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How Scrap Yards Can Get the Most Production Out of Their Scrap Baler

Whether they’re used to compact paper headed for recycling, ferrous material to be sold, or waste on its way to landfill storage, scrap balers are an essential part of the waste management process – and a potential choke point in the movement of materials. Optimizing the throughput of scrap balers ensures that waste flows smoothly from drop-off to transport or storage without sacrificing the structural integrity of individual bales. There are several ways to improve production rates:

  1. Ensure you have the best baler for your particular application
  2. Perform appropriate maintenance
  3. Improve operating protocols to protect hydraulics systems
  4. Choose add-ons that save time and effort

Below we’ll discuss these more in depth.

Use the Right Tool For the Job

Compacting and baling materials allows them to be safely transported or stored more efficiently. Many balers are multi-purpose and can be used for anything from ferrous metals to loose scrap. Other applications, such as liquid extraction, require specialized balers that resist corrosion and collect waste. Regardless of the type of baler you need, ease of operation and baler structural design can significantly impact the productivity of operations:

1. Ease Of Operation and Maintenance

Operator comfort and ease-of-use can make a major difference in production rates. Cabs with good visibility and onboard computers can provide operators with additional tools and information to increase productivity. Many models also allow for simultaneous crane operation (for moving and stacking) during automated compaction and baling cycles. Easily accessible components for quicker maintenance help minimize downtime and reduce costs.

2. Solid Baler Design

Design choices like bale chamber accessibility, vertical vs. horizontal compaction, and single- or double-ram action influence how quickly loading and unloading can take place and what automation features (automatic tying, conveyor systems, etc.) are available. Choosing options that integrate easily into existing operations can streamline workflows and speed production.

Make Maintenance Routine

Most heavy equipment, including scrap balers, require regular greasing, cleaning, and component replacement. While programs exist to maximize the efficiency of maintenance systems and processes (e.g. “Total Productive Maintenance,” typically used in manufacturing), regular informal checks can achieve the same goals. Daily “eyeball maintenance” routines can catch potential problems early, minimizing the downtime of crucial equipment. Employees and operators can be your greatest asset in this process: they are the most likely to notice small changes in timing, sound, or performance. Training and empowering employees to report potential malfunctions can pay huge dividends and identify problems before they require expensive repairs.

In addition to these informal checks, regular service is crucial to identifying (and preventing) problems below the surface. Scheduling cleanings, replacements, and thorough checkups according to your machine’s service guide will keep your baler running smoothly and extend its lifespan. For example, a regular greasing schedule (generally every 8 hours) can prevent over- or under-lubrication, both of which can damage expensive components. Too much (or the wrong kind of) friction — or overflow grease on parts that should stay clean — can grind operations to a halt and require extensive cleaning or repairs down the road.

It can be tempting to skip recommended maintenance when times get busy, but scheduled downtime is always less disruptive (and less expensive) than emergency shutdowns and repairs.

Follow Proper Hydraulic Protocols

Hydraulic systems are extremely powerful, but they can also be a weak point for productivity. Fluid can congeal and damage the pump if it’s too cold at the start of production, but operators may skip this step in an attempt to get to work more quickly. Warming up hydraulic fluid slowly at system start (as well as carefully warming diesel engines) is crucial to protecting the system’s function and lifespan.

In cold climates, add-ons like hydraulic tank heaters can speed up this process, allowing operators to start logging and baling much more quickly without damaging the hydraulics. Tank heaters can also keep the system from freezing during use. Hydraulic fluid doesn’t completely freeze until temperatures are well below zero, but the viscosity starts increasing much sooner, potentially gumming up the works if the heat from the engine and pump aren’t enough to counteract the weather. Proactive steps like adding a heater (many of which only require a standard outlet) can be a sound investment in locations that frequently experience freezing temperatures.

Install Add-Ons & Automation

Once the fundamentals are in place and your balers are set up for long-term success, it’s time to consider one final productivity boost: automation. Some types of balers have options for add-ons that will automatically tie bales after compaction or even allow for remote control. Maintenance tasks can also be automated using auto lube or hydraulic heaters as described above. Standardizing processes with such add-ons increase productivity by improving consistency and freeing up operators for other tasks.

Since scrap balers play such a pivotal role in the waste management process, tweaking a few small processes to optimize their production can improve the productivity of your entire operation. By selecting the appropriate baler, minimizing downtime through proper maintenance, caring for hydraulics systems, and automating processes where possible, you can ensure you’re getting every scrap of productivity out of your baler.