Photos courtesy of Company Wrench

Material handlers are one of the most important machines in a scrapyard or on a demolition site, designed specifically for moving, sorting and loading materials.

According to Company Wrench, a Carroll, Ohio-based specialty equipment dealership, if an operation still uses an excavator for its material handling needs, then it is leaving several thousands of dollars on the table. Material handlers are engineered to last when constantly running in a scrapyard setting, while excavators have the potential to break down faster under the same production conditions.

Designed with a straight boom, which provides longer reach than a traditional excavator, material handlers have roughly 40 percent more counterweight, giving them the ability to lift more than excavators. This means a material handler can carry heavier loads than an excavator of the same operating weight.

While an excavator can be fitted with a higher counterweight to compensate, this ultimately can cause more maintenance issues in the long term. Overall, when it comes to moving materials at a scrapyard or demolition site, material handlers are the safest and most productive option.

Finding the right fit

Fuchs, a brand of Norwalk, Connecticut-based Terex Corp., provides material handlers for use in scrapyards, lumberyards and other processing sites. With common applications in sorting scrap, feeding shredders and loading trucks, the company says it offers a variety of machines, including wheeled units, tracked units or stationary units, with a range of load capacities.

According to Fuchs, each material handler can be fitted with a variety of attachments, such as solid-tine grapples; four-, five- or six-tine grapples; orange-peel grapples; and magnets. Each grapple can be used to handle piles of loose scrap, while the magnets typically are used to separate ferrous metals from nonferrous metals during the sorting process.

Recently, Fuchs released its newest innovation—electric material handlers. The company says these units offer operators zero emissions and decreased engine noise compared with their diesel counterparts. Fuchs also has introduced a new telematics system, known as Fuchs Connect. The system, which presents customers with data to ensure efficiency, can “address minor issues before they become major issues and, ultimately, decrease downtime,” the company says.

Also priding itself on a variety of safety features, a height-adjustable and swiveling cab comes standard on Fuchs material handlers. The company says this is to ensure operators have a clear view of the job site when using the machine.

Fuchs’ safety features, innovation and overall production are what attracted JBI Scrap Processors in Cleveland to the company’s line of material handlers. JBI—a recycler of steel and iron scrap—uses Fuchs material handlers and shears from LaBounty, a brand of Portland, Oregon-based Stanley Infrastructure, to process more than 300 tons of material daily.

Most of the material is sourced from local demolition companies, office buildings and moving companies or is surplus material from construction sites and roadwork. After receiving the material, JBI sorts and cuts it to specifications using mobile shears. Using the material handlers, JBI then loads the prepared scrap onto trucks to be sent to steel mills or processing plants.

According to Company Wrench, JBI transitioned to using to Fuchs material handlers exclusively over the last five years. Prior to the transition, JBI typically waited several days for service requests, losing valuable time in the process. The company’s decision to switch to Fuchs was based on several factors, all of which were aimed at reducing unnecessary downtime.

JBI says that with this manufacturer’s machines, it experienced faster responses to service requests, better parts pricing and improved machine performance. Given these factors, JBI purchased four Fuchs material handlers—a MHL340, two MHL350s and a MHL360—from Company Wrench.

“We’ve run material handlers [from other brands], and they’re close to [Fuchs], but it all comes down to service and parts availability,” says Joe Immormino, vice president of JBI. “Company Wrench jumps through hoops to keep us up and running. They keep parts on the shelves for us. That’s what it came down to—who’s going to have the parts when we need them, and who’s going to get us up running quicker? If Company Wrench says they’re going to do something, they do it,” he adds.

With operators regularly traveling around the yard, the MHL340 equipped with a grapple helps JBI increase speed and processing efficiency to load bulk materials onto trucks. As for the MHL350s, one has a grapple while the other uses a magnet. The MHL350 with the grapple remains mostly stationary to help process materials. According to Fuchs, the versatility of the MHL350 to safely handle heavier materials makes it the company’s most popular scrap handler.

larger scrap using a magnet. It features a 59-foot-and-1-inch reach that allows it to extend the full length inside a truck when loading material. These four machines, along with Company Wrench’s support, are critical to JBI’s daily operations.

Reducing downtime

Avoiding downtime also is key to maximizing profits at any recycling operation. Caleb Kershner, JBI’s yard manager, says he believes the ability to easily change attachments on the Fuchs material handlers is essential to achieving this goal.

“All four of the Fuchs are interchangeable when it comes to attachments,” Kershner says. “If one machine goes down, we just switch attachments. We can also swap attachments based on where we need specific machines at any given time. Changing attachments takes less than 15 minutes.”

JBI also values the durability of its material handlers throughout the harsh winter months in Cleveland. The comfort the machines’ cabs provide operators during shifts sets the material handlers apart from the competition, the company says. The cabs feature an air-cushioned comfort seat with a built-in headrest and lumbar support, as well as air conditioning and optional heat.

“You can actually sit in them for eight to 12 hours and not feel like you want to get out and go crazy,” Immormino says. “It’s a comfortable space while you’re working.”

JBI also uses an excavator from Peachtree City, Georgia-based Sany, and multiple LaBounty shears, all supplied by Company Wrench’s Cleveland branch. The LaBounty BLS2000 shear cuts rebar, while the 2000R and HDR70 cut a variety of other scrap.

“We’ve had a great relationship with JBI over the past few years,” says Company Wrench President Cam Gabbard. “Recently, our relationship with JBI has grown tremendously. We’re grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their continued success by providing them with Fuchs’ high-quality material handlers and our industry-leading service.”

The author is a writer based in Ohio.