A material handler with the right attachment can make recycling easier

by Jon M. Casey

Recyclers of all kinds are always looking for better ways to move material from one place to another. For some, a skid steer loader or small front end loader is sufficient. For others, a conveyor or larger front end loader might be preferred. Whether the material is scrap metal, wood waste, paper, timber, concrete or other valuable products, the right choice of equipment to do the job is critical.

In many cases, recyclers rely upon wheeled or tracked excavators outfitted with couplers and material handling attachments to perform this function. In situations where C&D contractors are not only demolishing buildings with these excavators, but then they are also using the same equipment to load rollback containers or debris haulers, that makes perfect sense. However, when large volumes of material are moved with regularity and on a daily basis, a properly sized material handler is best.

This flexible option, which has found a valued place for moving or loading material is specifically designed to accomplish the task. More importantly, they are available as a stationary, a wheeled or a tracked unit that can be outfitted with an attachment of choice. Let’s take a look at a few of those choices.

With a number of material handler manufacturers in the market place, shoppers have a wide selection of equipment brands from which to choose. In this summary, we highlight six brands as examples. These include Terex Fuchs, Terex Environmental, CAT, Doosan, Sennebogen, Liebherr and Link-Belt. Other manufacturers not shown but include Komatsu, JCB, Hyundai, and Volvo are also among many familiar options.

Along with the choice of material handler, the attachments that they select for their machine give recyclers an ideal tool with which to work. In this article, we want to highlight a few of these material handlers and some of the basic attachments that help to make these machines the “must-have” addition to a recycler’s equipment fleet. Note that with each of the attachments described below, there are several variations of these attachments to meet individual needs.

First on our list is the orange peel grapple, a multiple tined grapple that can be used for a host of applications. A grapple equipped handler in the hands of a skilled operator is much like having a huge, powerful, extra hand to do the job. From moving metal scrap to recycling concrete, material handlers can make the work easier.

In past issues of WHEN, we have read about recyclers using material handlers to not only move and load stockpiled material but to use these grapple equipped handlers to do the initial recycling work as well. At Sunshine Recycling in Orangeburg, SC, we saw examples of crews using handlers to pull up and load the old concrete roadways and bridges, using multiple tined grapples as the tools of choice.

In another example, we saw a worker load a trailer using a grapple magnet, a dual purpose tool, to move the metal scrap. Unlike a conventional non-magnet version, the added holding power of the magnet helped make the lift safer and more secure.

Another popular use for material handlers is for unloading commodities from barges or other large vessels using a clamshell bucket on a large scale handler. Often, these handlers are either tracked units or stationary models, capable of moving material in high capacity buckets. Frequently, these clamshell buckets come with 360-degree rotating capabilities that give operators additional flexibility when handling large, difficult materials.

Mulch and biomass operations will often opt for a material handler equipped with a slotted or solid waste grapple. Unlike a log/timber grapple, which routinely only has two solid tines that wrap around the trunks of cut timber, the slotted/solid waste grapple usually features a clamshell design with a broad grasping surface that gives handler operators extra material management stability when lifting and moving lengthy pieces of cut timber. These attachments are also available with 360 degree rotation. Whether the timber is being shredded or ground into biomass, mulch or wood pulp for paper mills, a material handler with waste grapple is a tool of choice.

Scrap metal processors are familiar with material handlers as well. They rely upon a variety of grapples and magnets to move, load and unload material at their recycling centers and scrap yards. Magnets are especially helpful when dealing primarily with ferrous metal materials. Grapples can be more effective when scrap varies in size or shape. Using the best of both worlds, a combination magnet grapple, gives operators the ability to move mixed material without the need to switch from one attachment to another.

While we haven’t gone into detail on the specifications of the material handlers or the attachments that are mentioned above, advertisements and contact information about these products can be found regularly in WHEN, both in print and online. Because of the virtually unlimited combination of handler brands and attachment options that are available, we would encourage readers who are looking for ways to improve their material handling capabilities, to contact one or more of the companies represented within these pages.

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