As the global population continues to grow, so does the demand for new and modern infrastructures. From the building of new homes, factories, and warehouses, to the development or repair of roadways and other transportation structures, the construction industry is in an upswing of growth to answer these demands.
As a result, construction materials are at a premium – and sand production is at the top of the list.
Sand is used in a wide range of construction materials, including concrete, mortar, render, and many others. Sand moisture is a critical production parameter for sand production companies who distribute raw sand to developers of construction materials. Because the raw sand is often stored outdoors and exposed to the elements, moisture content can vary by the time the sand is ready for processing. Therefore, incorporating methods to make the drying process more efficient can significantly reduce time and energy consumption.
How are Sand Producers Drying their Product?
Sand processing plants invest in high-volume systems to dry sand early in the process. Given the volume of sand passing through in a single production run, these systems require a lot of energy to operate.
However, without knowing sand moisture levels before it passes through the dryer – and likewise, how much moisture remains in the sand after the drying process – sand production companies could be driving their energy costs unnecessarily high.
This is where Near-Infrared (NIR) technology can help.
Process NIR instruments are a simple and reliable option for instant measurements of moisture and temperature of nearly any substrate. NIR technology provides accurate and repeatable data for many types of applications, and in rugged or challenging operating environments.
Two Ways Implementing NIR in Sand-Drying Process can Generate a Fast Payback
Recently, one sand processing company began to experience inconsistencies with their sand-drying process. In order to ensure sand was completely dry, they would have their driers set to maximum settings regardless of incoming moisture content. With energy costs on the rise, this began affect their bottom line.
The company reached out to KPM Analytics inquiring about in-process NIR technology to solve two of their challenges:
Challenge 1: To measure sand moisture content before entering the dryer. This would help the operators adjust dryer settings and feed rate before beginning a production run.
Challenge 2: To validate sand moisture content after the drying process, helping the operators determine whether the sand could move onto later stages of production.
How NIR Technology Answered these Sand-Drying Challenges
Challenge 1 Solution: The company worked with KPM Analytics to install a MCT460 Series in-process NIR analyzer onto the conveyor that guided incoming sand into the dryer. The company could monitor moisture of the raw sand entering the dryer in real-time, allowing them to adjust their dryer settings initially manually and eventually automatically based on the real-time moisture readings. This proved especially valuable for drying sand during or after wet weather events.
Because of its ruggedized design, the MCT460 Series could withstand the harsh elements of the sand drying process for long-term performance.
Challenge 2 Solution: Given the positive results from their NIR installation at the beginning of the sand drying process, the company installed an additional MCT460 Series system after the sand had been dried. This became an important tool to ensure that the process was efficient sand was acceptable to proceed to later stages of production.
With the help of these two in-process NIR systems, the operators had a better understanding for how long it could take for a single batch of sand to finish drying, allowing them to eventually automate the whole process. Most importantly, the company was able to reduce dryer fuel costs by 10-40%, presenting a significant return-on-investment in a short time.
Methods to Measure Moisture Where It Matters
From chemicals and powders, to paper and textiles, NIR technology is a successful solution to measure moisture, temperature, and other parameters for raw materials before or after processing. Follow the links below to learn more about our solutions for NIR sensing technologies.