Monday, October 29, 2012

Hey Grinder Guy, does it make a difference what type of hole I use on my Grinder Screens?

WHEN Magazine Article- Nov 2012

This is one of the most overused benefits made by all kinds of Salespeople, Operators and Manufacturers.
My screens are round and they give me a better product!
My screens are hexagons and they give me a better product!
My screens are a square and they give me a better product!

I’ve heard it all. And all may be correct. They all may be wrong also.
So lets figure out what they are really saying.

Here are some facts:
  • The same size hole does not give the same size product in all materials. Green wood is different than dry wood, logs are different than yard waste, etc. The more moisture in materials, you will need a larger screen to be able to grind it. Dry wood requires a smaller screen because you need much more cutting action on all the pieces for consistency.
  • The thicker the screen, the more baffling effect you will get, which means more fines
  • Screens cut on an angle will give you less fines and more production but also larger material
  • A great piece of advice from Lori Rheinberger of, an Aftermarket Manufacturer: As a rule of thumb, 70% of your material will be ½ the dimension of your screen size or smaller. So, for example, with 4 inch screens, 70% of your material should be 2” minus with the balance being larger than 2”. Good rule to start from when trying to size a product initially.

Any screen you buy, from the OEM or Aftermarket Manufacturer, are all design engineered before they are cut, unless you and your torch are making them in your shop.
On every engineered drawing the actual open hole space should be shown. That and only that can actually compare 2 screens and how they compare to the actual product and production versus each other. Because if a screen doesn’t have the same open area, they are not equal.
What does that mean? With 4” screens, maybe 50% of the actual screen is open space for material to fall through and the other 50% is the steel framework making the 4” holes. If you increase to 6”, that open space may increase to 60%, thus more production and larger product.

But what about using the same dimension?
For example:
  • A round 1 ½” hole measures an area of 1.77 sq. inches
  • A square 1 ½” hole measures an area of 2.25 sq inches
  • That is over 25% more open space in the square hole
  • This means you will get larger pieces in the square hole and more production.
  • Multiply the 25% times every hole in the screen and you see how much more open space is in the screen and how your production will increase because of it.

In addition, when the square hole pattern is layed out on the steel for cutting compared to a round hole, the pattern lays out much more efficiently creating more holes, which means much more production because of the extra space created by the extra holes.
So the operator that says, “My square hole gives me a better product” might be comparing his production to a round hole screen.
But because the Round hole screen is smaller and then will have less holes per screen, it will make a finer product than the square screen, which the other operator may say, “My round hole gives me a better product” because he has smaller material.
Lastly, the hexagon, which seems to be the latest greatest in the industry. Layed out for cutting on steel plate it is probably the most efficient. But be careful, because a 2” hexagon does not have the same dimension area as a 2” square hole, but just by having more holes, it will give you more open space and more production. So the operator that says, “My hexagon hole gives me a better product”, may be comparing his production to a square hole he used previously. You never know what the comparisons truly are?

In conclusion, what do we do?
·         Try different screens
·         Ask your supplier for engineered drawings so you can compare open area of the screens
·         Ask your supplier what customers are buying now compared to last year or the year before
·         Thinner is better for production quantity and fines reduction
·         Try to get screens that are angle cut to increase production and reduce fines

I have some photos posted at for you to compare and review.
Questions, comments? Dave Whitelaw,

Hey GrinderGuy, help me salvage my season!

 Hey Charlie, you are not alone. Did you see the video message from Scotts Miracle-Gro Company® CEO Jim Hagedorn?
Pretty much sums up everybody’s season in the Lawn and Garden Industry. Weather is the number one driving force every year.
So we started off well and crashed and burned soon after. Now what?
I spoke to a half a dozen business owners and got a few things to consider to salvage the year. Here are a few ideas:
  • Inventory- Pretty easy, but run it down. This isn’t just for your finished products, but for your raw materials also. Cut off suppliers, have a sale, lower a contract price to increase shipments.
  • Renegotiate- Your suppliers are in the same boat. Renegotiate to increase your inventory for a lower dollar value. Will lower your average cost per unit across the board and will increase your profit next year
  • Don’t be afraid to layoff early- It’s a long expensive Winter. Don’t have the work, let them go.
  • “Get rid of your leeches”- This came from my friend in Atlanta and will save you the stress next year. If they don’t pay, send them packing, Slow pay is no pay. Let them go. You are not a bank. Next year you will be much happier.
  • Work with Friends- Friends make you money and support you when you need it. Buy some of their material and cut them a break for some material
  • Find a new Client- Maybe your old clients are not selling like they use to. Get going finding some new ones.

Last year’s draught of raw materials in the Mulch business has given way to a flood of material and cheaper prices this year, yet it seems people do not have the money to carry that material for the winter, leaving a lot of suppliers high and dry. Work with your suppliers to help keep them afloat, you will need them sooner or later. Paying ½ now and ½ later pays ½ the bills instead of no bills.
Hope this helps Charlie. Good Luck to you and your friends.

Questions- Drop us a line

Optimism….Where is the Optimism?

