Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hey GrinderGuy, are these fire suppression systems worth the money?

Well, it’s not like you are putting a sprinkler system in your house to protect your family, but for most guys, your grinder is your lifeline. If it doesn’t work, neither do you. I personally have not had any installed on my equipment, but the comments I have heard through the years are:
They are expensive…..They leak…… They are in the way.
                Fire Suppression systems are becoming more and more common due to the mandates in mines, above ground and below, along with some insurance companies requiring systems on insured machinery. In addition, with the increased pressures and complexity of hydraulics and the advent of Tier IV engines and their associated excess heat, fires could potentially increase.
                So for real facts, I spoke with Kenneth Daniels of AFEX Fire Suppression Systems. AFEX call themselves the heavy equipment experts because that it is all they service, heavy equipment. AFEX is in most major mines in the world, have CAT® endorsed products and have their systems engineered into some John Deere® products. Without giving me the AFEX sales pitch, he explained why I had heard the complaints I have heard in the past-
Price- A sufficiently sized and installed system depends on the size, horsepower and hydraulics of the machine. The more of each, the larger the system. This is not a one size fits all industry. Stationary, not just mobile equipment can also catch fire. While the machine loss may be an issue, the building it is inside, the mulch pile it is next to, and the landfill that is on, can be the greater issue that can cost you your business. Think about what equipment is the most critical to your business and what would happen if it caught fire and what would be the collateral damage associated with it. It is possible that your insurance rates can be reduced with this type of protection. Check with your carrier.
They Leak- Some systems are pressurized, which means the tanks contain both the propellant and the agent, like the fire extinguisher that hangs on the wall in your office. Over time they have the possibility for pressure to leak out because of the significant vibrations these machines have, which can keep the system from discharging fully or at all. This is a maintenance item that needs to be monitored on a daily basis. Concerned? Look at a differently designed side cartridge operated system that uses a sealed, pressurized nitrogen cylinders separate from the agent tanks so that leaking won't be an issue. Get a more detailed description from your Fire Suppression Supply Company.
They are in the way- Some manufacturers have predesigned systems, such as the John Deere® Feller Bunchers, but most systems are designed in the office and installed on site. Because these are aftermarket installations, the sensors and the spray nozzles need to be where the potential fire hazard could be. It’s rather easy to remove some stainless steel tubing, like AFEX uses, and make your repairs or do your service.
What does a basic system consist of and how does it work?
·         Dealer sends machine drawings to Manufacturer or Distributor for a “Fire Risk Assessment” to determine Protection, Distribution and Discharge configuration. They also determine the type of agent required for the risk.
·         Size, the amount of agent required, is determined by the size of the machine, the horsepower and hydraulic system size and pressures. Dealer installs engineered routing of steel tubing or hydraulic hoses, sensors and spray nozzles and storage tanks. Agent storage tanks are installed in an area with enough space and away from potential damage. Space for these tanks can be an issue.
·         Then manual switches are installed so an operator can activate the system at the first sign of trouble.
·         Sensors, set at approximately 300 degrees, are activated by heat or fire. The sensors trigger the tanks to open. The spray nozzles send the agent to the predetermined areas and continually spray until the tanks are empty. Liquid systems take much more material to cover compared to dry chemical. So you need much more space for storage tanks of liquid than dry chemical.
What you need to know:
•             With all the electronics and hybrid machines today, “Liquid Only” is not a good option in most cases. Dry chemical will cover class A, B and C  fires. Combustables, Fuel and Electrical respectively. Dual  systems are possible also and perform to the strengths of each agent.
•             A Side Cartridge System has a nitrogen tank which is activated by the temperature sensors, which then activates the agent tanks. In AFEX systems, they use of stainless steel tubing which adds to the strength, rigidity and  longevity of the overall system. This makes the system much more user friendly because the lines are much easier to remove for maintenance and repair.
A Fire Suppression System does not mean daily housekeeping is not necessary. Most fires start within an hour of being shut down and most are from the lack of housekeeping . These systems can only go off once and making sure they can takes a little maintenance. To reiterate, with all the vibration, dust and dirt these systems need quarterly service to make sure they can do what they were made to do.
This is one major cost you don’t want to have, but one major disaster that can be avoided. Next equipment purchase check out a system and start protecting yourself.
For more information, contact Kenneth Daniels at AFEX Fire Suppression Systems at 919-781-6610.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw, The Grinder Guy,

Hey Grinderguy, should I buy a shredder or another compactor for my landfill?

