Turning it topsy-turvy: Komptech's Topturn X triangular compost turner turns and mixes waste for composting.
Composting organic waste may be considered a bit of an art as summer prunings, biowaste and waste sludge from agriculture, forestry, sludge and contaminated soil must be turned and mixed to form the right consistency for composting. This niche industry uses specialized machines to eat through a clamp--the means of storing bio-waste--to create the precise conditions for the biological breakdown of the material.
Austria's Komptech specializes in producing machines specifically engineered to compost waste. The Topturn X triangular compost turner is one such machine. It's designed with enough power to essentially eat through a windrow of waste material at a rate of 6000 cu.yd, per minute, leaving a triangular windrow in its path.
"In this way we are able to ensure that the waste is thoroughly mixed," said Rudi Pretzler, managing director at Komptech, "and thus achieve optimum conditions for the biological breakdown and conversion processes in the compost material."
Komptech offers the Topturn X compost turner in three models, the X53, X60 and X67, configurable as wheeled or tracked machines. The wheeled variations are designed for flexible maneuvering on firm subsoil while the tracked machines are suitable for unstable ground applications. The three machines are distinguished by working widths of 16.4, 18.7 and 21 ft. and windrow height capacities of 7.87, 9.19 and 10.17 ft., respectively.
The X53 and X60 models are powered by a 9.0 L six-cylinder Caterpillar C9 diesel engine rated 340 hp at 2100 rpm. Cat's 12.5 L six-cylinder 446 hp C13 engine powers the larger X67 machine.
All three turners have a two-speed continuously variable hydrostatic transmission. The wheeled version is fitted with four Bosch Rexroth wheel drives coupled with Hydrotrac GFT three-stage planetary gearboxes mounted within the wheel rim. Depending on Topturn X model, either Type A2 fixed displacement wheel motors or Type A6 variable displacement motors are used, transferring torque and speed directly to the drive wheels. The travel drives are mounted directly to the vehicle frame via the flanges of the gearbox support axles.
The majority of the 14 ton weight of the Topturn X is absorbed through the tapered roller bearings of the four planetary gearboxes. Spring-loaded multidisc brakes hold the device in the parked position. Operating weights on the X53, X60 and X67 models are 29,101, 32,408 and 41,888 lb.
In operation, compost material is fed through a turning roller mounted to the frame of the Topturn X. The roller drum is 13.78 ft. (16.08 ft. on the larger models) long with a 3.94 ft. (4.59 ft. on the larger models) diameter. Guide plates act as plow blades directing and cutting the material fed into the roller.
The turning drum of the Topturn X is driven by a Bosch Rexroth compact hydraulic drive consisting of a two-stage Hydrotrac GFT planetary gear-box. This transfers the output of a Bosch Rexroth A2 fixed displacement motor directly to the body of the drum. The speed of the drum can be infinitely adjusted from zero to 200 rpm. "This enables the driver to select the best adjustment for the drum drive so as to adapt to any working conditions, both in and also at the end of the clamp," said Pretzler.
As the Topturn X attacks a windrow of waste, often 20 ft. wide and 10 ft. high, the hydraulically driven turning drum mixes and discharges the waste. The waste is then discharged by a large hydraulically driven turning drum with a working width of 18.7 ft. and a working height of 9.19 ft. As the Topturn X moves through the windrow it creates a triangular windrow behind it of freshly mixed waste material.
The Topturn X can be fitted with a separate side displacement unit so material can be placed in a neighboring windrow. An irrigation system hose system can also be connected to the turner to feed water into the composting material during the turning process while the shear bar option lifts the lower soil layer to eliminate odor.
The dusty conditions created during the turning process required Komptech to install a filtered air supply in the fully air-conditioned cab. The cab is built low to the ground, making it easy to step inside. Once the ignition is set, the central information panel comes to life, requiring a single-button operation to swing the cab 15 ft. up to the top of the Topturn X. Joystick operation moves the Topturn X forward while a multifunction lever lowers the machine to the exact height of the windrow. A green button starts the drum after alerting the operator through an annunciator and operating status is viewable on an LCD display.
For transport, The Topturn X compacts to 17.39 ft. long by 8.20 ft. wide by 9.51 ft. high. The turner can be driven in its compacted form as the cab is swiveled into the turning channel. The turner can be driven onto a flatbed truck, and when unloaded, the cab is swiveled, the plates are unfolded and the roller is started.
Komptech produces 20 different machine variations and plants designed to handle all stages of waste treatment. To date, Komptech has more than 100 Topturn X machines in operation worldwide.