Kerr Limited Optimizes Loadout and Material Haul Productivity
Kerr Limited is a premier aggregate producer in Midwestern Ontario, Canada. The family-owned company offers custom aggregate crushing, washing and screening, along with trucking and gravel distribution services.
Kerr Limited was looking for a more effective way to track material produced and moved by its primary crusher and to optimize its payload and hauling of gravel for the local township. The company turned to Trimble for more efficient and cost-effective materials handling.
Trimble® InsightHQ reporting, LOADRITE C2880 belt scale and LOADRITE L2180 loader scales
- InsightHQ reporting and analytics module provides real-time productivity and performance reports about crusher operation – slow downs and material issues are identified and addressed immediately for minimal disruption and costs
- C2880 belt scale captures total material tonnage, average tons per hour processed, and the start time and stop time of the belt for seamless crusher production
- Test project in progress using L2180 for gravel loadout operations – will capture load counts and payload measurement and record what product is being loaded and where it will be delivered
- Managers predict optimized payload measurements and faster cycle times – will improve tons per hour moved and streamline bidding, potentially saving hundreds of dollars per month per truck, lost hours and material
Located in Wingham Ontario, Joe Kerr Limited recently celebrated its 90th anniversary. The business was originally started as a sand and gravel production plant in 1927 by Joe Kerr, with one Fargo 1-1/2-ton truck and a hand operated dump box. Today, the it is the top aggregate producer in the region with eight pits, five crusher spreads and screening and related processing equipment, and a fleet of modern trucks. This includes eight tri-axle trucks and nine tractors with hopper trailers. The company is operated by Joe’s nephew Murray Kerr; his son Andrew also works in the family business that has grown to 49 employees.
Kerr Limited runs a stationary material crushing operation at a quarry about 200 kilometers from its Wingham location, in the town of Port Dover. Manager Andrew Kerr explains the location of the plant made it difficult to precisely track aggregate production and see results quick enough to make meaningful adjustments when needed. Not only that, it was a challenge to use the wheel loader scale to weigh each load, bucket-by-bucket, because of the pace required to keep up with the crusher. Looking for more visibility across its production plant and to boost productivity, Kerr Limited turned to Silver Top for help.
Kerr Limited works with local equipment dealer Silver Top Supply for installation and scale calibration, and called them again to install a Trimble LOADRITE C2880 conveyor belt scale for the crusher. Today, the Kerr Limited team is extremely happy with the C2880 belt scale because of its ability to accurately weigh crushed material and improve productivity.
The weighing system works by converting signals from the load cells and speed wheel into weighing data, which is done in the main display device, also called the integrator. The speed sensor then provides data to calculate the belt speed, flow rate and total weight of material. The scale assembly measures vertical forces for an accurate weight signal, which is sent back to the integrator and displayed in the cab. This data is also sent to the cloud for secure browser-based, or mobile access through the Trimble InsightHQ platform.
From his office or work truck, Andrew Kerr uses InsightHQ to see productivity and performance reports and dashboards about the crusher operation. Using the LOADRITE belt scale, he can now see in real-time the number of tons of material moved per hour, total tonnage, average tons per hour, and the start time and stop time of the belt. He can also see the time of the first load and last load of each day. The C2880 belt scale also tracks the amount of time spent running partially loaded belts, showing Kerr areas of underutilization.
“We’re generally running around 260 tons an hour from that crusher, and now with the LOADRITE scale and reporting I can immediately see if there’s a drop off in production,” said Kerr. “I can jump on the phone and see what’s going on. If weather is bad and it’s making the material wet, or if the size of the rocks is bigger than expected, and we have to slow down to get the quality product we want, I can know that sooner. I used to hear about these things a couple of days later, and at that point it’s hard to make any adjustments. Now, I can add other guys or another shift and customers get exactly the material and tonnage they ordered, it’s seamless.”
Based on their success with the C2880 belt scale, Kerr Limited recently started a new test project using LOADRITE L2180 loaders scales. Kerr explains that the company provides gravel for many of the roads maintained and owned by the neighboring North Huron township. Each year, the township provides a map of roads that need gravel. Prior to using LOADRITE for this gravel operation, Kerr explains each truck was loaded and weight was captured directly from the truck, which left room for varied weights because some material is more dense than other loads. This could mean giving away extra material or having trucks partially loaded which adds to products costs overtime.
“We bid these gravel township projects based on a price per ton basis,” said Kerr. “The margins for moving this type of gravel are extremely tight, which means the number of tons of gravel we can move per hour and the cycle times of each truck are extremely important to our bottom line. The price of fuel and machine maintenance doesn’t change, so really the only factor we can focus on is the amount of material loaded per truck per hour, and the total number of loads delivered per day. That makes the LOADRITE loader scale very important to us for this type of work.”
He explains that in the new workflow using the L2180 loader scales, each of the trucks will get a different ID number, which will tie the truck ID and operator together. Then, the L2180 onboard scale will capture accurate load counting and payload measurement automatically and it will record what product is being loaded and where it will be delivered. Cycle time reports in InsightHQ will show each truck's cycle count and daily tonnage, along with loading time, haul time and idle time of those vehicles. This data will enable managers to make sure they are meeting demand and it will give them the data they need to make adjustments that will affect production during each shift and over time.
Kerr Limited plans to fully implement this loadout process for gravel delivery as soon as possible. He predicts that over time, the team will be able to further tweak the loadout process, potentially saving material and time that equates to hundreds of dollars saved per truck, per month. He believes the L2180 weighing system will also help simplify and tighten up the bidding process in the future for gravel projects like this, which make up about 10 to 15 percent of Kerr Limited business.
“Typically, our operators can make seven to 12 truck cycles per day, depending on the location of the drop off, weather, road conditions or road construction,” said Kerr. “If we see that any of our nine trucks are idling or return trips are taking an extra five minutes, that could translate to missing a load each day. Spread that lost time over weeks and several trucks, and that could mean our average tons moved per hour is lowered from 36 to 33, so each load of gravel is costing us more. I see Trimble helping us identify those issues and optimize payload and cycle times, while supporting customer service and safe operation.”