That is a great question. I can take a full day answering this question, but there are a few main things to consider before you can make an educated decision.
If you own or operate a landfill, obviously landfill space is your number one revenue generator and the more landfill space you have the more valuable your landfill is. So, is it better to buy a new landfill compactor or a use a shredder to reduce material in the landfill?
With the cost of purchasing either about the same, here are a few things to consider:
If a compactor is used correctly:
·         Material is spread thin enough
·         The Compactor makes sufficient passes over the material
·         The base material that the debris is being compacted on is solid enough
you can get the reduction you are looking for, but sometimes this doesn't happen. Why? Mostly because material comes into landfill in waves, first thing in the morning, lunchtime and the end of the day, not all loads get the same compaction. This doesn't happen everywhere, but it does at a lot of places.
So what happens with a shredder?
·         You need more support equipment
·         Without adding any other equipment the shredder can separate ferrous materials
·         You will reduce 100% of the material because everything has to go throughout the shredder and some of the material will not be buried without compaction.
So, what makes sense?
·         There is no need for a shredder if landfill space isn't an issue. 100 year landfill life is a long time.
·         No market for recycled materials- If you do not have a place for materials that are being recovered to go, why do it?
·         Limited volume, equipment or personnel- Little volume cannot justify the capital investment costs
·         MSW- If your volume is mostly MSW, the reduction and compaction difference is difficult to justify if you are not removing materials. Although, the landfill working face is much cleaner and more easily compacted.
·         Limited landfill capacity- If the last useful landfill life is in sight, start shredding.
·         Can recycle materials- If you are using an excavator to load a shredder, the operator can easily remove concrete and big steel and other materials that are easily recycled or reused on site. Even just separating clean wood that can be sent to a wood recycler is easily removed to reduce volume.
·         C&D- Construction and Demolition debris is light and bulky. Reduction of 50-75% is easy to do.
·         Add a System- Depending on your incoming materials, adding a full recycling system can reduce disposal numbers significantly.
What else can using a shredder do?
·         Wear- Using a shredder will greatly reduce undercarriage costs on bulldozers because with the material already being shredded, wrapping and large material damage is greatly reduced.
·         Demolition- Having a shredder available for demolition projects could create additional revenue
·         Disaster Recovery- If a natural disaster, hurricane or tornado for example, occurs, the shredder can be used on the cleanup or can significantly reduce the incoming volume that will reduce landfill life in a hurry with the unexpected increased volume.
·         Tires- Adding a new waste stream like tires will increase profits significantly, and the shredded tires can be used on site for roads and drainage, or sent for to a recycler for a no disposal cost or a profit
·         Mattresses- A shredder can reduce difficult to compact materials like mattresses or even carpeting so they can be disposed of properly in a landfill
·         Daily Cover Material- Some shredded material can be used as Alternative Daily Cover(ADC) for landfills that are dirt poor
The more materials that are shredded, there will be more uses found for the materials.
In some cases, the materials that are shredded or recycled from the incoming waste stream and removed,  can be reduced from incoming disposal numbers and the full price collected at the gate can be claimed by the landfill and any fees and taxes may not need to be paid because the reused materials are not being disposed of. Check with your local agencies on this. This could benefit landfill operator profits enough to pay for a shredder. In addition, recycling credits may apply also. Due your homework.
So, in conclusion, there are many questions that need answered for your specific operation before you can make an educated decision on whether to purchase another compactor or a new shredder. But either way, check your options because you may be able to collect a lot more revenue for a little investment.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw,

Hey Grinderguy, what would I use a shredder for if I owned one?

Thanks you for the question. This is a question a lot of people ask because by not owning one, they really do not know what the benefits are of a shredder versus a grinder.
First, the definition of a shredder via Wikipedia® is that shredders “are all slow-speed systems, in contrast to hammer mills which are generally high-speed systems.” That’s a fairly accurate statement. So if we assume that horizontal and tub grinders have hammermills that rotate at 700-1800 revolutions per minute(rpm), low speed shredders usually rotate at 0-50 rpm.
In addition, shredders most commonly have single or dual shafts, but can even have 3 or 4 on occasion. Some have screens that can create a determined particle size while others are strictly for size reduction.
 So what are the benefits of shredding at low speed:
·         Lower Fuel Usage
·         Limits the amount of fines being produced
·         Increased Wear Part Life
·         Can shred contaminated materials
With all that being said, in general, what would it be used for?
·         Any initially ground material- If you are grinding twice currently for mulch, fuel, etc., using a shredder on the first grind would certainly lower your production costs. While your production volume would probably be a little less than a grinder, the fuel savings would be in the 50% or better range and the wear part life would probably be five times greater. In addition, because the rpm is in the 30 or 40 range, the amounts of fines produced are significantly reduced. This will lower mulch bag weights, hauling weights and reduce mulch colorant usage. 

·         Landclearing Material–What happens when you throw stumps and big wood in a horizontal grinder? You produce fines, fines and more fines increasing hauling weights. Also the dirt from the stumps significantly wears the grinder tips while the shredder tips tend to break the dirt away from the stump because of the reduced rpm.

