For more than a decade, Atlanta-based Recycling Management Resources (RMR) has committed to maximizing its client’s revenue generation from recyclable paper, plastic and metal scrap. The company specializes in servicing industrial facilities in the collection processing and movement of recyclable materials.
RMR started in 2008 with a single facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. That first year in business, they processed about 600 tons per month of recyclable paper and plastic.
“We had probably five or six employees when we started doing business,” says Reece Whitley, managing partner at RMR.
Since then, Whitley says the company has continued to expand its footprint steadily. RMR opened its second facility in 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. It continued to grow and opened another facility in 2010 in High Point, North Carolina. Then, the company moved its headquarters in 2013 to the Atlanta area as a result of a greenfield startup.
“Today, we have eight recycling facilities and about 240 employees,” Whitley adds. “We are in seven states.”
New balers in Barrington
RMR further grew its business in January 2018, acquiring National Paper Recycling. Through that acquisition, the company acquired assets and operations—but not facilities—in Richmond, Virginia; Wilmington, Delaware; and Camden, New Jersey. As a result, RMR moved the three operations to new sites. The Camden operation moved to a new site in Barrington, New Jersey. The company also shifted business from its Philadelphia location to the Barrington plant.
With the new facility, RMR decided to upgrade equipment. Over the years, RMR has relied on American Baler in many instances. The company has purchased those machines through its dealer, Recycling Equipment Inc. (REI), Newton, North Carolina.
RMR partnered with REI to install its first American Baler—a model W721 widebox two-ram baler—in late 2010.
Scott Sharp, president of REI, says RMR was one of the first companies to purchase one of these widebox units. “Our strong partnership with American Baler makes it easy for us, in turn, to develop strong partnerships with companies like RMR,” Sharp says. “On projects this size, there is a lot that can potentially go wrong, so it’s crucial for there to be a team approach with all the players working together toward the same goal. That takes years of history together and a lot of hard work.”
Since then, RMR has installed eight American Balers. In February 2019, the company installed its latest two American Balers—another widebox two-ram and an auto-tie single-ram model 8043—at the Barrington site.
“We know about American Baler’s reputation and we’ve been happy with their balers,” Whitley says, adding that the company now has three model W721 two-ram balers. He notes that it’s helpful to have three of the same machine types at its operations as it allows for efficiencies with maintenance to minimize downtime.
Whitley says the 8043 installation was the company’s first time investing in a high-capacity American Baler auto-tie. RMR expects to process about 10,000 tons per month at the Barrington site, so Whitley adds that the company needed a larger, more powerful machine.
RMR’s model 8043 will bale mostly old corrugated containers. The company began operating both of its new balers in March 2019 at the Barrington location.
“With the volume we’ll run through this facility, which will be our largest facility, it will be neat to have the volume to support a machine as big and fast as this one,” he says. “We are excited about that.”
“I’m not naïve; I know what we are doing is difficult,” says Brian Arkwood, chief technical officer at IntegriCo Composites, Sarepta, Louisiana. But the company found size-reduction equipment that was up to the task from Weima America Inc., Fort Mill, South Carolina.
IntegriCo, founded in 2005, processes Nos. 3-7 plastics and mixed rigid plastics (MRP) bales to produce its composite railroad ties. Its patented technology enables the company to mix various recycled plastics together to create composite railroad ties and other related products that offer consistency and structural integrity.
Arkwood says IntegriCo processes 3.5 million pounds to 5 million pounds per month of Nos. 3-7 plastics and MRP bales, as well as postindustrial plastics, purge and regrind and internally generated scrap.
“It’s hard to find a one-size-fits-all unit for size reduction,” he says. “If a shredder is great for Nos. 3-7, its inhibitive for MRP.”
The company’s first Weima unit was a WPC 2000 PreCut single-shaft shredder that it installed in May 2017. The shredder was placed in front of an existing shredder to liberate Nos. 3-7 and MRP bales, exposing metals and enabling their removal before they reached the downstream shredder.
Arkwood says the PreCut did not initially perform to IntegriCo’s expectations, but the Weima team was “very quick to be back on-site and observe the operation” with the intention of addressing the company’s concerns. The U.S. team worked with Weima’s engineering team in Germany to design a modification to the PreCut’s ram assembly to make it better suited to handling the wide range of material IntegriCo is processing with it, he adds.
As a result of that experience with Weima, Arkwood says the company earned its future business, which involved installing a WLK 30 Super Jumbo Hydro shredder in parallel to IntegriCo’s existing downstream shredder in October 2018. This single-shaft shredder is designed for extreme applications.
At IntegriCo, the Super Jumbo processes 70 percent of the company’s material, producing a 4-inch particle size.
