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Making the cut: recyclers and manufacturers offer buying tips for ferrous shears and balers.

When recyclers are ready to step up to the plate and drop nearly $250,000 into a shear and baler setup, they'd better be sure they know what they are doing.

Dave Cobb, maintenance supervisor at EKCO Metals, Los Angeles, figures a shear should last about 20 years. His current machine, a Lollini USA model, is nine years old.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'd say it's about a seven on condition," Cobb says. "It's holding up well."

He has relined the floor and has recently replaced the shear head. "The head itself is a 10," he says. "It's like brand new."

The unit still is operating with its original hydraulics. But Cobb says EKCO maintains the unit well, which contributes to machine longevity.

But a lot of other things go into the buying decision. The first question a recycler might consider is whether to invest big bucks in a high-volume stationary unit with a typical 800- to 2,200-ton capacity or to go with a portable unit.

Among the chief considerations when determining whether to buy a portable unit are the consuming markets in a recycler's service area.

STATIONARY VS. PORTABLE. "Typically, stationary units are designed for greater throughput and produce heavier and denser bales," explains Ken Ely, president of Ely Enterprises, an equipment supplier based in Cleveland.

A recycler who is fulfilling a mill contract will almost certainly go with a stationary unit. However, in many cases it is difficult to bring in the required electrical service or to pour a concrete foundation for a stationary unit. In that case, portable equipment can fill the yard's bill.

Jay Klempner is owner of Louisville, Ky.-based Moros/North America, a distributor of Moros shears, which are manufactured in Spain. He says portable machines can do almost anything stationary units can do. He sees the difference as logistical. "Can you better feed the shear by going to where the material is, or will it come to you?" he asks.

Klempner sees a trend toward portable units, except in big cities, where more material typically comes to the yard.

Mike Pass, president of Peachtree City, Ga.-based Vezzani USA, a distributor of recycling equipment that is designed in Italy, says different materials call for different types of machines. Shears will cut material that does not lend itself to baling, such as I-beams, plate and structural material, producing a No. 1 or No. 2 heavy melt grade. Balers can process No. 1 factory clips, bundles or sheet iron, materials that can be bent.

"Portable units can only handle lighter materials due to the overall weight and structural integrity of the machines," Pass says.

John Sacco, president of Sierra International Machinery, Bakersfield, Calif., says, "Most grades can be fed to the stationary shears and balers, from HMS No. 1 to HMS No. 2. Also, clips from production can be baled. Portable loggers handle sheet, iron, appliances and automobiles." Meanwhile, a stationary baler can handle bulkier scrap and offer higher production.

Of course, portable balers come in different sizes, so the purchase decision depends on a recycler's budget and needs. "The quality of the machine is also a big factor," says Sacco.

Al-jon Inc., Ottumwa, Iowa, is another maker of portable balers, and its Scrap Sales Manager Curt Spry says his company is serving the growth portion of the market.

"Portable units are versatile; they can go and get loose scrap and process it into logs or bales to be transported to a high-volume shredder," he says.

Julian Marceglia, CEO of Colmar USA, Wheatfield, N.Y., says the company's Cayman mobile horizontal shears were designed to meet customer requests for a "truly portable shear."

A challenge, though, can be to build the requisite structural integrity into a portable machine in light of highway weight limits.

Earl J. Weber Jr., vice president of Garden Street Iron and Metal Inc., Harrison, Ohio, says the company typically uses stationary units, though Garden State has portable units that it purchased simply because they can be moved around. The company uses the Harris BSH-22-883-B-3 shear, but also has portable units from Sierra.

"We can take the portable South when the hurricanes hit," Weber says.

Garden State also uses the portable units for lighter grades. The company processes aluminum and stainless through its portable units.

Hawk Steel Industries, Kennedale, Texas, uses a stationary Colmar shear/ baler in its preparation of specialty foundry grades. The company also deploys portable balers at demolition jobs and other off-site locations.

