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Auto loggers originated in Europe roughly 15 years ago where legislation – much like that recently enacted by our DOT – required scrap autos to be hauled in trailers with sides to contain the cargo. Auto recyclers needed a simple, but versatile piece of equipment to compress bodies into a more dense, uniform shape that stacked well and made loading and transporting crushed auto bodies as easy as possible. In addition, logging crushed auto bodies made much better use of space and enabled haulers to load trailers to the maximum weight limits.
Jose Pereyra, general sales manager for Sierra International Equipment, Inc. recalls, “The first auto loggers were brought to this market from Europe about nine years ago. Since shredders were accustomed to processing flattened auto bodies, there was some concern at first about this new ‘log’ of metal. But tests soon proved they were no problem to process, so that concern went away. But because loggers were much more expensive than crushers, the concept of the logger didn’t catch on here right away. We had to prove their worth to auto recyclers before orders for new equipment were placed.” Sierra’s extensive line of recycling equipment includes loggers, balers and a shear/logger/baler.
How do balers and loggers differ? As a rule, balers compact scrap metal to a density of 75-120 lbs. per cubic foot of scrap metal, although portable balers rarely exceed 75 lbs. per cubic foot. In contrast, a logger produces densities ranging from 20-70 lbs. per cubic foot – ideal for recycling automobiles.
“We like to begin by asking questions to get our customers thinking about the mix of material they process and the requirements of their shredder, or preferences of their customers if they deliver direct to a mill,” he said. “The key is in choosing a logger that produces a consistent package based on everyone’s requirements. Producing a log that’s too dense may damage some shredders or increase their costs of operation. A log that’s too loose will keep both parties from maximizing their throughput and result in higher costs as well,” added Mr. Kneen.
In addition, there’s another important point to consider before investing in a logger. “Obviously, the customer must know exactly what he can afford,” said Doug Sebastian, executive vice president of Harris Waste Systems, Inc., manufacturers of baling and logging equipment for the scrap processing industry.
“Investing in a logger can be a sizeable transaction, especially for smaller auto recycling operations,” he continued.
Many of today’s popular auto loggers, such as the Colmar Model 5.5260, are available in both portable and stationary models. Mr. Julian Marceglia, CEO of Colmar USA, Inc. observed, “In the beginning we offered customers a roll-on/roll-off version of the logger which enabled them to transport it if necessary to off-site locations. Then we added lifting cylinders to raise the unit and back a trailer under it, making transport even easier. Today, many customers are requesting full portability, so the trailer mounted logger meets that need.” Colmar manufactures a full line of equipment for auto recycling.
While that is important for durability, the weight can also pose certain restrictions. “Since the portable logger is such an attractive choice for so many auto recyclers today, customers must be aware of the maximum load limits on streets, bridges and roadways of the markets they serve,” said Kendig Kneen of Al-jon, Inc. “The Al-jon 580 portable logger weighs about 92,000 lbs.,” he continued. “We made extensive use of ultra high strength steel throughout the design to reduce overall weight where possible, without compromising the quality, performance or longevity of the product,” said Mr. Kneen.
The second issue relating to transportation is in moving logged material to its final destination. The most recent surge in the auto recycling market bears this out. “We find the biggest challenge customers may face is keeping enough trailers in front of the baler/logger to transport a load as much as every 30 minutes,” said Kendig Kneen. “This is critical to achieving maximum throughput for the recycler,” he added.
It’s on this point that auto recyclers may get a break though. New DOT legislation addressed at containment and securement of crushed autos in transit specifically excludes logged material, provided it is a “solid, fused log of metal.”
In addition, most offer on-site assistance as well, either through factory trained service technicians or sales people working directly with customer personnel to be sure everyone is trained thoroughly and consistently.
“Training today is a bit different than it was just a short time ago,” said Kendig Kneen of Al-jon, Inc. “Today, new technology has shifted the focus away from loading as the primary art form of processing cars in a car crusher. The latest loggers are controlled by electronic joysticks and foot pedals. The hydraulic control systems are much more sophisticated as well. As a consequence, new skill sets are required among logger operators. Today, hand/eye coordination and acute depth perception are important. It’s the same skills that make young people so good at video games, so we are growing a whole new generation of operators,” he mused.
In addition to advanced electronics, preset hydraulic controls – some variable depending on the material being processed – enable logger operators to achieve the consistent outcomes important for long-term success of auto recyclers and their customers.
Maintaining your auto logger
Loggers are outdoor items, subjected to weather extremes and the hazards of operating year round in a wide range of conditions. According to Charlie Hall, “Engine oil should be changed on a regular basis, along with the air and oil filters, the same way you’d maintain an automobile,” he said. In addition, the hydraulic system on the logger should be maintained on a regular schedule. “Fluids should be drained and changed along with hydraulic filters. This keeps the logger working as designed and helps recyclers achieve consistent results over the long haul,” he said.
The most often overlooked service procedure? “People just don’t grease the machine enough,” said Mr. Hall. “Iron Ax offers an optional automatic greasing system that counts the number of cycles of the logger and automatically greases the critical wear points like lid hinges, door hinges and parts of the hydraulic rams at exactly the same (pre-set) interval. That way, operators know the logger gets proper lubrication. Greasing the machine ensures a longer service life and reduces downtime, which especially in this market - can be a very costly thing,” he said.
All logger manufacturers include factory recommended service procedures – complete with a schedule of recommended intervals – for all critical maintenance functions.