            While researching for Octomers WHEN Magazine article, I was struck by the responses I received and the utter lack of optimism in this industry’s business community.
 Would you could you if you could? Would you could you if you should?
Dr. Seuss asked the questions, and so am I. Where is the optimism? There is no excitement. There are no lofty projections.
“We are trying to get by.” “We are holding our own.”“ We are trying to maintain.”
These are the answers I am receiving out in the business community.
If the Democrat Guy gets reelected, does that mean we are going to fold up and walk away?
There is no doubt the vast majority of business owners are Republicans. At least in this business they are. A Republican elected would certainly change the attitude of these owners, but we are still in the same ballgame, just another pitcher. We still have the same debt, the same 2 Party system, the same Congress.
What’s the basic problem?
There are no free rides. Somewhere this has gotten lost. The children are not taught that hard works pays off and gets you anywhere you want to go if you work for it.
What is going to create optimism for everyone? Create a sense that we are going in the right direction? We better figure it out soon, while we still have a chance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GrinderGuy Under Repair

Send your questions via email or Twitter. After years of running and selling Heavy Equipment, the GrinderGuy is heading in for some maintenance. Be off a month or so with some Spinal Fusion Surgery.
Looks like the Laser Spine Institute did a good job,

Hey Grinder Guy, How Much Should I Charge for Contract Grinding?

Great Question.
In a perfect world, you would know your costs, add your margins and submit your price. Knowing your real cost is the dilemma in this industry.
Several factors weigh into how much you CAN charge for your grinding services:
·         Competition- This is the number one economic factor. Obviously the more competition, the less you are able to charge. For example, back several years ago, clearing and grinding for $3000 per acre was the norm. Then as clearing jobs dried up the price went to $2000 an acre, then $1000 an acre and then finally some companies were grinding for free so they could capture the materials to supply fuel contracts that they were tied to. That put a lot of others out of work……..and nobody ended up making money.
·         What materials need to be ground? Shingles or Pallet Wood? There is a huge difference in wear life of screens and tips. If you haven’t ground shingles before, you sure don’t want to quote a price not knowing what your cost will be.
·         How fine are you grinding the materials? Making a 1” mulch product takes a lot more fuel per yard to make than say a 6” minus fuel product.
·         What equipment is being supplied. Just the grinder? Or is support equipment needed also?
·         Equipment moves and Travel Time- Generally, a per unit price is given to move the equipment to and from the jobsite. A lot of Contractors do not have their own truck to move equipment, so they sub it out and charge their customers a flat fee. Employees travel time to and from sites are sometimes paid. Just depends on your employment. Not always, but in general, company employees that report to an office or shop location daily, are paid to travel to an outside job while in other situations, such as Union Construction for example, employees move from jobsite to jobsite and travel is not paid.

One major issue of travel, with any employee, is travel expenses. What expenses are covered and which are not? This seems to be a moving target with some companies. When things are good, a lot of things are overlooked, but when costs get scrutinized, companies generally go overboard and cause resentment. When a 99 cent draft beer isn’t reimbursed but a $1.50 soda is, that doesn’t make sense. The GSA publishes Per Diem Rates for Hotel and Meals per State, County and even some Cities @ . You can use these rates as a general guideline or set your own rules, but make them clear and reasonable. Some companies just give their employees a Company Credit Card to pay for Hotels, Meals and Fuel. If you trust an employee to take care of a million dollars worth of equipment, you can probably trust them with a credit card.

            When figuring costs, you can probably use an equation that will conclude your cost is $1 per yard as well as you can find one that will conclude your cost is $10 yard. The best scenario is to figure out what is reasonable income to add to your bottom line. Don’t worry about how much you are making per hour, but rather, this $20,000 will pay two payments on your grinder this year which makes everything you do all year more profitable.

Here are some estimated pricing thoughts and issues, but remember what you are grinding and how you are grinding are different in most cases:
  • Typically large 1000 HP Grinders or Shredders on landclearing type debris would be in the $300-$500 an hour range plus support equipment. These rates are the same for shredders even though your costs are significantly lower with shredders.
  • If you can charge by the ground yard, you know you are getting paid for all that you are grinding and the customer will know his actual cost per yard of material. Then it is easy to price and plan for sale. The customer would then not care if you were grinding 100 yards an hour or 500 yards an hour. But you will need an accurate way of measuring the amount ground, such as hauling off all the material. Just measuring a pile after its ground doesn’t take into account all the compaction and material loss on the ground. These jobs are usually in the $3-$5 range.
  • If you measure and charge for the pile that needs to be ground you know you are getting paid for all that you are grinding and the customer will know his actual cost prior to the grinding being completed. You will need to view the material beforehand to see what type of materials, logs and stumps which cost more to grind, or brush which costs less. Check for compaction in these situations also. These job are more in the $1 -$3 range
  • Charging by the acre is pretty much the going rate of the area,$1000-$2000
  • If you charge by the hour, you must go off an hour meter on the machine or something similar. If your employees take an extra 15 minutes for lunch or show up 5 minutes late, the customer is concerned that they are paying hundreds of dollars an hour and not getting what they paid for. They also get concerned when only 100 yds an hour are being ground instead of 500 yds an hour.
  • Consider trading grinding time for materials or fuel, etc.
  • If the customer supplies support equipment, be sure the equipment is adequate enough to serve your grinding needs or your 1 week job turns into tying up your grinder for 2 weeks.
  • Consider a discounted rate for an extended contract or repeat grinding jobs.

