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Electric grinder lowers operating costs

H&H Excavating Company 028by Jon M. Casey
With ever increasing fuel prices an ongoing part of daily operations, it didn’t take Mike Hartman at H&H General Excavating, Inc. in Spring Grove, PA, long to make the decision to switch to an electric powered Diamond Z HZ 7000E grinder when it was time to replace their existing unit. Having owned several other Diamond Z grinders over the years, the decision was easy. “We found that it was time to replace our HDZ7000 diesel unit, we looked into an electric powered model as its replacement,” said Hartman. “So far, it has been an excellent experience.”
Mike’s father Charlie, Founder of H&H General Excavating, Inc. recalled how they were one of the first recyclers in the nation to own the most powerful tub grinders that Diamond Z offered at the time. That was in the year 2000. Buying it was a big step for them at the time.
“We had bought our first grinder in 1983 when we started grinding our own mulch as part of our general construction business,” he said. “As our business continued to grow, we could see the need for a grinder with plenty of power. That was when we worked with Diamond Z to develop the 1463B. That was the first of its kind in the U.S. It had a 1200 hp Cummins diesel engine in it,” he said. Since then, H&H has owned two 7000s and a 5000 series unit as well.
Plant tour
During our March 2013 visit, Mike Hershey, manager of daily operations at the grinding and bagging facility, took us on a tour of the plant where their new DHZ 7000E was in operation. “We received the new grinder last fall,” he said. “It has been operating smoothly since we first started it up.”
Hershey explained that the switch to electrical power required hp, 480 volt electric drive motors power the mill and a 250 hp motor powers the grinder’s hydraulic system.
“We have reduced our overall grinding costs significantly,” said Hershey. “Not only do we no longer have the regular maintenance items like lube, oil and filters to replace but our daily fuel bill has dropped by about three-fourths as well. We’ve gone from around $200 per hour for diesel fuel to about $65 per hour for electric.”
According to Mike Hartman, that adds up quickly. “Our annual savings will be very helpful because while cost of operation has gone up over the years, the wholesale price of mulch has remained steady. This will give us some needed cost savings.”
The grinder is configured as a portable model, which allows them to move it for debris cleaning from underneath the unit. This gives the crew easier cleanup following grinding operations. Since the grinder is in a central location, the need for a stationary power source is not a hindrance to daily use.
Once material is ground, it goes to stockpiling as bulk mulch. From there, it is screened to be sold as bulk material for landscapers and lawn and garden services or as bagged product for sale in the retail market. Hershey said that the mulch ground from yard waste, tends to be darker and is used for black or brown colored products. The lighter “white” mulch that comes from the pine and lighter wood waste, is usually reserved for red mulch products. In either case, mulch to be colored is processed through the company’s new Colorbiotics Sahara X colorant system, where it is colored red, brown or black. On this day’s visit, they were producing black mulch.
Hershey said that their Sahara X colorant system, which is new and has been in operation since February, is capable of coloring 250-300 yards per hour. “We monitor temperatures during the winter months and when it is above freezing, we color mulch in preparation for our spring sales,” he said.
Material designated for bagging, goes to the bagging plant where it is bagged, palletized and prepared for shipment. During our visit, a private label composted soil product and Country Boy Topsoil were being bagged on two different production lines. This is at the rate of 26 bags per minute each! With both systems computerized and fully automated, only one or two workers are needed inside the plant to tend to the ongoing production process; a process that is extremely efficient.
“We like to have 60 to 70 percent of our product needs on hand when the season starts,” Hershey said. “We start preparing for the upcoming year in September so we are ready when spring sales begin. From then until mid-June, we are continually busy keeping up with demand. We rebuild our stock in the summer months as we have opportunity.”
Hershey said that they serve a variety of customers in the mid-Atlantic region including West Virginia and Ohio. Their bulk and bagged products go out to “Big Box” vendors, lawn and garden centers, landscapers and hardware stores. These products include their Country Boy branded products as well as private labeled soil and mulch products for co-packed customers.
H&H’s product line includes colored and natural mulch products and soil blends as well. Hershey said that annual bagged production runs somewhere around five to six million bags shipped per year, while the bulk shipments total in the 200,000-cubic-yard range. Hershey said that right now, they are running 10 hour days, 5 days per week. When the season is a full production, they adjust acco-225-4669 or visit their website at E-mail them at


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