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Getting the job done: several manufacturers provide insight on what qualities to look for when selecting a baler. (Baler Focus).

Veteran recyclers have learned many first-hand lessons on what to look for when buying a baler. Whether deciding between single-ram or two-ram or on make and model, many recyclers have formed their own opinions on which type of baler will suit their needs.

However, equipment makers are quick to note the equipment world is not static. Baler introduce new and improved models annually, and the competition is fierce to introduce models that can save recyclers labor costs, energy used, and baling wire. Bragging rights are also hotly contested in terms of which company makes the most reliable baler that will cause the least amount of downtime.

In this month's baler locus, several manufacturer spokespersons offer thoughts on what recyclers should be looking for when choosing a baler.


In a day when so many people who have never been responsible for baling material are finding themselves responsible for buying balers (though they may be spelling it as "bailers"), there never seems to be enough information available for these people to adequately answer their questions and ease the tension of buying something that they do not fully understand.

Consulting firms, purchasing agents, and others are thrown into a situation where they have to find a solution to a need that requires the baling of some sort of material and they may or may not have the experience in this field to effectively make an informed decision as to what might be their best option. Many times the most logical approach may seem to be the gathering of as much information from as many sources as possible about balers.

With the Internet, trade shows, and the many publications with advertisements galore, there is much information to comprehend, and with so much information, confusion between what is real and unreal and needed and un-needed may become overwhelming for the buyer. These responsible parties may call on someone with past baling experience for assistance, but this resource person may or may not be familiar with some of the enhancements and changes to today's baling systems.

Research into today's baler market will show the interested party a number of balers with an assortment of capabilities and proficiencies to effectively bale a wider range of materials than ever before thought of in the context of baling.

Recyclers, of course, are baling, as are paper processors, manufacturers, printers, warehouses, and many others who are generating materials that need to be densified for transportation or storage. Whatever the application, you can be sure that there is most certainly a baler that can suit the need better than another, and then it is a matter of determining the volume, size and variety of the material to be handled, the speed with which it is to be processed, the cost by which to run the baling system, and the reliability and dependability of the equipment and its manufacturer.

In looking at the advertisements of a recycling publication, the reader will find the promise of high volume through-puts, automatic operation, innovation, aerospace-like qualities, historical reputation, low price, and many other buzzword solutions. Though these advertisements are very effective in catching a prospect's eye, the danger is that they are like the prettiest fishing lures: catching many fishermen but very few fish.

It is important, if not absolutely necessary, to see the equipment considered in operation to gauge the true effectiveness of the machine. In the balers available today, certain touted features are available in some models, but very few manufacturers are able to ensure the best of all qualities in their equipment. Some of the key qualities to look for and validate as existing in the baler to be purchased are:

Dependability: Balers have been manufactured long enough so that structural and operational inadequacies should not be a normal part of the package. Downtime from structural or operational failures are critically costly. Some manufacturers have eliminated or greatly diminished the fear factor associated with unscheduled downtime by eliminating many of the potential points of failure.

Automation: Affordable technology exists to allow the opportunity for true automatic operation in most baling applications. The removal of a full-time stationary operator saves tens of thou sands of dollars every year for the owner of a baler that will run automatically. Many baler models are touted as possessing this ability, but not all do.

Bale Density: Density of bales is critical to the cost-effective and efficient transportation of material. Once a minimum threshold for density is reached and the requirement is met consistently, additional bale weigh and density may have a diminishing return. Have a specific goal in mind and go see the prospective equipment producing bales as heavy and dense as you require. But, please note, that if the bales are heavy but size precludes them from being loaded in such a manner to maximize transportation, the benefit of their density is greatly diminished.

Multi-Material Baling Capability: The ability to handle a wide range of materials opens up the opportunity for additional revenue streams on the same equipment. Again, this is important to witness first hand in applications similar to your own.

Throughput: In this game of "liar's poker," it is important to determine what throughput is to be required in your facility and plan for growth. Again, go and view a prospective machine performing at or above your requirement. Many extremely high throughput claims may be possible within the safety of a spreadsheet calculation, but if it is impossible to feed at the required rate, the throughput will not materialize.

It is also very important to note the size of the bale produced and regularity of that bale size. Again, if the bales are heavy, but size precludes them from being loaded in such a manner as to maximize transportation, the benefit of production is greatly diminished.

It is possible to get all of these benefits from a single baler, but it will take some work and diligence in your research. Balers are so much more than they were just ten years ago. With a little travel and some site visits and testimonials, you can find the true, latest and greatest in baling systems.


The reasons to maximize production and processing in a recycling plant are not very different from the logic that drives any manufacturing, retail, or commercial/industrial business -- aim to produce as many revenue-generating products as you can at the lowest cost. It's particularly interesting with the recycling industry because the equipment choice is critical to the control and management of costs.

A large, expensive machine is often a huge expense at the time of purchase, but its production capacity and resulting benefits save money over time.

A trend in the recycling industry is toward large regional plants, with high volume baling capacity. This reflects a growing realization that although equipment is a large initial cost, labor costs are generally the highest costs in any recycling plant, and a cost that only goes up as time goes on.

Labor costs will usually go up every year. A small recycling facility, using a small baler, requires a similar labor force to a large facility, baling at high volume. Both plants will need a loader, scale operator, etc. If you have a large baler, able to do process a high volume, you are generally more competitive than somebody using a small baler.

