Most everyone has seen a sandbox in a park or walked along a gravel path from one location to another. But have you ever wondered where that sand and gravel came from?

It turns out these granular materials—an offshoot of weathered rocks—are used for multiple projects across the country including construction operations, erosion control, roads, building/home foundations and much more. Found in a geological formation called alluvial deposits, sand and gravel go through a lengthy refining process before they are packaged and shipped to locations across the globe.

Mining Sand and Gravel

Sand and gravel are usually mined in an open pit excavation. Power shovels, draglines, front-end loaders and bucket wheel excavators all aid in the mining process. Ideal conditions for mining are when the ground is moist or wet as it helps to avoid dust pollution in or around the mining site.

The other method by which sand and gravel are mined is called dredging. Equipment is mounted on boats or barges, and the gritty materials are pulled up from the bottom of a waterbed with the help of suction power or buckets.

Once mined, the materials are transported to a processing plant. Various types of equipment facilitate the relocation of mined materials such as suction pumps, trucks and conveyor belts.

Bulk Processing Equipment

Pre-processed, sand and gravel have an array of applications like fill, bedding, subbase and base course; and that’s just their uses during the pre-processed state. However, most sand and gravel is processed before being utilized domestically.

Various pieces of equipment help with the processing of sand and gravel including washers, screens, classifier or segregator machinery, crushers, storage, and loading machinery. This bulk processing equipment simplifies the overall labor-intensive process, saving merchandisers and consumers countless hours and expenses.

The Steps of Bulk Processing

At the processing plant, the materials are screened and sorted according to their various sizes—from boulders to large cobbles—by conveyor belts and then crushed into smaller pieces. Once broken down, the pieces are screened and re-sorted based on specified parameters like size or weight. When bulk processing sand, the tiny rocks are scrubbed down to wash away clay and organic impurities, after which the sand is drained and dried. One last sorting process occurs before the materials are packaged and shipped off.

Without bulk processing, domestic and city projects that include sand or gravel would require much more time and money to complete—most likely at the cost of the consumer or taxpayer. Ultimately, the invention and evolution of bulk processing machinery allows such an arduous sorting procedure to be finished much faster than if we were still doing it by hand.

General Kinematics manufactures bulk processing equipment that is specifically designed for this type of processing and sorting job. GK vibrating feeders, screening and classification machines are designed to efficiently sort through enormous amounts of material effectively and reliably. To learn more about bulk processing equipment and processes, contact General Kinematics today!

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