How to Select a Baler or Compactor
Industrial balers and compactors can help you save money on recycling and waste disposal costs, improving your operational efficiency with better material storage and ease transportation. But how do you determine if an industrial baler or industrial compactor fits your needs and which model to buy?
1. Identify the types of material you plan to bale
Estimate how much material will be transported to the baler, and what volume per year, per month, per day and per hour you expect it to handle. Confirm that you have a high enough volume to merit the investment in the equipment
Consider the shape and size of materials to be baled. What will your largest piece of material be? Will the baler be handfed or will there be enough volume for conveyor feed? The type of product to be baled is the most important determination of the size and type of equipment.
2. Identify the potential market or destination for your bales
Talk to a reprocessor about what bale size and weight he would like, and what revenues you can expect. For example, you may get the most money from your recycler if your cardboard bales are at least 60″ x 30″ x 48″ and weigh at least 1000 Lbs
Typically you want to make the fewest number of bales as dense as possible to reduce shipping and handling cost. This is offset by the ability to handle the bales and equipment costs. Consider how the bales will be handled once the material has been compacted. Will you unload the baler and transport the bales or will your reprocessor pick them up?
3. Evaluate the space and layout for the equipment
You want the industrial baler or compactor to be setup in the right location for efficiency and safety. The reality of space limitations may also be a factor in baler selection. 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.
You can place your baler outside if you protect it from the weather. You will save more labor by placing your baler close to where your cardboard is generated
4. Narrow the selection of types
To determine what kind of baler you’ll need, consider these issues:
- Vertical balers handle lower volumes of recyclables, and the binding is done manually. Most retail stores use vertical balers because the bale weight is the same or better than a horizontal baler at a fraction of the cost and the baler takes up less space. Horizontal balers are for higher-volume applications. Most produce bales that are manually bound, but the very high-speed balers bind automatically.
- Smaller cylinder balers can be used where volume reduction, not bale density, is important (small, corrugated boxes; general waste paper; and light trim shredded or non-shredded waste paper found at printers, grocery stores, etc.). Larger cylinder balers are needed where maximum bale density and high-capacity is needed, or the materials include box board, fiber board and chip board material all with or without polyethylene or wax coatings.
- 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.
5. Buy from reputable manufacturers and dealers
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.
Get customer references from the manufacturer or dealer. 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.
Examine what the warranty covers. A one-year warranty is standard, but you may be able to purchase an additional service plan where a manufacturer will periodically inspect the machine.
After you’ve completed all the homework, determined your needs – including material types, waste amounts to be baled, bale density desired, future volume predictions and your budget – and compared competing manufacturers’ equipment and services, you should be ready to buy.
6. Develop a safety and training program
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.
Generally, a manufacturer will provide installation and start-up service, including a check of components and controls. Some baler manufacturers also offer “baler school” at an additional cost. This typically is three to five days of intensive, hands-on training at the manufacturer’s plant on baler operation, emergency shut-down procedures and daily maintenance. Your installer may provide training on-site that meets your needs.
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.
Baling Equipment Safety Requirements (ANSI Z245.5-1997)* are among the industry’s best-known safety standards. ANSI Z245.5-1997 defines the safety requirements for baler manufacturing, rebuilding, installation, maintenance and use. It applies to manufacturers and equipment users, both employers and employees. Things included are:
- Lockout/tagout of hazardous energy sources;
- Drive mechanism guarding;
- Installation requirements;
- Construction, reconstruction and modification requirements;
- Safety markings and signs;
- Operational requirements for employers and employees;
- Start-up alarms; and
- Loading chamber requirements.
*The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., has issued compliance directives citing this standard as a reference. This means that OSHA officers are encouraged to use ANSI Z245.5-1997 when evaluating compliance. ANSI Z245.5-1997 is published by the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), Washington, D.C., and is available by calling the EIA publications department at: (800) 424-2869.