Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hey Grinderguy, how can I reduce my compost overs?

This is a great question and something I see a lot!
I am not a Soil Scientist, or a Scientist of any official kind for that matter. But I am an expert at Compost operations because I lived it!
                For some reason these Scientific types, whom study the science of the compost process, invariably suggest a large material grind size of bulking agent to blend with Sludges or food wastes. This makes perfect sense for making windrows or static piles to allow airflow through the pile and create a perfect environment for composting. Aerobic Composting takes water and oxygen and continued airflow increases the speed of the compost process. But you need to earn a living from the compost, so the more of it the better.
                The objective of a Compost Facility is to make Compost, not make overs. If you are mixing 8”-12” material with your food wastes or sludges, airflow through the pile will be great, but if you are screening out the composted material at ½”, your split of finished product to overs will be about 1:5.
                So if you compost 10,000 yards per year, then the next year you will have 18,000 yards because of all the overs you are adding back in. Then the following year, you will have 25,000 yards to compost. Obviously the reduction in volume from composting reduces these numbers, but you get the picture.
                When I first started composting, I thought I was smarter than everyone and mixed sawdust with all the wet sludges and food wastes. It worked great in drying the materials and made them able to be windrowed. Of course, after the first time I turned these piles, I had odor complaints from about 3 different Counties.
So, what do you do? Try these options and see if you can decrease your composting time, reduce your overs and create great looking compost:
·         Start reducing your bulking agent size.  The smaller your bulking agent is, the more fines you have and the faster they break down to a usable compost size.
·         Keep a nose out for odor. The finer the material, the less airflow and the more potential for odor when you break into the piles.
·         Use a windrow turner or turn the windrows more often. You have reduced the airflow with the finer material so you need to add more oxygen more often than previously.
·         Watch the temperatures. With the finer materials, the heat will generate much more quickly which means you need to turn more often.
Over time, you will figure out the best grind size and turn schedule to accommodate your operations. Shoot for a 65%-75% finished product to 25%-35% overs. This will be enough overs to work back into your new windrows to kick start your compost process. Good Luck.

Questions, Dave Whitelaw Grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hey Grinderguy, how do I keep shingle dust off my grinder?

Everyone has the same issue when it comes to dust whether it’s from shingles, C&D or just wood. It destroys air filters and plugs radiators creating downtime and lost production along with costing a whole lot of dollars on filters.
If you do not have an SOP(Standard Operating Procedures) for operating a grinder, you better create one. Here are a few things to include in your list:
·         Use compressed air, or even a leaf blower if that is all you have, to clean off engine and blow out coolers and air filters every day. A plugged radiator will not only increase coolant temperature, but it will increase fuel temperature also. There is usually a fuel cooler attached to the engine radiator and a hydraulic oil cooler somewhere also. Remember, increased fuel temperature make fuel usage increase, so the cooler the fuel the better fuel usage you will have. A plugged air filters will decrease fuel efficiency also because of the lack of air into the engine.  A 5% greater fuel usage on a 1000 hp engine equals about another $50 a day in fuel.
·         Turn radiator or air filters into the wind and make sure it is upwind of the grinding chamber if possible. This allows the wind to hit the radiator or filters first and then blow the dust from the grinding and stacking areas away from them both.
·         Clean debris off the grinder so you are able to see all bearings, grease lines, hydraulic lines, etc.
·         At the end of the day, if you are using a portable machine, move the grinder out of the area you were grinding in and clean up that area with a loader. Clean the area and then wait until morning before replacing machine into the grinding area. This way allows you to observe the wind pattern the next morning before resetting up the grinder.
Including these items will improve engine performance, reduce costs and increase productivity.
I was told by one customer whom would grind shingles, that they used PAM® Cooking Spray to cover the engine and radiator every time they ground the shingles. They only ground shingles on occasion but the dust from the tear off shingles plugged their radiator and covered and melted onto their engine. I am assuming they did not spray onto exhaust manifold, turbos , etc. but they did cover the entire radiator and engine. Afterward, they used a pressure washer to clean off the dust and the cooking spray and it was perfectly clean. I am NOT suggesting you do this, but if you do this or something similar, I would love to hear what you used, how it worked and what issues it created?
The standard operating procedures will not only help operationally, it will reduce and almost eliminate the chance of your grinder catching fire and really costing you more dollars and downtime.

