Cutting out the recession

November_175.jpgCMA turns to Hitachi for increased efficiency.

In September of 2005, Australian metal recycling company CMA Recycling bought Auckland-based Scrap Metal Recyclers. Re-branded under their Australian parent company’s name, CMA has entered new markets and expanded its operations in the upper North Island with the addition of a Tauranga branch to complement the existing Auckland and Hamilton operations.

Auckland area manager Brett Howlett says CMA views recycling as a key component in the process of modern waste management.

“We help to significantly reduce the waste of potentially useful materials through resale; reduce the consumption of finite raw materials and energy, and contribute to a better environment through responsible recycling.”

The industry has been through a rollercoaster ride with metal prices over the past couple of years and, although the economy is currently depressed, Brett says CMA is experiencing steady demand for processed scrap metal. Although you might expect China to be the major contributor to this demand, he says, “it is going to steel mills all over the world, with places like Asia being the hungriest for scrap metal, that they use to melt down and recycle into other products – thus the conservation of finite natural resources.”

Although the economic downturn has had an impacted on CMA, along with almost every other business in the country, Brett says the company has continued to invest in plant and machinery to ensure a more efficient operation that improves productivity and reduces operating costs.

CMI_2.jpg“For us, any efficiency that we can make in any area is a bonus. The cheaper we can process scrap material, the more beneficial it is for us.”

An example of this approach has been the introduction of a 33 ton Hitachi ZX330LC-3 excavator fitted with a La Bounty MSD 2500R front attachment hydraulic shear. Prior to this CMA used a static shear to cut their steel, as well as gas cutting. While they still do a little manual gas cutting, Brett says the Hitachi ZX330LC-3 with shear attachment is a lot more versatile because of its mobility and the fact it can rotate.

Prior to its purchase, the Auckland recyclers had little experience with Hitachi excavators, yet for their new owners, CMA Recycling in Australia, it was a different story. Specialising in contracting and demolition it attaches specialist recycling attachments to base model excavators, typically in the 20 – 35 tonne class. In Australia the company brought about 12 new machines off Hitachi last year alone, says Brett.

In Auckland, CMA Recycling focuses on collection, processing and recycling of predominantly secondary ferrous and non-ferrous metal products, and utilises specialist high-rise-cab scrap recycling processors. So when it came to adding an excavator fitted with a cutting shear to the operation, Brett says the company drew on its Australian parent’s knowledge and experience of Hitachi’s reliability and performance.

Brett says the selection of the base model was predetermined by the size of the shear and the lifting capacity, and hydraulic flow required for operating it. CMA, in consultation with CablePrice, spec’ed the Hitachi ZX330LC-3 with an additional 750kg on top of the standard counterweight, to ensure additional stability and balance when lifting and using the six-and-a-half-tonne shear. Not surprisingly for the conditions it works in, additional cab guarding and piping were also specified, as well as a foot pedal control for the shear.

CMI_3.jpg“The machine runs every day and doesn’t give us any trouble at all,” says Brett. Having been put to work at the beginning of the year, the ZX330LC-3 now has just less than 1400 hours on the clock.

Before talking to the machine operator Brett comments, “they seem happy enough with it. There are certainly no complaints.

“In our industry no complaints is a good thing. Our guys don’t typically rave about gear, they just get on and do the job. But you certainly know if something’s not liked by someone because it won’t get used as much or looked after.”

Brett typically likes to keep one man on each machine as much as possible as he feels they tend to look after it more and take ownership.

Vili, the main operator for CMA, is a good illustration of this. Although the machine does not do much walking, it is consistently slewing, reaching for, and lifting large and often awkward shaped sharp objects while surrounded by heavy scrap metal in a confined working space. After nine months of operation the machine barely sports a scratch – except on the shear (which is to be expected in this application), which is testament to Vili, the other operators who fill in on the machine, and CMA’s operation in general. Vili likes the speed of the Hitachi and of the cutting shears, which is evident as he cuts through reinforced steel like it was butter.

“I enjoy the comfort. It is very good,” says Vili, who also comments that the slew speed and responsiveness of the levers makes working the shears easy.

From a management and health and safety perspective Brett says he appreciates the cabin environment and the camera on the back.

“That camera on the back is a really good added safety feature in this kind of application, and the ergonomics of the cab are quite well set out too.”

CMI_1.jpgWhile the market has certainly contracted over the past year, CMA Recycling has looked at its operation and invested in processes and machinery that provide long term profitable returns through improved efficiency.

Purchased in late 2008 and delivered in the New Year, Brett says the timing of the delivery was unfortunate due to the down-turning economy, yet on the other hand he was happy to just get a new machine with the shear on it.

With recent economic reports showing New Zealand has officially ended its fifth successive quarter of recession with 0.1 percent growth in the June quarter, CMA’s investment may just yet prove timely, as with the new Hitachi ZX330LC-3 and shear cutter it is certainly geared for increased production levels.

• Article provided by CablePrice

Contractor Vol.33  No.10  November 2009
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