Another issue you may consider is insurance. Be certain your coverage includes offsite work and that your liability coverages are adequate for the areas you are working in. This includes your transportation coverage and your subcontractors coverage. If your subcontractor has an accident with your three quarter of a million dollar grinder, make sure his coverage isn’t for $125,000. The Grinder Guy was in this situation personally and that’s why I am telling you now.

In addition, one provision you may want to put into an onsite grinding contract is that the customer be responsible for any damage to your grinder as the result of contamination in their piles. They may say their pile is clean but you didn’t pile it there, they did. If you run an excavator tooth, that just happened to be in the pile, through your high speed grinder, you don’t want to have to pay the $30,000 repair bill.

So in conclusion,
  • What needs to be ground and to what size?
  • Try and find out the going area rate
  • Cover yourself and your equipment
  • Figure out Expenses- Travel, Per Diem, Mileage, Transport
  • Find an accurate, acceptable measurement for billing

Dave Whitelaw,

Hey Grinder Guy my fuel bills are costing me my profits!

Like every other consumer, those of us in the recycling world are suffering from high fuel prices, times the dozens of pieces of equipment we all have. If your contacts do not have a fuel surcharge option, you are going to keep losing profits.
My calls inquiring about low speed high torque shredders have increased dramatically. When I tell customers they cut 2/3 of their fuel bill out and oh by the way, your shredder tips last a couple months, there is no formula a little less production doesn't save you thousands of dollars in operating cost.
With some 1000+ HP grinders using 40 or 50 gallons of fuel every hour, your fuel bill exceeds $200 an hour. That is painful and unsustainable without raising prices.

I am no engine expert, but I have learned a few things running equipment. Here are some grinder specific and equipment in general ideas on how to conserve fuel. Just a 10% savings will mean thousands of dollars at the end of the year:

Air Cleaner- It doesn't get much simpler than this. Without enough air, your engine will never burn all the fuel being dumped into the engine. If you see black smoke from the exhaust, the first thing to check is the air cleaner.

Fuel system- Fuel system treatments and clean fuel filters keep the correct flow and volumes running through the engine. Some fuel treatments are expensive, but especially for older engines, will help them run much more efficiently. Have a Service Technician from your engine manufacturer test each injector and they will be able to tell you which are operating correctly and which need replaced.

Derate your engine- Have your engine manufacturer derate your engine to a lower horsepower. Each engine has 3 or 4 horsepower ratings, so by lowering your horsepower you can save fuel. Talk with your engine manufacturer about the pros and cons. You will probably not notice a loss of 50-100 horsepower, but your wallet will.

Keep your services up to date- Clean oil will keep an engine cooler and running smoothly. Especially with older engines that operated their fuel systems with oil pressure.

Fuel temperature- Cooler fuel will burn much more efficiently. The hotter the fuel, the more inefficient it becomes. Keep your fuel storage tanks covered and keep your fuel tanks full. Today’s engines return a considerable amount of fuel back to the tank which in turn heats up the fuel. This will be minimized with a full tank.

Clutch/Pumps- Keeping your clutch maintained to proper torque or oils changed as required will create less drag on the engine. Extra pumps used that can be removed will help also. Change a hydraulic conveyor to electric and removed that pump and save the 10-15 horsepower.

New Fuel Systems- With all the new electronics and new common rail fueling systems, some Tier 4 emission engines are getting better fuel economy than the Tier 3 engines.

Speaking with Eric Mathewson and Sam Meeker of Caterpillar at Waste Expo in Las Vegas, they gave a few other options:

RPM Reduction - Something as simple as having the engine computer lower a bulldozer rpm slightly when it is put into reverse can save gallons of fuel per day and not sacrifice productivity.

Tracking software- Common options on equipment these days is some sort of tracking software. Not just some “Find my Bulldozer App.” A product such as Caterpillars Product Link allows you to track many points of operation including idle time. If enabled, a piece of equipment can be shut off after idling a set period of time, thus saving fuel. All these features can be tracked remotely also. Check with your equipment or engine manufacturer for software they may provide.
            Another example is the Ecco mode on the Komptech Shredders. With this mode enabled, the machine monitors the torque on the shredder shafts to determine if there is material in the hopper or not. If there is not, the shredder throttles down to an idle while still turning the rotor shafts very slowly. When material is put into the hopper, the torque on the shaft increases and the machine throttles up to full rpm. So you don’t have to worry about your operator going on break or going to load a truck with the shredder running at full engine rpm. Check with your grinder or shredder manufacturer for similar software.

            On the grinder specific side, eliminating drag on your rotor or hammermill will reduce engine load and result in lower fuel use.
How do we do that?
For example, on a first grind or grinding landclearing debris just for reduction, a precise product size is not necessary. Try using older tips and larger screens. By increasing the distance between the tip and the screen or the tip and the anvil, you will reduce drag which will help you maintain rpm and keeps you productive. This example works best with upturn rotors and woody materials. Downturn rotors and hammermills with stringy wood or palm material, this would not be a good option. For those situations, maintaining a tight tolerance at the anvil and bigger screens and greater tip distance afterward works best. For a finish grind this does not work at all, as you will create more fines in your product and production rates will suffer.
Experiment a little when you have the time and you may be more than pleased with the outcome.

