First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
Metso Minerals' new research and development laboratories in Finland will help deliver both innovative new machines and improve customers' operations
While the theory behind crushing may be fairly rudimentary, maximising production and increasing output is a complex business.
To achieve a high rate of productivity it is important to find the right machinery for a specific application, matching crushing technology to the material in a particular quarry.
Finnish crushing and screening manufacturer Metso Minerals doesn't simply offer a range of crushing equipment. The firm also provides customers with in-depth analysis of the specific rock that they are working in, to ensure that it supplies not only the right crushing plant for the job, but that the crushing machinery is equipped with the ideal wear parts to suit the application.
The company has six rock laboratories, each based at one of its equipment production facilities around the world. The largest two test centres are at the head office site in Tampere, Finland, and in Milwaukee in the US.
These rock labs have offered this materials analysis service for some years. However, with the recent opening of a €3million research and technology development centre, including an enlarged rock laboratory, at the Tampere site, a larger number of customers will be able to benefit from this service in the future.
Customers only need to send around 3kg of stone for analysis, and Metso's rock lab technicians test the samples for both crushability and abrasiveness. Contractors can of course send samples from different areas within a single site, to ensure that the crusher will be able to cope with changing geology as the quarry progresses through its working life.
The new rock laboratory offers an additional 50% capacity to the site in Finland, allowing testing of up to 300 customer samples each year. Metso currently has 2,370 types of rock and stone logged in its database of tested materials in Tampere, with more than 6,000 material tests carried out worldwide to date. This encyclopaedic knowledge of crushing data allows the company to fine-tune the equipment that it supplies to individual customer sites.
The rock laboratory results have also allowed Metso to produce a number of electronic simulation tools, so that customers can accurately calculate production rates prior to the order of a machine.
As well as helping to specify the machines and wear parts for quarry operators, the rock laboratory also assists in the development of new Metso crushing and screening machinery. The technical development centre will allow Metso to install a wide range of its crusher components into what is in effect a working production line.
This line runs controlled crushing and screening tests, with a known rock, to assess the crusher's design and durability. These tests examine crusher performance, pressures, power draw, speed, capacity and product grading performance. As the new facility is now under cover, testing can be carried out all year round, greatly increasing Metso's ability to develop new components.
Around 150 people work directly in research and development at Metso, backed up by a further 440 people in engineering departments. The company aims to meet customer needs in a number of areas, shortening lead times of new products, increasing capacity and energy efficiency of crushing machinery, providing equipment to produce specific end product characteristics and meeting customer demands in terms of sustainability.