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Summer 2006

Metal Recycler Needs Equipment for the Long Haul

Great Western Recycling Industries, Inc. (GWR), St. Paul, Minn., needs equipment that can handle the everyday abuse that comes with working in a high-traffic scrap metal recycling facility. That's why they count on a pair of Bobcat® skid-steer loaders.

"We need them for confined spaces when moving material," says John Kolesar, operations superintendent. "We use the skid-steer loaders a lot in the aluminum can building where we have two balers. They're used every day, nine hours a day."

A year after Kolesar began at GWR, he purchased a Bobcat 873 skid-steer loader because of the service, parts availability and dependability. "We were looking for something for the long haul, not short term," he says. In 2004, the company bought an S250.

John Kolesar

Bobcat T300 Loader

The skid-steer loaders help with a critical part of the recycling process. When customers arrive at the facility's main doors to deliver scrap aluminum, forklifts transport the product to a scale for weighing. After a ticket is given to the customer showing the aluminum's weight, the material is then transported and dumped in front of the balers. To feed the scrap metal into the balers, workers use industrial grapple attachments on the skid-steer loaders. Both have solid tires to eliminate the possibility of flats. Because the industrial bucket grapple is composed of grapple tines and a bucket-shaped bottom, Kolesar says it's ideal for lifting the scrap metal and placing it onto the baler's steel conveyor belt.

"Feeding the balers is the main function of the loaders," he says. "Without them, we'd have a heck of a time and we'd have to do a lot of the feeding by hand."

Even though 2,000 lb. of scrap material cannot be set on the baler's conveyor belt all at once, Kolesar says he still wanted loaders that had enough lifting capacity to haul the scrap metal where it needed to go. The 873 has a 2,400-lb. rated operating capacity (ROC) and the S250 has a 2,500-lb. ROC. In addition to feeding balers, the loaders also are used for moving the resulting bales after the aluminum is processed through the baler.

"We lift a lot of weight. So we're always looking for more lifting capacity if we can get it," Kolesar says.

Once the scrap metal has been processed, the bales are readied for shipment to mills across the world that reprocess the material into end products. While the skid-steer loaders typically work inside the facility, they work outside to load the overseas shipping containers. Kolesar says the skid-steer loaders' maneuverability is key when they enter the stainless steel bin to haul and load the metal into a dump hopper.

Bobcat S250 Loader

Bobcat S250 Loader

The maneuverability of the loaders also comes in handy when performing cleanup and snow removal. Oftentimes, Kolesar says he will use the machines with buckets for cleaning up fallen scrap metal from around the facility's drop-off doors. The buckets are also used for clearing snow during the winter. "It's nice with the skid-steer loaders because they easily clean up around the doors and the building," he says. "You get the larger loaders in there and they don't do such a good job."

As operations superintendent, Kolesar believes it's his job to ensure his operators stay efficient. "I think the more comfortable the operators are, the more production you're going to get out of them," he says. That's why the S250 has an enclosed cab with heater and air conditioning.

In addition to feeding the balers, cleanup and snow removal, Kolesar uses the loaders for maintaining the 9-ft. fence that surrounds the scrap metal facility. Occasionally, operators will attach the auger and drill holes to place new fence posts.

At the end of the day, after the loaders have hauled thousands of pounds of scrap metal, Kolesar says he needs machines that he can rely on to start and work just as hard the next day, the next week and the next year.

"Our loaders have held up well and they're very reliable," he says. "That's all anybody can ask for."