Questions?         Dave Whitelaw Grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hey Grinderguy, how do I make a better Red Mulch?

                This question came from a rather “new in the business” Mulch Operator. The customer had a competitor that was a much larger manufacturer and that had much brighter red mulch. He was unable to compete with his competitor’s red colored mulch, so his sales were suffering as a result.
I asked many questions of who, what, where and why?
·         What feedstock is being used for the Red Mulch?- You can only use good clean wood, logs, pallets, slabs to make the Red or Gold Mulches. You cannot make dark wood light, but you can make light wood dark. Yard Waste, branches and leaves, can be used to make brown or black colored mulch.
·         What is your grind process?- Grind twice, pile the 1st grind and then regrind and color. This is how most producers manage their mulch.
·         How long do you pile the 1st ground or the colored Material?- Too much aging, colored or not, will start the compost process and start darkening material.
·         How much water per yard are you using to color?- Too much water on the colored mulch will darken material faster than just having the 1st ground material piled alone.
·         How do you manage your inventory?- Coloring Brown, Black and all the dark colors ahead of season does not affect the dark colored materials as much. So inventory them ahead of season, then make the lighter colors as needed and keep the piles small.
·         What color Red are you using?- There are many different colors, from Bright Red to Brick Red.
Sometimes, because I have been in the business so long, I overlook the obvious. I neglected to follow up on the mulch grinding process. This customer used 1 ½” screens for regrinding to size, but he also used that same size screen for the 1st grind. What did this do and how do we fix it?
1.       First, mulch ground that fine then piled will start heating up and start the compost process quickly, turning your light wood materials dark. Thus giving you a Brick Red, rather than a Bright Red.
2.       Grind as large as possible on the 1st pass which will keep a lot of the wood still light, create more airflow through the pile and reduce the heat
3.       This will reduce the amount of fines created on the 2nd pass which will allow for less color and water usage when coloring and limit the compost process from starting in the colored mulch piles.
4.       This will also increase production on the 1st pass, reducing costs and will reduce wear in the grinder which will further reduce costs.

Questions?         Dave Whitelaw Grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hey Grinderguy, should I buy a 750 or 1000 horsepower grinder?

Great question and a lot of other people are in the same situation you are. What to do?
 Let’s assume price doesn’t matter and that you can afford the $150-200,000 price difference. What are the differences?
·         Production- This is the only reason you would purchase a 1000 horsepower(HP) engine over a 750 HP engine. Obviously a 1000 HP grinder can grind more than a 750 HP machine. How much more is dependent on the grinder, the material and the screen size?
But at what cost?
·         Fuel- You won’t use double the fuel with a 1000 HP grinder, but 50% or more is easy to do.
·         Filters, Parts, Etc. – There are more filters with a 1000 HP engine than a 750 HP engine, along with more oil, pistons, liners, etc. So your maintenance costs are going to be higher.

What are things to consider and questions to answer and before deciding on engine horsepower?
·         Is the rotor, hammermill or chipper drum the same for a 1000 HP machine as a 750 HP machine? If they are the same, getting that weight to spin at maximum rpm will be much easier to do with a 1000 HP engine. Typically, they are not the same. The 750 HP machine would, in general, have a smaller diameter, width and weight than a 1000 HP machine.
·         Engine RPM- A 1000+ HP grinder will have 12 cylinders, compared to 6 cylinders on a 750 HP machine. So being able to get back to maximum rpm or maintain rpm is much easier to do with 6 cylinders.
·         Fuel- A 1000 HP engine will use 300-400 gallons of fuel per day. Do you have the ability to fuel the machine efficiently every day? Using a 100 gallon tank in the back of a pickup truck will take 3 or 4 trips to the Gas Station every day.
·         Moving Equipment- Usually the higher HP machines are much heavier and take trucks with an extra axle or more permitting than the lower HP machines, all which includes extra expenses.
·         Computer Controls- With Automatic Feed Systems monitoring the engine rpm, engine load and infeed belt speeds, it is much easier to maximize the production with the lower HP machines so they can grind almost as well as a 1000+ HP machine.
·         Support Equipment- This is the number one issue and should be the number one factor in your decision. Consider for example, a 1000 HP machine, would grind 100 ton per hour(TPH). This means, the log loader, wheel loader or excavator feeding the grinder would need to be able to load 100 TPH into the grinder. You would also need to remove 100 TPH from underneath the discharge conveyor and you will need 100 TPH within reach to load in the infeed. 100 TPH every hour of every day. If this is not possible, why bother with the 1000+ HP. Most companies do not maximize a 750 HP grinder.
I have customers that swear their 750 HP machine grinds equal to their 1000 HP machine. Again, it really depends on what grinder, what material and what screen size. But the computerized grinder infeed systems can make all the difference in the world. They are not all the same. They may use the same brand of computer system, but the actual programming and monitoring is what makes the difference. Some companies do a much better job in their electrical controls department than other companies. If you haven’t run them all before, you won’t know the difference. But when you run more than one, you will notice who has the better mousetrap. And it is significant.
In either case, when you decide on a engine manufacturer or horsepower, be sure to purchase the extended warranty. As much as you can afford! It is not IF the engine is going to need repaired or replaced, it is WHEN is it going to need repaired or replaced. BUY THE WARRANTY!!

