of quality wire in baling operations
Here is the truth: Quality wire is intrinsic
to the success of any baling process. Given that wire can be
a relatively inexpensive part of recycling (compared to balers
and wire tie devices), it may not be considered as carefully
as other components in the business. But wire quality is critical.
As a consumable, quality wire is a significant factor to a well-tuned
system and companies that choose the wrong wire may face consequences.
Low-quality wire or wire that is wound incorrectly can tangle
and cause feeding problems that result in downtime – at a cost
that can be as high as $5,000 per hour.
This article provides recycling owners and operators with insights
on best practices for choosing high-quality wire and tips to
avoid wire-associated downtime.
There are two types of wire used in the baling process: black
annealed and galvanized wire.
Black annealed wire is softer than galvanized because of lower
carbon content. Galvanized wire has a higher tensile strength
and generally has a lubricating corrosive-resistant wax coating
on it. Galvanized wire can hold a larger, more dense bale with
a fewer number of straps. The type of wire and baler that a company
uses is largely dependent on the type of materials being recycled,
the size of the bales being produced and the amount of bales
produced per day. But to eliminate the guess-work, the baler
manufacturer should make a recommendation on the type and gauge
(size) of wire to use with their product when it is purchased.
What to consider when choosing wire
•Consistency is key – When purchasing galvanized wire, run your
fingers along the wire. If you feel any clumps (like a chain
link fence) or thick galvanization, it is not a high-quality
product. The wire should be consistently smooth and shiny, and
should have a consistent lubricant and anti-rust zinc coating.
Also consider the consistency of the roundness (diameter) of
the wire. This will ensure a uniform application in the baling
At this point, you might wonder why consistency of the wire is
so important. When consistent, high-quality wire seamlessly feeds
through the equipment and it is much less abrasive to the wear
parts. Wear parts are designed to receive a consistent diameter
of wire, and if the wire is inconsistent it can cause problems
for the machine. Most notably, the wire can fracture and cause
downtime. Additionally, the fractured wire can cause injury to
the skin or eyes if it is detached from the machine and the operator
is not properly protected. Further, inconsistent coatings on
the wire can gum up the tracks in the wire tying machine, also
Consistency within the individual coil and the lot of material
decreases tier adjustment needs while increasing the overall
efficiency of the baler.
•Consider how the wire is packaged: If an operation is currently
using boxed wire (50 or 100 pounds each), it may achieve considerable
savings simply by switching to wire carriers. Boxed wire can
run out approximately every six hours. That means the box needs
to be changed that often, which is unsustainable and inefficient.
Switching to carriers (that hold more wire) allows companies
to operate without changing wire for several days. In addition
to the increase in efficiency, this method also produces less
It’s important to note, though, that not every facility can switch
to carrier wire. Smaller facilities may not be able to justify
the switch. This tactic will usually work best for higher volume
operations, but it’s important to consider the individual circumstances
before making a switch.
•Fanning the wire: When considering packaging, make sure the
wire is properly wound. Improperly wound wire can cause feeding
problems and tangles. Taking five minutes to ‘fan’ the wire before
threading the machine can save hours of downtime. To fan the
wire, follow these steps:
1. Pick up the first 15 loops. Make sure the wire remaining on
the carrier is straight and tangle-free. If it is not, pick up
2. Hold the loops in one hand, with the bottom loop being nearest
to the carrier. Using the other hand, separate the bottom loop.
3. Place the loop back around the carrier. Repeat for the remaining
4. The last loop, the end of the wire, can now be fed into the
Always purchase from an official supplier: Cost-savings are top-of-mind
for everyone these days. But the cost-savings gained from purchasing
materials from un-official suppliers are not worth the headaches
often associated with using substandard wire. “Off-shore” sellers
are out there. They sell wire that may or may not have defects
at a cheap price. Many times, the wire is not packaged correctly
and it can get tangled – resulting in frustration and downtime
for your business. These suppliers aren’t consistent, either
– they come in and out of the marketplace.
What to look for in a supplier
When evaluating suppliers, consider companies that have invested
in wire. For example, wire shortages occur from time to time.
Companies that consistently invest in wire will never run out
of it – even during a shortage. Optimally, recyclers will get
the most value and confidence from companies that produce both
wire tying machines and wire, as they have the best resources
on hand (metallurgists, packing engineers, Six Sigma Black Belts
and others) that can help solve problems, answer questions and
produce the best quality product.
If considered carefully, quality wire can help recyclers save
money and maintain a consistent level of productivity. High-quality
wire can be an investment that will see returns in the form of
improved efficiency, fewer incidences of downtime, long-run cost