California Crushing

Set against San Francisco’s skyline, Dutra Group’s San Rafael Quarry has a key role in keeping locals safe from the effects of climate change. Now, with help from partners Powerscreen of California, they’ve put in extra protections for the nearby environment by making their own operations greener. 

Operating for more than 100 years on the edge of San Francisco Bay, the San Rafael Rock Quarry is one of the area’s primary sources of construction materials. Natural rock, sand, gravel, asphalt and concrete are all quarried or produced at the site, which operates at 350ft below sea level. 

The only quarry of its kind in Northern California, Dutra Group transports a lot of its materials by barge to local marine work sites. Many of these projects are focused on protecting the local community and environment from the impacts of global warming. Coastal erosion safeguards, barriers against rising sea levels and emergency flood defences are all built using materials from San Rafael Quarry. 

“We’re proud to play a key role in protecting the local environment,” says Vice President and Equipment Manager for Dutra Group, Steve Lee. “When it came to upgrading the equipment in our mobile crushing and screening plant, choosing equipment that had low emissions and didn’t disrupt the quarry’s surroundings was key.” 

Having sold and installed two Powerscreen tracked diesel crushing and screening plants previously at the quarry over the last 15 years, when it came time to renew their machinery, the Powerscreen of California team were called upon again for their expertise. “We’ve built a strong relationship with the Dutra team over the years,” explains Powerscreen of California founder Paul Campbell. “So they have confidence in the fact we’ll deliver a plant that meets their needs and keeps running well.”

Green Gladiators

When upgrading the equipment on San Rafael’s mobile plant, choosing electric powered equipment was a high priority for the Dutra team. Meeting the Group’s environmental values meant shifting away from diesel-powered crushers, screeners and conveyors. This was also essential for the site to operate under California’s tight legislation on greenhouse gases. 

Senate Bill 32 sets out a statewide emissions target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. To help meet this objective, Dutra needed to find electric powered equipment that could process 400 tonnes of material an hour. “Thankfully, when we reached out to our valued partner, Powerscreen of California, they had a wide range of portable electric crushing and screening machinery to offer us from their new exciting Powerscreen Gladiator range,” says Steve. 

Dutra purchased several pieces of equipment from the portable electric Gladiator range. This included two MT1300 cone crushing plants, two H8203 and an H6203 both screening plants, plus 11 conveyors of 60’ and 80’ length. A significant investment by the Dutra Group, this makes the San Rafael Quarry the largest Gladiator-powered site currently in operation anywhere in the world. 

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The durability of the heavy-duty Terex equipment and the reliability of Powerscreen’s technology means they’re already returning on this investment. As quarry manager Daryle McLaughlin explains, “The price of diesel has been sitting at around $8 a gallon. Switching the plant to electric power with equipment that’s productive from day one means we’ve quickly cut down both our costs and emissions.” 

Keeping quarrying??

Electric powered equipment also has huge efficiency benefits for the Dutra team. With no diesel or hydraulic systems, the portable electric plant runs at a much colder temperature, minimising the likelihood of breakdowns due to overheating. 

The Powerscreen of California team complement this performance with readily available spare parts and an expert aftersales team. “If a customer’s equipment goes down, we are committed to getting them back up and running as quickly as possible,” explains Paul. “We pride ourselves on our quickness to respond and the knowledge our teams can give when they arrive on site.” 

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As well as greater efficiency with minimal downtime, Steve explains how switching to electric equipment has benefitted local residents. “The quarry is right on “The Bay” and in close proximity to a neighbourhood of affluent homes. The Gladiator range of products operates much quieter than a diesel alternative, meaning we can continue to run without disturbing the local community.” 

Powerful partners

By offering a full and professional service, Powerscreen of California were able to support Dutra through the whole planning and setup phase of the project. Taking all the diesel equipment machinery back on trade and giving Dutra the flexibility of renting rather than buying certain pieces of machinery outright.

“We like to think of ourselves as a complete machinery solutions provider,” Paul explains. “We were able to offer the Dutra team gensets to rent. This meant the plant could get up and running while the mains power infrastructure was being put in place. 

“Even before this stage, we helped the team with planning the site’s layout. Using the Microsoft Visio platform, we uploaded models of the equipment and worked out the most efficient and productive layout. We then refined this with feedback from the customer to make the final tweaks.” 

This planning work meant the Powerscreen of California installation team could get the plant up and running in a few days. Trucking the equipment onto the site, they used their plans to place each piece of equipment before linking them up and testing connections for efficiency and safety. This full-service partnership means Dutra has experienced minimal downtime before their new plant was up and running. 

As Paul explains, “The whole deal and setup was a team effort, from our product experts to the guys out on site and our aftersales crew. Each member of our team played a part in making this installation run smoothly for Dutra. Our customer is very happy with the results, and we are committed to being a long-term equipment partner to the Dutra Group”