A sheer complement

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An Imabe PCL-900 shear baler is a complement to existing equipment at Massachusetts-based Sullivan Metals.

January 2, 2020

William F. Sullivan Co. Inc., Holyoke, Massachusetts, also known as Sullivan Metals, receives a lot of obsolete materials—unprepared No. 1 steel, plate structural and demolition scrap. The company and its four-acre scrap yard have been in the community since 1953. The company also receives a lot of industrial scrap, including clippings and skeletons.

“We have a very, very large industrial base that we’ve developed over the years,” says Brian Powell, vice president at Sullivan Metals.

For a while, the company used just one 1,100-ton guillotine shear to process both the obsolete and industrial grades of scrap; however, Powell says the company had a tough time processing both of those types of materials in the same shear.

So, about eight years ago, the company decided to invest in a second shear that it would place adjacent to the 1,100-ton guillotine shear to work two times as fast. In 2012, Sullivan Metals installed a shear baler model PCL-900 from Miami-based Imabe to process its industrial scrap while the 1,100-ton guillotine shear continued to focus on obsolete scrap.

Powell says the PCL-900 is slightly smaller than Sullivan’s other shear, so it made sense to process the lighter industrial scrap on that machine. Since the installation, the PCL-900 cuts all of Sullivan Metal’s industrial clippings and skeletons and it also helps to log light iron. The machine can bale as well, so it also offers the company with flexibility. Powell adds that the PCL-900 was “the perfect complement” to the other shear.

“The Imabe allowed us to operate quicker,” he says. “We have one machine that focuses on industrial scrap and the other machine that focuses on demolition scrap. We can do both at the same time instead of swapping back and forth and tying up a machine on one product when we could be working on both—which we have plenty of both materials.”

Operating with two shears has also helped to keep inventory levels low, which Powell says is very important in today’s market.

“One of the reasons why we [added the PCL-900] was we ended up getting a lot of industrial skeletons that needed to be sheared, and it was taking us a long time to get through these industrial skeletons,” he says. “You need to move scrap in and out as fast as you possibly can. So, one of the decisions we made by adding this machine is we were going to be more efficient by trying to buy the scrap and sell the scrap within the same marketplace. What we were trying to do is have a 30-day inventory turn on not only our obsolete grades of scrap but our industrial grades so that everything we’re taking in, we’re sending out within the same month. We were trying to do both at the same time so we could turn the scrap around as quickly as we possibly [could] so we’re not caught in market fluctuations.

“Also, the days of a scrap yard having mountains and mountains of scrap piled up in their yards—that’s something in towns people don’t want to see anymore,” Powell continues. “If we’re able to keep our inventory low, not only does it mitigate any market risk we’re up against, but it also keeps our scrap yard where inventory is minimal.”

Since installing the Imabe PCL-900 shear baler, Powell says it’s performed wonderfully. He says the company has had to refurbish the machine for the first time this past fall with the help of Imabe and local manufacturers.

While the refurbishing process is about two months, Powell says having two shears operating side by side reduced any opportunity for downtime.

“Having two machines prevents us from having a complete outage if we plan appropriately,” he adds. “We always have [a shear] that runs.”