Questions, Comments?
Dave Whitelaw
Grinder Guy 813-421-2757

Hey Finance Guy, the Grinder Guy has a few questions…

            I am always asked about financing and to be honest, as a Salesman, keeping one person as your key go to guy, is difficult to do at best. If they are that on their game, they follow up, get the best product for the customer and are generally a personable person, they usually don’t last long in that position. Their superiors recognize their performance and off they go to greener pastures.
            We found a good company and great guy last year and we’ve been working him hard. They have been a general pleasure to work with and the customers seemed pleased also. So we spent a few minutes with Mark Combs and Gary Bagwill of Snider Leasing of Sacramento, CA and asked them the questions I generally get asked that are never the same with Financial Institutions, but with this information, you can get a jump start on your financing and maybe some ideas to think about.

Q – What should a customer get together prior to calling for financing? Financial statements, tax returns?

A – Requirements for financial information will vary from one lender to another, and is often influenced by the amount of the request to be financed and the credit strength of the Applicant. To use a standard rule of thumb, however, most lenders will be looking for the following:
-           A Credit Application; 2 years Profit & Loss Statements on the business and the principals of the company, (depending on whether or not the company is publicly or privately held); If the year-end of the business is more than 6 months old, an interim Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet will likely be desired; If the business financial statements are unaudited, corresponding Federal Tax Returns for the same 2 year period will likely be required; if the business is closely held, Federal Tax Returns on all principals will also likely be required.

Q – What are good rules of thumb for maximum finance amounts based on income levels?

A – The term of the financing will vary by lender, the type of equipment being financed, the age and useful life of the equipment and the financial and credit strength of the Applicants. Typical terms usually range for 24 months to 60 months. Weaker credits, weaker financial strength, etc. will typically only be considered for the shorter terms. Stronger Applicants can in some scenarios get terms of up to 84 months.

Q – What is an operating lease?

A – There are primarily 2 types of leases. Finance Leases and Operating Leases. There are even often variances of these which are interpreted differently from Lender to Lender but typically an Operating Lease if more oriented toward a structure that is considered “Off Balance Sheet” financing and does not typically lead to ownership of the equipment at the end of the contract. It is also subject to specific accounting and IRS requirements and guidelines and the payments are typically referred to as “Rental Payments” and are tax deductible. The Lender/Lessor takes the depreciation, not the Applicants. An Operating Lease is often more beneficial to Applicants looking for lower payments than traditional financing, unique tax advantages, (such as no Alternative Minimum Tax consequences) and better addresses the obsolescence factor regarding the equipment, since ownership may not be the desired goal at the end of the contract.

Q - Why is leasing better than purchasing or not?

A – There are advantages and disadvantages to both traditional financing and leasing. These will be established by the circumstances of the Applicant as outlined above. In addition to the advantages listed above, typically a lease will offer less initial capital expenditure than traditional financing and, in some cases, more flexible terms and structures. Traditional financing may offer the benefit of a more accelerated write-off under some circumstances, depending upon applicable IRS guidelines and opportunities. A lease may be less impacted by IRS regulations and consequences than traditional financing by virtue of nature/qualifications and a Rental Contract, as referenced above.

            So for your next purchase, or lease, get some options that may benefit your tax position rather than just comparing rates because when it comes down to the end of the year, we don’t care how much interest we paid, we care how much money we made. You can contact Mark Combs at 800-377-8812 or for more information.

            Also, 2012 is going by quickly. Your accelerated depreciation amount is at 50% this year and you still have your Section 179 Expensing for used equipment. You can get more detailed information at .

            Questions, Comments, .

Dave Whitelaw

Industry loses a Good Man

The Recycling Industry has lost one of its best hydraulic minds in the Country and one good person.
Eric Eskeland, Engineering Manager at Continental Biomass Industries Inc., was tragically killed in a boating accident on Memorial Day weekend.
Mr. Eskeland had been with CBI for the past decade and was one of best hydraulic engineers in the industry for years prior to CBI. Known as "just a great guy" to friends, coworkers and customers alike, his hydraulic knowledge helped advance the automation of grinding and shredding processes that are being used daily by many customers in the Industry today.
He is survived by his wife Debra, daughters Hilary and Heidi and son, Nathan, a Recycling Equipment Salesman at Continental Biomass Industries Inc.

Dave Whitelaw

Hey GrinderGuy, my Landfill Costs are killing my C&D Operation!...........

This isn’t really a question, but here’s an answer, STOP GOING THERE!
Obviously if you can avoid it, you certainly would be, but let’s take a look at what you are sending.

First of all most of the C&D systems being sold today are of the same design, whether small, medium or large. Not always, but most of the time they are. Here’s a hint-
FIGURE OUT YOUR MARKETS…before you design your systems.
·         If you are using a float tank to remove the heavies and you are sending your wood and plastic for fuel and the material cannot be above 15% moisture…..Why do you have a float tank?
·         If you are pulling the small lightweight product off of your sort line with air and putting back into you stream later, why are you pulling them in the first place?
·         If your high speed grinder at the end of your system is costing you too much maintenance time and money, why do you have it?

