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Amped up: electric-powered material handlers may fit some scrap applications.

The profitability of any scrap processing operation is a direct function of the scrap processing cost. Considering the energy costs today, a considerable portion of a scrap recycler's processing cost is related to the cost of energy.

A way to determine how these costs add up at their scrap yards, recyclers can analyze how many times material is handled within their yards. Every time material is moved, recyclers should consider if they can find a way to optimize their operations.

The traditional way is to use either a rubber-tired or crawler-mounted material handler driven by a diesel engine. The most common excuse to continue to use such machines is their mobility, but in reality how many shears and shredders are fed by material handlers that almost never move or that stay within a very restricted amount of space?

PLUGGING IN. It can be beneficial for every scrap processor to take the approach that any shear, shredder or baler can be fed with an electric-powered material handler.

When analyzing a scrap yard's material handling operations, recyclers should consider that electric-powered machines can be mounted on crawler undercarriages. These machines can still provide some mobility and flexibility in handling material for a scrap recycler's overall operation.

As long as there is a clear path for the material handler to move along, an electric-powered crawler material handler can be used. For instance, a crawler unit that unloads trucks, feeds a shear and loads trucks with the finished material can do all of this without ranging far from its power source. The scrap handler can move in an L-shaped path while being powered by an electric cable plugged into a nearby building.

There is a solution to almost every material handling need enabling the use of an electric-driven material handler to reduce the operating cost. Every cent saved on the diesel bill can mean another cent in your pocket.

SELLING POINTS. Depending on the cost of diesel fuel compared to local electrical costs, the savings can provide the most obvious advantage to using an electric-driven material handler. But there are other advantages that can prove to exist over time and that can be worth considering, including:

* Lower maintenance cost;

* Extended main components life;

* Higher machine availability because of reduced down time; and

* Low operating noise.

Let's consider each of these points separately.

LOWER MAINTENANCE COST--Analyzing the maintenance schedule for many material handlers, it becomes apparent that a major part of the maintenance work is related to the diesel engine. Engine oil as well as air and oil filter changes are more frequent than hydraulic oil changes. Eliminating the diesel engine from the material handler eliminates the water radiator, water pump, diesel injection pump and injector from the maintenance schedule. Diesel engine maintenance usually results in more costs than hydraulic circuit maintenance.

EXTENDED MAIN COMPONENTS LIFE--Our experience with a large number of electric-driven material handlers is that the main pumps have a much longer life than when driven by a diesel engine. The culprit affecting the diesel engine is often the vibration and the heat generated by the diesel engine--side effects not produced by electric motors.

HIGHER MACHINE AVAILABILITY BECAUSE OF REDUCED DOWNTIME--Apart from the time a scrap recycling operation gains by not having to do the maintenance of the items above, an analysis should also consider the time gained because there is no need to refuel an electric-driven material handler.

LOW OPERATING NOISE--The main source of noise and vibration on a diesel-driven material handler is the diesel engine. An electric-driven material handler, however, has less impact on the machine's environment and on the operator as a result of the reduced noise, heat and vibration, as well.

IN THE DETAILS. Detailed cost studies made for different sizes of material handlers as well as different operating conditions have shown savings in operating cost of between 50 percent and 70 percent when compared to diesel-driven material handlers, depending in large part on the current costs of diesel fuel and local electric power costs.

When investing in a new material handler, scrap recyclers should consider using an electric-powered unit first. Recyclers should analyze their operations and determine whether they could save money by making this choice.

Perhaps these machines will pay for themselves within a few years based on the savings a recycler can realize from switching to an electric-driven scrap handler. When recyclers consider all of their material handling needs, they could find that they have a number of opportunities to use electric-powered material handlers at their yards.

The author is president of Sennebogen LLC, Charlotte, N.C., and can be contacted by e-mail at
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Comment:Amped up: electric-powered material handlers may fit some scrap applications.(SCRAP HANDLING EQUIPMENT FOCUS)
Author:Iannes, Constantino
Publication:Recycling Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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