Questions? Dave Whitelaw, grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hey Grinderguy, how do I recover an old abandon compost site?

I received this call just this past month. A local contractor used to dispose of materials at a yard waste facility. The site never really ground any materials or screened any for that matter, rather, they just collected tipping fees and piled up materials for several years. This is not uncommon. There are probably hundreds or thousands of these sites around the Country. Mining “Stump Dumps” would be the same philosophy.
One of the first questions I was asked was “What equipment do I buy?” Nothing was my answer. Rent equipment to clean up the facility and then see what the majority of new incoming materials are received and make your buying decisions from there. Machines like Trommel Screens can be rented by the week if necessary.
So how would one go about cleaning up a facility such as this?
·         Initially, determine the amount of contamination in the materials and piles. Plastic, concrete, rock and dirt limit how these piles can be reduced and reused.
·         If these piles are too contaminated, too great a cost could be expended limiting the profitability of the operation
·         Decide what equipment is best to get some initial separation and reduction
·         Separate materials into like kind. Fines, logs, brush, etc.
·         Determine what markets the majority of materials can be sold in and the price of the finished product.
These piles that have been sitting for a year or more usually have a lot of dirt and compost in them. Screening out the dirt and compost can turn income dollars quickly. But what do you screen these piles with?
·         If the piles are relatively clean of bigger rock and concrete, a trommel screen will work just fine.
·         If there is big rock and concrete some type of disc screen or screen with a vibrating grizzly is the best alternative.
·         If these piles are full of largely uncomposted brush, a wheel loader with a rake is the best way to separate fines from brush quickly.
·         It is easy to separate large logs and stumps from pile that are mostly composted with an excavator and grapple
When new materials start coming in, separate each material by type:
·         Brush
·         Logs and stumps
·         Chips
·         Grass and leaves
Materials like chips, grass and leaves do not necessarily need to be ground up and reduced. Logs and brush do need to be reduced. Subcontract grinding services until the costs to do so are more than owning your own grinder or shredder. This may take several years, especially if you are separating materials and not grinding materials that do not necessarily need to be ground up.
                Materials like logs and chips can be turned into mulch and sold quickly without waiting for the compost process. Blending old wood with new wood makes a consistent product and not dark one day and light the next.
                When it comes to screening, it is easy to pile up a few thousand yards and then rent a screen and screen everything in a month or so, saving the cost of purchase.
So, in conclusion:
·         Rent as much as possible to get a start on cleanup
·         Separate materials
·         Turn easiest to convert product into dollars quickly
·         Subcontract grinding as much as possible
·         Keep new materials separated and turn the ones that are easily converted  into dollars quickly
Dave Whitelaw- Grinder Guy

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hey Grinderguy, How do I know how much an electric grinder will cost me to operate?

This is a very difficult question to answer because obviously electric rates are different throughout the country, but also, the horse powers are different and the startup power required to get a grinder going varies greatly.
            Just like at your home, you are charged at the peak usage that you incur per month. So, for example at your home, if both your air conditioner units and your clothes dryer and swimming pool pump, happen to be running at the same time, you are charged by your electric supplier as if those items were running 24/7 for the entire month. You know they are not, but you needed that much power at one time so you are charged accordingly. This example is known very well to me!