To start with:
·         The number one rule is to keep your materials dry. Rain on your material will cost you thousands at the Landfill. They have cheap fabric buildings these days, which will pay for themselves with the greater production and reduced maintenance time in addition to reducing Landfill fees for the extra weight you are carrying.
·         You need to be pulling every single piece of metal, hard plastic, rock and dirt, shingle, cardboard, drywall. Every piece.
·         If you are able to pile your residue, then operate a second shift to rerun your residue from the first shift and see what you are missing. Dirt stuck to plastic falls off, steel that was buried now gets pulled, all kinds of things happen and rerunning may save you big dollars later.
·         Shredding the residue to reduce the volume and loads outbound will help too
·         Determine where most of your residue is coming from. Is it one type? One customer? Adjust you price structure accordingly.
·         If you purchase a shredder and screener, you can assist in the recycling rate.

In your case, with nowhere to go but the landfill, you must figure out additional markets for the residue.
Most of the residues include mattresses, carpet, light plastics and miscellaneous junk. Find the market for all this material and you will reduce your costs.
·         Mattresses are easily shredded with a low speed shredder and you can recover a substantial amount of steel. The fluff can be sent for fuel.
·         Shingles make up a lot of Landfill weight and have become a problem with disposal lately because of less paving going on. If you can pile them for a while, you can shred and screen them and use those internally making roads and parking lots on your own properties.
·         Drywall shredded and screened is easy to get rid of to a whole lot of farmers
·         One of the best ways to dispose of residue is to shred it for fuel to ship it to some sort of Cofired Plant. Even if the plant is not logistically worth the amount saved, use a web service for transportation options. Many operations use a backhaul from another Carrier to transport their product. The key is to reduce your cost, not necessarily turn a profit. Zero is good here.
·         Carpeting is difficult to recycle, but easy in some parts of the country. Get together with other C&D operators around the country and find out what they are doing with carpet and other materials, get their contacts and other ideas.

Adding more equipment like a shredder and screener does not come cheap. But the multiple operations they become involved with turn you from a mediocre recycling operation into a productive, producer of recycled materials. From the front end reducing mattresses and bulky waste and recovering the steel, to the back end shredding shingles, wood and residue, a shredder pays for itself multiple times over.
A screen will assist you in more applications. Whether it’s screening ground shingles or drywall at 3/8”, dirt at 1 inch or concrete at 2”, you will be able to market several materials that you aren’t currently, with the small investment in a versatile addition.

Join the GrinderGuy and other industry professionals at the C&D World Conference in Nashville, TN March 25-27. For more information call 608-538-3552 or go to .

Following up on our 2011 year end profit increasing ideas, you can find that article here- :
·         Repair and Maintenance- All repairs should be completed, spare parts in stock
·         Equipment Utilization- Rentals should be ordered
·         Products- Production should be inventorying volumes
·         Advertising- Ads, Spots, should be running

Also, for more helpful tips, advice and equipment, visit .
Need us to visit your operation? Have a question?
Drop us a line.

Dave Whitelaw

Slow Down…….smell the Money

One of the best ways to get recycle wood and residue from a C&D recycling line is to grind it to fuel size and ship it to some sort of Cofired Plant or Kiln.“Fuel size” though, is different from plant to plant and State to State.
Generally, wood fired plants can handle a 6” minus product. There are some kilns that use a 3” conveyable material and many others that use a 1” blowable material to mix with their coal. The BTU values of the C&D residue are probably 5,000 to 10,000 depending on the materials being recycled in the systems.
But there is one costly constant that I see continually. There is many times some sort of high speed grinder at the end of these systems. These are probably the most costly parts of the operations.
STOP! Why does the material need to be shredded so fine. The only time you can make a case for it is if you are shipping for a 1” product, but even in these cases the infeed rates are so low there is no need for a big diameter rotor and all its expensive parts and all that wasted horsepower.
A slow speed shredder with a small screen size cannot only make the product you want, but reduce your costs by using less horsepower and limiting the wear to about 1/4 of what a high speed grinder would. The hum of that high speed rotor spinning, whether electric or $4 a gallon diesel driven, is costing you all your profit on the fuel and probably everything else too.
Screens are cheap in comparison to grinders. You really need them to remove the dirt fines from your product and reduce your ash content anyway. So if you have some oversize, scalp it off too and drop out those fines while you are at it. You’ll get more money for your fuel.
Star screens got a tarnished reputation from some of the early years in the industry, but today’s models are nothing like its predecessors. They create less dust than trommels, they don’t plug up like flat decks, you can adjust the sizing in seconds and you can create the multiple products with the same deck.
Review your operations. What if your grinding costs were reduced by over 50% and you were paid more for your fuel?
Got a question? Drop us a line.
Dave Whitelaw

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Komptech USA now Largest Dealer

Frohnleiten, Austria based Environmental Equipment Manufacturer, Komptech GMBH, announced 2011 Fiscal Year Worldwide Sales of 111 million Euro.
In addition, Komptech GMBH announced that their wholly owned subsidiary, Komptech USA Inc., has become the largest worldwide Dealer of Komptech Environmental Equipment.
Read more-

Thursday, February 16, 2012

John Deere Bullish

John Deere reported 2011 year end numbers yesterday with a 45% annual increase for Construction and Forestry Equipment.
Looking for an additional 15% for 2012.

