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Recyclers rely on balers to help them compress and control recyclable paper materials ranging from corrugated packaging boxes to envelopes and white office paper. Baler designs have advanced in recent years, improving features from safety to production rates, as manufacturers incorporate the latest technology. Baler buyers are also opening up new markets, with the result that the baler has seen significant improvements.
“In today’s market the most popular model we have is called a DC baler,” says Roger Williams, vice president of sales for American Baler Company in Bellevue, Ohio. “Its popularity is based on the increased demand for large distribution centers.” Distribution centers where imported goods are reboxed for United States markets generate huge quantities of boxes to be baled for recycling and have been greatly expanding in size lately. Huge centers of one million square feet and up are highly automated and better able to justify the cost of a paper baler. “That is the fastest-growing market we have right now,” Williams says.
American’s balers appeal to distribution centers because they produce dense, heavy bales, Williams says. “The paper brokers don’t have to bring the bales back to their place and rebale them,” he explains. “They can just take them right from the distribution center, put them in a container and ship them back to China or wherever they’re selling their material.”
The distribution centers feed balers with boxes loaded onto a conveyor. Operation is largely unattended. “He goes in Monday morning, turns the baler on and walks away,” Williams says. “He just shoves the material on the conveyor belt. The only time he has to go back to that baler is if he runs out of wire.”
In addition to new markets, American’s balers remain popular with its traditional market of box plants and small printers. These users purchase American’s Pac baler, which comes in three different feed opening sizes.
While reaching out to new markets, baler manufacturers are witnessing changing trends in baler design. “Safety, production and technical advances would be the three things that have been put into our new baler designs,” Williams says. “In the past, probably 30 tons an hour was going to be the max we could get. With new technology we are up to 50 to 60 tons an hour.”
Advances in production are partly due to improved hydraulics, including pumps that generate higher pressure on compacting rams. That also improved bale density. And there have been electrical advances. “In some of our balers we have put linear transducers into the cylinder so we don’t have to rely on proximity or limit switches,” Williams says.
As programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have become prevalent in balers over the last decade, PLC suppliers have helped improve production with new techniques of programming that have allowed the machines to become faster, Williams adds. When it comes to safety, Williams says American tries to make sure that no one working around the machines is exposed to any moving parts. “We have incorporated devices into our balers that will preclude an operator having to climb in to clear jams,” he adds.
At Maren Engineering Corporation in South Holland, Illinois, national account manager, Terry Stengel says their best sellers are open-end horizontal autotie shear balers used for baling corrugated boxes. These models include sharp blades that slice off boxes protruding above the top of the ram, allowing the compression stroke to complete. When the ram withdraws to begin another stroke, cut off boxes fall into the chamber.
Maren designs also feature a nylon composite material used to cover the bottom and sides of the ram. This eliminates metal-to-metal contact inside the baler, reducing a major cause of wear and the need to replace strips or rollers employed in some designs. “The ram doesn’t touch the floor or side sheets metal-to-metal,” Stengel explains. “You never have to replace the floor of the baler.”
Maren also offers a wire caddy as an add-on to help reduce labor and material costs. The caddy includes a chain hoist that allows an operator to easily lift 100-lb. wire coils and put them on a peg. “It’s a safety thing to prevent strained backs,” Stengel says. “A lot of plants have gone to a 60-lb. lifting limit. Those plants have gone to 50-lb. coils which are more expensive and have to be changed more often. With the wire caddy, you effortlessly pick up the coil and slap it on.”
Innovation continues in the baler industry. Denny Pool, president of SP Industries, Inc. in Hopkins, Michigan, has a patent pending on a product they call a loader. “It kind of replaces a baler,” he says. “Instead of baling material and wire-tying, it just pushes it into a standard over-the-road trailer.” Users, primarily newspaper publishers so far, Pool says, use a conveyor to move newsprint to the loader where a hydraulic ram pushes it through an extrusion tube directly into the trailer.
The technique puts 18 to 20 tons of compacted paper in a standard trailer. Users like the idea because they don’t have bales or a baler taking up floor space. They also save on wire and labor. “The reduction in labor has been phenomenal,” Pool says. “It’s a pretty hands-off operation.” Customers can park two trailers side by side to be filled by the loader. When one is full, the loader automatically starts filling the other. After being driven to the recycling mill, the paper-packed trailers can be easily tipped for emptying. “What the mills like about it is the paper is so much cleaner,” Pool says. “They don’t have to mess with the wires.”
American Baler Company
Roger Williams, 800-843-7512
Bale Press Corp.
Randy Walters, 800-241-2363
Excel Manufacturing, Inc.
Aaron Krueger, 800-475-8812
Kevin Bennett, 800-285-0666
Harmony Enterprises Inc.
Steve Cremer, 800-658-2320
Harris Waste Management Group
Edward J. Berkoben, 770-631-7290
International Baler Corporation
Sean Usoff, 800-231-9286
Fred Johnson, 800-280-2313
J.M. Hydraulics Inc.
Jose Martinez, 818-771-0534
Maren Engineering Corporation
Terry Stengel, 800-875-1038
MAX-PAK Waste Processing Equip.
Mike Smith, 800-225-6458
McDonald Services Inc.
Margaret McDonald, 800-468-3454
NexGen Baling Systems
Renee Boman, 800-269-7237
Ohio Baler Co.
Mike McCrystal, 216-398-8800
PTR Baler & Compactor Co.
Greg Leon, 215-533-5100
Sierra International Machinery, LLC
Richard Harris, 800-343-8503
SP Industries, Inc.
Gene Kolsch, 800-592-5959