Cement Americas

FALL 2017

Cement Americas provides comprehensive coverage of the North and South American cement markets from raw material extraction to delivery and tranportation to end user.

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20 CEMENT AMERICAS • Fall 2017 • www.cementamericas.com FEATURE A state-of-the-art cement plant has resolved material accumulation issues in its limestone silo by combining high-efficiency cleaning techniques with powerful, stra- tegically-placed air cannons to prevent further build-up. The Drake Cement facility 10 miles north of Paulden, Ariz., was experiencing clogging issues on a weekly basis, forcing maintenance personnel to spend up to 12 hours to clear the blockage using tools and compressed air. During damp weather, the problem worsened, and at times the large structure would fill in as little as two hours, forcing operators to use C02 blasting tubes every 15 to 30 minutes. Martin Engineering technicians were able to clear the blockage on a short-notice visit, and then revised the air cannon system to prevent the issue from recurring. Drastic Measures A key component of Drake's dry-process manufacturing is efficient material flow. Excessive rain in the months of January through March caused the limestone being extracted from the nearby quarry to have elevated mois- ture levels. Not only does the rain cause standing water, but the limestone is also wetter coming out of the ground. Little of that water is lost in the crushing process, and dry material can absorb moisture as it's reduced in size. In the winter, by the time the material lands in the 536-ton (486 metric ton) limestone silo, it is nearly saturated. In prior years, the silo had not experienced a single flow disruption, nor had it required cleaning due to the aid of two Martin XHV air cannons. Adequate in previous years to keep material flowing at required volumes through all seasons, the air cannons were unable to prevent clog- ging at such high moisture levels. "This plant is one of the most advanced operations of its kind, with advanced operating and pollution con- trols found in only a few other facilities in the world," explained Jose Venegas, maintenance manager at Drake Cement. "I had a Martin representative coming out to look at another part of the plant, but when the silo clogged, that took immediate priority. The problem had become disruptive, expensive and hazardous. We needed it solved once and for all." Limestone Snowballs When Martin Engineering National Business Devel- opment Manager Doug Brown arrived at the plant, he found a silo so compactly clogged that it had halted the entire production process. "Inspecting the silo for a solution, we realized that the limestone could be packed like snowballs, dense enough to stick to the wall when thrown," said Brown. "This demonstrated just how seri- ous the problem was. We luckily had a silo cleaning crew that had just finished a job in Tucson, Ariz., so they were quickly dispatched north to the plant." The experienced two-man crew immediately set up a Martin Heavy Duty Whip. Powered by compressed air, the device can be equipped with a variety of flails and Tearing Down the Build Up Resolving Material Accumulation in a Cement Plant Limestone Silo. By Mark S. Kuhar The Martin Heavy Duty Whip is set up above the access at the top of the silo and controlled remotely. Martin XHV air cannons in their original perpendicular firing configuration.

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