by Patrick Gamble, TEE marketing assistant
Continental Biomass Industries (CBI) recently designed and installed an electric stationary system for a company called, Ties 2, a biomass producer based in northern Wisconsin. Ties 2 was founded in 2013 through a partnership between TiEnergy and Omaha Track to become Midwest Companies, a company that turns railroad ties into biomass fuel for electrical power generation.
Initially, Ties 2 approached CBI nearly two years ago about possible system options. The planning process took off not long afterwards. Their challenge was to create an electric system that could withstand the tough and gnarly material that hardwood railroad ties often present. At the same time, they were looking for high production rates with a consistent product. What they arrived at was a new system capable of grinding 600 to 800 tons of railroad ties, daily.
Today, after reviewing 2016’s early results, it appears Ties 2 made a worthy investment. Downtime has been minimal and the grinding facility’s crew has shown they aren’t afraid to work extra hours to meet customer demand. The new, stationary system is the eighth piece of CBI equipment that Midwest Companies has purchased overall.
“Those that install railroad ties in the first place want to find the hardest wood possible for the sake of the ties lasting,” said Chris Weides, Ties 2 operations manager. “Because of that, we come across extremely hard wood that is also littered with metal. And I mean all sorts of different metal – metal that is anywhere from 6-inches wide to metal that is 6-feet wide. If you want to throw a metal plate through a CBI, it spits it out the other end.”
Much of the system’s success can be attributed to the CBI Grizzly Mill primary grinder. This unit features a 60-inch x 60-inch solid steel rotor that is the largest rotor design ever manufactured by CBI. Before the ties are ground, they are loaded onto a taper slot vibratory screen to remove dirt and debris.
Following the primary grind, the ground ties pass through a magnet tower to ensure all existing metal is removed before moving onto the CBI pre-screener. Any material that the screener identifies as oversized is then passed through a CBI Grizzly Mill Secondary Grinder (48-inch x 72-inch rotor) while material that is not oversized is discharged into a top load trailer. Material that passes through the secondary grinder is discharged into a second top load trailer as well.
“It takes a grinder like the Grizzly Mill to get that primary grind done properly,” Weides said. “CBI produces the only grinder, as far as I know, that can handle railroad ties. We’ve had numerous grinding companies send their salesmen to us only to find that we run a CBI system and they say, ‘Well, we’ll just go find someone else to buy our machine.’ CBI is built to do the job because it is the heaviest built grinder that can handle the abuse that railroad ties give it. This system holds up well to the operations that we put it through.”
“The Grizzly Mill’s rotor size allows the rotor to carry more energy into the ties,” said CBI Stationary Systems Manager Matt Skinner. “The bigger size gives it a chance to make contact with more hardwood ties for a greater initial grind.”
The biomass product, which looks very similar to the average homeowner’s landscaping mulch, is trucked to two nearby power plants: Minnesota Power in Duluth, MN and Excel Energy in Ashland, WI. Each power plant burns the biomass to generate electricity for those living in nearby regions.
“The relationship we have with our customers is really good, we communicate a lot,” said Weides. “For me personally, it is a family owned business and I enjoy working with my family. It gives an extra reward for me every day to go and do a good job. But running this nice of equipment is fun, too.”
Weides oversees the entire operation. He worked directly with CBI engineering and field technician personnel for the final installations. “The way this system is set up allows us to save money on wear and tear,” Weides explained. “The availability to load two trailers at once or to stockpile the end product properly is just unbelievable.”
“Gnarly, tough and fast are the three words I’d use to describe this system,” said Weides. “Downtime to us means money is going out the window, so the less downtime we have the easier my life is and the less money we lose. Downtime has been very minimal with this system, its running great.”
CBI has designed, manufactured, installed and supported its own customized stationary systems for over 20 years in a variety of applications. Saw and paper mills, C&D processing facilities, waste recycling plants and now wood biomass production locations such as Ties 2 utilize CBI equipment to reach high production volumes. Various system components such as slow speed primary shredders, screeners, conveyors, picking stations, magnetic separators, water tanks and secondary grinders can be incorporated to guarantee desired product size.
For more information, contact CBI at 603-382-0556.