Although I cannot really answer this question, I can give you a few ideas, additional items to consider and places to go to collect the information you are looking for:
·    The best idea is to get references from a potential grinder company and ask them for as much information as they can supply. Then actually call those references to confirm the numbers you were given by your potential vendor.
·    Searching Google for Electrical Calculators will give you websites that have calculators that you can plug in your information from your potential system. You will need to figure out how many electric motors you will be using, and how many hp each of them uses. This includes all the conveyors, screens, hydraulic units, as well as the grinder.
·    In almost all cases, you will need to install a transformer to supply your power. DO NOT undersize this, in fact, oversize the transformer by about 500kva. The startup power and potential unexpected heavy loads, equipment stalls, may send you back to the electric company purchasing a new transformer
·    Variable-Frequency Drives (VFD) can be used to limit startup loads, but are very expensive for the large horsepowers. This can also be done by using the controller display at a much cheaper cost. Ask your vendor about this.
·    The most important thing to do is contact your electric company and sound as if you are considering, potentially, may, thinking about, purchasing an electric grinder instead of a diesel model. If you call and say, bring me out a 2500kva transformer and install it, then the price is the price. If you call and say, I'm thinking about doing this, but I think it's too expensive? What is it going to take to do this? What would my rate be? Would you run power into my site and put in a transformer? You will have a lot more negotiating power. They want your business, especially with that much power being consumed, so play the game and see what you can get. Don't tell them your diesel fuel cost per year, but if you do, divide by two! Make sure you have your potential usage numbers from your grinder supplier, so they will know quickly about how much power you are talking about using.
·    One question to ask the grinder company is if they use one motor or two to drive the hammer ill or rotor. Typically for smaller hp only one is used, but when you get into the 800-1000 range, two are used. This is a benefit because the electric motors can be setup with one working all the time, and the second just riding along. Then at certain amperage on the first motor, the second motor starts working, this can save on electric usage considerably. Also, one thing to consider, use standard size motors as much as possible. It's easier to get a 500hp motor off the shelf, then to find a 750hp motor just sitting somewhere.
·    Keep this power separate from office, warehouse or other.
·    Leave room for expansion. Have room to possibly increase horsepower in the future. Most likely you will need to get a different hammermill if you need more horsepower, but build your platform where it is possible to add on to it and be able to use 2 motors for example. Stability in the motor bases is essential.

Hope this helps. Good Luck.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw Grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lost and Found

I guess if you are in this business long enough, you will lose, misplace or get a piece of equipment stolen.
If anyone sees a 50 foot long, Green Trommel Screen, that says” Komptech” on the side, please call the Grinderguy!
            These days, moving equipment is as easy as making a post online and getting 2 or 3 freight offers within minutes. While that is certainly easy to do and cost effective, you never really know what, who or how your equipment is getting from point A to point B, or if it is? Thus, see my previous paragraph!
            Now obviously this is not the norm, but you better be prepared no matter what the case may be.
            With us having wearable technology today, tracking equipment is easy to do. It just costs a little money.
Equipment manufacturers are installing or at least offering, equipment tracking and usage technology on most anything. Cat® and Komatsu® among others are offering equipment tracking software that not only shows you where your machine is located, but can also tell you:
·         Fuel Usage
·         How long it has run that particular day
·         How much idle time per day
And a whole host of additional information to assist you in determining if you are utilizing equipment as well as you can and which jobs are more effectively utilizing each piece of equipment. This technology can be put on just about any piece of equipment.
Imagine if you can look at a report that tells you your wheel loader is at 95% usage but the grinder it is feeding material into is at 50%. Pretty easy to figure out you need another wheel loader. If you see this report on day one of a two week job, you can save yourself and make yourself a lot more money. It is worth looking into the costs, that’s for sure.
            Everyone has heard the name Lojack®. From cars to computers, they track down your missing gear. They also install their system on Construction Equipment.
If you are interested in installing these types of tracking equipment on your machinery, here are a few things to ask?
·         How much? Cost will be the determining factor of how many units are purchased
·         Size- How large are the units and are they able to be inconspicuous. Also, are they rugged enough for Heavy Equipment?
·         How long does it take to install?
·         Are you able to move the unit from one machine to another?
·         Does the system use cellular or Satellite?
·         Is live tracking via the web available?
·         Does the unit maintain power even when battery disconnect is off? Is there a battery backup?
While it does cost some money, being able to keep tabs on your equipment gives piece of mind and should get you an insurance discount. Coupling the location services with equipment utilization software will benefit your operations and keep your equipment from getting away.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw Grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Safety Training

