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With fuel prices increasing, recyclers may want to learn more about optimizing fuel efficiency.

Fuel efficiency typically does not rank high on recyclers' checklists when shopping for a new scrap handler. Of greater interest to them is a machine's reliability, serviceability and support, reach and lift capacity. But for some recyclers, long-term operating costs are of growing concern, and fuel costs are a major contributor to this area.

For instance, a machine that uses 10 gallons of fuel per hour over 10,000 operating hours at a cost of $2 per gallon consumes $200,000 in fuel in its lifetime, or 50 percent of the machine's purchase price in the case of a $400,000 scrap handler.

"Frequently, we are very surprised to see people make decisions regardless of the fuel costs," Tom Skodack, vice president of sales for the Terex Material Handling division of Terex-Fuchs, Southaven, Miss., says.

Filter and maintenance costs pale in comparison to fuel usage, Scott Sutherland, excavator product manager for Lexington-based LBX Co., makers of Link-Belt material handling equipment, says.

UNDER THE HOOD. To get the most accurate picture of a scrap handler's fuel efficiency, recyclers should look beyond the number of gallons of fuel consumed and ask themselves if they are moving as much material as they can for the amount of fuel they are burning.

"Generally speaking, an engine's duty cycle, or how hard an engine is working, will influence the relative fuel efficiency of the machine," says Bruce Farrar, manager of off-highway communications for engine maker Cummins Inc., Columbus, Ind.

"In other words, the heavier the weight being lifted, the more horsepower required to lift, the more fuel the engine will burn in lifting the payload," Farrar says.

For those recyclers who would like to more closely monitor their scrap handlers' fuel efficiency, manufactures offer a couple of recommendations.

Sutherland says Link-Belt machines include a computer system that records idle and total operating hours. "That would be a good thing to check every month or every quarter," he says.

"If you looked at your machine and found that it was idling for 30 percent of the time, you have to question what is going on," Sutherland continues.

In such instances, a scrap handler could be too large for the processing equipment it's feeding and could be put to better use elsewhere in a yard.

Sutherland adds, "It's not so much how much fuel you are burning; it's how much fuel you're burning vs. how much material you are processing."

Erich Sennebogen Jr. of German scrap handler maker Sennebogen Inc., with a U.S. office based in Charlotte, N.C., also stresses the importance of sizing a scrap handler to the task at hand.

"If a machine is undersized and always overloaded with the job, efficiency and lifetime of the engine is not in the expected range," he says.

For recyclers interested in more closely monitoring their fuel consumption, Sennebogen suggests installing a fuel consumption monitoring and measuring system and monitoring the data monthly.

To increase a scrap handler's fuel efficiency, Sennebogen recommends standard maintenance, such as replacing the filters and making the appropriate engine adjustments.

The fuel efficiency that a scrap handler realizes also has to do with the quality of the fuel it consumes.

AT THE PUMP. As equipment manufacturers gear up to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's Tier 3 requirements for engine emissions, which will be phased in from 2006 to 2008, fuel injectors for new engines will run at a higher PSI.

According to Skodack, this means that recyclers may have to take a closer look at their fuel supply, as it can affect engine efficiency and performance.

While some yards keep a close eye on their tanks, others allow the lids to remain open, exposing the fuel to dust and humidity, he says.

"None of the new engines can handle any of that stuff," Skodack says. "The higher the injector nozzle pressures, the more critical it becomes.

Dirt that passes from a scrap yard's fuel reservoir into a scrap handler's fuel tank could destroy the fuel injectors, damage the fuel pumps and clog the fuel filters, eventually destroying the engine, he says.

To prevent such a situation, Skodack suggests that recyclers ask their fuel suppliers to filter their fuel to a higher level. He recommends filtering to 5 microns for Fuchs scrap handlers.

A scrap yard's fuel reservoir should also be kept closed to prevent dirt and condensation, and the fuel should be filtered again prior to filling the scrap handler, Skodack says.

"All of these things will impact the life of the engine and the fuel efficiency of the engine," he says.

Sutherland says that because of the boom market scrap recyclers have been experiencing lately, fuel efficiency has not been registering with them.

Should the price of fuel continue to increase as it has throughout 2005, and should markets shift downward, recyclers may become more interested in the fuel efficiency of their scrap handlers, at which point they may consider these tips.

RELATED ARTICLE: Plugging it in.

Some equipment manufacturers, like Sennebogen, which is based in Germany with a U.S. office in Charlotte, N.C., offer electric motors for mobile equipment as well as for pedestal machines.

"Generally, an electric engine always has significant savings in operating costs," the company's Erich Sennebogen Jr. says.

"Electric motors last longer than internal combustion engines," Scott Sutherland, excavator project manager for LBX Co., the Lexington-based maker of Link-Belt material handlers, says. He adds that electric engines generally outlast internal combustion engines by two to three times.

While Link-Belt does not make mobile material handlers with electric engines, the company has built some pedestal machines that feature electric engines.

"By putting something on a pedestal and running it electrically, you can remove a lot of cost and a lot of maintenance," Sutherland says.

However, by using a pedestal-mounted scrap handler, a yard gives up the flexibility of a mobile machine, he adds.

The Terex Material Handling division of Terex-Fuchs, Southaven, Miss., also receives requests for a few application-specific pedestal-mounted scrap handlers. "We only have one pedestal, electric machine running in the United States. Fuchs has quite a few of them running in Europe," Tom Skodack, vice president of the Terex Material Handling division, says.

"To some extent those decisions are influenced by fuel costs ... electric power being cheaper than diesel in some environments. But it's more of an application-specific decision, typically," he says.

The author is managing editor of Recycling Today and can be reached at
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Title Annotation:scrap handler focus
Comment:With fuel prices increasing, recyclers may want to learn more about optimizing fuel efficiency.(scrap handler focus)
Author:Toto, Deanne
Publication:Recycling Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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