·         Contaminated Materials- Materials like Railroad ties, storm cleanup and C&D are most likely contaminated with rock, concrete and steel and unable to be reduced with a grinder safely. A shredder turning at 30 or 40 rpm can pass contaminants without significant damage.

·         Demolition- Reducing MSW, Demolition or C&D Recycling debris can create savings of more that can be estimated. Last month, at a C&D Recycling Site, we reduced the 1200 yards a day of already sorted material that is sent to a landfill, to 700 yards, while removing additional steel that was missed by the sorting system and more steel that was broken free from other materials. That equaled 500 less yards charged at the landfill, five less loads of paid transportation and an additional 5 ton of steel recovered. The cost of the shredder is able to be recouped in less than a year.
So, just like 10-15 years ago, when horizontal grinders were being introduced, it became obvious that larger operations needed a tub and a horizontal grinder to take advantage of the benefits of both. In today’s market, it is now obvious, that owning a shredder and a grinder are necessary.
Shredders are not all created equal obviously. Make your list of needs and try a few. Whether single shaft or dual shaft, without trying a shredder, you do not know how much money you are losing.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw,

Training can save you thousands

I went to a 3 day training seminar last month with 80 Sales and Service personnel. It was amazing the amount of information that was traded back and forth, not only between service technicians or sales positions, but owner to owner, parts personnel to owner and others. All the different trainings made me question the trainings customers receive or have received when purchasing equipment.
                As a representative of an equipment manufacturer, having a knowledgeable Service Technician is essential. Likewise, a contractor with a trained staff can save thousands of dollars in repairs and downtime when they are properly trained.
                My company requires Dealers to have a trained Service Technician. An available option because of that training is that the Dealer may offer an additional year of warranty on each piece of new equipment at a reduced rate. The customer is required to have standard service intervals performed by the Dealer, but then the customer has two years of paying for only wear parts and fuel. Other manufacturers may offer something similar. Check it out.
                While a standard service may be just changing oils, this allows the trained Service Technicians to review every other component of a specific machine. They are then able to prevent problems before they occur.
·         How long have you owned your Grinder, Screen or other specialty piece of equipment?
·         How many operators do you have on them?
·         Who was actually trained by the Manufacturer or Dealer personnel when it was delivered? Are they still employed by you?
·         Do you have any specifically trained Service Technicians?
Off season is the perfect time for some extended trainings, but you can call any equipment manufacturer to schedule some specific equipment training at any time.
This does three things:
·         Your employees get trained correctly on a specific piece of equipment
·         Your equipment gets looked over in great detail and can possibly save you costly repairs down the road
·         Updates, new attachments or new equipment offerings are discussed which may  offer a new way of increasing production and your bottom line
Utilizing equipment to its fullest potential generates the most revenue, but if you do not have trained people operating it, it can cost you ALL your revenue.
When it comes to purchasing equipment, the price comes down to hours and condition. A good looking machine, regardless of hours, brings a greater return than one that has been abused. A well maintained and good looking machine will generate your best sale or trade value. Having those trained operators and service technicians will bring you top dollar on the backend.  Engines these days can be replaced with fairly simple ease, so if the base of the machines are well maintained, a 5 year grinder life span could potentially double which will certainly increase your bottom line.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw, Grinder Guy,

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,

Used Equipment Can Provide Tax Benefits too

The 4th quarter of 2013 is staring you in the face. The tax man is waiting in January. Start thinking about what you are buying fast and take advantage of the tax savings available to you.
Most everyone knows about the accelerated depreciation tax savings on new equipment the past few years, but used equipment tax write offs were limited. But since the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 those limits were increased. The emphasis of this deduction is to get businesses buying equipment and investing in their companies to help jumpstart the economy.
Enryk O’Callaghan of Crest Capital,, sent me a link to great informative website with a bundle of information on the Section 179 Deduction.  According to, which basically simplifies the Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code, limits on Used Equipment have been raised to $500,000, same as new equipment, for the first year. New Equipment does receive an additional 50% of the remaining balance, but each has a maximum of $2,000,000 before being reduced. What does that all mean? Here’s an example:
New or Used Equipment Purchase                                                                                          $750,000
1st year accelerated depreciation write off                                                                           $500,000
Bonus Depreciation (50% of balance over $500,000 for New Equipment Only)     $125,000

Write off for 1st year for New Equipment                                                                              $625,000

Write off for 1st year for Used Equipment                                                                            $500,000

