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Ten Environmental Factors in Buying a Baler

Industrial balers are important pieces of capital equipment, so it makes sense to make sure you choose the right equipment and plan its installation carefully. But before you even start to install or...


Industrial balers are important pieces of capital equipment, so it makes sense to make sure you choose the right equipment and plan its installation carefully. But before you even start to install or operate your American Baler or any baler, your first step should be to take a close look at the physical plant in which it will run. With a little foresight, you can avoid many of the potential pitfalls that can surprise you as a result of bringing your baler into the wrong work environment.

As you get ready to develop the specs for your new baler model and features, take a look at the facility that will house the baler. Space requirements, access to utilities and other environmental factors can all have an important impact on how you prepare your site for the new equipment, or how you spec the baler to suit the site.

1. Footprint: Will the system fit in the available floor space at your facility? Work with a detailed system drawing that shows the recommended layout, including dimensions for auxiliary equipment and clearances for loading and maintenance access. Compare the space required to traffic routes for incoming materials and shipping operations.

2. Headroom: The need for adequate ceiling height will be determined by optional configurations of the baler and related equipment. If the baler is to be fed by a wheel loader or similar machine, see that you have enough clearance to operate a loaded bucket above the baler’s feed hopper. While you’re at it, check to be sure your loader can give you the lift height you need to reach over the top of the hopper!

If the baler will be fed by conveyor, you will need headroom for the maximum conveyor height, fully loaded. Be sure to look for overhead obstacles that might encroach on the planned headroom.

Alternatively, while many conveyors are installed at floor level, some are set down into a pit in the floor so that materials can be pushed from the floor onto the conveyor belt. This could mean digging a hole in the floor, forming and pouring a concrete pit to the specified dimensions and ensuring proper drainage.

3. Bale storage: Where will finished bales be stored until a full truckload is ready to ship? You might consider inside storage, outside storage or moving bales directly onto a waiting truck. Different balers will produce different bale sizes and some balers allow you to set the bale size you want. Bales can generally be stacked three high so this, along with the size of truck or container you are filling, will let you calculate the floor space you need for storage. You can save space by planning to use a smaller truck, but this will also affect your shipping costs and total cost per bale. Loading directly onto a truck can be a good option, but can you afford to tie up a loading dock full time?

4. Lifting equipment: Paper and cardboard bales typically weigh in the neighborhood of 2000 to 3000 lbs. Do you have a forklift with adequate capacity to move, stack and load one or two bales at a time? Consider whether your baler offers the right choice of bale size to suit the equipment and staff you already have available, versus the cost of purchasing new lifting equipment with higher capacity.

5. Power: Compressing material into compact bales for shipping can be a real cost-saver for your business, but high density requires the right amount of power. Make sure the appropriate 3-phase electrical service is available in your building. Before you install, you will need a direct line run from the main panel to the baler’s location. The line must be adequate to carry the FLA (Full Load Amperage) for the baler and any attached equipment including conveyors, air systems, fluffers, etc.

6. Water: Some balers offer a water mist system to reduce dust and improve the adhesion of baled materials. If you are considering this feature, obviously, you will have to plan on plumbing in a water supply line for the misting system.

7. Compressed air: Some baling systems use compressed air for self-cleaning and maintenance. If the baler requires a supply of compressed air, you may be able to use lines from an existing compressor or you will have to consider a new source.

8. Noise: Noise levels in industrial settings have become an important occupational health issue. The noise generated by different types and makes of balers can vary widely. You are well advised to check on the regulations and noise level limits that are in force for your facility then request noise level data from your baler manufacturer.

9. Dust: Paper baling operations tend to generate dust — some more than others. As many industries have learned, excessive dust can be a significant hazard both to equipment and to employees. Planning for your new baler should include an assessment of potential dust problems, with consideration to the value of new dust control systems.

10. Communications: At American Baler, like many other OEMs, all kinds of machinery can be equipped with sophisticated communications features these days and balers are no exception. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) on the baler can provide production data to maintenance and facilities management programs. Links to the manufacturer can allow technical support staff to troubleshoot and even correct issues remotely with minimal downtime. To take advantage of these capabilities, your baling equipment will need appropriate communications support such as network cabling, modem and dedicated phone lines.

In some facilities, balers fill a primary role in the company’s key line of business; in others, balers are simply part of the waste management process behind other core activities. No matter what you look for in a baler, cost-efficient operation depends on the right fit between the equipment, the facility and the goals of the business.

Contact Roger Williams, National Sales Manager at rwilliams@americanbaler.com


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