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Rotochopper Makes Grinding Easy, Review of Grinder Basics and Secrets
Donít Throw Away Profits: Rotochopper provides a detailed explanation of grinding basics and how a grinder can turn waste into profits for your pallet and sawmill facility.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 8/1/2016
Donít Throw Away Profits:
Rotochopper provides a detailed explanation of grinding basics and how a grinder can turn waste into profits for your pallet and sawmill facility.
Grinding wood waste is a tough job, but Rotochopper makes it look easy. And knowing what type of machine you need, doing the right maintenance and following proper guidelines can help you improve your grinding operation. Rotochopper shares its best insights whether you are about ready to buy a new machine or have been grinding for years. This guidance can make your operation better.
Tips for Buying a New Grinder
So let’s say you are looking to turn wood waste and scraps into a profitable fiber product. A grinder will help you turn a waste stream into a revenue stream. You need to start with both the beginning and end in mind. These questions should guide your thinking. What type and size of material are you trying to process? Is it hardwood or softwood? Species? Is it slabs, edgings and other residual materials from a sawmill or scraggmill? Trim ends from cants and lumber remanufacturing operations? Scrap material from recycling pallets, such as dismantling pallets to reclaim usable lumber? Whole scrap or junk pallet?
The volume can also impact the selection criteria because some units have a higher capacity than others. And will this volume change or grow in the future? How much could this change?
And of course, the desired end product is a critical consideration. Will grindings be supplied to various outlets for further processing or as a finished, value-added product? Are you making mulch, animal bedding, boiler fuel, pellets, or fiber for producing an engineered wood product? How clean does the material need to be and what type of contaminants could it have?
If a company needs to grind used scrap lumber or scrap pallets from pallet recycling operations, the separation of nails and nail fragments likely will be an important consideration.
It is always important to talk with potential customers for the end product and find out what their requirements are. You never want to assume that you know what they need. For example, if a company wants to turn material into particleboard, it will need to go through a hammermill. What are the requirements of that machine?
How important is mobility? Will you be grinding in one spot or moving it around? An electric unit can work well for stationary grinding. Some electric grinders are also available in portable configurations with electric quick connects to allow operation at multiple locations. But a diesel-powered unit might be more effective if you are frequently switching between multiple grinding sites. Do you have the availability of adequate 3-phase power if you are planning on using an electric model? Power considerations can play a major role in proper grinder selection.
Rotochopper primarily offers horizontal grinders. Scott Harrington, Northeast regional sales manager for Rotochopper, explained, “In the pallet industry horizontal grinders work very well. They feed pallets into the grinder much more efficiently than vertical mills.”
Rotochopper manufactures both grinders and shredders. There are some important differences to consider between grinders and shredders. Grinders will run at a higher rotor RPM than a shredder. A shredder uses torque to rip, snap and shear the wood apart. A grinder uses velocity to refine the particles until they are the right size to pass through the screen openings.
Harrington added that shredders, while running at lower speeds, can handle contaminants better than grinders but offer lower production rates and reduced particle size control.
When companies begin processing waste for the first time, one of the things that is most frequently overlooked is how they are going to feed the machine. You want a process that will keep up with the flow of material and the capacity of the grinder. Also, you want to reduce the labor required as much as possible.
What is going to be the most efficient, cost-effective way to collect or divert residual material to the grinder? A conveyor belt? A vibrating conveyor? Collecting material into hoppers and using a forklift to dump the contents into the grinder in batches?
Harrington commented, “A horizontal grinder offers flexibility for feeding, but feeding methods and equipment can make a big impact on efficiency. A horizontal grinder can be batch fed with a forklift, wheel loader, and other common types of handling equipment. One of the most efficient methods is to integrate the grinder in-line with a conveyor that handles the wood waste. Feeding the grinder shouldn’t be an afterthought—it should be an integral part of your planning process.”
Another key as you get started is the end product you are going to produce. Harrington stated, “Identifying profitable fiber market opportunities is a critical part of the decision on what grinder best fits your needs. You have to construct the right business model and place the right grinder in that model.”
You have to start by asking, where is the waste going now? Someone is profiting and someone is paying. Is it going to a landfill or is someone recycling the wood fiber into mulch, animal bedding, or another product?