The 100% Accelerated Depreciation of 2011 is now at 50% for 2012, but still a significant write off.

Looking for more answers,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Equipment Coming Soon

Getting Cleaned up and ready for sale.
Call if you are interested before they are listed:
2005 Morbark 1300- under 2000 hrs
2002 Morbark 1300- freshly rebuilt 3412
2003 Morbark 4600- Axles, 2500 hrs
2008 Morbark 4600- Tracks, 2500 hrs
1990 Scarab 14HD

Just Now Available- 2006 Morbark 4600 XL

2006 model
Totally gone through- Excellent Condition
Between 6000 and 7000 frame hours
Too many new parts to list
Cat 3412 w 860HP
Ready to Go
Call the Grinder Guy, 813-421-2757

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Don't Make Us a Solyndra!

Over the past year or two, Biomass projects have exploded. Pellets, Ethanol, Waste to Power Generation, you name it. Investment money has poured into these projects from all kinds of avenues that have no idea what Biomass is. All they know is that this is a green project and the government is underwriting loans, granting money and it’s a “Can’t Lose” proposition. Same was said about Solyndra and a half a billion dollars later we are wondering what we can do with that property.

As a Waste and Biomass Industry we need to use our Industry Associations to get involved in these projects on the front end and weed out the ones that are unrealistic and promote the viable ones so the Governmental Funding and Investment monies continue to flow into our Industries. We have already seen a large Georgia project call it quits because the technology didn’t work large scale.
Most of these projects that are being proposed or already built are standard wood residue usage like fuel and pellets, which with the numbers being built I would start to get concerned about the volumes of wood available in some markets because it seems they keep building on top of one and another. With the building decrease and associated landclearing down, there is little residue available to utilize, so Forest Management needs top priority to keep these industries going long term.
Then there are the ventures into ethanols and biodiesel that are the type that worked in a laboratory so let’s see if it works large scale and get the government to pay for it. These are the projects that make me say WHAT? Let’s plant WHAT in the middle of Florida? You promise it won’t spread? Why is there a concern? Not pointing fingers, just using as an example, but these are the types of unproven ventures that can kill future investments.
I am bringing this issue to light because of my back ended involvement with 3 separate projects in 2011:
·        The first, a recycling and rdf operation spent millions permitting, building and buying yet never hired one person with any operational industry knowledge nor after starting operation did they even hire a mechanic. They have not been operationally successful to date directly because of the lack of operational experience and maintenance.
·        The second was a recycling operation that did not spend as much money on the front end as the first company, yet they did not hire anyone with any operational experience either. While their business is thriving and potential huge, they are break even at best because they don’t know a from b and are learning as they go instead of having an experienced person directing common industry practices.
·        The last is a waste to fuels type operation that has refused to hire anyone with industry knowledge and seem to feel that they can build a better mousetrap without having any industry knowledge whatsoever. It is almost comical watching them try to progress when there are 100 companies within 100 miles that can do what they need done and that can also do it better, faster and more profitably. With Governmental dollars on the line on this one, I am going to keep my eye on them and try for the third time to offer some FREE advice. I’ll keep you informed.

In any business, hiring competent knowledgeable people is a must, but for new ventures it is more than a necessity. That is why I am going to find experienced people for positions I know about and operations that need help.
·        If you are in Sales or Operations Management of recycling, grinding, shredding, screening operations or are a site manager, foreman, operator or mechanic and are interested in other positions all over the country, willing to relocate or not, send an email titled “Position Wanted” to with a resume or just a short synopsis of your experience and I will keep it in confidence and pass along your information to any and all that are interested. If there is a particular company that you do not want contacted, just let me know that also.
·        If you are a Company, startup or not, send an email titled “Employee Wanted” to and I will do my best to match you with any contacts I receive.

The WHEN Magazine provides a wealth of knowledge for the Waste and Biomass Industries. Why not place a classified ad in WHEN for your open position and find the person you are looking for? It doesn’t make sense if you were not to do it. You never know who may be looking to relocate to your area.

As these new Green Projects develop in your areas, get your local Recycling or Waste Associations involved with them on the front end so we can make sure they can be as successful as they can and not compromise other parts of the Industries so we can continue to grow and prosper.

Following up on our 2011 year end profit increasing ideas, you can find that article HERE-

R&M- Repairs should be completed by now
Equipment Utilization- Do you need all that equipment or can you rent something for 3 months?
Products- You should have already made a new product and brought samples into the market
Automate- New equipment should be ordered by now and processes and traffic flows laid out
Advertise- You should have already secured some form of additional advertising and have it begin soon
AsktheGrinderGuy Articles- You should have tried some new wear parts and figured out dollars to hours compared to what you have been using. Remember, buy in large 100-500 quantities and save per unit and in freight costs. Did you join an Industry Organization? There is strength in numbers and you get a lot for the few dollars it takes to join.

