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September 2006


Equipment Spotlight

Auto Loggers

—View a list of manufacturers at the bottom of the page

When the federal Department of Transportation introduced new rules for transporting crushed cars, recyclers worried about the expense of compliance. But for businesses that opted to replace their car crushers with auto loggers to meet the new safety standard, there have been some unexpected benefits in lower transportation costs and increased efficiency.

Two years after the regulations went into effect, the market is growing quickly. “We had been selling four flatteners a month,” says Curt Spry, sales manager at Al-Jon, Inc., in Ottumwa, Iowa. “Now we’re down to two flatteners a month and four loggers.”

Sierra InternationalAuto loggers compress car bodies into stackable, uniform shapes that are easier to load and transport. The higher density of the crushed cars compared to flattening helps maximize space on trailers and leads to larger loads per haul. Many loggers also handle white goods, loose sheet tin, stainless steel and metal farm scrap. After logging, recyclers have a range of choices for shipping, including flatbeds, roll-offs, rail and trailers.

Auto loggers remove the need for shrink wrap or netting as well as the special permits required for flattened auto scrap, which presents potential road hazards from nuts, bolts and other debris that could dislodge during transport. “An auto logger gives you a finished product that’s all squared off with no loose materials,” says David VanVleet, sales manager at R.M. Johnson in Annandale, Minnesota.

Auto loggers range in price from $250,000 to $400,000, compared to around $140,000 for a car flattener. Units can be portable or stationary, foreign or American made, remote controlled, and powered by electric or diesel engines.

When choosing an auto logger, recyclers should consider how dense a log they want, since too dense a log can damage a shredder. A log that’s not dense enough may require more frequent cycle times. Specific numbers may vary, but in general auto logs are 40 inches wide, 25 inches tall and different lengths. The machines produce anywhere from 30 to 80 pounds per cubic foot.

Already the new market for auto loggers is showing signs of specialization. Colmar USA Inc., in Wheatfield, New York, recently added a unit specifically for large vehicles, such as SUVs, vans and buses. “Auto logging is evolving because of the evolving needs of the consumers themselves,” says Lisa Bresolin, vice president of administration and finance at Colmar. “There’s more and more large car scrap here in Buffalo every year.”

Portable loggers represent another growing part of the logging market. These let small- to mid-sized recycling businesses process scrap at remote locations. Portable units make sense when the volume of remote scrap available justifies the cost, which includes the expense of transporting the heavy machines. Even portable loggers can approach 100,000 pounds, a weight not permitted on some local roadways.

R.M. Johnson CompanyR.M. Johnson’s fully portable E-Z Crusher auto logger, with 1,300 cubic feet of loading capacity and an average bale density of more than 40 pounds per cubic foot, can be loaded without a grappler using a skid-steer or Bobcat. “With a 20-foot grappler, you can only get that far away from your material,” VanVleet says.

Many recyclers can pay off an auto logger in less than a year given adequate auto scrap volume. Savings are compounded thanks to more durable, long-lasting machines. Meanwhile production rates continue to increase. Granutech’s MAC L3600 auto logger produced 1,200 tons a month for one customer, according to Steve Squier, director of sales at Granutech Saturn Systems Corp. in Grand Prairie, Texas. “At that rate, the machine paid for itself in a matter of months,” he says. Cycle time for the machine is around 90 seconds.

Al-jon, Inc.Logged auto scrap also contributes to lower transportation costs. “You can put 40,000 to 45,000 pounds on a truck, so you get more weight on a truck with less volume,” Spry says. “That means fewer trips to the mill.” With transportation costs spiraling thanks to higher gas prices, auto logging also helps cut costs significantly. “The log form is also more efficient for the shredder,” Spry says. “Handling is easier.”

The machines are also comfortable to work in. Many units come with air conditioning, heat and AM/FM stereos. “A happy operator is a good producer,” Spry says. Improvements in logging technology have made the machines much easier for operators to learn. Charging boxes create bigger targets for scrap to move through, making the machines easier to load. Operators still need training to help them master the electronic joysticks, foot pedals and hydraulic control systems. Skilled hand/eye coordination and acute depth perception are a must.

Like most heavy-duty machines, computers help make auto loggers more flexible and efficient. Granutech’s MAC L3600 includes a programmable logic controller that detects when the machine has reached the density rate selected by the operator. Automation also helps improve cycle time, says Squier. Machines can adapt to a load’s dimensions, switching from low flow for smaller loads to high flow, when the operator needs more pressure. Preset hydraulic controls help recyclers produce more consistent product for their customers.

Iron Ax, Inc.After paying off such a high-ticket item, most recyclers will want to keep their machines running for years. Manufacturers say the biggest key to longevity is routine maintenance, especially greasing. Areas that get the most wear-and-tear, including lid and door hinges, require adequate lubrication at all times. Iron Ax, Inc., a baler and auto logger manufacturer in Wadley, Georgia, makes a logger that comes equipped with an automatic greaser that goes into action after the machine completes a predetermined number of cycles. To keep machines running smoothly, some companies also offer technical support and on-site service contracts. Colmar’s logger comes with a two-day training and 1,000 hour warranty.

Spry predicts the market for auto loggers will continue growing. “The versatility of being able to do loose scrap metals as well as cars is really key,” he says.


Al-jon, Inc.
Curt Spry

Colmar USA, Inc.
Lisa Bresolin

Granutech-Saturn Systems
Steve Squier

Harris Waste Management
Doug Sebastian
Iron Ax, Inc.
Charlie Hall

Lollini R & M
Harrie B. Cohen

R.M. Johnson, Inc.
David VanVleet

Sierra International
Jose Pereya



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