Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hey GrinderGuy, how can I increase the production of my grinder?

Everyone in this business and frankly every other business is asking the same question? Look around and see what you can produce ahead of time to increase production. I coined a phrase a few years back that says, “Screen More, Grind Less.” I sell grinders obviously, but they are expensive to own and expensive to operate. Screening has a much cheaper operating cost. Using different screens or different tips, may increase your production, but I can double or triple your production with just a little help up front.
 So, let’s take a typical site scenario:
·         Take in majority of volume in 4 months or so and need a grinder twice the size then
·         Sell two thirds of your annual sales volume in a 4 month time frame
·         Can inventory half your annual business prior to the busy season
Sound like you?
The NUMBER ONE suggestion I would like to make is to separate your incoming materials!
·         Chips from the customers who have hand fed chippers should be separated into their own pile because they do not necessarily need to be ground. So why are you grinding them?
·         Stumps and big logs need additional processing so should be piled into a separate pile, so don’t throw them into your grinder and slow down the production.
·         Clean debris is easy to pile separately when it comes through the gate. You know what loads may be contaminated and will take more time to process, so pile them separately, even if it is just on one end of the same pile. Have someone checking out the contaminated debris ahead of time.
So for example, just by a little coordinating, the scale house operator, or your spotter on the ground, could direct trucks as they come into the site on where to dump.
Then, you have piles that are ready for the next stage:
1.       Clean Brush that can be processed quickly and without additional support
2.       Clean logs ready for mulch processing
3.       Contaminated materials that additional support will be needed
4.       Stumps that are ready for shearing.
Whatever products you need, separation will increase your production and reduce your handling.
What if you used a rake or grapple to pull the brush out of a pile of grass and leaves and just ground the brush? Why are you grinding the grass and leaves? Granted, sometimes everything needs to be ground but, all the time?
Some products can be produced ahead of time and that is great. Produce them on the 40 hour work week and it doesn’t get any cheaper than that.
Some products cannot be produced ahead of time and need just in time delivery. This poses an issue. But let’s take making colored mulch for example. The lighter shades cannot be made too far ahead of delivery. But the separation made on the inbound side already assisted you. Separated logs ready for initial processing can assist with volume needs. 100 yards of logs produces 200 yards of product or whatever the number is. You already have the materials separated and know the volume you have on hand ready for coloring and all you did was tell drivers coming through the gate, where to dump. Clean woody debris piled separately produces less volume but is on hand ready for processing.
If you are on a contract grinding operation for example, have your customer do the same thing. Separate as they come in and pile separately. If you could send a wood shear a week ahead of your planned grinding operation, then your grinder is more productive when it arrives and you turn a greater profit just by doing a little planning up front.
Look around at your operation. What could you screen rather than grind? What materials could you separate and be able to produce at a greater rate and less cost?

Need some help? Or just some advice? Dave Whitelaw, grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

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