Making the move into ferrous processing
Mack grapples, new magnet and material handlers key to expansion for Alabama recycler
When ASM Recycling Inc. made the bold move into the ferrous metals business, the South Alabama company didn’t have to look very far for a trusted grapple supplier. Not that ASM had previous experience with the premier material handling attachments made by Mack Manufacturing. Rather, the recycling firm had often been invited to bid on the copper wiring, brass shavings and other non-ferrous waste materials produced by the equipment manufacturer in nearby Theodore, Alabama.
“Buying the grapple from Mack Manufacturing was a positive way to return a favor to them,” says Lee Leavitt, President of ASM Recycling, located in Mobile. Beyond the material supply relationship, Leavitt and his ASM colleagues would often cross paths with Mack Manufacturing officials at various industry events, including ISRI conventions and meetings.
“They’re local, and I really wanted to support the local guys,” says Leavitt. “We’ve known them a long time, but we had never gotten into the ferrous side of the scrap business. We’d always been a non-ferrous operation.”
With change comes cost, challenges
Neighbourly gestures notwithstanding, ASM Recycling’s shift in operations required a major investment in new equipment, including the Terex Fuchs MHL350 material handler from which the 1-cu.-yd. Mack grapple is hung.
Most importantly for ASM, this was a business decision – one that has quickly proven successful. For a little under a year now, the company has been handling more iron than steel, reports Leavitt.
From both an operations and maintenance standpoint, the transition to the use of a grapple has been “very seamless,” says Leavitt. “It’s done everything we have asked it to do.”
The addition of a material handler, a magnet and the Mack grapple represented a completely new direction for ASM operators, who previously had primarily operated forklifts in the Mobile recycling yard. With 19 total employees, ASM Recycling also has an assortment of balers, shears and trucks, the latter servicing 250 roll-off containers placed at industrial customers throughout the city and vicinity.
“We did have some operators say that the grapple took a little bit of getting used to,” says Leavitt, “but fortunately for us, they hadn’t operated anything quite like it before. So, to them, it was rather, ‘OK, this is what is expected of us and this is just what we have to learn to do.’ ”
New equipment, new opportunities
A dedicated material handler with a hydraulically-raised cab offers visibility advantages on top of the carrier’s inherent pick-and-sort capabilities.
“Everything has delivered as promised,” says Leavitt, who has been at the helm of ASM Recycling since 1991, building upon a family legacy in scrap handling that dates back to the early 1900s. “The new equipment has got us to where we can now start to ship direct to the mill, and not have to just put material in roll-off containers or not be able to handle it at all,” he says. “It was definitely a first step in the right direction for us.”
With the Mack grapple hung from a dedicated material handler, ASM can pick and sort the ferrous metals to provide the “right metal recipes” for the massive SSAB Americas steel mill located 21 miles north in Axis, Alabama. “Just being able to load and unload effectively has opened the doors for all that,” says Leavitt.
Timing is everything
For a few years prior, a cross-town operator with a shredder had handled ferrous materials. That yard would send its non-ferrous metals to ASM Recycling, and vice-versa would receive ferrous metals from ASM.
When that other firm closed, ASM decided to make the investment in the equipment required to handle the ferrous metals itself.
"Despite the lack of operating experience with the attachment and the notoriously unforgiving nature of the harsh scrap being handled, the 'well shielded' Mack grapple has not suffered any cut lines or other breakdowns," says Leavitt. “It’s certainly been a good starter set for us.”