A facility capable of processing 10,000 to 15,000 tons per month with a baler, though the baler might require an investment of a half million dollars, will result in a lower cost per ton for that facility than a facility doing 1,500 tons per month with a baler of one-third the cost, due mainly to similar labor costs. The higher volume resulting from the large baler allows the facility to produce more revenue-generating end products at lower cost.


Processors today rely on record keeping to help them manage their operations, in part by always looking at labor and operational efficiency. Each operation is different because of the amount and types of material it processes, the area in which it is located and the tonnage required to be processed.

Increasingly, baler manufacturers are offering production-reporting systems that track how much material is being baled and other key statistics. IPS Balers has designed the Smarte Report[R], which is a processing management tool that collects information important to any operation.

Information such as bale count by material, average bale weight, total tons baled, total bales per hour, power consumption (cost), total wire consumption (cost), total production time, non accountable downtime, accountable downtime, total downtime (cost), total hours (cost), and total tons per hour are collected and downloaded into a spreadsheet that can be printed out at a printing station linked to a standard office computing configuration.

Most processors collect these items manually now, but a computer-controlled system can eliminate the human mathematical errors that can occur. The report can record three shifts and is automatically saved by the shift and date. This valuable information can then be stored and recalled for years to come.

Other innovations that have helped recyclers operate more efficiently are the pre-compression ram and the hinged-side configuration.

The concept of the pre-compression ram is to minimize shearing and maximize the cubic feet of material for each charge. Material is loaded on top of the pre-compression ram until the level of material reaches one of five desired heights. The pre-compression ram opens, allowing material to fall into the baling chamber. The pre-compression ram, when closed, pushes the material below the serrated shear knife beam. The main press head starts its compression stroke and pushes the material into the baling chamber. Since the pre-compression lid eliminates shearing, the main ram does not slow down in the final compression stage until resistance is sensed by the baler well into the bale chamber.

The design gives the baler a large volume of hydraulic fluid force, generating greater baler cycle time.

The single-ram hinge-side baler has a 55-inch feed chamber and a wider serrated shear area. Much like the pre-compression ram, the hinge-side baler minimizes shearing of material, but maximizes the cubic feet of material in the feed chamber. The articulating hinge side opens when the desired level of material is sensed in the hopper allowing the material to fall into the bale chamber.

When the articulating hinge side closes, the material is rolled and almost tumbled, pushing the material into all the void spaces in the bale chamber, eliminating the need for pre-conditioning of many materials being baled.

This sequence of operation provides maximum production while using fewer cylinder strokes. The increased feed hopper size eliminates frequent bridging of material, which can cause unnecessary cycles without material in the bale chamber, drastically affecting one's throughput and efficiency.


NO. 1 FERROUS BUNDLES -- New black steel sheet scrap, clippings or skeleton scrap, compressed or hand bundled, to charging box size and weighing not less than 75 pounds per cubic foot. (Hand bundles are tightly secured for handling with a magnet.) May include Stanley balls or mandrel wound bundles or skeleton reels, tightly secured. May include chemically detinned material. May not include old auto body or fender stock. Free of metal coated, limed, vitreous enameled and electrical sheet containing over 0.5 percent silicon.

NO. 2 FERROUS BUNDLES -- Old black and galvanized steel sheet scrap hydraulically compressed to charging box size and weighing not less than 75 pounds per cubic foot. May not include tin or lead-coated material or vitreous enameled material.

STEEL CAN BUNDLES -- Steel can scrap compressed to charging box size and weighing not less than 75 pounds per cubic foot. Cans may be baled without removal of paper labels, but free of other nonmetallics. May include up to five-gallon tin-coated containers.

ELECTRIC FURNACE BUNDLES -- New black steel sheet scrap hydraulically compressed into bundles of size and weight as specified by consumer.

Source: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc., Washington

RELATED ARTICLE: Metal baling considerations. (Baler Focus)

By John Sacco, Sierra International Machinery Inc.

Metals have been baled for shipment to mills and foundries for decades. With the advent of shredders and other size reduction devices, there are many questions being asked regarding how metals baler are being used in today's market.

Are there still a healthy percentage of mills, foundries and other facilities melting bales rather than shredded scrap?

It seems that bales of lower quality scrap are becoming less and less desirable. But, on the other hand bales of clips and other high grades seem to be in good demand. As far as shredded goes, not all mills can take shredded. Shredded scrap is clean but doesn't fit the needs of all mills or foundries.

How did the concept of shredder logs develop, and why do they make good feedstock for shredders?

Shredder logs were developed to increase the in feed density for shredders. Some shredders have found that they don't get the production they need with loose material. Logs improve production for most shredders, but you have to be careful not to make logs that are too dense, since not all shredders can handle denser logs. The newer super shredders can eat a steady diet of logs.

What types of companies are using mobile balers, and for what types of applications?

There are all types of companies using mobile balers, from mom and pop operations to the largest scrap processors. It depends on the market niche companies have developed and whether or not portable applications make sense for them.

Are there also nonferrous metals applications for mobile balers?

As far as non-ferrous applications, there are very few that we have found at this time. Mobile balers are mainly ferrous processors in nature.
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Article Details
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Author:Sacco, John
Publication:Recycling Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002
Previous Article:Exporting a problem: is the U.S. exporting an environmental problem when it ships electronics scrap overseas? (Electronics Recycling).
Next Article:Betting on change: the ISRI 2002 Annual Convention embraces change at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. (Convention Preview).

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