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Ten points to ponder when buying a baler.

ACQUIRING the best baler to properly match your requirements and budget can be made easier by following a few time tested suggestions. The most important first step is to properly define the scope of work to be performed. Taking time to fully define and outline what it is you want to accomplish with a baler will pay big dividends and facilitate an acquisition.

1. Defining the scope of the project will involve gathering data on several key areas:

* What types of recyclables are there to be processed? Old corrugated containers (OCC), old newspapers (ONP), mixed paper, high grade paper, HDPE/PET plastics, aluminum cans, ferrous cans--or others?

* Determine the tonnages of each grade or type of recyclable material and total of all. Consider the largest size material to be baled.

* How many hours per day will you be operating? One shift, two shifts, etc. Calculate periods of peak loads or surges.

* Determine if the buyer of your materials has any minimum specifications for bale weight, densities, or finished bale size. Who will be paying for transportation charges? Is storage space limited and would dense heavy bales be of benefit?

* Do you want one baler to process multiple grades of recyclables or dedicate specific balers for certain materials?

* How much physical space is available for equipment placement and operation?

* How automated do you want the system or baler to be? Is a manual tie, manually fed operation acceptable or do you need an automated feed conveyor and automatic tier? Are labor costs a concern?

* Consider the electrical demands of equipment and verify electrical voltages and total amperes available.

* Is equipment reliability and maintenance costs critical or do you have a qualified maintenance staff on hand?

2. When purchasing a baler, do you really want to design equipment or do you want to solve a problem? It would be advisable not to get too involved in writing detailed equipment specifications outlining every nut and bolt but rather consider a performance specification with the end results desired in mind. Detailing broad features desired such as auto-tier, feed opening size, ram face pressures, capacity of baler in cubic ft per hour, etc. will open the bid to allow you to evaluate more options. Utilizing a request for proposal format allows you to take full advantage of experienced manufacturers and applications specialists who quite possibly can provide creative ideas to save time and money and achieve the end results sought.

3. Within the recycling and waste handling industry there are numerous qualified competent manufacturers, however, as with any industry there are a few charlatans. A sound method to ensure all bidders must provide the end results specified is to require a performance bond. This instrument adds costs to the project but also adds additional protection and discourages misapplication of equipment.

4. Carefully and thoughtfully evaluate the overall flow of materials to be processed. Arrange the position of the baler and conveyor feed system, if applicable, in a manner that will reduce cross traffic. Materials to be processed should not be hindered by finished product movement and vice versa. Do not box yourself unnecessarily in a corner. Good materials flow will radically enhance the overall efficiency of your operation.

5. Review how the utilization of your baling system will impact employee safety. As with any materials flow, the placement and installation of your equipment could make the difference in increased safety to employees. Consider ergonomics of equipment that will minimize operator action. Use proper ladders, catwalks, and keep personnel off operating equipment. Proper training on the operation, maintenance and safety is required by law. Baling equipment should be manufactured to conform to American National Safety Institute Standards ANSI Z-245.5-1990.

6. When considering the purchase of a baler, allow for future growth and expansion. Well designed and built equipment should easily last 10 to 20 years when properly sized to match the workload outlined. Upgrading to a slightly larger model initially would eliminate costly replacement due to unexpected increases in materials volume and does not stress your equipment capabilities.

7. Funding for projects is always an issue. If limited funds are available, purchase your baler with add-on capabilities such as future automatic tier preparations or future fluffer preparations which allow for upgrading your equipment as workload and funding demand. Many units can be retrofitted if properly designed and engineered. Planning ahead will reduce downtime required to add desired options and keep upgrading costs to a minimum.

8. Obviously, there are varying degrees of quality in a manufactured product such as a baler. It is always advisable to purchase the best available technology and quality to operate in such an abusive environment as a recycling center. However, once the model and manufacturer are selected, it is most important to understand what type of after-the-sale service support is available. Does the company provide local service technicians through a nationwide dealer organization or through factory engineers? Local parts and service are vital to reducing downtime and supporting the success of your day-to-day operation. Additionally, determine what manufacturers provide regular service schools for both dealer technicians and your maintenance personnel. This is most beneficial when you experience a change in employees responsible for operating and maintaining your equipment.

9. When purchasing a baler specified to perform a certain volummetric capacity per hour or provide a desired quality in bale density and integrity, it is important to consider the ancillary equipment that comprises the system. All components are linked together to form a total integrated system. You would be ill advised to not ensure complete compatibility between conveyor and baler or fluffer and baler, etc. A baler designed to process, as an example, 20 tons per hour and connected to a conveyor that can only move ten tons per hour would be disastrous.

10. Check references and verify your supplier's credentials. Making an acquisition to perform a defined task should be verified by interviewing other users or visiting similar installations. How long has the manufacturer been in business? How comprehensive is the product line? Does the supplier have a reputation of providing more than the company promises? A little investment of time in this area can avoid catastrophic consequences.

Mr. Harris is Vice President/General Sales Manager, America Baler Company, Bellvue, Ohio.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Hanley-Wood, Inc.
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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Harris, Richard (Irish actor)
Publication:Public Works
Date:May 1, 1994
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