Good Luck this coming season. Questions? Operational help?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Slow Down and smell the Money

Reprint of my C&D World Article-

One of the best ways to get recycle wood and residue from a C&D recycling line is to grind it to fuel size and ship it to some sort of Cofired Plant or Kiln.“Fuel size” though, is different from plant to plant and State to State.
Generally, wood fired plants can handle a 6” minus product. There are some kilns that use a 3” conveyable material and many others that use a 1” blowable material to mix with their coal. The BTU values of the C&D residue are probably 5,000 to 10,000 depending on the materials being recycled in the systems.
But there is one costly constant that I see continually. There is many times some sort of high speed grinder at the end of these systems. These are probably the most costly parts of the operations.
STOP! Why does the material need to be shredded so fine. The only time you can make a case for it is if you are shipping for a 1” product, but even in these cases the infeed rates are so low there is no need for a big diameter rotor and all its expensive parts and all that wasted horsepower.
A slow speed shredder with a small screen size cannot only make the product you want, but reduce your costs by using less horsepower and limiting the wear to about 1/4 of what a high speed grinder would. The hum of that high speed rotor spinning, whether electric or $4 a gallon diesel driven, is costing you all your profit on the fuel and probably everything else too.
Screens are cheap in comparison to grinders. You really need them to remove the dirt fines from your product and reduce your ash content anyway. So if you have some oversize, scalp it off too and drop out those fines while you are at it. You’ll get more money for your fuel.
Star screens got a tarnished reputation from some of the early years in the industry, but today’s models are nothing like its predecessors. They create less dust than trommels, they don’t plug up like flat decks, you can adjust the sizing in seconds and you can create the multiple products with the same deck.
Review your operations. What if your grinding costs were reduced by over 50% and you were paid more for your fuel?
Got a question? Drop us a line.

UFO? Flying Debris?.........

Received this from a friend. This kind of thing just screams regulation so we need to police each other or that is what we will get.

 Got something to share?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hybrids- Its not just for Cars anymore

One of the most common questions I am asked is how to save money in some way, shape or fashion.
The response I give the most is to automate something, convert to electric, or both.

An electric motor doesn’t need the air filter blown out every day, or the oil changed, or the radiator checked. You push a button and off it goes.

Komptech is constantly looking for ways to help operators cut their costs. Fuel savings are a big part of that, and more and more of the company’s machines are hybrid – they have dual power capability.

Komptech hybrid machines feature all-electric drive, with an auxiliary onboard diesel generator with the capability to run directly off the electrical power grid.

The all-electric drive is more efficient, cleaner, and quieter. The generator allows the customer to move from site to site with ground power or not, and the generator is much more fuel efficient, than a diesel over hydraulic units when it does have to be used. With fuel tanks of 60-80 gallons, they only need fueled a couple times a week. Because of the low rpm of the generator, sometimes it's difficult to tell if the machines are running.

Komptech offers hybrid drive in its windsifters, star screens, and trommel screens.
The Komptech Star Screens have been electric powered for a long time. A diesel generator burning about one and a half gallons an hour has been putting 200 yards of finished product on the ground. Since the advent of Tier 3 engines, the addition of a ground power plug was added to most machines. Any site with 480v 3 phase power, can plug directly into the units. Most generators are 40-80kw which means they do not use a whole lot of electrical power so upgrading service is not necessary in most cases.

            So what does it save?
Well, in a previous article, Komptech USA Writer Ralph Kirschner, used this comparison:
A Cribus 3800 Trommel Screen running from plug in ground power requires 30 kW to operate. At 9 cents per kilowatt, that’s $2.70/hr., x 2000 hours = $5,400 per year.
The same machine running from the diesel generator requires 1.5 gal/hr. fuel x $4.00 gallon = $6.00/hr. x 2000 hours = $12,000 per year.

Diesel powering an equivalent size hydraulic machine uses approx. 30% more fuel, or 1.95 gal/hr. x $4.00 gallon = $7.80/hr. x 2000 hours = $15,600 per year.

In this case, operators can save over $10,000 per year running on grid power instead of conventional diesel hydraulic, or $3600 per year running on the diesel generator. Either way, the hybrid machine costs much less to run.

 In either case, there are no hydraulic lines, pumps or  motors  to leak, break, or come apart and contaminate the entire system.

The new Cribus line of Trommels is now electrically powered, creating huge savings in comparison to the Industry standard hydraulic machines.
One of the biggest advantages and newest option with the new Cribus line aside from the electrical savings, is that Komptech has added a load sensor to the hopper. This totally adjustable sensor, allows the trommel and hopper to stop as the hopper empties. This allows the drum to stay full of material and not run empty contaminating your product with larger pieces that fall through an empty trommel drum. This will make products, especially on the mulch end, much more consistent.
            Komptech just delivered their first all electric Cribus 5000 Trommel into California. This unit has a 9 yard hopper and 50 square meters of screen area.
            With all this stopping/starting, plugging in or not, how are the warranty hours tracked? Good Question. They are tracked separately. There is an hour meter for the Trommel itself and an hour meter for the generator. This allows for accurate accounting of hours for warranty and servicing.
Times change, and so should your ways. It’s those that look ahead that see the change.

