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A Superior approach to cost-savvy European aggregates production

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
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A Superior approach to European aggregates production Superior Industries (Superior), an ambitious Minnesota, USA-headquartered global bulk handling and processing solutions market manufacturer, is targeting Europe as a major potential growth region for its comprehensive range of new and proven premium equipment. Guy Woodford spoke to John Garrison, Superior’s vice president of sales, to find out more about the company’s business philosophy and long-term ambitions.

Despite hailing from and still living and working in Michigan, John Garrison is something of a Europhile when it comes to discussing Superior Industries’ current global growth strategy. “Today, we’re taking a closer and more aggressive look at Europe. We’ve got a new business development manager in the region, Michael Dunne. He has come to Superior with a strong history in the industry, first with Terex and most recently with Weir/Trio.

“You certainly have to have reliable products that lower cost per tonne in any bulk processing or handling market you service. But we like to build with the right people first. In his short time with Superior, Michael has established a legal entity in the United Kingdom, collected data and experience reports for new product development and is developing new relationships with future Superior dealers throughout Europe. Drawing on Michael’s history within the European aggregates industry and feedback from new dealer relationships we are building, we have several European-style models in development.

“Because of our new legal status in the UK, we are building some products there that will allow us to better compete in the
global market.”

There are many well-established crushing and screening equipment, conveyor and washing plant manufacturers in the European marketplace – such as Metso, Sandvik, Terex Materials Processing, Kleemann, Beumer, Telestack, CDE and Terex Washing Systems. I ask Garrison, who previously spent a decade as market area director at Terex Mineral Processing Systems (MPS), how he thinks Superior can stand out from its competitors and gain good market share.

“The European aggregates processing market is large and it’s growing, so it’s very important to Superior. While there are a lot of good manufacturers in our sector, Superior’s approach is different. We like to be flexible and adaptable to our customers’ applications. Instead of building a couple of models to serve every customer, we like to customise our offerings by region and even down to each customer application. Certainly, Superior is equipped with standard models, but we also have lots and lots of proven options. We’re excited to share them with the European market.

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Superior's Patriot Cone Crusher features the company's in-house Vantage Automation, which monitors and controls crusher parameters
“We have assembled a huge product development team with lots and lots of industry experience, which includes many individuals, such as Michael Dunne, with backgrounds serving the European markets. They come to Superior from recognisable names and have built solid personal brands in the region.”

Outside its strong trading in its home market of North America, and beyond its efforts to establish itself firmly in Europe, Garrison says that Superior is gaining sales momentum in South America, Russia, Australia and parts of Africa.

“We do business in Africa today especially serving customers in marine material handling or ship loading and mining applications. In both sectors, we offer a unique set of highly mobile conveyors. There are not many other manufacturers of these products in the world, so Africa has accepted the technology well.

“In addition, there are current product development projects in our engineering departments that will serve some of those new sales momentum markets well.”

Turning his attention to the key day-to-day challenges experienced by aggregates processing businesses and current market trends, Garrison says: “Crusher automation is on the rise. More and more crushers are supported by full automation systems that are monitored from a smart phone or iPad. Operators can track any trend, while gauging throughput volumes and proactively pinpointing maintenance needs. To avoid costly damage and downtime, automated crushers provide protection against tramp events, while also alerting operators to any irregularities in vibration or temperature.

“Attracting new talent to the industry remains a challenge. Producers who scaled back on labour during the recession are seeing further attrition due to today’s ageing workforce. It’s getting harder and harder to find personnel with industry experience. Innovative education and training programmes are imperative.

“To ensure maximum uptime, manufacturers are designing equipment with greater access and ease of maintenance. Alternatively, producers are increasingly partnering with equipment dealers and manufacturers for readily available parts and service support, parts inventory management, and ongoing machine lifecycle management that often includes new full black box diagnostic capabilities and valuable predictive maintenance programs.”

Garrison says Superior divides its wide-ranging bulk handling and processing solutions offer into four segments: crushing, screening, washing and conveying. “One of our ongoing goals is to generate three to five new products per segment per year,” he explains. “So, there will certainly be some new products coming in each product segment.

