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New heights: longer reach, greater power, smoother controls--scrap handler improvements keep on coming. (Scrap Handling Equipment Focus).

The term "re-inventing the wheel" is often used derisively, usually referring to an activity deemed a waste of effort. But manufacturers have a legitimate interest in re-inventing the wheel; and the axle, the piston, the cylinder, the boom or any other component of a material handling machine.

The management concept of continuous improvement urges designers and makers of equipment to keep making machines that are more productive, safer, more reliable and more comfortable than their predecessors.

Customers may not always reflect on the cumulative changes that have taken place, but scrap handling machines designed and assembled in 2002 are a great deal different from ones made in previous decades.


Most scrap handling machines are mobile--with either wheels, tracks or the ability to move on rails--but that doesn't mean scrap yard owners want them constantly running back and forth.

Thus, a lot of buyers are looking for machines with added reach, so the scrap handlers can park for an extended period of time while handling scrap in a wide circumference of territory.

Demolition contractors often want added reach for vertical rather than horizontal reasons. Traditional lattice boom cranes can be procured that can reach higher up on buildings, but these machines are limited in the type of attachments they can use (wrecking ball and lifting magnet, for the most part).

A hydraulic crane that can reach higher floors, however, can be outfitted with a hydraulic shear--allowing it to grab the metal that demolition contractors are out to separate and to process.

Several manufacturers, including Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., are marketing high-reach models. The Cat 345B L Series II Ultra High Demolition machine features a maximum vertical reach of 84 feet. In addition to shears, the machine can be fitted with concrete crushing and multi-processing attachments, as well as grapples.

Liebherr, a German equipment maker with American headquarters in Newport News, Va., has also been marketing high-reach models to the demolition market. The company's highest-reaching model provides an operating height of nearly 125 feet. The machines are built with parallel longitudinal main girders in a box-section configuration.

For those who may wish to reconfigure an existing hydraulic handler to reach higher, Paul Wever Construction Equipment Co. (PWCE), Goodfield, Ill., has designed the PCWE Demolition Extendavator.

This high-reach demolition system combines a 20-foot PWCE Demolition Extendavator and a PWCE Demolition Dipper. The modifications allow reconfigured handlers to reach up to five stories high with a 100,000-pound class machine.

Demolition contractor Rod Tschiggfrie of Tschiggfrie Excavating, Dubuque, Iowa, says using a shear on a PWCE-modified Linkbelt 5800 machine has been "more controllable" and thus safer than using a wrecking ball. "It surely made it safer to do my work," he comments.


Wheel-mounted hydraulic handlers are not new, and in fact have gained market share around the world as environmental regulations cause more scrap facilities to pave larger portions of their yards. Machines on steel treads can quickly chew up pavement.

European equipment makers such as Fuchs (now a part of Terex Inc., Westport, Conn.), Liebherr and Sennebogen have specialized in making scrap handlers on wheels for several years.

Fuchs has gained market share by offering wheeled machines that offer extended reach and elevated cabs that can help increase operator efficiency. The company was also a pioneer in offering a "quick-change" attachment system that allows operators to switch between grapples, magnets and other attachments as quickly as possible.

Sennebogen, with U.S. offices in Charlotte, N.C., has been attempting to enter the North American market with its series of large, wheeled material handling machines. Tube City Inc., King of Prussia, Pa., has purchased material handlers from the company, including a model 870M being used at its U.S. Steel Gary Works operation in Gary, Ind.

The scrap staging area near the massive U.S. Steel complex handles as much as 250,000 tons of ferrous scrap each month, according to Tube City vice president of maintenance and engineering David Coslov. The 145,000-pound rubber tired machine Sennebogen delivered was custom engineered to specifications laid out by Tube City and followed up on by Sennebogen engineers in Germany.

With storm water regulations gaining more attention in North America, American manufacturers have also placed more emphasis on wheeled machines. Caterpillar is now offering the W345B material handler line, which features six large wheels that allows the machine to balance and steer like a treaded machine, according to the manufacturer. The machine can work without the need for footers used on most wheeled machines.

Japan's Komatsu, operating in the U.S. as Komatsu America Corp., Vernon Hills, Ill., also offers a large-wheelbase handler. The PC400LC-6 can be mounted on eight large tires to provide mobility along with its considerable lifting capacity. The 306-horsepower machine is in the 123,000-pound class.

Entrepreneurs have also devised ways to continue using tracked machines on pavement, with one solution being the use of hardened rubber treads in place of or over steel tracks.

BLS Enterprises Inc., Elk Grove Village, Ill., makes Tufpads[R] track pads. The company claims the polyurethane pads are less likely to disintegrate or chunk or strip off than some rubber pads that have also been marketed.

BLS can produce the Tufpads in widths from 8 inches to 36 inches wide. For less demanding applications than scrap metal, BLS itself markets rubber track pads, including the Artliner product that can be put into place on an existing grouser by tapping a pin into a locking clip.


Scrap company owners may buy the scrap handling equipment, but they are seldom the ones spending 40 or 50 hours per week in the machine's cab.

Many company owners who value keeping their skilled employees have been paying more attention to cab configurations and comfort, in order to provide a safe and tolerable working environment.

Manufacturers have responded to these concerns as well as to OSHA regulations to design cabs that are quieter, cooler and more comfortable than the cabs of 10 or 15 years ago.

Hammond Air Conditioning Ltd., Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, is working with a number of companies to offer Arctic Wolf air conditioning systems in material handling machines. The company has installed or retrofitted cab cooling systems for models made by Fuchs, Caterpillar, Case and other manufacturers.

John Deere Construction Equipment Co., Moline, Ill., touts comfort as a leading selling point in favor of one of its excavating and material handling machines. Promoting its 110 model, the company notes that the machine features the "widest cab in its industry class, with a large storage area behind the seat."

Other comfort features noted include low noise levels, a rotating venting system that delivers greater fresh air flow, silicone liquid-filled rubber isolation mounts that reduce cab vibration, adjustable controllers mounted on armrests, an easy-to-read control panel layout, and a sun roof.

The author is editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted via e-mail at
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Author:Taylor, Brian
Publication:Recycling Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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