According to many aggregate industry sources—including our direct observation here at Kemper Equipment, 2019 ended up being an excellent year for aggregate processing and mining operations.
Robust construction activity created better demand than in many recent years for everything from crushed stone to sand, and pricing was up for most materials, as well.
These good news stories for mining and aggregate production have got us thinking about industry progress, and what that might mean as we head into a new decade. Our Kemper Equipment owner and president, Greg Donecker, recently shared his predictions for 2020 and beyond with Pit & Quarry magazine.
Today’s post offers a look at some of those big trends that have emerged in recent years, which we expect to continue to shape our industry in 2020 and beyond.
Health and Safety is a Big Priority
“Focus on health and safety of employees continues to be a priority for customers, and we have seen an increase in sales of machinery guarding, safety gates for work platforms, rubber liners for noise reduction, and dust enclosures for better air quality,” Donecker noted in his Pit & Quarry article.
This safety push is thanks in part to the mining industry working hard to reduce the number of fatal mining accidents with better safety initiatives, including promoting seat belt safety. And, in fact, 2019 ended with the fewest mining fatalities in a single year, ever—a significant achievement in protecting our invaluable workforce.
As the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) continues to streamline its efforts to address significant hazards and the most prominent safety issues in our mine and quarry operations, that fatal accident number may fall to zero for at least some years in the coming decade. That’s the goal anyway.
Conveyors Are King
Here at Kemper Equipment, we have long promoted custom conveyor systems over loading and truck hauling, and it appears that the industry is beginning to embrace the cost savings—and safety benefits—that conveyors bring to aggregate plant operations. Donecker noted in his article that, “operations can save money by using conveyors to take their products over land, across roadways or water, directly to a destination rather than incurring labor and maintenance costs to load and haul with trucks.”
Additionally, the industry has recently been challenged by the fact that many experienced veteran processing operators are now retiring. While this is a significant loss in terms of operational knowledge in our quarries and processing sites, tech and automation resources are being adopted that can help newer employees with production management, which will likely lead to an efficiency revolution in the coming years.
Portable Equipment Continues to Be Popular Due to Its Flexibility
As we touched on in our recent blog post about leasing versus buying aggregate processing equipment, portable and modular plants are a hot commodity now. They will almost certainly remain popular in the coming years, too, based on the many benefits they bring to operations.
Whereas stationary crushing plants used to offer unmatched efficiency and production speeds, mobile equipment has caught up in recent years. Portable equipment is surprisingly economical to use, regardless of whether you plan to purchase or lease your equipment.
Portables can offer excellent production flexibility to meet changing needs based on seasonality and contract requirements, too, which modern operators are looking for. Along those lines, Donecker observed, “buyers will also be looking for flexibility in choices in 2020. Based on that notion, we are stocking more equipment and plants for fast delivery and offering financing options for those interested in leasing or leasing-to-own options.”
Producers Are Looking For Full-Service Solutions Partners
Along with their need for greater flexibility and better safety from their equipment, aggregate producers are also now expecting equipment distributors to offer full-service support for their operations.
Donecker shared that, “In the past, many customers used third-party engineering firms or their own engineers to calculate and design systems. They now recognize the advantages of working with one source for engineering, product, manufacturing, and installation. This allows quality control from start to finish in any project.”
Kemper Equipment has long offered strong support before, during, and after an equipment sale. We even stock and sell a full range of wear parts through our quarryparts.com division.
Robust Market Growth is Projected to Continue
Both the mining industry and the aggregate processing industry have seen healthy total revenue gains in the last few years. For instance, mining revenue was approximately $683 billion worldwide in 2018, which was an increase of 8% over 2017. The books are not yet quite closed on 2019, but insiders predict this year will end on a better note than even 2018 did.
In aggregate processing, Pit & Quarry reported recently that crushed stone production was up 4% during the first half of 2019 compared to 2018. Sand and gravel production were also strong compared to last year thanks to steady demand from the construction industry. As construction remains strong across the United States, this high level of productivity will continue.
The takeaway? It’s a great time to get into aggregate processing, and with more flexible equipment now available—as well as more financing options—it’s almost never been easier to set up an operation either!
Kemper Equipment Has Solutions to Keep Your Operation Ahead of the Curve
No matter what the future of the aggregate industry holds in 2020 and beyond, it’s time to get in touch with us here at Kemper Equipment for our friendly and knowledgeable guidance. Whether you’re looking to lease or buy portable or stationary equipment for your aggregate, sand, gravel, or recycled asphalt processing operation of any size, we have the innovative, high-tech solutions you’re looking for.