Being able to move sand from an operation to its final destination is imperative to keeping construction companies and other industries supplied with this material.
Sand is a very versatile material and is derived from many kinds of rock types, most of which include limestone, feldspar, and silicon dioxide. The uses and differences between each type of sand are varied. Cement and concrete rely on one variation of sand while fiberglass uses another kind; sand is also integral in creating glass products, and iron and steel components. It’s understandable to see how much value sand has to society, and that without it, many industries would suffer.
Sand is found naturally both below and above ground, in glacial deposits, sand dunes, arid environments, and natural lakes, seas, and oceans. Many people assume that it’s easy to find, but it actually takes a significant amount of resources to develop deposits capable of producing sand products.
Quarrying sand and gravel deposits
Most of the tactics used for hard rock quarries can also be applied to sand and gravel operations. The biggest difference between sand and gravel quarries and everything else is the amount of land use these operations require. Sand and gravel deposits are typically shallow, so naturally companies have to disturb more land to obtain the same volume of product.
Mining and dredging: Sand extraction
Typically, sand can be mined from sources above ground, such as sand dunes, but it’s often dredged from deep under water in excavations known as pits. Dredges are large structures that float in manmade or natural ponds. They rely on a continuous chain of buckets or rotary cutting heads to dislodge material from below the water’s surface. Using a suction hose, this material is displaced and removed—separated from other mineral particles during the process. A dredge can be used for excavating gravel, too.
Move sand easily with a conveyor system
Once a deposit has been quarried and mined, you have to move the sand from the source through the rest of your process, or to its final destination—for sale or to be used in construction and industrial products.
Conveyor systems using stationary or overland conveyors, telescopic conveyors, and radial stackers provide operations with a way to move sand across long distances, up and down hills, and onto the transport. Conveyors work by moving sand across a conveyor belt, which is then dumped in stockpiles, making it a cost-effective option. Normally operations would require wheel loaders to build a stockpile. Radial stackers move along a radius, efficiently dumping the product into manageable stockpiles. They remove the need for wheel loaders and reduce diesel, personnel, and maintenance costs in the process.
Conveyor and stacking systems offer customizable designs, from the length and width of the conveyor or stacker itself and belt width to the height of your stockpile and options including power radial wheels, chevron or vulcanized belts, and hydraulics to extend the conveyor longer for larger stockpile size. A conveyor makes moving sand much easier. For added convenience, they can be designed to specification to meet your operational needs and budget.
How to transport sand effectively
Three of the easiest methods for transporting sand to its final destination are trucks and by rail and barge. Trucks are relatively simple to use particularly in loading and dumping. Many trucks are capable of dumping their loads once they arrive at the destination without assistance. Trucks are also available in many sizes and models to satisfy a number of operational needs, making them a convenient option.
Transporting sand by open-top rail is the second option. For operations located near train rails, rail shipment provides an efficient method of moving the raw material that reduces fuel and personnel spending. The partially automated nature of rail shipping is another benefit companies can appreciate. Custom railcar loading and unloading systems can be used with 100-ton dump hopper cars, gondolas, or single cars, creating a much smoother, continuous flow of material.
Barges are the third form of transport for sand. A typical hopper barge can transport up to 1,700 net tons of sand, which is roughly the amount it would take 17 rail cars, or 68 trucks, to move. From a logistics standpoint, barges are a good solution for moving sand from origination to destination.
The three options each have their own benefits:
- Trucks are convenient and come in a variety of sizes.
- Rail transportation is more economical.
- Barges have a much higher capacity, enabling companies to move more product in fewer trips.
Your selection will depend on the size of your operation and budget; but regardless of your choice, sand is an easy raw material to move throughout the entire process when you utilize the proper equipment.