I was at the US Composting Council Conference Jan 20-23, 2015 in Austin, Texas. The Demo day included most all grinder, screener and windrow turner manufactures demonstrating their equipment. If you missed it and want to see all the new equipment and new features, mark your calendar for next January in Jacksonville, FL.
While I was at the show I met John Janes of Caterpillar. He is the Association Manager for Building Construction Products. While discussing operator training, he showed me a few links to the Caterpillar website for operating tips, maintenance and safety. While I'm sure other Equipment Manufacturers may have these also, I just happened to be speaking with the Cat Representative who was exhibiting at the trade show.
By going to the website safety.cat.com, there is a tab for "Media and Literature". Here you will find:
- Videos
- Multimedia
- Literature
There are videos on maintenance items, safety and many more. There are also tips on operating all types of equipment. The multimedia has virtual walk around inspections and more.
The Literature tab has some of the best information available:
- There are walk around inspection reports for most any piece of equipment. These walk around or pre-work inspection reports should be mandatory for all your operators and drivers. Being able to know what safety problems may be occurring, how much oil an engine is using and much more is the only way you can keep tabs on many pieces of equipment without checking them yourself. If you are not using them currently, find one that works for you and get your employees using them.
- ToolBox Talks discuss maintenance and safety items. Looking for some new material for your monthly safety meeting? You can find it here.
- Safety checklists for many pieces of equipment and safety tips if you find yourself in an different environment.

You don't have to spend a full day watching videos and downloading documents but take the time to cherry pick the videos, tips and checklists that will help you run your business. Have more questions about these? Contact John Janes @ janes_john_p@cat.com.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Size Equipment for your needs

I had a demonstration recently with a Portable Star Screen. The customer asked to see the largest size available and because I did not have one close by, I used a smaller unit for the demonstration. This was fine for showing product features and benefits. Production capabilities were obviously lower than the requested larger unit, but it was easy to see that a larger unit would be able to produce more. While running our demonstration, it became clear that with the support equipment used in the operation, the smaller unit was more than capable of handling the daily production needs:
·         The wheel loader bucket was not large enough to keep the hopper full.
·         Travel time between piles was too great
·         Finished Stockpile area was limited.
This happens quite a bit in other equipment like grinders. A 1000hp grinder needs a machine to feed material into it, another to push material to it and usually another to move material away from it. Without these pieces of support equipment, the grinder runs empty and sits idle along with the machine used to feed material into it and your operator. A 1000hp grinder obviously does more production than a 750hp grinder but it also uses about 30-40% more fuel per hour.
Take the time to look over your operations:
·         Are you maximizing each machines usage?
·         Is your site layout slowing production?
·         Can you use a larger bucket to load equipment or trucks?
The best way to evaluate your grinder or screen is to simply divide the number of machine hours by volume sold or produced. You can do this on a daily, weekly or any other time basis. If the production rate per hour is less than 80% of maximum production per hour, it is obvious that other issues and responsibilities are reducing production, such as loading trucks or travel time. You could assume a loss of 20% is due to start up, warm up and cool down time. Any overage from that, there is an issue.
Before buying your next piece of production equipment, evaluate your support equipment and determine the capabilities of production first. You may find that you need another piece of support equipment along with the unit you were planning to purchase. That also means another operator too.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw Grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hey Grinderguy, should I use a Trommel or Star Screen?

Good Question.
The first question is what are you going to use it for? Topsoil, Compost, Mulch or something else?
The number one reason star screens became so popular was the ability to screen wet, damp materials. Because the stars are pliable, it is more difficult for material to build up on them and the speed of the rotating stars lessen the time material has a chance to build up on them.
Trying to screen wet compost or soil with a trommel screen is near impossible. Material builds up on screens and the framework of a trommel drum, choking off the screen openings and lessening the open screen area of the trommel drum. This makes screening ineffective. While the screen cleaning brushes on a trommel help with some damp products, the really moist materials are too much for them to work effectively.
This particular customer is a contractor that sells some topsoil and mulch also. Screening material on a job site to remove some larger stone or stump debris is not what a Star Screen is for. It works great screening sand and dirt out of landclearing grindings, but when you need to cleanup a jobsite, a trommel takes much more abuse and is much more versatile in these types of applications.
So, with common products, what screens are most effective?
Yard Waste Compost- Usually dry enough for a Trommel
Mulch- Can screen most any size
Topsoil- Works very well for this as long as it is dry
Aggregate- Can screen some aggregate
Star Screens:
Moist/Wet Materials- Sludge Compost for example
Mulch- Can screen fines or overs
Soil Blends- Soil Compost mixes, not so much straight topsoil
Compost- Very Productive compared to Trommels
No Aggregate

