Let’s Maximize RAS Grinding Profit
BY Jody Parker
After a winter of settling, possible moisture contamination and conglomeration, it’s almost time to grind the recycled asphalt shingle (RAS) piles for the paving season startup. Whether you perform this at one location, or move your grinder from site to site to get ready for full production, here are some tips to make the process its most profitable.
If your grinding operation meets some simple criteria, an electric grinder will almost always offer a low cost per ton or cubic yard of finished product. If your material handling process is fixed, you have access to three-phase power, and you don’t need portability, then an electric grinder will probably offer lower costs than a diesel grinder. Even if you need to grind at multiple sites, an electric grinder with a mobility package, such as trailer mount or electrical quick connects, can offer savings.
You’ve heard this before and it still rings true. Multiple machines and processes add costs to the operation. Count how many times you handle the feedstock and finished product. Factor in a dollar per ton each time you do and see how much it costs in your current operation. Strive to make the process as seamless as possible. Each additional step in the process cuts into your margin.
When Broad Run Recycling, Manassas, Virginia, became the first construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facility certified by the Recycling Certification Institute (RCI) in 2013, owner Kevin Herb shared with Rotochopper that the benchmark needs to become the norm. Herb wants more facilities to participate in certification to help the industry adapt and grow in green construction practices, alternative energy and transparent business practices.
How does Broad Run’s philosophy fit into handling material? The company operates a 26,000-square-foot materials recycling facility (MRF) that specializes in industrial C&D with the capacity to process more than 1,500 tons per day of wood waste, aggregate, cardboard, drywall, metals and dirt. The RCI certification acknowledges Broad Run’s high recycling rates through the use of a sorting and recycling system capable of handling the full range of industrial C&D. When Herb decided to integrate an EC-256 grinder to the company’s operations, Rotochopper built the material handling system to feed the raw waste and move the end product as well. Herb shared that the minimized handling was one of the benefits of the EC-256.
Match the Grinder to the Center, not the Fringe
Don’t look for a grinder to handle the exceptions. Choose a grinder that matches the core of your business. If your business is grinding shingles, don’t look for a machine that can handle the small percentage of miscellaneous trash that gets past the sorters, such as tags and paper. If 99 percent of your grinding operation is focused on slabs of shingles, choose a machine that will most efficiently process your material—not the occasional wrapper.
Choose a grinder that works with your existing process and equipment, unless you plan to upgrade in the near future. Over-sizing the grinder to match the fringe materials drives up the costs of every ton or cubic yard you produce. An empty grinder with the engine or motor running means you’re grinding air.
Consider alternative strategies for processing the fringe materials to keep capital costs and operating expenses down, such as sorting and recycling deleterious materials, hiring contract grinders on an infrequent basis, or installing pre-sorting cross-belt magnets further upstream.
Focus on Consistency
One hundred tons of production per hour sounds nice, but if you’re down 10 hours per week hard-facing, cleaning, fixing or otherwise working on your grinder, all that production gain is lost. More consistent production will represent higher output in the long run—and, more importantly, a lower cost per ton or cubic yard.
For example, in a high abrasion application such as shingle recycling, you may be able to push more material through the grinder by increasing infeed speeds, adjusting engine RPMs, and so on. But the higher wear costs and increased downtime cancel out those gains.
Get Flexible to Grow
The opportunities for recycling have never been better. Markets for wood fiber, RAS and other products are growing and changing. Today, Rotochopper customers are producing colored mulch, HMA supplement, fuel pellets, engineered fibers, and more.
The ability to handle multiple feed stocks, create a variety of end products, and adapt to changing markets is essential for capitalizing on these changing opportunities. You want to be able to choose a market because it offers the greatest opportunities, rather than having your grinder choose the market for you.
Jody Parker is the USA Mid-Atlantic Sales Manager for Rotochopper. For more information, contact him at (804) 254-4140.