Sand manufacture from Franconia

Pleinfelder Quarzsand concentrates on refining the natural product

I‌t is erosion-resistant and stands up to frost – quartz sand. Such properties make the raw material versatile. Accordingly, Pleinfelder Quarzsand GmbH & Co. KG, which extracts the material from it that forms the basis for two central customers, the construction industry and construction chemicals. But so that riding arenas, golf courses, football pitches and beach volleyball courts can also be made from quartz sand, the refinement of the natural product is the decisive key in production, which takes place just outside Nuremberg.

While sand is extracted in dry mining in the Georgensgmünd quarry area, the company relies on combined dry and wet mining in Pyras near Hilpoltstein, which is done there by a suction excavator. Other construction machines are required for raw material extraction, processing, feeding the production plants, reloading, refilling and recultivation, such as a Cat 336 GC crawler excavator, a Cat D4 track dozer, Cat 938M and 938K wheel loaders, 950M and 907H wheel loaders and a Cat CP56B padfoot roller.

“Construction machinery plays a central role, but not the only one. Downstream service is no less crucial for economic success. We therefore rely here on the Zeppelin and Caterpillar package and the Erlangen branch. It works well,” is how Managing Director Peter Berschneider assesses the cooperation. He runs the company together with Stefan and Thomas Hueber. Behind the raw material producer are the companies Feil and Hueber, which have merged to form the Pleinfelder Quarzsand company. 20 employees are involved in raw material extraction and refinement.

“The great art is the raw sand application, which must be homogeneous so that the quality always remains at our constantly high level,” Peter Berschneider explains. Another requirement: the right dosage so that the desired mixture meets the customer’s requirements. Production is just in time – depending on the order. “Customers can give us specifications as to which substrate mixture they want,” he adds. This applies, for example, to the sand used for beach volleyball tournaments –here there has been a close exchange with the Bavarian Volleyball Association for years. For professional use, the quartz sand is washed several times and hydroclassified. The quartz sand refined in this way is sure-footed, gentle on the feet due to its rounded edges and drains quickly.

The example shows that not all sand is the same, even if it is available in large quantities around the globe. The raw sands obtained only acquire their positive properties through processing. The main field of application of the products is the construction chemicals and building industry, because the quartz sand serves as the basis for tile adhesive or for paving stone production. It is used in house construction as masonry and plastering sand, but also as screed. Roof tile manufacturers also use the sand. Other customers of the sand are glass factories, which process the sand into returnable bottles, but foundries are also among the customers.

The company supplies the entire federal territory as well as neighbouring countries, whether with small quantities or for large orders. Various forms of packaging are offered, whether in silos, packed in big bags or as loose goods. “During the Corona crisis, we also shipped sand as bagged goods via Amazon. When DIY stores were closed even in the Lockdown, this turned into a real hit, so we want to keep it up,” explains the managing director.

The fine quartz sand is regularly checked for quality by the company’s own laboratory and by an external laboratory to see how high the iron content is or whether it contains silt. The latter are soil particles that are finer than sand but coarser than clay. These are washed out and then put back in. “We produce sand for industry here, and we do it to the tenth of a millimetre,” Reinhold Sillinger, the technical operations manager, describes the conditions.

Constantly adapting production to the state of the art and developing it further has led, for example, to the use of a Powerscreen screening plant in Georgensgmünd and the installation of a 650 m long belt conveyor. In this way, the use of machinery was adapted – dumpers have thus become obsolete. “We can thus save on transports and consequently on fuel, which in turn is a sustainable contribution to the environment and CO2 savings. We have calculated that the conveyor system will pay for itself in five years,” says Peter Berschneider.

Further energy costs were to be saved by a photovoltaic system, but such a system would not be fully usable because fine particles arising from sand mining settle on the solar panels and thus impair their efficiency. Therefore, a different lever is used: The machinery is constantly being modernised. In Pyras, for example, a Cat 972M XE wheel loader and a Cat 966M XE with continuously variable, power-split transmission are used. This results in fuel savings and fewer loading cycles to achieve the desired result in truck loading after just three bucket fills. But Peter Berschneider and Reinhold Sillinger also keep a close eye on machine data such as idling percentages.


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