train on a bridge over a river

Effectively Transporting Aggregate

From a logistics standpoint, how you transport aggregate and other raw material plays a huge part in your operation. Everything from your budget to the scale/scope of your work can be affected by the decision. No matter how large or small your project is, you can’t avoid having to move aggregate from the source to the rest of your operation, all the way to its final destination. Some modes of transportation are more viable depending on the material you’re working with. Quantity and distance are two other important variables factored into the decision-making process.

Railcar

freight train

If you’re lucky to have your operation located near a railroad, you may be able to take advantage of railcar transport. It could be more economical depending on the raw material you’re working with. This option is ideal for companies who have access to rail lines, and who want to move a substantial amount of aggregate across the country. The three most common forms of rail transport include hopper cars, single rail cars, and gondolas.

Hopper cars were first used to haul bulk shipments of dry cement, and because they’re so durable and easy to use, they’re still being used to transport cement. This makes hopper cars great for very fine aggregates like sand. On average, hopper cars hold up to 110 tons of cement. Their design lets them be unloaded from the bottom which means it’s both easier to load and unload the transport, reducing costs for shippers and the railroads.

With shorter walls and a longer design, gondolas are designed to transport things like aggregate material and steel scrap. Due to the importance of aggregate material, the product is run from source to destination in dedicated gondolas, minimizing switching and reconfiguration of the train. This ensures that the aggregate is moved in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. Along with barges, rail transport features a lower cost per ton-mile.

Barges

red barge

Crushed stone is one of the most common forms of aggregate and is one suitable for barge transport if a company has access to nearby navigable waterways. Material that can be loaded via radial stacker or overland conveyor is one that can also be hauled by barge and boat. Generally, aggregate is very heavy, and thus very costly to process and transport in bulk—but many locations across the country don’t have local sources of common raw materials. This means companies have to devise ways of reducing the cost of transport while ensuring a somewhat steady supply of aggregate to destinations in need.

Raw materials such as sand, rock, and gypsum are all capable of being moved by waterway. The majority of bulk aggregate still has to be moved by truck for it to reach a barge, but this remains one of the more cost-effective options for many metropolitan areas who lack a local source of construction aggregate.

Standard barges are as big as 195 ft. x 35 ft., with a typical capacity is 1,500 tons; however, there are newer barges that can be up to 290 ft. long and carry nearly 3,000 tons of material. On average, a tow has 15 barges, which is a lot of aggregate if each one is full. The number may decrease or increase depending on the size of the waterway, too. Common types of barges include the open hopper and covered hopper.

Overland and telescopic conveyors

telescopic conveyor

Conveyors allow companies to move a large assortment of bulk materials efficiently over long and short distances. Using an overland conveyor reduces fuel costs for truck transport by loading and unloading material from the conveyor. Conveyors come in many sizes. They can be modified to be longer or shorter, depending on your needs. A conveyor could be as short as 15 feet or longer than 1,000 feet—it all depends on the scope of your project.

Telescopic conveyors can be extended on a whim, which makes them ideal for projects that require adaptive equipment. Being extendable also offers the user more value as their length/height can be increased to meet changing needs.

If you’re planning to transport aggregate via truck, railcar, or barge, then a conveyor is essential. Overland, radial stacker, and telescopic conveyors can all be used to load or unload material quickly and efficiently.

Overview of transporting aggregate

The transportation of aggregate has to be done efficiently to be cost-effective for companies. Eliminating operational costs like fuel and labor can be done by implementing a conveyor system, which unloads aggregate into a barge or gondola. Transporting raw material in this fashion saves on the cost of drivers and truck fuel, reducing time, and money spent.