Latest SEDA vehicle drainage system is helping keep Ontario’s Nicklin Auto Parts & Recyclers on top of a never-ending supply of ELVs
Partnership with ELV Select led to recent installation of drainage and lift system
Nicklin Auto Parts & Recyclers has been serving southern Ontario since the late fifties. In the mid-nineties the company's 30-acre yard and building in Guelph was purchased by its current owner, Denis Krajcar (shown above), who says he started in the auto recycling business as a teenager. "I started working at Cambridge Auto Wreckers when I was 16, until I was about 25, when I bought this place," explains Krajcar.
He says that at the time he bought the company the owner was simply ready to retire. Krajcar was in the right place at the right time, and since the 1990s, the business has seen steady growth.
"First of all, you pay off the business, which takes some time and limits what you can do," he says. "And then, it's just about reinvesting in the business, buying better equipment, loaders, crushers and other equipment, to do jobs we were always hiring others for. It only makes sense to do it yourself. It's been a long haul, but now everything is in place."
Nicklin Auto Parts & Recyclers now processes about 10,000 cars per year. The company salvages valuable parts, including engines, cores, batteries, tires and precious metals, and sells other re-usable parts and components through a U-Pick "self-serve" operation. Nicklin also produces about 13,000 tonnes per year of scrap metal, which is sent to local recyclers. In 2017 Nicklin installed a new 12,000-square-foot steel-frame building which now houses their entire dismantling operation, including a new SEDA DrainTower vehicle drainage system and Girolift vehicle lift system, supplied by Fergus, Ontario-based equipment distributor ELV Select.
When vehicles are brought in, they are drained, using the new SEDA system, and "cored," tires are removed and then car bodies are sent to the U-Pick yard, where the public can pull any remaining parts they want. Once they've spent some time in the yard, cars are crushed and sent to scrap.
Krajcar says prior to having the U-Pick side of their business, they used to be a full-service yard, where they would pull parts off for the customer, on order. But, he says, too often they would have a customer make an order, for a part such as an alternator, they would spend an hour pulling it off, and then it turned out the customer didn't need it. They decided it was not worth it.
"It turns out that a full-service yard just wasn't in the cards," says Krajcar. "So now, as a U-Pick operation, we can place 2,000 cars in our yard. People like coming out on a sunny day. They take the parts they want, and we've got the best prices around."
Starting with a blank sheet
Krajcar says the whole idea behind their new 12,000-square-foot facility was to start with a blank sheet and build things properly. In April, Nicklin Auto Parts & Recyclers began operating their new SEDA DrainTower vehicle drainage system. The installation in Nicklin's new building was done by ELV Select this past winter, and it followed the installation of three Girolift 10,000-pound dismantling lifts.
"Our new SEDA DrainTower is a nice system," says Krajcar. "It siphons everything out. We've already gone through the learning curve, and the guys are really picking up the pace on it. It's doing a nice job."
Bob Vanleeuwen, co-owner of ELV Select, coordinated the entire installation for Nicklin and says three Girolift vehicle hoists were placed strategically in line with overhead doors, with a dedicated SEDA DrainTower per hoist.
"The SEDA equipment was installed after the bulk of the rigid piping was completed and fluid tanks were installed with an alarm panel that senses all levels in each of the system's fluid collection tanks," explains Vanleeuwen. "The alarm is designed as a two-stage process, making operators aware of the 75 percent level, which can be overridden, and then stops the pumps in the SEDA equipment at 90 percent capacity. The entire process was designed to be very efficient and environmentally friendly."
Krajcar says when they initially decided to get a new vehicle drainage system, they shopped around. In the end, their decision came down to service and parts availability. He notes that they had been using another system, which they were happy with, but when they had an issue they could be waiting three or four days to get a part. "Nobody would stock parts for it," says Krajcar.
He adds though that things have changed since ELV Select started a partnership with Austria-based manufacturer SEDA, as their Canadian distributor, and he started working on the upgrade of their vehicle drainage system with Bob Vanleeuwen.
"Now they're only 20 minutes up the road from us," Krajcar says. "So that played heavily into determining that we were going go with the SEDA system. Firstly, I've known Bob for many years. I call him a friend. And secondly, if we have an issue, he's got the parts immediately, so we can be in production in no time.
"When we're operating the way we are, at the pace we're operating, when something goes wrong and everything stops, you are not going to send your employees home, but we can't get things done. In the summertime, we can be pulling in 40 to 50 cars per day. It doesn't take long before you're backlogged 200 or 300 cars, if our system is down. Previously, periodically we would run into issues like this."
Quality recovered fuel
"Each DrainTower is equipped with the ability to suction gas/diesel, waste oil (engine/transmission), power steering brake and washer fluid, and coolant," says Vanleeuwen. "Each fluid can be evacuated without spilling a drop and is pumped directly into separate storage tanks. Fuel is separated using SEDA's Quality Control sight glass, transferring dirty and clean fuel to separate containment tanks.
"This is a major advantage for any recycler, as fuel can be reused in delivery vehicles, tow trucks and other vehicles."
This system benefit is certainly one that has not gone unnoticed by Denis and Nicklin's staff.
