Miles Arnold of Arnold Crushed Stone, Inc. knew the operation had to make some changes to take full advantage of new gas field market opportunities for crushed and sized aggregates in North Texas. They needed to increase production by 125 percent, reduce costs at their two Texas limestone quarries, offer competitive pricing, and still make an acceptable profit.
Arnold's quarries are in Johnson County at Blum and Tolar, Texas, about 50 miles from Fort Worth. The company, which has been in business since 1968, is headquartered at the Blum quarry.
Arnold produces basically three product categories:
- flex base 1-3/4-inch stone to meet state specifications;
- sized products such as 8-inch to 12-inch, 12-inch to 18-inch and 18-inch to 24-inch rip-rap and gabion, which is a 4-inch to 8-inch material used for erosion control and backing for retaining walls; and
- other products for oil field and natural gas well applications, such as drill rig pads, roads and general construction.
The growing gas field demands of North Texas offered Arnold their greatest opportunities — and challenges. The Barnett Shale field in North Texas is a natural gas pocket where drilling began about 10 years ago in Denton and Wise counties, which border on Arnold's Blum quarry area in Johnson County. As the Barnett project expanded into Johnson County, Arnold Crushed Stone sales began growing dramatically.
"To keep up with demand we would have to make some major changes," said Arnold Operations Manager, J. Miles Arnold. "We did have one big advantage right off the bat, though, and that's our staff — headed up by plant managers Larry Freeman Sr. at Blum and Larry 'Chopper' Freeman Jr. at Tolar. I really do believe we have the best crews in the state — and maybe the whole USA. They're knowledgeable, hard working, dedicated people who are always looking for ways to better our facilities and procedures. We figured if we could give our crews the latest and best equipment we could find, we'd be able to meet any current and future production needs."
They felt the solution would hinge on three main factors:
- more efficient crushing and screening, with sturdy machines that are simple to operate and easy to maintain;
- track-mounted equipment in addition to their current stagnant (stationary) crushing/screening plant; and
- continued efforts of their production staff to achieve increased efficiency.
"Our people are specialists in production, not maintenance and repair, so we need equipment that's extremely dependable and easy to service," Arnold explained. "But we also need a dealer who is attentive, knowledgeable and ready to help us solve problems and meet objectives."
Arnold decided they had to go to tracked equipment in addition to the stationary crusher/screen plant they had at Blum. The company had no crushing/screening equipment at Tolar at that time. A "track strategy" would enable Arnold to follow the quarry face with crushing and screening plants and have customers' trucks come right down onto the quarry floor to pick up their stone. That would cut down on labor time, loaders and haul trucks to take shot stone to the current crushing-screening-loading area at Blum.
"After lengthy discussions of our operation and objectives with Seamus 'Sam' McNabb, our Powerscreen Texas representative, we brought in a tracked TEREX PEGSON 1412 Trakpactor impact crusher and tracked Powerscreen Chieftain 1400 dry screen on demo 18 months ago at Blum. It took us all of 20 minutes to see that these machines were everything Sam had promised. In fact, we've been so satisfied that we bought a second 1412 Trakpactor and Chieftain 1400 a year later for our Tolar quarry.
"That actually took some agonizing evaluation, though," Arnold continued, "because the limestone at Tolar is denser than at Blum. The Wet Ball Test for hardness runs 36 to 39 at Blum and 29 to 32 at Tolar, which is traditionally jaw crusher territory. So initially we weren't sure whether an impactor or jaw would be better. The primary impactor gives greater production and a more cubical product than a jaw, and the little bit more that an impactor costs in maintenance is well worth it for us."
Arnold uses four high chrome blow bars in the TEREX PEGSON 1412, which employs a Hazemag AP-PH 1214Q primary impact crusher. After 12 months and 6 months of use, respectively, at Blum and Tolar, there has not been enough wear to require replacing or turning any blow bars. Arnold did, however, practice turning blow bars to see how long it would take: 1-3/4 hours versus 2-1/2 days on their stationary crushing plant.
The new 1412 Trakpactor and Chieftain 1400 combinations at Blum and Tolar are each providing a 45-percent increase in production at 30-percent less cost per ton compared to the existing stationary crushing equipment still in use at Blum. Further, the new tracked crushing strategy has eliminated the need for three haul trucks and one front-end loader. And all the crushing and screening operations together have increased Arnold Crushed Stone's production by the 125 percent needed to meet all market demands and take on new customers also. This has made Arnold the largest independent producer of crushed stone in North Texas, the largest provider to Johnson County and one of the largest in the entire Lone Star State.
"I believe we will be able to produce even more crushed and sized stone as the need arises," Arnold exclaimed. "Wells are being drilled at a rate of one for each 40 acres. There are about 150 rigs in the area so far. We operate one shift six days a week. And we're actually out-producing other companies around here that run two shifts.
"We run as much limestone through our system as possible without worrying about overloading the impactor," Arnold explained. "The CANBAR computer digital readout tells us the condition of the machine at all times, and it correlates the rotor and engine speeds with the feeder to make them all work in unison. This eliminates having a man standing on top looking at the input and making engine and feeder adjustments based on guesswork.
"Another big advantage is dealer support. I think it's one thing a lot of people don't realize when they buy equipment."
Sam McNabb added: "Actually Powerscreen-Pegson dealers are in touch with the factory on a pretty regular basis to keep them appraised of customers' ideas and situations so equipment can be designed or altered to give the market exactly what it wants and needs in equipment design, features, maintenance, and so on.
"Customers like Miles Arnold tell us they really value and appreciate that kind of input opportunity and feedback results," McNabb said. "Recently, for example, due to customer input, the factory raised the hopper walls 12 inches higher on the Powerscreen Chieftain 1400 to more fully utilize the screen's production capacity. That's one of the new features that make it the ideal machine for Arnold Crushed Stone."
Arnold Crushed Stone was founded in 1968 by Miles' grandfather, Corky Arnold. Corky was in real estate and knew nothing about aggregates production. But he saw a future in the business and was a courageous doer who took the risks and learned quickly. Later he was joined by Miles' father, Mike Arnold, now president, who continued and advanced the Arnold philosophy of "being the best in the business." Miles says he just grew up in the business, working at this and that, and fell in love with it. Miles joined the company officially as operations manager after graduating from college. "We've always worked hard to give our customers absolute quality and satisfaction," he said. "Because our good name is on the line with every single transaction."
|Information for this article provided by Terex Crushing & Screening.|