SENNEBOGEN 825 M Material Handler Boosts Viking Energy of McBain’s Productivity
Thomas Vine, Plant Manager of the Michigan biomass energy plant, Viking Energy of McBain, LLC, has big plans for his facility’s recently acquired SENNEBOGEN 825 M material handler.
“With the expected completion of a rail spur to our plant this June, our SENNEBOGEN 825 M will be put to work off-loading used rail ties from open hopper rail cars onsite,” says Vine, “This will increase our processing capabilities significantly.”
McBain plant processes 500 tones of fuel daily
The McBain facility, a subsidiary of GDF Suez, one of the world's largest independent power producers with plants in around the world, is a busy place that puts a premium on productivity and uptime. It’s what attracted Vine to SENNEBOGEN.
With a workforce of 21, the McBain plant processes about 500 tones of material daily with a blend of waste wood, creosote treated wood, (mostly railroad ties), and used rubber tires. It generates roughly 143,000 MWH of power annually – enough for about 14,000 homes.
Unlike other biomass energy operations, the McBain plant is unique in that it processes whole railroad ties onsite. “Many biomass plants buy their fuel already prepared usually in the form of chips they can run into their systems. McBain does the chipping operation itself using a low speed grinder feeding into a high speed hammer mill,” says Vine.
McBain’s SENNEBOGEN 825 M is currently being used to feed the plant’s two grinders and assist in their scheduled maintenance, including lifting equipment belts off the conveyors. “Our green machine has been operating about 7 hours daily for about four months, with operators switching off every 3.5 to 4 hours,” says Vine. “Its 43’ reach and ability to handle a larger grapple has made it much easier for us to handle the used ties. Our operators love the machine’s sensitivity and control it offers.”
SENNEBOGEN industry-leading raised cab height capability determining factor
Currently McBain off-loads used rail ties from rail cars onto logging trucks at a freight yard about 10 miles from the plant. “The real value of the SENNEBOGEN 825 M handler will become obvious when we begin off-loading the ties onsite once the rail spur is complete this summer,” says Vine.
With his eye to the rail car off-loading application, Vine says due diligence resulted in the acquisition of the SENNEBOGEN 825 M handler. “We looked at the competition, did a review of specifications and capabilities, and spoke to a lot of people before reaching our decision,” says Vine. “The SENNEBOGEN 825 M material handler’s ability to raise its cab to 19’ allows the operator to see into open rail car hoppers. For its size, it’s the highest in the industry. This was a major deciding factor for us.”
The SENNEBOGEN 825 M handler’s load capacity, which enables operators to pick up 8 to 10 railroad ties at a time, has already simplified and made McBain’s cycle times faster. Vine applauds the machine’s responsiveness and its hydraulics which let operators slowly feed the ties to the grinders, dropping in a couple of ties at a time right out of the grapple. “Our operators feel like the SENNEBOGEN 825 M machine is an extension of them,” says Vine.
The SENNEBOGEN 825 M also offers the kind of mobility the McBain plant requires. “Ours is a relatively level site consisting of compacted material and the SENNEBOGEN machine’s solid rubber tires are ideal to provide the kind of traction we need -- and we don’t have to worry about flat tires,” says Vine.
Vine adds that SENNEBOGEN’s simplicity of design, and reliable hydraulic-controlled system and the absence of computer technology were also important factors. “Computer-driven equipment won’t last long in our environment. This machine is very intuitive and its simplicity of design enables our maintenance people to keep it running at peak efficiency,” says Vine.
“I am very impressed with the simplicity of design and overall capabilities of our SENNEBOGEN 825 M – and I’m not impressed easily,” says Vine. “Anybody can throw all the parts into a piece of equipment and make it work. But to get to the point where it’s organized and efficiently designed takes an extra level of effort. It’s obvious that extra level of effort has been taken with the SENNEBOGEN 825 M material handler.”