The downside of the Trommel is the need to inventory different screens or entire drums for different product sizes. With the Star Screen, motors drive the star shafts and just by changing speeds, different product sizes are created. While electric motors create a much greater range of product sizing than hydraulic models, there is a top and bottom size limit. Because of this range of size options, the product quality with a Star Screen is much better than the trommels. Hope this helps solve your dilemma.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw GrinderGuy  grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

The GrinderGuy takes on Pine Bark

                Over the past year or so, I have had several questions about screening, grinding or cleaning up pine bark. For the past half century or more, pine bark was debarked at lumber mills and run across stationary shaker screens splitting large nuggets, mini-nuggets and pine bark. As typical with shaker screens, if over fed with material, contamination of products occurs. But, this is just the way it has been forever.
                With the reduction of lumber production the past 7-8 years, pine bark has been in short supply.  To keep fulfilling landscape product orders, mills started trying to recover pine from old piles scattered about their sites. These piles had logs, stone and a mix of pine bark and fines pushed up into them.
                A year or so ago, I was asked to screen one of these piles.  I took a 3 product star screen to try and screen and recover some of the pine bark. Depending on the size of the unit, I used a Komptech L3 and Komptech XXL, production could be from 250-400 yards an hour. By being able to adjust speeds of the stars by the touch of a button, I was able to create:
·         Overs
·         3” or 4” large nuggets
·         1 ½” or 2’” mini nuggets
·         Pine mulch from 3/4” down
·         Pine fines of 3/8”- 1/4”
Because I only had a 3 product machine, scalping overs and making large nuggets was easy, but the mini-nuggets were mixed with pine much and pine fines. By running the 1 ½” product back through, we were able to split the pine mulch from the mini-nuggets and if the customer wanted the pine mulch in the mini-nuggets, with a touch of a button, it was done. On one demo, I used an additional screen, a Komptech Easy Star, and was able to create 4 products by splitting the pine mulch, ¾” minus, from the 1 ½” mini-nuggets at the same time.
One of the major problems with pine bark supply is typically suppliers sell twice as many mini-nuggets as large nuggets. A request was made to grind the large nuggets into mini-nuggets. In a typical horizontal, tub or stationary grinder, the speed of the grinder is way too fast and turns the soft pine bark to pine dust. We decided to try a low speed shredder, a Komptech Crambo, which has screens for product size and has adjustable shaft speed. By slowing the shaft speed 50-60% and using 7” screens, we were able to reduce the large nuggets and create mini-nuggets without creating too many fines.
                A call I received just last week, had a customer trying to recover an old pine bark pile. They were screening with a deck screen, but the 1 ½” mini-nuggets had rock in it from all the extra materials pushed into the pile over the years. A rock goes through a 1 ½” hole just like a piece of pine bark does. The good thing is, they do not weigh the same. We took a portable air knife, a Komptech Stonefex, and ran the conveyor from the deck screen right into it. By adjusting the airflow of the Stonefex, were able to use the air to push the lightweight pine bark to one conveyor, while the heavier rock fell onto another conveyor. We were about 95% effective in removing the rock from the pine bark. A totally acceptable result.
After the time we spent the past year on the pine bark, I said “Why can’t we use a star screen in place of the shaker decks of old?” It does way more production. It is much more adjustable for product sizes. It is inexpensive operate and the cost is insignificant if it produces results in profits. We are now installing our first star deck system for pine bark in a new lumber mill.
Now, you DO NOT have to use the same machines I used. You can try any machine. It doesn’t cost you much. Each of these machines work on mulch the same way they work on pine bark. You just have to try them! The ways of old are not always the best. The best productivity equals profitability.
Questions? Want to try something? Contact me, Dave Whitelaw GrinderGuy@AskTheGrinderGuy.com

Hey GrinderGuy, should I attend all these Trade Shows and Conferences?

