Penner & Lewis Rock Technologies Ltd.

Tracked versus wheeled equipment

Primary crushing at the face applications.

The debate and decisions on this subject generally revolve around;

  • conventional load and haul ROM (run of mine) feed to a stationary primary crusher or semi-portable in-pit primary, versus
  • tracked primary crushing at the face with overland conveyors

The actual calculations and financial modeling of comparing these two alternatives are quite complex, however our many years of experience allow us to briefly comment as follows;

  • Most large tracked primary crusher manufacturers have financial modeling tools to compare tracked crushing to load/haul/crush alternatives. These comprehensive financial models include costs & factors for all equipment, including such things as the cost of maintenance shops and operating overhead to maintain the haul trucks, etc.
  • Rough rules of thumb indicate that if you are looking to upgrade your fleet of haul trucks in the near future, the economic life payback calculations favour tracked primary crushing in concert with overland conveying to the secondary plant.
  • If you must blend ROM feed from multiple benches or quarry faces to achieve a proper mix of feed to your secondary crushing plant, load and haul typically wins out, but not always.
  • When environmental regulations (noise, carbon and dust emissions) are priorities for local planning and regulatory authorities, they will often favour tracked primary crushing at the face complete with overland conveying to the crushing plant.

A comprehensive assessment is complex and we always encourage substantial due diligence.

Portable (mobile) crushing and contractor applications.

Which is more profitable?

There has been an ongoing debate in North America since tracked crushing plants started to be manufactured commercially in the mid-1980’s, reportedly by Lokomo Crusher Works in Finland (now Metso Minerals). Tracked plants became very popular in Europe throughout the 1990’s and did not gain significant acceptance in North America until about 15 years ago. In fact, there has been a very significant trend towards tracked plants during this past decade and current total market share reports from 2007/2008 indicate almost equal shares of tracked versus wheeled units being shipped within the North American market. Our assessment of data appears to indicate that portable (wheeled) crushing plants have well in excess of 50% market share here in Canada, while that trend is reversed in the USA where tracked plants have outsold conventional wheel-mounted plants. There are numerous reasons why our markets have evolved this way. However we think these two trends will continue in both countries. What is clear to us is that the decision for the end-user is a toss-up.

Manufacturers note: We assessed 2007 & 2008 reported market share numbers in Canada. These need to be taken in context of how many non-reporters are active in the market, and also how many reported ‘stationary’ units actually end up on portable chassis’ fabricated in Canada. Also, it is extremely important to look at Canada in terms of regions. Feel free to call us for a more detailed discussion.

Note that tracked screening plants outsell tracked crushing plants by approximately a 1.5 to one ratio, and this trend appears to be increasing. It appears more and more tracked screening plants are being sold as traditional users find more uses for tracked screens. In any event, the decision criteria for purchasing tracked versus wheeled screening plants have some similarities, however we have chosen to focus on crushing plants within this discussion.

Based upon our experience and discussions with users – there is no generic correct decision. Rather, decisions should be made based upon each individual’s requirements. However these needs or criteria are in fact quite complex. Some are internal and specific to the application of the equipment. Some are related to the end-user’s environment, such as is there a dealer available locally to support tracked equipment?

In an effort to assist you in making this decision we offer the following summary table of criteria to be evaluated when making the purchasing decision; tracked or conventional (wheel-mounted) portable.If you want a quick, very simplistic opinion, we believe that within the portable and contractor segment, tracked is the way to go if you’re typically moving many times on each individual site and/or also from job to job and your projects (tonnes/project) are smaller. But! Please do your own assessment and consider all of the criteria in this table. chart See this table summarizing some considerations for you to think about when making the decision; tracked or conventional (wheel-mounted) portable.

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