Stationary units with higher forces can handle heavier, bulkier material at high production rates. They typically produce high-density (mill spec) bales.

Portable or transportable shear/baler/loggers typically are lower-force machines and are limited to processing lighter material than stationary units. "The unit's charge box may be shorter and have less side forces to handle heavier, bulkier material," Bob Pfeffer, vice president of sales/West for Harris Waste Management Services, Peachtree, Ga., says.

Stationary shears generally have larger charge box openings, larger shear throat openings and higher forces.

"There is usually a variety of charge box configurations (clamshell, tuck and fold and side squeeze) available that customers can choose for their particular applications," Pfeffer says.

Stationary balers are available with multi-ram compression under higher forces, achieving high-density bales. In almost all cases, stationary units provide more production than portables.

SIZING IT UP. "I cannot emphasize enough: Plan ahead, and buy for future tonnage requirements if at all possible," Pfeffer says. "We see so many customers that outgrow a new piece of equipment in about five years and wish they had bought a larger unit. This equipment is usually a major investment; do the research," he suggests. "Do you want to invest in a 10-to-15-year life machine or in a 20-to-30-year life machine?" he asks.

Pfeffer notes that features such as easily replaceable liners in all wear surfaces usually cost more up front, but overall operating costs are lower over the life of the equipment.

"Know the operational and maintenance features of the equipment and how they impact the unit's performance," he advises. "Buy based on your production needs."

"When we quote a machine, we encourage the buyer to anticipate growth," Ely says. He calls it the "Field of Dreams" approach: If you buy it, the tonnage will come.

"Many recyclers buy expecting to use the machine twice a week. But soon they are using it six times a week and getting a better return on their investment," he says.

Cobb has several buying criteria. First is the capacity of the unit in tons per hour. He also says that the hydraulic pressure in tons of force at the head of the shear is important.

Moros/North America's Klempner says stationary units are best in a yard with a rail siding and the acreage to accommodate the machine and to store processed and incoming material.

He notes that throat size--2, 3 or 5 feet--is another consideration. A recycler with access to the No. 1 shearing market might need a 5-foot throat. A 3-foot throat will serve the No. 2 heavy melt market. An option to meet both needs is to buy a 5-foot unit and run the material twice.

"You should have a volume level of 1,500-2,000 tons per month to justify stationary equipment," Vezzani USA's Pass says. He continues, "If the market is saturated with big shredders, there may be a niche that you can fill with a smaller unit."

To that end, he recommends a fair amount of front-end due diligence. "You should know where your finished product will go. There should be an understanding between the processor and consumer."

Sierras Sacco says recyclers need to process about 40 to 50 tons per day to justify a stationary unit, which is roughly in line with Pass's estimate.

Already own a unit? "Once you get over 600 to 1,000 tons per month, a facility's operating efficiency can be improved with the addition of a piece of equipment," Pfeffer says. A yard's need for an additional unit depends on several variables, such as the consumer's location, type of scrap processed, proximity to a shredder, etc., he says.

In most cases, Ely will recommend that recyclers factor in 25-percent to 50-percent growth. More established recyclers who are buying replacement equipment might want to be more conservative with that figure and look at 5-percent to 10-percent extra capacity, however.

"Never buy a machine that at Day One you reach 90-percent capacity," warns Sacco. "This doesn't allow room for growth. It's far better to be at 60-percent capacity."

Garden Street's Weber agrees. "We overkill when we buy," he says. "We'll buy double what we need, really ... it gives us room for growth," he says.

In Garden Street's most recent shopping trip, the company was initially looking for a 500-ton shear. "We went with 800 tons," Weber says. "Our requirements will be bigger, and we're buying more."

"Nothing is worse than making a big investment in a stationary machine-pouring a foundation and bringing in the electricity--and finding out a year later that you have to get a larger machine and re-do all of the soft costs to accommodate the bigger machine," Ely says.