"Because of the volume of vehicles that we process here in the day, and in a month, we have an abundance of used gasoline, which we recover through the SEDA system and filters," says Krajcar.
He says their quality recovered gas and diesel fuel is shared with employees and used in his own vehicle, as well as for their fleet.
"We recently bought new Ford 650 series trucks with V10 gas. That certainly has helped us a lot, just in what we save in diesel fuel costs through using our own recovered fuel. We've upgraded our whole truck fleet. Our oldest truck is now a 2016 model."
He says that for recovered fuel they use three filter systems, and because he and his employees use the gas in their own vehicles and for their car carriers, nobody wants any fuel quality issues. It provides a great incentive for quality control.
"On the SEDA system, our guys can see throughout a sight glass or bowl, and know whether or not it is fuel you would actually want to run through your vehicle. So if it's good, clean gasoline, you just pump it out to the good tank. If it is all murky, cloudy, red, or skunky, operators hit a valve and run it into the bad gas tank."
For fluids too contaminated for reuse, such as waste oil or antifreeze, he says they partner with a hauler, such as GFL or Safety-Kleen, to collect and take it away. Bad gasoline goes into one tank, while bad diesel goes into another tank, and then it is also hauled away.
"Because there are different prices for disposing of gas and diesel, we keep it separate. Otherwise, you're going to always get hit at the high price."
The Girolift hoist
The new Girolift dismantling lift, also installed this past winter by ELV Select, was a new concept for Krajcar.
"I'd never seen one of these before," he admits. "We thought we'd be using scissor lifts, one in the front and rear of the car, and then we just tilt it or have a free span."
The model installed for Nicklin by ELV Select was the Girolift 10-LF1-AO1. This hoist is specifically designed for vehicle dismantling operations, features 10,000-pound capacity, and facilitates access to all vehicle locations and parts, providing safe working conditions. Units use 72-inch forks/stroke and are 100 percent hydraulic, with no cables, chains or pulleys.
"The Giro Lift is neat," says Krajcar. "I was a little leery at first, thinking it looks simple, but we're using them now and they are working fine. It is a simple post with two adjustable arms on it, and we adjust it as we need it. The system lifts up the car, and we just plug in the SEDA system and drain everything. It is working pretty slick and I'm quite happy with it."
Operating in a changing auto recycling environment
Krajcar says the automotive salvage and recycling industry has changed somewhat over the last decade, especially over the last several years. The Canadian government has become more involved and the industry is more regulated overall, especially in Ontario since ELV standards regulations were put into place in 2016 and have come into effect over the last several years. Before the introduction of the latest auto recycling industry regulations, Krajcar says there were environmental regulations to comply with, but really the industry was largely self-governed.
Krajcar says that previously they would have audits done by qualified industry associations, such as OARA (Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association) and ARC (Automotive Recyclers of Canada).
"Now things have changed," he says. "Increased and updated regulations are a good thing. There is no question about it, it's needed. But it's a lot easier and smoother when the people who conduct the audits or draft the regulations are from our industry and understand how things work.
"With the latest regulations in Ontario (by which all automotive recycling needs to take place under cover and on impermeable-surface concrete) auto recyclers are being given very little time to comply," he says."We've just gone through the process of getting a building permit. It took me almost four years to get it. Thank God we did what we did when we did. Some of the other yards that have to comply now, in six months, I don't know how they're going do it. With a lot of the yards in rural areas - where they want everyone to dismantle under a roof in a building, this time frame isn't going to cut it. It takes six months sometimes just to fill out the application."
He says they installed a steel building, but canvas-type buildings require the same permitting. "And the government was the one that told us, ‘You might as well put up a steel building, because it's going to cost you just as much.' So that's what we did."
Operating in A changing tire recycling environment
With respect to the impending dissolution, by the end of 2018, of Ontario Tire Stewardship (the non-profit that has been managing the province's used tires program), Krajcar says it is unfortunate in the sense that they finally had a program that was working in Ontario. Scrap tires were getting picked up regularly and efficiently, at little cost to consumers or recyclers, around the province.
"We had a tire bin, drop-off was free, tires were collected and we were getting a couple dollars here and there," says Krajcar. "Everything was being maintained well and I didn't have to employ anyone to break our tires down, separating the scrap tires from the rims. And we had a nice arrangement with our hauler.
"My understanding is that the haulers were starting to get squeezed to the point where they weren't making money," Krajcar continues. "Our hauler got out of the business, and so we had to start hauling away tires ourselves. I'm on the hunt now for a tire crusher, a rim crusher. Nobody wants to do this anymore."
He says until 2007, customers would have to pay $5/tire for drop-off, and Nicklin would be charged $3 for tires to be hauled away. Since the Ontario used tires program was put in place, drop-off has been free and it has worked very well. "We have had a good tire recycling program in Ontario," adds Krajcar. "Now, it looks like they are going to drop it. If the program's working very well and everybody is happy, why change it?"
"I was happy," he continues. "But it comes to a point, like with everything, if you're not making any money, you're just going to stop doing it. I do hope they replace the used tires program with something equally as effective. "I don't want to go back to Monday mornings, finding 20 tires scattered across my parking lot." RPN
This article was originally published in the May/June 2018 edition of Recycling Product News, Volume 26, Number 4.