According to Vermeer, a key innovation in the marketplace has been the development of their duplex drum technology. One of the duplex drum's primary features is to reduce the maintenance time required to keep the mill in good working order, while also maintaining a durable design.
"Horizontal grinders can grind a lot of wood, and when the mill needs repair or replacement, it is crucial to be able to quickly and efficiently get that service work done," says Jeff Bradley. "Our generation of duplex drums aims at doing that."
He notes that Vermeer also manufactures its horizontal grinders with a thrown object deflector designed to help reduce the amount and distance of materials thrown, for much improved operator and site safety.
In addition, the Vermeer Damage Defense System is designed to help reduce the likelihood of major machine damage caused by certain metal contaminants entering the hammermill. This option is available for both tub and horizontal grinders.
"If the mill comes in contact with certain metals while grinding, our Damage Defense System will alert the grinder control and automatically initiate the shutdown process," explains Bradley. "The system idles the engine down, reverses the infeed, or tub, and disengages the clutch. Once the contaminant is cleared, normal operation can resume."
According to Rotochopper, Tier 4 technology has greatly improved overall fuel consumption for diesel-powered grinding equipment over the last decade, and electric-powered machines are another great alternative for many applications.
"Rotochopper has long been a front-runner in the electric horizontal grinder market," says Vince Hundt. "Our electric horizontal grinders work well in a sorting line with a continuous flow of waste materials to process."
He adds that overall efficiency of horizontal grinders has also improved due to computerized feed controls and production and mechanical tracking, either through onboard or remote monitoring systems.
"Rotochopper has just released their 2nd generation RotoLink that monitors maintenance life, vibration and bearing temperatures, engine data, and production data," Hundt says. "It also allows operators to work in real time with Rotochopper customer support to troubleshoot any issues that arise."
Biomass and Beyond
According to Hundt the growth of the biomass-to-fuel industry has helped increase the demand for horizontal grinders that can provide exact particle size. "Our grinders deliver consistent uptime and precision grinding required to turn sorted C&D into boiler fuel, animal bedding, RAS (recycled asphalt shingles) and other products," he says. "Rotochopper also offers ‘perfect in one pass' particle sizing, ideal for biomass operations that need a specific end product size."
He adds that customer feedback and changing markets has also led Rotochopper to offer options such as a high-abrasion package for materials like asphalt shingles and yard waste.
"With this package, the wear is focused on replaceable parts, not on permanent surfaces like the grinding chamber walls, so you spend less time on maintenance."
Jeff Bradley says they take a lot of pride in the innovations the Vermeer Cutting Edge group has developed over many years, focusing on how to grind organic materials other than wood.
"This group designs and manufactures everything from our cutter tip and screen designs, and works on improving the wear rate of these parts in various applications," he explains.
For example, he says that markets around the world have shown a big push toward renewable energy crops, so Vermeer developed a hammermill grinding solution called the optional bio-kit that is primarily designed to process non-woody materials like corn stover, switch-grass and sugarcane.
"Additionally, Vermeer developed a chip drum for our horizontal grinders to produce a uniform-sized wood chip that wood-fuelled energy plants and pellet mills prefer over standard grindings."
Bradley also notes that the growth of the biomass-to-fuel industry has made a significant impact in North America, especially when fossil fuel prices have been more expensive.
"The biomass-to-fuel industry competes with the lowest cost energy source, which currently is natural gas and oil," he says. "The gap can be offset with government support, or we have regions of the world where high demand for energy and poor access to fossil fuels creates more of a reliance on local, renewable sources of energy like biomass."