“Within the crushing segment, we plan to debut our first horizontal impact crusher. It joins our existing lines of jaws, cones and vertical impactors. Our prototype is nearing completion and field testing begins later this year. It’s designed for primary or secondary crushing in quarry and recycle applications.

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The Aggredry Washer by Superior is a combination of a fine material washer and a dewatering screen in a single machine

“A new bolted frame design for our Liberty Jaw Crusher will also start testing this spring. Designed for portable application, the bolted frame design will be lighter weight than our standard primary jaw.

“Finally, we reduced the weight of our 500 HP Patriot Cone Crusher by more than 30%. It will have the same internal configuration as our 500HD model but be designed and manufactured with modern mainframe castings.”

Focusing on Superior’s current conveyors and conveyor parts range’s performance in the global marketplace, he says: “Again, there are pockets within certain regions outside of North America where these products have done very well. In other countries or regions, we’re looking for opportunities to partner with distribution. In fact, that is one of our primary goals at bauma 2019 [in Munich, Germany]. If a distributor reading this is interested in meeting with us, we encourage them to visit our website and complete the form.”

Superior has been busy in recent years developing its aggregates washing plant and quarry dewatering product portfolio.

“Of the 100 or so new products we’ve introduced in the last few years, I would say at least half are for our wet processing or washing segment. Some highlights of these new products include the Alliance Low Water Washer. It accepts a dry feed within the crushing circuit, which eliminates a costly trip to a separate wash site and creates higher value manufactured sand.

“Our Helix Cyclone is characterised by a uniquely designed inlet. The offset feed eliminates turbulence, which improves classification and reduces component wear.

“Our Spirit Sand Plant is a modular package with cyclones, dewatering screens, sumps and pumps. The unit removes heavy clays from valuable sands, transforming useless material into product that is ready for market.”

Superior’s entry into the crushing, screening and washing sectors of the global aggregates processing market was showcased under the company’s ‘Rock Face to Load Out’ promotional campaign at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 construction, quarrying and mining equipment exhibition, in Las Vegas, USA.

“We debuted our ‘brand new Superior Industries’ to more than 125,000 visitors. Inside our stand, we showed the world what ‘Rock Face to Load Out’ represents when we unveiled our new crushing, screening and washing equipment. These solutions, all designed and built by Superior, joined our existing product portfolio of conveyors, idlers, pulleys and related accessories.

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John Garrison rallying the Superior team at the start of a show day at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017
“In addition, we introduced an expanded group of industry veterans — almost three dozen new sales and service employees — who joined team Superior since the last edition of the trade show.”

I ask Garrison how Superior is investing in automation, including predictive maintenance, solutions for customers. “Automation development is something we’re equipped to design and build in-house,” he stresses. “We have a team of about a half dozen right now and looking to grow this group. We write our own code and control our own destiny. There is lots of room for new development in this segment. Right now, we have programs for automating radial conveyor stockpiling and crusher operation. We’ve also developed some custom programs for various applications. Our next hurdle will be development of a complete management system.”

Excessive downtime due to a wait for replacement crusher, screener or conveyor parts is a key concern for aggregates processing businesses. Garrison highlights what Superior is doing to meet customer replacement parts needs.

“For any new market we pursue, we like to support the market from within. That means we typically develop strong local support with dealers and distributors. They know the customers best, understand stocking needs and are quicker to respond than most manufacturers.

“One of our goals during the upcoming bauma is to hold meetings with distributors who might be interested in representing our lines throughout EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa]. They’re invited to visit www.superior-ind.com/bauma2019 to schedule a meeting with us in Munich.”

I’m curious to know what Garrison, who joined Superior in 2014 at the start of the firm’s crushing, screening and washing plant product development, enjoys about working in the aggregates processing equipment sector and how he sees the global aggregates processing industry’s long-term future.

“I’m proud to be part of an industry that is foundational to the success of any society. Our customers supply the material to build roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, which create all kinds of new opportunities for the people that use them.

“We see aggregate demand growing for a long, long time. Generally, government policies within each region or market are getting stricter. That means we’ll continue to focus developing products that operate safely and produce at the lowest cost per tonne. Regardless of where our customers are, these are universal goals.”

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Superior Industries

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