“I liked the power behind the hydraulic ram and rotor,” Arkwood says, adding that he felt that power was important given the materials the company is processing, particularly its internal scrap, which is “as hard as concrete.”
Arkwood also appreciates the ease of maintenance. He describes access doors that open hydraulically as “very appealing” because no screens need to be unbolted first.
The auxiliary equipment Weima supplied also was “high quality and robust” in addition to being “very competitively priced,” he says.
“I’m not a low-bidder-wins kind of guy,” Arkwood says. “I’m a qualifications-based purchaser. What I paid for the Weima equipment was more cost competitive for the same or better system” from other suppliers.
Arkwood says he and IntergriCo are so pleased with the performance of the Weima equipment and the company’s “responsive” customer service that they have plans to install the company’s size-reduction equipment at its future facilities.
The TC Recycling LLC material recovery facility (MRF) in Mars, Pennsylvania, is where recyclable materials collected by Vogel Disposal go to get sorted, cleaned up, baled and otherwise prepared for shipment as secondary commodities.
Vogel Disposal, based in Mars, is a second-generation waste and recycling family business that collects material from commercial and residential customers in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. In 2017, the company committed to recycling by buying a new baler and investing in sorting equipment and technology that can sort up to 600 tons per day in an automated fashion.
For nearly three decades, the company’s recycling operations relied on an HRB-10 model baler built by Georgia- based Harris. According to Harris distributor Ken Ely Jr. of Ohio-based Ely Enterprises, 82-year-old Ed Vogel, who founded Vogel Disposal, quipped to Ely that he had “really taken advantage of him,” since the company was considering replacing the hard-working machine in just under 30 years.
Not surprisingly, Vogel Disposal opted to seek out a new Harris baler for its TC Recycling MRF in 2017 and also is making plans to invest in rebuilding its 1989-vintage HRB-10 to keep it running at a smaller facility.
At TC Recycling, the Vogel organization selected a Centurion two-ram baler model and worked with Harris and Ely Enterprises to install a machine that now works eight to 10 hours per day. The hard-working Centurion bales three different paper grades plus aluminum used beverage containers (UBCs), steel cans and plastic bottles.
Increased speed—leading to increased volumes per hour—and updated automation features were among the attractions of the Centurion that helped Vogel Disposal make its decision in that direction.
“It’s faster, but it’s comparable to the HRB in its sturdiness,” says Matthew Fickes, operations manager at TC Recycling, of the new baler. Regarding its automation, “When we switch grades, we hit the button for that product and it just sets off and does it. It’s a lot easier for my people; they can just hit the button for, say, OCC, and the Centurion knows how many straps and the pressure needed,” says Fickes.
Fickes and Ely say the Centurion’s bale separation door also makes it easier to switch grades at the multi-material MRF, and Fickes likes the online diagnostics feature. “Harris can dial into the machine and pinpoint where the problem is. A lot of issues they can address remotely,” notes Fickes.
Two-ram Harris Centurion balers have been a popular choice with recyclers of multiple materials seeking a reliable, automated high-volume machine since they were introduced the previous decade. More information on the heavy-duty models can be found at https://harrisequip.com/products/two-ram-balers/centurion.
Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) has installed nearly 60 robotic sorters in material recovery facilities (MRFs) throughout the world. While these robots deservedly receive a lot of attention, they are only a part of our total technology offering that is injecting the industrial recycling industry with automation and intelligence.
The real innovation isn’t in the robots but in the technology that powers them: Max-AI®. Max-AI is an artificial intelligence (AI) that identifies recyclables. Max employs a vision system and multilayered neural network technology to see and identify objects in a manner similar to a person. The technology is powering improvements in MRF design, operational efficiency, recovery, system optimization, maintenance and more.
Max-AI technology is implemented throughout a MRF in standalone detection and reporting equipment, Max-AI VIS (Visual Identification System), in robotic sorters, Max-AI AQCs (Autonomous Quality Control) and in collaboration with optical sorters, NRT SpydIR® with Max-AI. To allow our customers to use this information, our team created the Total Intelligence Platform (TIP), which provides real-time and trending information on material composition, system performance and more. Max-AI technology can see and think, and this ability has opened the door to unforeseen levels of automation, intelligence and performance.
Not all AI is equal. BHS’ dominance in the area of AI and robotic sorting provides a distinct advantage to our current and future customers. Each installation helps to further the development of Max’s neural network, benefitting current and subsequent installations. Our vast experience has not only built the industry’s most robust neural network technology but has created a process and a team that can quickly start up working, impactful solutions.
Another distinct advantage that BHS has in this space is our familiarity with MRF design and operation. We’ve been designing and integrating equipment for recovering recyclables since 1976. We are focused on improving MRF operations, not just on providing engineered solutions. We strive to understand our customers’ pain points and work to increase their profits.
