Feb 19, 2021

Screenmasters is this year celebrating 25 years in the mobile crushing and screening business – but it’s not letting revelry get in the way of its commitment to customer service.

“The last 25 years seem to have gone by in a flash,” Mick Lagan, the company director of Screenmasters Australia said. “It’s been a long and sometimes difficult journey, but also a rewarding one, all Screenmasters’ employees, both past and present, should be very proud of what we’ve achieved.

We look forward to celebrating this milestone, as we continue to build the Screenmasters brand.”

Screenmasters Australia was founded in 1994 by Mick Lagan and Michael McGinley and originally operated out of a shared shed in Bathurst, in the New South Wales Central West.

“We are often asked, given the capital requirements even in those days, how we managed to raise the money to start the company up and purchase the equipment, spare parts and trucks,” Lagan said. “Luckily, some people saw that we had big ideas, a great work ethic and a passion for the industry and they took a gamble on us. Two of them have since passed on and never got to see the success they contributed to, but we thank them every day for the faith and trust they showed in us.”

“It’s been a long and sometimes difficult journey, but also a rewarding one.”
Mick Lagan, company director, Screenmasters Australia

Like many small businesses, Screenmasters has had its fair share of ups and downs but the company is particularly proud of having built its success from the ground up.

“We never really had the opportunity to promote an established brand,” Lagan said. “We had to introduce and develop new brands in Australia, which presented some unique challenges. But once success came we both felt a great sense of satisfaction. These brands include Masterskreen, Nordberg, Metso, Doppstadt, Keestrack and, more recently, GIPO Crushers, MDS rock trommels and Rockster Crushers and Screens.

“Working with each of these OEMs has presented its own challenges. We’ve learnt lessons from all of them. They’ve shared their knowledge as equal partners and we thank them for trusting us,” Lagan added.

Pushing the envelope
Lagan is particularly proud of the Australian “firsts” Screenmasters has achieved over the years. The company is always pushing the envelope with OEM machines, placing them in applications even the manufacturers felt wouldn’t work.

Screenmasters was the first distributor to introduce a closed circuit impactor capable of primary and secondary crushing with a screen in a closed circuit on one-track mounted frame. According to Lagan, everyone, including the OEM, thought it would fail, given the high wear rates that previous impactors had experienced. Back in the early 2000s it was assumed that impactors where only good for soft, non-abrasive applications like limestone. Screenmasters purchased the 14th unit built, the first in the southern hemisphere, and brought it to Australia against the wishes of the OEM.

“Given that at the time there was so much negativity around the use of this machine and the limited applications the OEM thought it could be used in, we decided to cocoon it for six months and conduct our own trials,” Lagan recalled.

“We wanted to see how the unit performed, what its real wear rates were and the realistic tonnage figures at 20mm, 40mm and 75mm. That way, when we took the unit to market, we could provide the customer with an honest appraisal of the machine’s capabilities, not just what they could read in the sales book,” Lagan explained. “This willingness to take calculated risks has served Screenmasters well over the years.

After the six-month testing period, Screenmasters released the impactor onto the market, armed with accurate wear and production rates. “We placed our machine into concrete recycling. At the time, no one thought an impact crusher would handle the steel in concrete. They thought the blow bars would break, wear plates would shear off, belts would tear, which would result in high wear rates and low productivity,” Lagan said.

The Screenmasters team proved that that wasn’t the case and today closed circuit impactors are some of the biggest selling mobile crushers in Australia.
Encouraging more flexibility
Screenmasters demonstrated that these units were capable in a variety of applications, including river gravel, hard rock and sandstone. More than one million tonnes of heavily contaminated railway ballast has been processed by Screenmasters, an application no one thought possible.

“This is the sort of thing we’ve tried to do over the past 25 years with the machines, to get more flexibility built into the units and provide the customer with more ‘bang for their buck’,” Lagan said. “That’s what gives us the greatest satisfaction.”

Screenmasters has continued to push the boundaries with various machines. Recently, it placed a GIPO vertical shaft impact crusher into a sandstone application, processing 100mm sandstone to produce 8mm minus product. This particular application has been a huge success for the customer; the production rates exceed 330 tonnes per hour (tph) at 8mm minus and the wear rates have been impressive.

“All Screenmasters’ employees, both past and present, should be very proud of what we’ve achieved.”
A similar machine was recently placed in a hard rock quarry processing 10mm aggregate from a 90mm feed product and, again, the wear rates were better than expected. Given the rock and the customer’s previous negative experiences with other VSI units, he was delighted with the outcome.

Some of the changes made to this machine included: placing additional hydraulic coolers and larger radiators on the machine; a larger engine; a 1000 tph head drum on the feed hopper; wider belts; and putting 80-tonne track frames on a 58-tonne machine. Some of these changes may sound extreme but the machine has worked trouble-free for more than four years. Screenmasters have a similar bespoke machine with over 14,500 hours on the clock, which still works reliably.

As Screenmasters has grown, the company has come to appreciate the value in partnering and collaborating with companies that are as committed to innovation as it is. Screenmasters works closely with OEMs that are prepared to adapt their designs based on customer feedback; the results are more bespoke machines that are suited to Australia’s climatic conditions and the isolation of many sites here.

“Many of the global manufacturers fail to understand how isolated some of these mining and quarrying sites are in Australia,” Lagan said. “They don’t appreciate how long it takes to get emergency break down parts and staff to site. We want our customers to be active participants in this building process, to make a better, more reliable machine. We are actively seeking to change components, make subtle design changes to ensure enduring quality and improve reliability.”

In recent years, Screenmasters has taken an active role in changing the standard specifications offered by suppliers. “Yes, we pay extra for this privilege, but the customer gets a more dependable and productive machine and, let’s be frank, the customer is only getting paid when the machine is operational, regardless of what warranty is paid in the event of breakdown,” Lagan said.

The MDS M515 heavy-duty trommel can process limestone, granite, steel slag and demolition waste, and remove sticky materials from rocks.

“We want our customers to be active participants in this building process, to make a better, more reliable machine.”

Screenmasters has recently persuaded one of its suppliers to remove all the bearings on the head and tail drums on its screens, crushers and track-mounted conveyors and replace them with oil bath tail and head drums. The company has also removed expensive and unreliable software, replaced hydraulic hoses with 20mm hydraulic piping and placed larger engines in machines to provide additional productivity, better fuel economy and longer life. As a result, it currently supplies screens with a fuel burn of between 9 and 12 litres per hour and stackers with a fuel burn of four litres an hour. All of these savings are passed on directly to the customer.

Lagan added these are just some of the building blocks Screenmasters is adapting to ensure its crushers, screens and rock trommels can stand up to the rigours of the Australian environment – and to ensure its customers have the best chance of success.

Screenmasters employs 26 staff and has three sites with five warehouses, located in Bathurst, Central West NSW, Wetherill Park, Western Sydney and Ormeau, located between the Gold Coast and Brisbane. The company stocks more than 50 machines, both new and used, with crushers ranging from 30 tonnes to 86 tonnes and mobile screens of all sizes.

The Screenmasters staff and directors thank their loyal customers and their many competitors, who’ve provided great competition over the past 25 years and continue to drive Screenmasters to improve and maintain high standards.