Equipment Spotlight

Auto Crushers
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In the best of times, when demand for recycled automobiles is strong and steady, the auto recycling industry goes through its share of trials and tribulations. Modern automobiles are tougher than ever, specifically designed to resist being crushed in order to protect occupants inside. They are manufactured from an increasing number of exotic materials, from ever-growing quantities of plastic to precious metals in onboard computers and catalytic converters.

In the world of recycling, cars represent one of the oldest, richest and yet most problematic sources of recyclable materials. One of the biggest problems is transporting junk cars to shredders where the vehicles can be reduced to particles so that various materials can be sorted out. Cars are mostly air, which is where auto crushers come in.

Al-jon Manufacturing LLC in Ottumwa, Iowa has been building car crushers since 1963. Curt Spry, scrap sales manager, said the company, recognizing the extreme demands placed on auto crushers, emphasizes strength and durability in its designs and manufacturing processes. “Al-jon is the only car crusher manufacturer with service centers placed around the country giving the customer the very best parts and service available,” he added.

The RM Johnson Co

The Company operates with an exceptionally simplified product line — it manufactures only one car crusher, the Impact V. “We like to build them one way, completely loaded with every available option including hydraulic landing gear, air compressor and remote control,” according to Spry.

The Impact V is a portable crusher that allows a single operator to crush and stack five or more cars with manual or remote operation. Al-jon’s Quad-Post guide system, with a post on each corner of the crushing deck, provides better crushing power and improves reliability, the Spry said. The Impact V features automatic cycling and an oil recovery system. Al-jon offers a two year warranty on the entire machine.

The completely portable system weights 57,700 lbs. and is mounted on a trailer equipped with air brakes. One minute set-up makes it suitable for mobile operators who go from yard to yard handling crushing chores. The crusher is powered by a 100 h.p. diesel engine for maximum portability.

Granutech-Saturn Systems

After relying on its one-item car crusher product line, the company will introduce a new model in 2010. Spry said the 300HS will be “the fastest car crusher in the industry.” The specs on the new model weren’t available at press time. The Impact V requires approximately 49 seconds to cycle from full extension to full retract.

Granutech-Saturn Systems of Grand Prairie, Texas, manufactures three models of MAC car crushers. The most popular, according to Granutech-Saturn’s Greg Wright, is the Big MAC Flattener. The 56,000 lb. Big MAC is intended for mobile scrap processors and comes on its own trailer. Customers can choose from several 165 h.p. diesel engines, of which Wright said the most popular are from John Deere and Cummins.

A 90” lift provides for easier loading and larger capacities of up to four automobiles at a time. A single Big MAC operator can load and crush cars using the remote operational capability, which comes standard. Remote operation also improves safety by removing people from the processing area, according to the company.

OverBuilt, Inc.

The Stationary MAC Flattener offers many of the same features as the mobile Big MAC. It employs a crushing force of 306,000 lbs., enabling 4 complete automobiles to be compressed. It also handles household appliances, loose automotive scrap and other scrap materials. Power can be supplied by either diesel or electric motors.

The Big MAC QS Flattener employs a quick-setup system. A fully-automated hydraulic system raises the cylinder to its upright working position, then locks the trunnion in place. Tear down is also automated. Setup or tear down can be completed by a single operator in less than a minute, the company said.

Wright said the biggest challenge for the industry in 2009 was the weak economy, coupled with the sharp fall in scrap prices from the 2008 highs. “The industry really did a 180,” said Wright. Through it all, Granutech-Saturn’s customer base has changed little. “The markets for our car crushers are the auto salvage yards and the mobile crushing businesses,” Wright said. “Our customers range from the small family owned business to the large metals companies.”

Al-jon, Inc.

Regulations have not affected car crushers a great deal in the recent past. “We do have to keep up with the laws regarding engines,” Wright said. “Currently engines have to be Tier III and eventually they will be Tier IV.”

While regulations may have had little impact on the car crushing industry, the same can’t be said for the Cash for Clunkers program initially. This 2009 federal initiative aimed to boost auto sales while improving the nation’s overall automobile fuel efficiency. All cars traded in under the program were required to be recycled so they wouldn’t return to the streets, and recycling was supposed to occur within 180 days of trade in.

The program was heavily oversubscribed, however. Early estimates expected 250,000 trade-ins but funding was doubled and the total number of trade-ins eventually reached 700,000 before the program was ended. Auto recyclers requested more time to process all the extra cars, and received an extra 90 days.

It’s unlikely anyone will soon see a flood of autos for recycling like the one prompted by Cash for Clunkers. But auto recycling isn’t going to go away. “Short term is anyone’s guess,” said Wright. “Long term will be good. The need for scrap steel will always be around.”

Al-jon Manufacturing LLC Granutech-Saturn Systems OverBuilt, Inc. The R.M. Johnson Co. Diamond Z

 

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