I ask myself the same question about 10 times a year. It is painful spending the time away from your business. But how do you know what else is out there that may help your business grow? Everything you want and more is available at these Trade Shows.
Are you interested in a vacation or an education? Either way, make your time worthwhile.
First, figure out what you want to accomplish while attending these Conferences:
·         Are you looking for new business?
·         Are you looking for new equipment?
·         Are you looking for a better way?
Decide which Conferences are the best fit for your needs:
·         Most of the major trade shows are held in vacation destinations. If you are looking for a break and just want to see what is new in equipment and support industries, this is the way to go. You can see the newest machinery upgrades and new models all while taking time to smell the roses and take a break.
·         If you are looking for an education, most of the National Industry Organizations are the best for learning best practices, legal aspects and new improvements in sales and operations. Most of these Conferences are organized into tracts that can help you maximize your time to attend and a lot of the speakers are hands on in these Industries. For keeping up with all the Governmental regulations, these types of conferences are a must.
·         For making the best business and local contacts, your State Organizations are your best bet. All these people are your neighbors, in the same or similar business, and can be your supplier or your customer. Just starting out, this is where you want to go. You can get business advice, regulation knowledge and find support from others that used to be as new as you.
While at these Conferences, take the time to tour the Vendor Booths:
·         You may see something you never thought about, maybe a new improvement, maybe an idea from another industry?
·         See the latest and greatest in equipment
·         Speak with Engine Manufacturers of your equipment and learn how to maintain and check your engines or make them last longer
·         Software vendors are now at all Trade shows- Accounting, Transportation Software, Equipment Software that tracks production and relays all the information to the web for you to see in your office
·         Remote Control manufacturers are making operations more and more simple
·         Improvements on one manufacturer you see that can be added to your machine
It may take you away from your business for a while but what you gain can help you become more profitable, more productive and will give you a little break.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw GrinderGuy  Grinderguy@askthegrinderguy.com

Grinder fires can cost you

Grinder fires can cost you
The past month or so I have had two customers have grinders burn to the ground. Neither of the grinders was one of mine, but it affected my customers greatly.
Getting a call that your grinder has burned gives you a sickening feeling. I know, it happened to me.
Not only do you lose the use of your grinder, your insurance costs will surely increase and waiting for the insurance investigation and payment of coverage will further delay the replacement of your equipment. In these Industries, fires are always a possibility, so using some standard operating procedures will help reduce your chances of your equipment catching fire. Sometimes things are out of your control, but in most cases, housekeeping is the issue.
An air compressor is a necessary tool for every grinder operation. Even a leaf blower can be used in a pinch.
How can these fires happen:
·         Material Buildup on engines and exhaust systems
·         Hot metal that has been discharged from the grinder
·         One major issue is cracks in the muffler or exhaust systems. Mufflers not only reduce the noise of the engine, they actually capture sparks and disperse them prior to exhausting into the atmosphere. When cracks develop, the sparks can be sent out into the engine compartment. In addition, all the rust particles in the exhaust system get hot and are set out of these cracks to settle and burn themselves out somewhere.
·         Bearings failing create a lot of heat and can start fires
·         Exhaust air can also catch material on fire

What can you do? Standard operating procedures should include:
·         Blow off equipment daily with an air compressor, even with leaf blower if needed. This includes the radiator, hydraulic cooler, fuel cooler, air filter, etc.
·         Portable machines should be moved out of place, the area cleaned, then the put back in place. This will remove any surrounding debris and any hot metal that may be in the area
·         Face the discharge the furthest away from wind. For example, if wind is from the west, then the feed hopper or tub is the furthest west and the discharge is the furthest part of the machine east. This eliminates the ground materials from blowing back onto the machine.
·         Use a hopper or bin to collect metal debris
·         Use exhaust wraps or blanket to keep debris off exhaust system and heat controlled
·         Shutdown equipment at least an hour before you leave the site. This isn't an exact science because when it happened to me, the grinder had sat for two hours before I left the site. An hour and a half later, I had no grinder.
·         Use a Fire Suppression System. See my previous article about fire suppression systems. http://afexsystems.com/hey-grinder-guy-are-these-fire-suppression-systems-worth-the-money/

                Also , in warm climates, you could face the radiator and coolers into the wind as long as the discharge of material is carrying opposite he radiator. This not only helps keep the engine cooler, it help the fuel cooler keep the fuel cooler which as we have talked about in the past, reduces your fuel usage.

