Buying a baler: frequently asked questions
Buying a baler means assessing both your needs and those of the recycler.
Aside from turning trash into revenue, balers can reduce waste output, deter theft and ease handling of bulky items. Waste volume reduction lowers hauling costs and saves valuable storage and landfill space. Fewer man-hours spent handling bulk waste, and freeing up space no longer used to store trash, quickly add up to significant savings.
Buying a baler, however, requires careful consideration and planning. Two stages of planning must be considered: figuring the requirements of the business, and determining and meeting the needs of the recycler. The aim is to move the material out the door as efficiently as possible to maximize the proceeds.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about buying balers:
What is the difference between a trash compactor and a baler?
A baler takes loose, recyclable products and compresses them into a bundle that is bound and tied to ease handling. A compactor compresses materials into a receiving container that is either dumped on-site or hauled to a trash receiving station. Typically, a compactor is used for trash and a baler is used for recyclable products.
Are there different kinds of balers?
There are two basic kinds: a vertical baler and a horizontal baler. The vertical baler has a ram mechanism that actually does the pressing and it moves vertically from the top to the bottom. Vertical balers handle lower volumes of recyclables, and the binding is done manually. Most retail stores use vertical balers.
Horizontal balers are for higher-volume applications. The baler’s ram moves back and forth horizontally. Usually, horizontal balers are for bigger operations such as warehouses where there is a huge volume of paper or cardboard. Most produce bales that are manually bound, but the very high-speed balers bind automatically.
What do I need to know about bale size?
First, consider what kind of equipment is available to handle the bales. Generally, the smaller and denser the bale, the better. A forklift that can handle any size of bale produced gives more size options than handling bales with a pallet jack.
In addition, recyclers need to load their trucks efficiently. Usually, they have strict requirements on how big or dense a bale can be accepted. The baler chosen has to be able to produce bales within the parameters of the recycler serving the business. Being able to maximize the recycler’s shipping capacity for weight and volume is ideal. A maximized load is more economical to ship and will make more money.
How do I know what is the right size baler for my store?
Two things need to be considered in choosing a baler size: the volume and size of material to be disposed of, and the retailer’s space limitations. Charts are available to help calculate the volume of material. They are “rule-of-thumb” charts that list the typical volumes produced by a retail store per square foot. Once a determination is made on how much material needs to be handled and how much space is available, the proper size baler can be chosen.
How do I know I’m not making a mistake when choosing a place to put the baler?
A common mistake is overlooking an installation clearance problem. Analyze the physical location to determine if there are any restrictions to floor space or vertical space. A standard baler is about 12 feet tall. Check to make sure the doors are wide enough and there is enough overhead clearance along the path the baler must follow to be installed. Check clearance for the doors to swing open and get to the controls. Is there room to get the bale out after it’s made? Also, there must be a power disconnect available at the correct voltage.
I don’t have much space, and my ceilings are low. Do I need to buy a custom baler?
Many older retail stores have low ceilings standard balers will not fit under. Check with the manufacturer; some offer standard models with low profiles designed to fit under lower ceilings. Buying a custom baler should be the last possible resort as they are typically more expensive and take longer to be delivered.
What do I need to know about the manufacturer I’m considering buying a baler from?
Find an experienced manufacturer with a sterling reputation. Its equipment should be American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-compliant and Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed. The difference is that ANSI is a self-certification process in which the manufacturer states its equipment meets the requirements. UL is a third-party certification, which ensures that all the safety standards are met independent of the manufacturer. Not all manufacturers have UL-listed equipment.
Then get customer references from the manufacturer. Talk to these customers and ask them what kind of service and support they received before and after the sale. A reliable manufacturer will have satisfied customers who got excellent service. Issues can arise on any piece of equipment and the quality of after-sale support is very important.
Find out if the manufacturer offers training as part of the installation process. It takes training to operate a baler safely and properly. Training should be done at the time of installation. Your manufacturer may also offer training videos for refresher training. Check with the manufacturer of any baler you are considering to determine what training resources are provided. Finally, be sure to find out if they have a factory installation crew who will come out to install the baler.
Are there laws regulating balers?
Balers used in operations employing anyone under the age of 18 must conform to ANSI standards, which include a key lock to operate the machine. Under those standards, the employer is liable for the safe operation of the baler. There is also a federal law that makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to operate a baler or trash compactor. Retail stores who hire teenagers need to be especially vigilant at controlling and limiting access to baler operation.
Do my employees need training? If so, where do I get it?
Anyone using a baler needs to be trained in how to operate it safely. It’s no different from anything else that is potentially dangerous. Only by operating it properly can the safety of the employees using the baler be ensured.
We make sure our customers can train their own employees to safely use the baler.
Shannon Harrop is vice president of operations at J.V. Manufacturing’s plant in Sacramento, Calif. J.V. Manufacturing is a leader in the field of waste volume reduction equipment.
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