Ralph Kirschner, Komptech USA and The Grinder Guy contributing.
*Originally posted in Amerimulch 2012 Q1 Newsletter

Click here to view entire Newsletter

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from
I hope we can help make 2012 more profitable for you.
Advice, Equipment, Consulting- We have it all available for you.

Mulch and Soil Council Celebrates 40 years

Original Post December 4, 2011
The 40th annual Mulch and Soil Council meeting was held Oct 26 and 27, 2011 in Chicago, IL.
Executive Director Bob LaGasse said nearly 100 companies were represented which accounts for the majority of bagged materials sold in the US annually.
The organization is used to promote the business interests of its Member Companies
This year’s program included legal regulation, weights and measures, package labeling and  Obamacare amongst many others.
This is a strong organization of members says Brian Faircloth ,of Suwannee Lumber Company, Cross City, FL, in his last year as President of the Organization, and one of the main purposes is networking with other members and sharing experiences both legal and operational with other members.
If you are a mulch or soil producer, you have probably benefitted from the lobbying, governmental and legal efforts of this organization regarding all sorts of rules and regulations.
Consider becoming a member and creating an even stronger Industry Organization.

Hey Grinder Guy, how can I increase profits next year?

Original Post December 1, 2011

The past few years have been trying times for all, but blue skies are ahead.
Winter is a good time to review the past year and the upcoming season.
How can you reduce costs and increase profitability is dependent on each business, but I can give you a few ideas of what to look for.
You cannot compare year to year without comparing something tangible.
Some companies track costs well, but if you don't, compare yards out the door to total costs.
Are you going up or are you going down
The profit or loss doesn’t matter in this situation, they will take care of themselves, but you need to know where you are going. It doesn’t matter if you hired a new secretary or 3 new operators, what went out and what did you spend makes it pretty simple.

Here are 6 ideas to consider and put into your shoes:

·         Repair and Maintenance
Probably your number one issue. Breakdowns are bad enough, but it's the downtime and overtime spent catching up that cost you real money.
1.      Buy a grinder wear parts package and get a discount and replace everything on your time. Chances are that you will find other needs while replacing these items.
2.      Call your clutch manufacturer for advice on checking clutch wear and maybe get a courtesy visit
3.      Audit your colorant usage- How much color did you buy? Subtract how much do you have left? Then divide by number of yards sold. That will give you average lbs. per yard rate. Check with your Colorant Company for industry averages.
4.      Call your Colorant Sales Representative and have them calibrate your colorant scale and pump while checking over your Matt Steward of Colorbiotics says worn color machine blades cause a lack of efficiency. Your Representative can check machine wear for you also. George Midlik of Amerimulch said that his company handed out numerical push button counters and stop watches to machine operators last year so that they could track bucket counts per minute and per barrel and prevent any color usage variation before it happens. Get your operators one.
5.      Service engines and hydraulics- If you are close to your 1000 or 2000 hour service, do it early when you have time rather than in the middle of full production season.

·         Equipment Utilization
Are you utilizing your equipment to its full potential? Double shifts? Split shifts?
Get into other businesses. Drywall Recycling, Shingle Recycling or Food Waste Composting for example.
Or are you using your equipment too much?
Reevaluate that low margin product that is wearing out your equipment.
Remember, Screen More Grind Less, and why haven’t you called me yet?
Replace that old technology like your old shaker deck with a star screen in soil or mulch. Push of a button and you can go from ¼” to 1 ¼” with the same machine.

·         Products
Create or add at least one new product next season.
1.      Maybe a high dollar product like a new mulch color of your local sports team
2.      A low dollar wood fuel product to get rid of your dirtier materials
3.      Screen the fines out of your mulch to save colorant usage and weight and sell the fines to a pellet plant or use them in a new potting soil mix.
4.      Offer onsite grinding or screening services.
5.      Add a retail yard.
Just don't add a product that will cannibalize one of your other profitable products.

·         Automate something
1.      Convert something to electric. Grinder, Screener, conveyors, something. There are Hybrid pieces of equipment on the market now.
2.      Screen 2 products at once
3.      Grind into a screener
4.      Add a conveyor and use the wheel loader less.
Conveyors are cheap and come to work every day and they don't have to have Obamacare.
Push a button and it is working.

·         Advertise
1.      Local TV advertising is relatively cheap and their market info is very accurate.
2.      Donate product to local schools and sports complexes
3.      Sponsor local garden radio show
4.      Team with local landscapers and supply all their needs

·         Review the Ask the Grinder Guy Articles of the past year
1.      Screen more grind less. Why haven’t you called me yet? I can screen your 1st ground product to a perfect size at rates greater than your grinder can produce. So why are you double grinding? Do you like losing money?
2.      Did you check out your used wear parts like we told you to?
3.      Replace your stationary shaker deck in your soil or mulch system with a star deck for peanuts and reduce your costs enough to buy the entire Plantation.
4.      Can you use a slow speed shredder instead of a high speed grinder?
5.      Can plastic and stone removal help you?

I hope you had a successful 2011 and look forward to helping you be more profitable in 2012.
Have a question? Want to save money and build your business?