Transloading, the process of utilizing different shipping methods to transport and deliver material, makes incredible sense in the sand industry. In the case of sand suppliers, transloading offers distinct advantages.
When shipping material longer distances suppliers are able to reduce freight costs by utilizing less expensive rail freight to deliver material to further away destinations and then utilize trucks for local delivery. It is a cost effective way to move and store material closer to the targeted destination. No longer is a supplier locked in to shipping material from a single point of origin to different locations. Transload storage locations can be set up to allow suppliers to address numerous potential markets. This allows suppliers to broaden their customer base as well as more effectively service larger customers.
Opening up the option of supplying multiple points creates efficiencies. As new points are targeted and established, stepped expansions may be made at the mine to accommodate the increased demand. Companies invest in transload facilities to satisfy product demand in a certain area and hopefully create a profit. To be profitable, the facility must offer not only a quality product, but also a quick loading time and address individual personal safety expected by the truck drivers that pick up material at the facility. These items become major considerations.
For many reasons, the one piece of equipment that comes under the most scrutiny at the facility is the piece of equipment that deposits sand into the truck – the loading spout.
Telescoping, dustless loading spouts were created to address many factors involved in the loading process. First and foremost, the telescoping ability of the spout allows placement directly into an open container. The telescoping ability addresses the fact that truck heights vary.
Spouts are available with positioners that allow movement through a single or dual direction. This option further addresses the ability to position the spout directly into the truck container hatches without having to reposition the truck.
Proper positioning establishes an optimal material flow pattern through the spout, minimizes wear, and improves spout life cycle costs. Additionally, the combination of the spouts telescoping and positioning ability creates labor savings costs in not having to hire employees to perform these tasks.
In earlier days, sand was conveyed through an open spout or sock directly into the truck. Clouds of dust were formed in the loading bay as airborne contaminates created potential health hazards. Prolonged exposure to silica dust may cause silicosis, a disease of the lungs associated with the inhalation of that dust. Silicosis is a primary health concern when working with sand. Additionally, airborne dust has the potential of accumulating on floors, walkways, and ladder rungs. This may create safety issues.
Because of these potential hazards, facility operators are required to maintain clean loading areas where exposure to silica dust may create issues for employees, contract workers, or truck drivers who are present at the facility. An advantage of the loading spout is its ability to trap and remove dust particles before they escape and become airborne.
The dustless loading spout addresses many of the safety and environmental issues present at transload facilities. A fabric outer sleeve encompasses the retractable loading cones. A vacuum is established within the sleeve. Fugitive dust created in the loading process is transported up, through the spout to a central dust collector.
Integral dust filters were eventually designed to capture fugitive dust emitted during loading. The dust is deposited back into the material flow during the loading process. This filtration system aids in preventing material waste and greatly increases overall profitability.
The time it takes to load individual trucks at transload facilities is an important factor. Loading a sand truck requires four steps: safely accessing and opening the top hatches, spotting the truck, loading the sand, and safely accessing and closing the top hatches. Drivers wish to turn as many loads as possible during a day. Larger, more efficient spouts offer faster loading times that equates to cost efficiency and profitability for the trucking company as well as the facility.
Facility managers realize the importance of their loading spout and how it can easily bring joy or irritation to them. Not only do they address above-mentioned safety, profitability, and loading issues, they must consider costs relating to equipment maintenance and downtime.
Vortex understands reliability issues relating to retractable, dustless loading spouts. Two of their spout features, unique to the industry, have quickly caught the attention of transload facility managers. Vortex’s proprietary four-cable lifting design provides maximum stability and more lifting torque compared with standard two- or three-cable systems used on standard loading spouts. Should one cable of a two- or three-cable spout break from wear or trucker pull away, it is unusable until repair is made. Should one cable on the Vortex four-cable spout breaks, the spout is still operational until repairs can be made.
Vortex’s three-piece CNC machined pulleys feature rounded edges and precision cable grooves that significantly reduce cable wear and backlashing as the spout extends and retracts. Whereas, the “sharp edged” pulleys of traditional spouts create premature wear and cable breakage.
Maintenance personnel that have experienced cable fry and failure will relate to the fact that continual cable repair creates excessive downtime and maintenance cost issues, as well as upset truckers – waiting for repairs to be made before they can load product.
Utilizing a loading spout that promotes employee and driver safety, that adds to a facility’s profitability, and does not constantly create maintenance and loading issues is extremely important for a transload facility. Equipment dependability and reliability are key components for facility operators who are responsible for creating and maintaining the overall success of their operation. Manufacturers like Vortex are important resources for these facilities.