Renowned Texas Scrap Handlers Welcome SENNEBOGEN Material Handlers to the Family Fold
The Wilkinson name is so renowned for honorable service in South Texas that each of the three separate legacy businesses uniquely and proudly lists the family name first, regardless of which grandson of scrap handling pioneer S.H. Wilkinson it belongs to. Hence, Jim Wilkinson’s business in Brownsville is Wilkinson Jim Iron & Metal, Ray Wilkinson’s business in McAllen is Wilkinson Ray Iron & Metal, and Gary Wilkinson’s business in Laredo is Wilkinson Gary Iron & Metal.
To meet the ever-demanding production needs of today’s scrap metal business, the Wilkinson families have come to rely on another renowned family name – SENNEBOGEN. Some of the SENNEBOGEN material handlers owned collectively by the Wilkinson family businesses are at Wilkinson Gary Iron & Metal, where fourth-generation family member Scott Wilkinson, Gary’s son, says the durable rubber-tired machines are integral to the Laredo yard’s quick processing of scrap metal. “We have the capacity to load 15 rail bunkers at a time here, and we need those three SENNEBOGENs to do it,” says Scott, himself a 30-year industry veteran. “We’ve got a 24-hour timeframe to receive rail cars and turn them around, and we need to have the ability to load 15 cars in those 24 hours.”
As did its “cousin” company in Brownsville, Wilkinson Gary Iron & Metal first introduced a grapple-equipped, 100,000-pound SENNEBOGEN 835 M to its Laredo fleet a few years ago. The 64,000-pound 825 M model – equipped with a grapple and magnet – was added to the Laredo operations the following year. The larger machine keeps the Laredo yard’s shredder full when not assisting the smaller machines in loading rail cars with processed material during those intense, 15-car turnaround days. A normal weekly throughput rate is about 40 rail cars, serviced full-time by the 825 M material handler.
Wilkinson Gary Iron & Metal primarily handles ferrous metals, including steel, but also processes non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, copper and brass. The majority of material arriving from a 150-mile distance of the main Laredo yard or its smaller area feeder yards is supplied by outside contractors, vendors and the public at large. However, the company also offers roll-off services to industrial and commercial customers, as do the other Wilkinson businesses in other parts of South Texas. The family additionally operates a warehouse in Monterrey, Mexico, where industrial scrap is aggregated and then efficiently shipped across the border to Laredo for processing.
Working in ambient temperatures routinely into triple digits, accentuated with wind-whipped dust, the material handlers servicing the Laredo yard prior to the SENNEBOGEN purpose-built material handlers were “constantly” sidelined for mechanical breakdowns and maintenance, says Scott Wilkinson. “This is just a brutal area of the world.”
But with the SENNEBOGEN material handlers, designed and built with a greater emphasis on durability and strength, and less on electronics, “You don’t have the repair bills and breakdown issues that you normally have with other kinds of converted excavators,” he says. A SENNEBOGEN machine will operate throughout the day without overheating the engine or burning out any of the hydraulic system’s components; an automatic reversible fan keeps the rads clear. “We always have the SENNEBOGENs running,” says Scott.
About the same time Wilkinson Gary Iron & Metal added the 835 M, the company made a conscientious decision to track equipment operation and maintenance costs, comparing the new units to those equipment makes and models already in the fleet. The results of the program, overseen by Alex Barba, have been music to ownership’s ears: “Operating the SENNEBOGEN material handlers in Economy Mode has reduced fuel costs by one-third. When combined with increased availability and reliability, it gives us the opportunity to control our costs and reduce our expenses.”
When a service or maintenance issue does arise, Waukesha-Pearce Industries (WPI), Inc., the local SENNEBOGEN dealer and their representative Darryl Woods are able to provide parts promptly, supported by SENNEBOGEN LLC’s 100,000 sq. ft. fully-serviced parts facility in North Carolina. This, says Scott, is a substantial upgrade from a previous make of material handler used at the Laredo yard.
With their Cummins engines mounted front to back, the intelligently designed SENNEBOGEN machines are easy to work on, yet do not compromise creature comforts, says Scott. Each of his three SENNEBOGEN operators “absolutely loves” the easy-to-access, easy-to-operate, air-conditioned machines.
The elevating cabs provide the operators with good visibility into trailers when unloading them, or rail cars when loading them. When feeding the shredder, the large working radius allows the 835 M to sit in one spot and unload trucks and feed the shredder.
When he tallies up the machine’s reliability, operational and costs savings, operator satisfaction, and parts and service support, Scott is convinced SENNEBOGEN machines are a key part of the future for a company whose roots go back to 1927, when his great-grandfather set up shop in Devine, Texas. “Yes, we’ll probably start moving these machines up to one of our feeder yards in the next year or two,” says Scott. “We’ll put them to work up there, and buy new SENNEBOGENs for the main facility. My plan is to buy more in the next few years.”