Be smart, if the wind is blowing the material back over the machine, don't be a dumb grinder guy, you are just asking for a fire.

You may have other ideas. Turn them into a SOP List and have your operators stick to it. It's the best you can do to not lose $500,000 or more.

Dave Whitelaw, The Grinder Guy

Hey GrinderGuy, how much fuel does a Tub Grinder Use?

This customer was given numbers from 5 gallons per hour to 25 gallons per hour for a business plan.
First, thanks for the question, but I cannot realistically give you an exact answer. It is difficult to give an exact number because we never know what you are grinding 100% of the time and how fine you are grinding the material, but I can give you an idea and you could probably narrow it down to something close. But the 5 gallon an hour you were told must have been just idling time!
For this example, we will use the larger tub grinder engines supplied by Caterpillar®. I am not trying to single out one manufacturer, rather just using a Manufacturer of which I am familiar with using their engines. All the information I found on the web and can be related to any other manufacturer. You just need to do the homework.
So, for the larger tub grinders, and horizontal grinders for that matter, the basic engines are C18, C27 and C32. What do these numbers stand for? Basically this is the size of the engine, 18 liter, 27 liter and 32 liter. We will concentrate on the C18 engine model mostly because I am very familiar with it and because it is used in a variety of applications and comes in several horsepower ranges.
I downloaded three specification sheets for the C18 from the Caterpillar® website. I put the web addresses to download them here:
Industrial Engine Ratings Guide (Tier 3)- http://s7d2.scene7.com/is/content/Caterpillar/C10116252
I condensed the Tier 4 Ratings sheets into one table below. These may not be the exact engines used in the Grinder/Chipper applications, but will serve as a good example of what to ask questions about regarding specifications.
Speed Range- Tier 4 Caterpillar® C18*   
Speed RPM
Full Load Run Time
*All data is approximate. Contact your Local Engine Dealer for exact specifications

These combined sheets show that the C18 engine will go from 600-800hp based upon the rating. The ratings are based upon the maximum allowable 100% full load horsepower time. Basically, how long are you running at maximum horsepower? The combined Speed Ratings chart shows that if you are running at 100% full load all the time, like you would with a grinder, you can only use a 600hp rating on a C18 Engine. If you want to run at 700hp, you can only run at full load 50% of the time. Exceeding this will not only void your warranty, but probably blow/wear out the engine very quickly. Check with your Dealer for verification. But, how do they know? The computer logs engine loads as well as fuel usage. So divide the fuel usage by the number of hours on the engine and they know how hard you are pushing the engine.
                With the advent of computer controlled feed systems, in wood grinders and chippers, in the past ten years, manufacturers have maximized the loads put on the engines, keeping them at full load most all the time for maximum production. I run C18's allot in my 9 to 5 job. All my C18 units I run are at an A rating of 600 hp because we are using full HP “ALL THE TIME!” If you are running at 90% load, you are losing production.
So what does all this mean?
The referenced specification sheets do not show maximum fuel usage per rating, but obviously fuel rates increase as horsepower increases. The most fuel I ever used in my application is about 20 gallons per hour and that is from an A rating. I would venture a guess to say that maximum fuel for an A rating would be about 25-28 gls/hr range. As you move to the B, C and D ratings, you would increase to 35-40 gallons an hour at the least. Get the exact numbers from your local engine Dealer.
Because you cannot run at full load all the time, for example the tub stops spinning to let the engine catch up or the horizontal grinder stops the infeed of material , you cannot reach that max fuel number. But the harder you run, the closer you get to the max fuel number. Regrinding for example with the tub spinning as fast as it can will keep you near full load most all the time and close to that maximum fuel number. As you step up in engine size, so does the maximum fuel rates, so you can use those Dealer supplied numbers to figure out approximately how much fuel you will use.
One thing is for certain, it is not 5 gallons per hour! Can you imagine if this customer had based a business plan on 5 gallons per hour?
Your salesman will have all the specifications you will need for engine ratings and fuel consumption. If not, they certainly will have access to them.
So, in conclusion, do you homework. Do not just take one person’s answer or opinion as fact. Including mine.
Dave Whitelaw
Grinder Guy