tunnel
See if it is possible to reduce fines by sifting out 4-16, 2-8, 5-8 and 2-5 mm.

There are two main points that can immediately improve mass balance:

Item 1:

Sometimes large projects will trade single fractions in larger volumes. This can quickly create an imbalance. For you as a supplier, it is important to include this cost in the price, or “force” some support purchases to maintain the balance.

Create a package where both you and the customer win.

Item 2:

If you have lots that there is no market for locally, you must consider how the pulp can be processed to increase marketability. This often applies to finer fractions, such as 0-16, 0-8 or 0-4 mm.

See if it is possible to reduce the amount by aiming out 4-16, 2-8, 5-8 and 2-5 mm. In that case, you can end up with fines in the fraction 0-2 mm. Can this be used as machine sand or aggregates for asphalt? Or is it possible to achieve project deliveries, where areas where 0-2mm can fit?

Improve customer experience

Distance to the end customer is important for the buyer. That’s very much the driver of transportation price, but it doesn’t mean everything. While some can win at a short distance, others can stand out by giving them advantages they don’t get in others.

Good logistics on site will reduce the time the customer spends on loading, which can compensate for a somewhat longer distance. Document the time saved and present it as a clear selling point.

Besides saving time at your facility, you can give them:

  • Precise loading. The goal is to utilize the car’s capacity one hundred percent.
  • Cleaning. Possibility of flushing the car after loading.
  • Landfill and reception of masses. Full loads in both directions provide better economy.
  • Offer all fractions the customer needs. It hinders support purchases by others.

By meeting customers at these points, you bind the customer closer to you, and increase the chance that they will come and pick up loads even when the distance to your work is slightly greater than to the competition.

The cost of diesel fuel

Production price is all about cost per tonne. This is where the big difference lies between different production facilities.

In a stationary plant, there is also much to be gained by having the least possible transshipment point with wheel loaders and other diesel-powered machines. Every time a machine has to be used to load loads, it will increase the cost by approx. NOK 5 per tonne.

Yellow wheel loader from CAT hauls crushed stone in a crushed stone plant
The production cost is increased by approximately NOK 5 per tonne, each time a diesel-powered machine is used to load loads.

If you have a plant where the mass flows continuously through the plant, where loading points are automated and built in, you can cut large quantities of diesel.

Two examples:

Construction A:

In the facility there is only uploading in the quarry. The rest of the plant produces with conveyors, culverts and silos, and customers drain the mass themselves from the silos straight into the car. This means that the plant has one loading point with diesel-powered machines.

Plant B:

The facility has upload in the quarry, upload from buffer storage after rough crusher, upload to warehouse under small tape and upload to customer. That is, four loads of diesel-powered machine.

The owner can roughly expect to lose NOK 15 per tonne, compared to the competitor in plant A.

One might easily think that diesel-powered, mobile machines are flexible and easy to obtain, but quick calculations provide clear answers to the fact that production costs in plants that produce with electricity are lower than those that run on diesel.

The production price per tonne of plants using diesel is far higher than if the plant produces on electricity. Although Nordic Bulk only supplies stationary systems, this is a well-established factual claim.

How long it takes before you become a plus depends on production volume and investment cost.

But all in all, this price difference is significant.

Save money with automatic operation

There’s a lot to save here. Simple PLC systems connected to level guards, speed guards, rotation guards, etc., will eliminate the need to have so many employees running the plant.

This type of control system shuts down parts of the plant when there is no need for it to swivel.

In a plant where loading points are automated and built in, you can cut large quantities of diesel. This amounts to about NOK 5 per tonne.

Peder Egeland, CEO of Nordic Bulk

If no mass comes out on a sieve or in a crusher, it will stop automatically. It will reduce empty driving, which reduces power consumption and provides less maintenance.

In addition, you have the opportunity to measure the capacity. You can see how well utilization the plant provides and easily find areas for improvement that provide further savings.

Proactive maintenance

In this context, the savings with maintenance lie primarily in avoiding downtime, as it breaks the flow and causes downtime. Also called lost revenue.

In the extreme, your customers are affected. Then there is a risk that they seek out other suppliers to get hold of the masses.

Read also:
Better finances with digital systems: 5 good reasons to get started

Good routines for continuous maintenance should reduce downtime to a minimum, and at the same time increase the lifetime of each component to the maximum.

It is important to have:

  • Clear responsibilities
  • Regular maintenance stoppages
  • document that maintenance is carried out

By becoming good at these 3 points, you will have high uptime on the work.

Otherwise, a pleasant trade with a good product is underrated. With genuine interest in the subject and the customer’s best interests in focus, the price you offer can be perceived correctly, even when there are “spot prices”.

Good luck with your sales, hope you crush the competition.

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