Every industry faces challenges. For the global fertilizer industry, expansion and demand are not on the list of business concerns. Some analysts estimate a 14% annual growth rate, which would translate to an expected annual market value of $1.88 billion by 2020.
This is partially due to the excessive use (and misuse) of chemical fertilizers over the past several decades that have contaminated soil and regional water tables. Organic mineral fertilizers have become more sought after for their eco-friendly footprint as well as their effectiveness for growing crops. This increased demand has created a similar rise in the price of this product, which could mean big benefits for companies that are capable of maintaining consistent production as well as ramping up output when necessary.
With so much potential profit at stake, additional pressure has been placed on already-stressed 24/7/365 operations. Now more than ever, decision-makers at fertilizer facilities are looking for every possible way to increase output. As production schedules push material handling equipment to its maximum capabilities, inevitable breakdowns can occur as wear and tear takes its toll on machinery that may not be designed to handle the additional strains.
Fertilizer operations depend heavily on conveyors to transport materials throughout the facility. While planned preventative maintenance schedules should be in place to minimize the impact of any downtime, any unplanned interruption in production can be costly—or even catastrophic—given the high stakes associated with hourly production goals.
With potash at a per-ton cost of $383 as of January 2019, a moderate-sized fertilizer operation that experiences unplanned downtime can easily lose more than $100,000 per hour and potentially incur millions of dollars in lost revenue per day. To minimize this potential, CDM strictly adheres to four core conveyor design principles that make the difference between conveyor success or failure:
- Utilize the proper materials of construction for the materials being handled and the ambient environment.
- Collect material and environmental data before addressing the components.
- Match internal components with the application and material being handled.
- Optimize the operating / design parameters of the conveyor to deliver durability, reliability and resistance to impact, fatigue and wear.
While the primary goal of any facility or maintenance manager may be to identify a conveyor capable of specific bulk material handling requirements, it is critical to also identify a level of durability and value for even the most aggressive material transfer applications. Of course, budgetary concerns come into play as well. While most fertilizer producers aren’t hurting for business these days, none of them are ever excited about spending money on capital equipment, especially unnecessarily.
Other manufacturers’ conveyor systems may initially offer an easy and budget-conscious approach to expanding capacity and increasing profitability. However, understanding the often dynamic and symbiotic relationship between unplanned downtime and profit loss in the fertilizer industry makes an initial investment on a conveyor that will remain reliable—and profitable—an easy decision.
CDM’s experts will work to thoroughly understand your fertilizer business’ unique needs and quickly spec out the correct equipment solution. There is no reason to settle for a one-size-fits-all approach to material handling when a custom-engineered conveying system is accessible and more cost-effective overall.
Conveyor breakdowns that result in unplanned downtime may be measured in minutes, but even then, they are also measured in millions of dollars lost. From drag chain conveyors and bucket elevators to screw conveyors and feeders and gates, valves and diverters, CDM’s custom conveying system designs are available for any size fertilizer operation or any type of material being handled, such as urea, ammonium sulfate and phosphate. Our equipment offers flexible chain formulas and high-quality construction materials and workmanship to deliver the durability and performance your fertilizer business can count on for years to come.