While used equipment write off is not as much as new, a typical write off would be $100,000, so this is five times the normal amount. This means, even on a used piece of equipment, you will pay a whopping $144,000 less in corporate taxes, which means that $500,000 machine really only cost you $356,000. A great investment in your business and your Country.
This deduction is not just for portable equipment. Stationary equipment qualifies also, up to an including the installation costs. This can be a major cost savings for companies switching from diesel to electric equipment.
So what equipment qualifies?
·         Machinery
·         Some Vehicles
·         Computers, Office Equipment and Furniture
·         Much more
But what about used equipment?
Section 179 considers used equipment too. To qualify, the equipment must:
·         Basically meet the same new equipment requirements
·         Must be new to the business
When considering used equipment, make sure to meet these qualifications if at all possible. You are also able to carryover these credits, which means if next year you will still have the left over credit from 2013 to apply to 2014. The way this country is running up debt, this credit will soon be eliminated.
One other note, also included in the capital purchase list is software. So for those that are looking into trucking or recycling software, or in need of scale software, take advantage now.  Even some Leases qualify. Look to and click on the Qualified Leases tab for more information and save without even purchasing any equipment.
I’m a Grinder Guy, not an accountant, so check with yours for accurate and additional and up to date information. But I can tell you this for sure, the Grinder Guy will be driving a new Truck by the end of December!
                For more information or any Section 179 qualified financing, see for yourself or contact Enryk O’Callaghan of Crest Capital,, 1-800-245-1213 ext 175.
Dave Whitelaw

Hey Grinder Guy, how do I reduce my C&D Residue?

I am assuming you are trying to reduce your hauling and disposal costs so I will answer accordingly. This also applies to any operation that has to dispose of materials.
The first thing I would do is evaluate the composition of the residue:
·         What is the weight of the residue per yard?
·         What is the majority of material in the residue?
Have you done a composition study?
First questions I would have are:
·         How do you pay to dispose, by weight or by the volume? Most MSW Landfills are by weight and most C&D landfills are volume.
·         Do you have the space to add more equipment to your sorting lines?
·         Do you have the money to add additional equipment?
·         Are you permitted to shred at you location?
·         Do you have an outlet for alternative fuels?
In general, Dirt, Concrete, Steel, cardboard, drywall and wood are easily sorted and recycled. Most of the C&D residue is plastics and small pieces of everything that are not easily sorted. There are plenty of markets for the numbered plastics and paper, but the difficulty sorting them along with the lower returns from being dirt contaminated truly bring in to question the viability of recycling these products.
So what do you do? Dispose? Recycle? How about create fuel?
Here are three test cases I have experienced in the past six months:
1.       C&D Recycler disposing of 1200+ yards per day at a C&D Landfill by yardage. By utilizing a Komptech Crambo Shredder with 4” screens and shredding the residue, we reduce the volume by 60% at a cost saving of $5000 a day. This was just volume reduction. But in addition, by using a cross belt magnet, we recovered even more steel that was missed on the sort line. Currently, we are reprossesing the shredded material to remove the dirt and some emission contaminating  materials and testing the material for alternative fuel. If clean enough, we should be able to produce a 7000 BTU fuel. *One major point- Check your State EPA permit and make sure it allows for shredding on site or further recycling outdoors. If you currently do not process, you will need a permit to do so.
2.       C&D Recycler disposing of 200 ton per day at an MSW Landfill. Current two picking line system screens 10” minus, then both overs and unders are sorted. The 10” minus is screened again at ½” to remove the dirt, for use as fill, then residue is shipped to a Landfill. By utilizing a Komptech Stonefex Stone Separator on the 10” minus residue, we were able to remove 40% of the weight which was rock, stone, concrete, clay tile, ceramic tile, etc. This was sent to a concrete recycler and the overall disposal volume per day was reduced by 80 tons or 40%.
3.       C&D Recycler disposing of 800 yards per day of residue. Utilizing a Crambo Shredder and a Trommel screen we created 300 yards per day of Alternative Fuel. Being paid as much as $20 per ton for the fuel and not disposing of 700 yds at $30 per ton, the dollars saved and generated are almost too much to even count.
Do you need a certain shredder or screen to do all this? Absolutely not. Your current grinder, shredder and screen can be used but some machines are definitely better for some applications than others. There are many different air separator  pieces of equipment on the market, the Stonefex is just what I was using.
Will you see these types of savings? Maybe not, but possibly in one material or another you find a savings or a new outlet. Get out there and figure it out and find a new way.
So know what do you do?
·         Evaluate your waste composition
·         Decide if you should recycle more materials
·         Find additional recycled materials markets
·         Find an Alternative Fuels user
·         Demonstrate some useful equipment
·         Create Alternative Fuel
·         Call the Grinder Guy for help

Believe it or not, construction is on the rise. C&D materials are starting to increase. Get started changing your operations and start saving.
Questions on Alternative Fuel Production?

Dave Whitelaw The Grinder Guy