Finding the right market is the guiding issue behind the entire process. You identify profitable markets and make sure the grinder fits that business model. Some grinders can make boiler fuel but not animal bedding. Some grinders can make colored mulch; others require a separate colorizer. You need to understand the market before getting a grinder to fit that market.
When producing colored mulch, it’s all driven by local market preferences. You need to consider particle size, texture and color. Those parameters can vary widely.
Harrington said, “Mulch consumers on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic tend to prefer a finer mulch than consumers in the Midwest. Red mulch tends to sell well in certain parts of the Midwest, but Blacks and Browns are much more popular on the East Coast.”
Strong Performance and Maintenance
Everyone knows that better maintenance leads to improved production. But sometimes it can be easy to ignore the little details.
Harrington cautioned, “When it comes to top maintenance concerns, you have to do basic housekeeping and monitor wear items. General housekeeping is always considered a best practice.”
For best tooth and hammer maintenance, you need to keep the surfaces in proper condition. Harrington suggested, “Tooth maintenance is crucial. It affects overall production along with end product sizing. Checking tooth condition should be part of routine pre-start procedures.”
You want to pay attention to the little details, such as fine tuning the feed settings to maximize efficiency. Once settings are dialed in, maintain consistent operating procedures to maximize efficiency. When grinding full pallets, feed the material evenly and avoid stacking pallets too high, so that raw material enters the mill evenly.
Don’t hesitate to turn to your grinder manufacturer for expertise. Customer service is not just about fixing a machine that has a problem or ordering replacement parts. Good customer service is about providing the right guidance so you know how to optimize the performance of your grinder.
Rotochopper Equipment Line Overview
Rotochopper offers a full line of grinding and shredding solutions. The two most popular units for the pallet industry are the MC-266 horizontal grinder and the EC-366 horizontal grinder. The MC-266 is a diesel-powered unit that is versatile, allowing operators to switch feedstocks and end product specifications with ease. It can process pallets, forestry slash, sorted C&D, yard waste, bark, wood chips, slabwood and more.
The MC-266 was the first machine capable of simultaneously grinding and coloring landscape mulch. It is efficient for colorizing material and has become an industry workhorse. The patented slab ramp can be easily adjusted to provide the right feed angle for any material. Known for easy maintenance, the screen can be changed in 15 minutes with one person and no special tools or fasteners. It is mobile and sets up in minutes.
The EC-366 is designed to optimize the enhanced efficiency and cleaner operation of electric power. This unit can be operated with a variety of feeding and discharge approaches. For smaller volumes of pallet waste, an EC-256 is slightly narrower than the EC-366. The EC-256 is popular with facilities that want to place a grinder in-line with a conveyor that handles wood waste. An EC series grinder can integrate seamlessly with a Rotochopper hammermill to provide a one-pass solution for animal bedding, fuel pellets and other short-fiber products. Wood waste goes into the grinder and exits the hammermill as uniform, fine-textured material.
What is the Rotochopper difference? Harrington said, “Our top selling features include particle size control, uptime and the simplicity of maintenance. Particle size is critical in maximizing your profits. Being able to produce quality consistent particle sizing, for the lowest cost will help turn your wood waste into a profit center.
Harrington also stated, “Uptime is important because your business continually generates a waste product. So ease of grinder maintenance is critical. No other grinder can match the simplicity of changing screens, accessing the rotor, and so on.”
Rotochopper has a number of unique patents and proprietary technology that help it stand out. This includes: a gap-less infeed transition system, patented grind & color system, quick screen change system, a patented StopWatch grinder monitoring system, and an electric motor start assist (patent pending).
Besides the top selling mid-sized models, Rotochopper also offers smaller grinders, as well as higher volume grinders. The MP-2 is a smaller, compact diesel unit that is popular with pallet shops. Large fiber commodity producers have relied on the B-66, the B-66 electric and the FP-66.
If you haven’t considered adding a grinder, stop to think about what you are doing with your wood waste. Are there local markets to turn this into an actual profit center?
One of the best ways to discover the perfect solution is to call Rotochopper today for a free consultation. See more about the entire Rotochopper line at www.rotochopper.com or call 320/548-3586.