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Multiple Grinders Work Best For Penn Pallet Operations: Pennsylvania Company Upgrades Two Vecoplan Grinders at Main Plant
Penn Pallet Upgrades: Make the most of your wood scrap. Find out how a Pennsylvania company turned to Vecoplan grinders for the right solution.
By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 3/1/2017
Penn Pallet Upgrades
Make the most of your wood scrap. Find out how a Pennsylvania company turned to Vecoplan grinders for the right solution.
Saint Marys, Pennsylvania — Like other pallet or sawmill companies, managing residual materials is a significant part of the business for Penn Pallet. The company’s cut-up operations and pallet recycling operations generate considerable scrap wood material.
Penn Pallet replaced two grinders at its flagship plant in Saint Marys, Pennsylvania, last year, and needed to look no further than the supplier — Vecoplan — that had equipped it with three grinders at the plant in years past.
Vecoplan supplied a 40 hp grinder that was installed in 1990. By the time it was replaced last summer, it had accumulated nearly 150,000 hours of use — and it was still running. The 1990 grinder still had the original gearbox, cutting rotor, and hydraulic ram, according to Vecoplan. The grinder and another 40 hp Vecoplan machine were replaced with new 60 hp models from Vecoplan.
Penn Pallet considered other manufacturers of grinding equipment, but came back to Vecoplan. The pallet company has been attracted to Vecoplan because of “the way they’re built,” said general manager Doug Cunningham.
Vecoplan grinders are made of high quality materials and construction, suggested Cunningham. The machines have performed well and also have proven to be durable and reliable.
The company had two Vecoplan grinders for a number of years and added a third about five years ago. “Instead of having one large grinder, we have several throughout the facility,” explained Cunningham. “As fast as the waste is being produced, we grind it right there instead of transporting it to another location to grind.”
Pallet has found its grinding operations are more efficient that way, although having multiple grinders may not be the right solution for everyone, suggested Cunningham. “You have to do your own evaluation. In our case, it works better for us.”
German-based Vecoplan, with production facilities and offices in two locations in the U.S, manufactures equipment for shredding, grinding, or chipping wood material. It also manufactures wood fuel pellet mills and ancillary equipment for processing wood material, including conveyors, separators, and storage and feeding systems. The company also provides equipment for handling and reducing other solid waste materials, including paper, plastic, construction and demolition debris, and more.
For the pallet and sawmill industries, Vecoplan offers both horizontal infeed grinders and vertical, hopper-fed grinders for ‘dump and run’ feeding of wood scrap.
Vecoplan grinders feature low speed/high torque design and high output ‘Torsion Point’ cutting rotors. Their heavy-duty construction includes robotically welded, stress-free frames, oversized drive trains, heavy outboard spherical roller bearings and rugged hydraulics. Grinders also feature built-in tramp metal protection.
At Penn Pallet, two of the Vecoplan grinders are hopper-fed, and one is fed by a vibrating conveyor that carries scrap material from the company’s cut-up line.
Penn Pallet produces about 18,000 tons of wood grindings and sawdust annually between its two plants. It recycles 100 percent of the residual wood material. Most of the grindings are sold to a company that supplies wood material to businesses that manufacture wood fuel pellets — there are four pellet mills in the region. Sawdust is sold to large farms that use it for animal bedding.
The company had been using some grindings to fuel a Vortex Biomass Systems furnace from Abbott Energy Systems that was installed in 2010 to provide the heat for four Kiln-direct pallet heat-treating kilns. However, it switched to natural gas when natural gas prices plummeted and made it more cost effective and efficient.
Penn Pallet was started in 1976 by Doug’s father, Dan, his uncle John and grandfather Paul. Today the company is still led by Dan, president, Doug, and Jesse Cunningham (Doug’s cousin), who has the role of business development specialist.
Penn Pallet manufactures about 25,000 new pallets and recycles about 30,000 used pallets per week. Saint Marys is located just south of the Allegheny National Forest in Northwest Pennsylvania. Woodland, where the company has a pallet recycling plant, is located 40-plus miles southeast, which is about 30-plus miles northwest of State College. About 80 people are employed in the operations at Saint Marys and another 30 at Woodland.
The company buys mostly hardwood cants — cants make up 75 of its raw material — from sawmills within about 75 miles. It also buys a small volume of pre-cut pallet parts from a local mill. Additionally, it purchases some OSB and plywood for crates and boxes.
The Saint Marys plant is equipped with a complete Pendu cut-up line. The cants go from an unscrambler to an inline single cut-off saw to be cut to length, then to a gang saw to be sawn into deck boards or stringers, and outfeed to an automatic stacker — all Pendu equipment. The plant also is equipped with three single-head Baker Products horizontal bandsaws for reclaiming lumber. Notching stringers is done on a shop-built notching machine that operates with Econotool cutting heads. Saw blades and service are provided by Dinosaw and Country Saw & Knife.
For pallet assembly operations, the company is equipped with three Viking Champion machines and a GBN Engineering machine; the GBN machine is dedicated to nailing block pallets. Penn Pallet buys bulk nails for machine nailing from Mid-Continent as well as Viking.
The Saint Marys plant also produces top frames, crates and boxes, cradles, stringers and bolsters, and wood stakes. Crates and boxes and a small volume of pallets are assembled by hand with pneumatic nailing tools.
The recycling plant is equipped with a Smetco pallet sorting system, a Smetco bandsaw dismantling machine for disassembling used pallets, and a Smart Products trim saw for cutting material to length.
Certification for the company’s heat-treating operations is provided by Package Research Laboratory.
Markets for pallets have been “pretty steady” in recent years, according to Cunningham. The company’s staff can design pallets to meet a customer’s requirements for shipping and material handling. It uses the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association Pallet Design System™ software to optimize pallet design, reduce costs, minimize product damage and improve safety.
The company entered the pallet recycling market in the mid-80s through one of its largest new pallet customers. There was some apprehension that offering recycled pallets would undercut sales of new pallets. However, Penn Pallet has become one of the region’s largest suppliers of both new and recycled pallets. The company also offers pallet retrieval and sorting services.
At the recycling plant in Woodland, which opened in 2004, the focus is on recycling GMA pallets. The company stocks four grades of the 48x40 pallets but also offers other sizes.
For customers who need pallets that comply with ISPM-15 for export shipments, the company’s four Kiln-direct heat-treating chambers can provide those services.
Penn Pallet also offers to treat pallets with a patented borate solution — with a fungicide/moldicide additive — to protect them from pests and contamination from mold or mildew.
For more information about Vecoplan equipment, visit the company’s website at www.vecoplanllc.com, email email@example.com or call 336-252-4462.)