ADDING THE FIGURES. Sacco says to budget for the following on-going operating cost with any machine: fuel, labor, repair and maintenance, electrical (if stationary) and parts.

Electricity on a stationary shear is a big factor. ECKO Metals spends about $3,000 per month on power. Replacement knives are about $1,500 per set.

Pass says that for a stationary or portable unit, wear parts requirements will be the same. Blades, liner plates and hydraulic maintenance are required whether you choose a portable or stationary model.

Operating costs can be tricky. "When purchasing and installing a piece of equipment, you need to be aware of installation costs, including permits (if applicable), electrical service (unless using a diesel engine), foundation design, foundation construction, crane/rigger charges, installation crew, hydraulic oil, optional conveyors and other items such as buildings and scales," lists Harris's Pfeffer.

"Depending upon the size of the equipment, the operating costs can vary from facility to facility," Pfeffer adds. Shears have an average operating cost of from $8 to $18 per ton, while balers can run from $5 to $15 per ton to operate, depending on their size.

"As a rule of thumb, a 1,000-ton shear will cost about $18 to $22 per ton in processing, excluding labor and overhead," Klempner says. The cost includes maintenance, depreciation and utility costs.

For portable baling units, Al-jon's Spry lists filters, belts, hoses, fuel, lubrication and general wear and tear as ongoing costs and conditions that must be monitored.

NEW VS. USED. "There is a lot of good used equipment out there," says Ely. He compares buying used balers to buying a used car: "You have to be knowledgeable about what you are buying," he says.

Typically, used equipment will sell for between 40 percent and 60 percent of new equipment. "But that's a real generalization," he says. "A one-year old machine will get 85 percent to 90 percent of its original value."

Part of that variation is because of the long life cycle one can expect from a well-maintained, properly used piece of equipment. "It all depends on how the operator took care of the machine," Kempner says.

A good stationary baler can go 30 to 40 years and still be serviceable. "It depends on the brand, how it is maintained and how it is used," Ely says. Mobile units don't last quite as long, giving 10 to 12 years of life.

Pass says many companies buy used machines because of budgetary restrictions. "But the scrap processing business is a hard, dirty, abusive business. When you look at used equipment, remember it reflects the difficulty of the environment it is in."

Cobb agrees with Pass. "I'd always go new. I know what I'm getting," he says. He expects a solid 20-year lifetime from a stationary unit.

"Used equipment is always a consideration, but ultimately it comes down to financial capacity," Sacco says. "A new machine gives more production and comes with a better warranty vs. a used machine."

Pfeffer warns, "Be cautious about condition. Always hire an expert technician (most larger manufacturers offer this service) to go inspect the used unit. Be prepared for some surprises, as even the best technician cannot see into the pumps, valves and cylinders."

Whether investing in a new or a used piece of equipment, Ely says to be sure to check parts availability of the machine. "Be sure your vendor has a U.S. warehouse," he says.

Klempner says that electrical components, O-rings, packing and other parts should be available anywhere, not only through the manufacturer.

Lastly, Ely says to be sure any machine complies to ANSI (American National Standards Institute) safety standards. "And don't bypass those safety features," he adds.


When comparing portable or transportable balers, processors should know what Product their markets require and what their current production requirements will be. They should also estimate what their production requirements will be five years out.

When comparing various models of portable balers, recyclers should look at:

* Chargebox size (width and length);

* Chargebox configuration (trapping larger bulky material);

* Chargebox forces;

* Baling force;

* Whether the unit has a bale-eject door or if the bales must be picked out with a grapple/magnet;

* Type of engine (name brand);

* Type of plc control (name brand);

* Manufacture support ; and

* Resale/trade-in value (name brands will hold higher values).

The author is a Recycling Today contributing editor based in Cleveland. He can be reached at
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Title Annotation:FERROUS SHEARS AND BALERS FOCUS; EKCO International Metals Inc; Vezzani
Author:Harler, Curt
Publication:Recycling Today
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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