The crushing industry has seen some dramatic changes from the early days when a steam engine powered a crusher, to the current days where a single genset and electric motors operate a complete spread.
One of the many changes to equipment used for crushing aggregates is the evolution of the Control Van, an innovation which was pioneered by ELRUS Aggregate Systems of Calgary, AB.
When Roland Russell founded ELRUS in 1975, he set out to build rugged, reliable, well-designed and portable equipment for the crushing industry. He quickly became concerned about the health of the men who had to stand on top of the equipment to operate it, from the blazing heat of summer to the freezing cold of winter. Early on, there were umbrellas set up for Operators, which provided modest help shielding them from the sun’s direct rays and from the sky’s cold rain. But that was about it. In the farming industry, tractors and combines had cabs for the drivers. Why couldn’t crushing equipment include a safe and sheltered cab for its Operators?
Beyond the need to protect the Operator from the elements, another problem was the logistics for the Operator to control the equipment. Standing on top of the crusher, the Operator had several levers to start the diesel engine, pull the clutch to start the conveyors and crushers, and then a feed lever to get the material into the crusher. If a problem occurred somewhere along the way, he had to scramble down and run around to shut off the side-mounted electrical motors on each piece of equipment in the spread. This scenario was dubbed by Barry Proctor of ELRUS as “The Crusher Olympics.” Not only was this dangerous for the sprinting Operator, it was bad for the equipment as pieces were shut off one at a time instead of a uniform shut down of all the equipment at once. Even though the Operators performed incredible feats, there were few Gold, Silver and Bronze medals awarded.
One of ELRUS’ customers jerry-rigged a plywood box with plexiglass as a primitive cab. In 1976, Roland took notice and saw the opportunity for ELRUS to develop an enclosed control tower to address the comfort, safety, and operational efficiency issues with one innovation. He talked to a manufacturer of cabs and work began on the creation of ELRUS’ first edition of the cab which became ELRUS’ first Control Tower.
ELRUS’ first control tower was 6’x6’ and had a comfortable chair for the operator, a heater and rooftop air conditioner. One customer asked ELRUS to leave out the comfy chair in his tower as he thought it would be better if his Operator sat on an upside down steel pail. “It wouldn’t be good if our Operators got too comfortable you know.”
ELRUS led the way in the development of the Control Van within the crushing industry and today, ELRUS offers a complete solution with a GenSet, Switchgear and 6’x10’ Tower, all in one unit. For the Operator, there is an even more comfortable captain’s chair, air conditioning and heat, blinds for the windows, tinted glass and a control panel with switches for each component of the crushing spread. With a 360 degree view of the entire spread, the Operator truly does have control of the entire operation, and this results in improved safety, productivity and profitability.
Click below to learn how a centralized control station can help to improve operating efficiency, provide a healthier operating environment and improve site safety.