When and Where to Use A Modular Aggregate Washing Plant

March 23, 2020
Modular Wash Plants are quick to set up, have a smaller footprint and are easy to relocate to a new site as demand changes. If you are thinking about purchasing a Modular Wash Plant for your site, here are some factors you need to consider.

While I have joked at times that anything can be fixed with a ball-peen hammer, a screwdriver and a roll of duct tape, the truth of the matter is there are a wide variety of tools for a reason.

Like any tool, there is a right time and a wrong time to use it. Just like there is a specific time to use a Phillips-head screwdriver, there is a best fit for modular aggregate washing plants. Below are some factors to consider when purchasing a Modular Wash Plant.  

Urgent need

Too often, time is a major factor for a number of reasons. It may be as simple as opportunity is knocking and requires a swift response. On the other side, it could be that disaster has or is about to hit. A short fall in production, a potential breach of contract or an equipment failure can drive an immediate need for an answer. 

One of the advantages of a Modular Wash Plant is they tend to be fully designed. They are readily manufactured or already in stock for faster deployment. Modular Wash Plants can be custom designed for specific applications, but in the case of a time-sensitive application, the standard unit will fit the situation better even if it is not an exact fit. 

Even the standard Modular Wash Plants allow for some adjustments within the design, such as Hydrocyclone configuration, screen media selection and, as is the case with McLanahan’s UltraWASH Modular Wash Plant, a configurable sump. With an experienced process review, the standard unit can be matched up as close as possible to the needs of the application.

Mark Krause, Managing Director - North America at McLanahan Corporation, talks about how the sump on the UltraWASH can be converted between a single wash and a dual wash.

Common applications

Unique applications call for a unique process design, but many applications share common features and fall into a range of process requirements. For these standard applications, a Modular Wash Plant can be selected, assembled, commissioned and repeated. 

Having multiple, similar units provide a number of possible advantages. On the operational level, an individual can move between different sites with greater ease because the process and procedures are the same. New hires receive training in a controlled environment and are then placed as needed. 

Maintenance also can benefit by utilizing a shared site for spare parts and set repair procedures. Multiple same or similar Modular Wash Plants allow an operation to keep it simple for the best return on investment.

Short-term sites

By no means are Modular Wash Plants cheap, throwaway solutions. In fact, Modular Wash Plants can and do operate effectively and profitably for years.

Short-term sites do not always have the payback to cover the capital expenses of all the civil work required for a more permanent process plant. A Modular Wash Plant can be set up to handle the process without the need for extensive infrastructure. 

Because they are designed to be shipped and assembled on site, Modular Wash Plants can be more easily repurposed at another site when the deposit is depleted. Reclamation of a site is not always on the top of the priority list, but a Modular Wash Plant makes it easier to return the site to a natural condition.

Lower throughput

The cost of a permanent plant is normally offset by higher throughput and a long life span of the deposit. When higher throughput is not needed or possible, a Modular Wash Plant can be put in place at a lower capital investment and deliver the level of production needed. The advantage of shipping the plants in containers does have an impact on the size of the equipment, so throughput is lower than with permanent plants.

UltraWASH ModelMax Feed Tonnage (all in -100mm)Maximum AggregateMaximum Sand
5164-21S & 5164-31S165 stph (150 mtph)132 stph (120 mtph)99 stph (90 mtph)
5164-22S & 5164-32S165 stph (150 mtph)
132 stph (120 mtph)99 stph (90 mtph)
5164-21D  & 5164-31D143 stph (130 mtph)132 stph (120 mtph)88 stph (80 mtph)
5165-21S  & 5165-31S276 stph (250 mtph)165 stph (150 mtph)165 stph (150 mtph)
5165-22S  & 5165-32S276 stph (250 mtph)165 stph (150 mtph)165 stph (150 mtph)
5165-21D  & 5165-31D220 stph (200 mtph)132 stph (120 mtph)132 stph (120 mtph)
6206-21S  & 6206-31S441 stph (400 mtph)220 stph (200 mtph)220 stph (200 mtph)
6206-22S  & 6206-32S441 stph (400 mtph)220 stph (200 mtph)220 stph (200 mtph)
6206-21D  & 6206-31D353 stph (320 mtph)176 stph (160 mtph)209 stph (190 mtph)

This chart depicts the maximum material tons per hour for each of McLanahan's UltraWASH models. 


Starting a new plant requires a lot of different permitting. Whether it is at the local, state or even federal level, permitting can be an obstacle. Anything that makes the permitting process easier is a benefit.

Modular Wash Plants can receive a different classification than a permanent plant. This can make it easier to get a permit for a temporary site versus a permanent site.

Permit requirements are not just for the beginning of a project, they also come into play at the end of the deposit’s lifespan. Once mining operations are complete, the reclamation process begins. Without a permanent structure, the ability to meet these requirements is significantly easier. It can be the difference between the destruction of a permanent plant versus the removal of a Modular Plant to set up operations at another site or even selling the unit.

Add on to an existing plant

Conditions and markets change, and sometimes, plants need to be updated. When the situation arises, a combination of the points above can drive the placement of a Modular Wash Plant.

Expanding your plant means growing or changing your production capability and profits. When planned accordingly, a Modular Wash Plant can be a drop-in improvement to your operation’s capacity that allows you to meet the new demands.

Bringing in a Modular Wash Plant as an add-on is like grabbing another tool for the job. It’s like using a straight screwdriver on a Philips-head screw; sometimes it works, and other times it only brings frustration. Even when it does work, the screw head can be damaged, which will drive replacement later on.

In the end, when a modular aggregate washing plant fits well in at least one or more of these situations, it can be the right tool for the job. If you do not have at least one of the above conditions, then a Modular Wash Plant may not be the direction to go. A customized plant addresses the specific needs of the application and provides long-term benefits. When a Modular Wash Plant does fit the need, it can be more of a long-term advantage to the operation, capacity and most importantly, profit.

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Tags: Washing & Classifying

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