BHS subsidiary NRT has decades of experience creating best-in-class optical sorting equipment and software. Max-AI-powered equipment, similar to an optical sorter, employs detection technology and acts on it through sortation. We use a consistent approach to integrate computers, cameras and sensors, light, air and filters, communications equipment, etc., into our products. NRT’s deep experience and proven track record in this area have led to rock-solid Max-AI software, equipment and support. Many of the components also crossover, leading to maintenance and support efficiencies. We deploy our solutions swiftly and effectively and have a comprehensive team of experts in place to support them.
When you invest in technology with BHS, you also get the benefit of our global footprint and our extensive service and support network that prioritizes your operations: BHS Priority Support. Whether you need training or service on your Controls and Intelligence package, conveyors, screens, NRT optical sorters or Max-AI technology, we have trained support staff in place and ready to deploy anywhere in the world.
The total package
Our advanced technology combined with the Total Intelligence Platform (TIP) enable a true production environment, in which consistent products are created: inbound material and outbound quality are monitored; performance is measured in a variety of ways; and information is communicated quickly and clearly.
Our goal is to industrialize and automate the recycling process while providing facility operators the intelligence they need to effectively run their businesses—everything from material input and output to staffing, maintenance, quality and throughput. The information is there thanks to the available technology, but decision-makers must access it quickly and easily. That’s where TIP comes in.
TIP monitors and tracks throughput, uptime, downtime events, material composition, motor amperage and other performance data from various inputs throughout your processing system. It even tracks information external to the system but vital to operational success, including inbound and outbound scale weights, bales shipped and bales on hand by commodity.
Before Max-AI, material and performance audits required people. Sorting required people. And certainly operating a MRF required people. Reporting took time, and optimizing a system took even longer. Max can analyze and record material composition in real time throughout a system. TIP is the system that presents information in a format that enables operators to use it in a meaningful way. Our team also is working on dynamic optimization—soon our customers will have smart lines, adjusting their speeds, targets and other settings to maximize performance based on the material. Our customers’ current systems will continue to improve as Max-AI and TIP grow.
From an operational aspect, TIP can help a MRF’s operations and maintenance teams track performance data over any time period. Was equipment serviced? Were improvements made? An operator can quickly and easily track material composition and quality before or after this time period and at various points in a MRF. When material composition or quality changes at either an optical sorter or Max-AI AQC postsort, operators can see this in real time and address potential issues. Operators also can track performance over various months and monitor inbound material quality and its effect on performance (evaluate new contracts, routes or tip floor recipes). TIP provides immediate and trending analysis of these scenarios and more to better understand your operations and help drive your performance.
Manual material audits are now obsolete. Audits give MRF operators a snapshot at a certain point in time, while continuous monitoring via TIP provides a larger sample size and more accurate data so you can more clearly see trends over time. And, unlike manual audits, TIP is not disruptive to your operations.
Instead of relying on a few metrics that are recorded manually after each shift, such as the number of bales produced or the residue percentage, TIP offers a wider breadth of accurate data at your fingertips. You can even drill down into your residue stream to evaluate the number of recyclables that your system failed to recover by the hour, shift, day, month or any other period.
By easily accessing this data through TIP, you can make your MRF more dynamic and responsive. Based on TIP’s feedback, you can accommodate changes in incoming material in real time and become immediately aware of how your performance changes. TIP can ensure you are deploying the right resources in the right places so you can operate at the lowest cost while also being certain about the commodities you are producing.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have a BHS system or the money to invest in a completely new system, so this is no use to me.” That’s not true. BHS’ Max-AI technology and TIP are not limited to BHS systems. This technology can be added to almost any MRF.Changing the paradigm
We want to change the way you run your business by reducing your staffing challenges and operating costs. We want to increase your system’s intelligence and your ability to make informed decisions to operate profitably. You are running a manufacturing process, and you need the automation and data advantages that are available to other manufacturers using industrial processing.
Scheduling your plant’s operations no longer has to revolve around staffing sorting positions and shuffling workers around to meet quality requirements. The Max MRF can run nearly all day, excluding scheduled maintenance, with minimal variable costs for additional “shifts.” Your MRF can operate with the flexibility to respond to market conditions, including processing more or less material, running longer hours and creating products that purposefully meet your requirements.
If you are intrigued by the possibilities, what are you waiting for? We’re building intelligent MRFs today and investing in their continued performance tomorrow. Contact us to learn how your MRF can benefit from integrating Max-AI technology and TIP. Visit us at WasteExpo to test drive the Total Intelligence Platform and see the latest Max-AI equipment in person!