|Crushing At Full Speed|
he ability to crush on-site in remote locations has improved dramatically over the last decade. No longer does material need to be trucked off-site, processed, and returned (or sold) for a practical recycling application to be realized. While many companies have found success crushing remotely, C.A. Rasmussen, Inc., of Valencia, California, has raised the bar even further with its latest project on the Route 118 Simi Valley Freeway. With live traffic moving in both directions, Rasmussen processed and re-employed close to 30,000 tons of broken concrete and asphalt in the 60-foot median of that thoroughfare.
Founded by Carl A. Rasmussen in 1964, with just a couple of motor graders and a small team on his side, C. A. Rasmussen continued to grow, and today is a leading provider of roads, bridges, freeways, and other heavy civil infrastructure projects.
Rasmussen added another angle to its scope of capability about a year and a half ago—crushing. "We have a couple of satellite sites where we take in concrete and asphalt waste for recycling, and acquired a quarry pit for raw aggregate production as well," says Tim MacDonald, vice president of C.A. Rasmussen.
The Southern California crushing capability has been a tremendous advantage for the company, both from a revenue-generating and a cost-saving perspective. "We originally acquired the plant to make ourselves more competitive on projects where a lot of concrete or asphalt will be removed, as it saves on transportation and dumping fees. But we do produce aggregate as well, and operate a wholesale arm where we can sell that rock to the general market."
Its start-up began with a trifecta of KPI-JCI equipment: a FT2650 jaw crusher plant, a FT6203 closed-circuit screen plant, and a FT300 cone crusher plant. Rasmussen most certainly did its due diligence when researching the equipment purchase, actually visiting the manufacturing facilities of a number of brands. "KPIJCI made the strongest impression," MacDonald says. "We were looking for a system that was all hydraulic, and this one was it."
That was just the start of advantages realized from its KPI-JCI plants. "Since it was our intention all along to crush on remote locations, easy setup and portability were critical for us to have a highly efficient operation," continues MacDonald. "We can get this plant taken down, moved, and set back up in about 4 hours."
That portable flexibility was put to the ultimate test last spring when Rasmussen assigned the plant to recycling duty at the Simi Valley Freeway project it was awarded. The $45-million, lane-widening project involved redevelopment of the center divider, adding extra lanes to both directions, erecting sound barrier walls, and expanding four bridges along the 5-mile stretch to accommodate the upgrades. Throughout the course of demolition and site prep, thousands of tons of concrete and asphalt waste were stockpiled in the median of the freeway between the two fast lanes of traffic.
"We had basically created a 1,000-foot, conical, elongated pile of rubble running down the center of traffic, which was moving 75 mph in both directions just on the other side of the K-rail," exclaims MacDonald. "We had exactly 60 feet of right of way in which to work, so in March we moved in, and for 22 days, crushed about 27,000 tons of asphalt and concrete to put back down in the project as base."
"The portable aspect of the KPI-JCI equipment couldn't have served us better. Every so often, as we chewed our way through the 1,000-foot pile, it would become economically better to move the plant to the face of the pile, rather than run the loaders back and forth to the plant. With the ease of take down and setup, we were able to pick up and move and be crushing again in about 4 hours."
Efficient relocation was not the only benefit offered by the KPIJCI system. "We had the entire plant running in the median, crushing and screening product," MacDonald continues. "And not once did we receive a citation for dust or a rock through a window, or anything. With such tightness of quarters and strict operational regulation, safety was crucial to this project, and the smoothness of the KPI-JCI equipment was a huge benefit."
With the ability to crush on-site, Rasmussen also benefited from the cost savings of not having to haul the concrete to a landfill for disposal.
Business In A Changing Economy
With that task successfully accomplished, the Fast Trax plants have been moved back to the quarry for more hard rock production. But this is not currently a friendly economy, and that toll has certainly had an effect on how Rasmussen manages its business. "There is considerably less aggregate consumption right now because of the housing downturn; we used to send most of our product to private road and street development. But now, we crush to maintain inventory mostly for the public works projects."
MacDonald admits that this cycle is certainly challenging, but after 40 years in the business, an economic downturn is definitely nothing new. "This is probably the third cycle like this I've been through, though this one is an interesting one. We're finding that there are still plenty of projects to bid on, but it's a very competitive process because so many more firms are bidding on them."
Regardless, Rasmussen is obviously here to stay, and some shrewd planning and smart decision making will only make this firm stronger. Most recently, the company bought a second KPI-JCI track-mounted screen plant so the quarry can continue to screen natural product while the crushing plant is out on recycling assignments. And the opportunity to establish a few more satellite dumping sites is always being pursued. "I can see getting a few more sites, maybe another KPI-JCI plant to cycle through every 2 months or so, spending 15 days at each site to crush what's there. There's plenty of opportunity to be had still, even in this economy."
No matter the challenge, C.A. Rasmussen, Inc. will always be in the middle of the aggregate industry in Southern California. "We love it. We love the people. We like seeing a project go from a piece of paper to a finished mode of transportation, and we like the challenges you get thrown. It's a great business. Certainly not without its cycles, but we couldn't imagine doing anything else."
This article originally appeared in Today's Recycling Solutions Vol. 1 Num. 2