Brian Arkwood was impressed. The chief technical officer at IntegriCo Composites, a composite railroad tie manufacturing company, checked out a new WEIMA America WPC 2000 PreCut Shredder after the company ordered it to dismantle bales of plastic as their business grew and his company was piling up more and more orders that promised to keep them busy through 2019.
Arkwood did his research and knew the capabilities of the machine that IntegriCo Composites was getting, so he wasn’t surprised when the large shredder could slice through bales of material hour after hour without skipping a beat. IntegriCo Composites was able to move to a 24-hour operation to shred through its backlog of material.
“I would not say the shredder has surprised me of its capabilities, as the WEIMA team always presented expectations accurately,” he says. “I was impressed, however, with the quality of the construction of WEIMA equipment and the components used in relation to other equipment of the same nature I have worked with in the past.”
Municipal solid waste industry employees and operators who deal with material reduction and reuse often use shredders and granulators to gnaw through their raw materials. But the biggest bales and toughest material require the largest shredders on the market, and their sheer power makes it possible to separate items that seem impossibly combined.
The largest shredders available dwarf everyday e-waste shredders. Jumbo shredders tower above even the tallest human’s head, with blades whirring through more than 50 tons of material an hour. These shredders up the ante and provide operators with a whole new level of horsepower, torque, and capacity to crunch through even the toughest loads.
Giant shredders are changing the industry by making it possible to get jobs done faster and with fewer shredders. They’re also making it possible to grind down previously frustrating materials. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest shredders on the market and how operators have reacted to their performance.
Established in 1978, Shred-Tech is a world leader in designing and manufacturing mobile and stationary shredding and recycling systems. It is also the exclusive North American distributor of the HAAS TYRON Primary shredder, manufactured by Germany-based HAAS Recycling Systems. The HAAS TYRON shredder is a double shaft, high-torque, slow-speed shredder that is available in mobile and stationary versions. The equipment is capable of processing high volumes of difficult materials in remote locations.
It’s a transportable shredder that has the ability to process materials ranging from green waste to baled aluminum extrusions to mixed streams, such as construction debris and more. By simply adjusting the settings on the machine, we can vary shred-size, throughput, and even capability in terms of capturing and shredding difficult material. Sites such as transfer stations can benefit immensely from using this machine for batch processing. You can shred wood one moment, then move on to white goods, mattresses, etc.
The HAAS TYRON shredder’s speed-adjustable shaft rips through even the most complex materials like mattresses with no material wrapping. The machine tears material into random pieces, liberating them, and any ferrous materials can be removed with the optional cross-belt magnet. The shredder shaft can rotate forwards and backwards and can also operate in unison, bidirectionally, and at different speeds at the same time. These are infinitely programmable for changing material streams.
“The HAAS TYRON Shredder resembles a tank, in that the most popular model is track-based,” says Sean Richter, sales manager at Shred-Tech. “It’s an absolute beast.” The 2000XL is equipped with 400 hp, but also is available with 760 hp on the 2500 model. “This primary shredder will shred just about everything and anything you throw at it.”
The HAAS TYRON is available in three models: the 1500, 2000XL, and 2500. They range from 25 tons per hour to 100 tons per hour, depending on the application and material. They can operate as a stationary unit, or trailer or track mounted, and are available with optional hopper extensions, cross-belt magnets, and water spray dust control systems.
Madison Burt, vice president of sales for WEIMA America, a manufacturer of shredders, says he’s seen customers’ jaws drop during demos.
He says he recalled speaking with a customer while doing a demo of one of their largest shredders, the PreCut primary shredder.
“It can cut through just about everything,” he says. “It’s really your tougher-to-shred material where you need a lot of torque and applications that you can’t handle with your typical shredder. It’s just your beefiest workhorse.”
Arkwood, whose company purchased a WEIMA America PreCut shredder and a WEIMA WLK 30 Super Jumbo Shredder for secondary size reduction, says his company takes baled recyclable plastics and uses them to make railroad ties. The mixed rigid plastic comes to their business in bales and needs to get broken down to be reused, and that’s where the shredders come in.
Arkwood says they needed a machine that could handle substantial loads on a consistent basis.
“We process approximately 3 million pounds of plastic per month to manufacture composite railroad ties and composite structures for other industries,” he says, but noted that they had been experiencing some problems with contamination.
“We expected to more efficiently be able to handle our baled materials and experience less downtime in our overall size reduction process due to the contamination of metal,” says Arkwood.
He says the shredder that IntegriCo brought in to handle the loads was able to shred through material so metals could be removed, then the material was fed through other shredders and granulators. Because the company handles a wide variety of plastic materials from various material reclamation facilities, it was getting difficult to make sure the final product was consistently clean and free of metal previously.
When to Choose Shredder over Granulator
When choosing the proper size of a shredder, it’s important to know what goal you’re trying to achieve with each step.
First of all, various sized machines have different names. The largest machines are called shredders or pre-shredders, and they grind up material and expel it so large chunks of material can be removed before the next cycle of shredding. Shredders are usually handling metals, landscaping material, and construction material—anything bigger than a breadbox.
Granulators, on the other hand, take that shredded material and crunch it up even further into rice-sized tablets. Shredders can vary in size and function and can range anywhere between producing baseball-sized chunks of substrate to grape-sized bits. Granulators take the work a step further and get plastic material ready for reuse or landscaping material ready for spreading.
Granulators, in general, are more popular internationally, Burt says, because there is a larger plastics reuse industry than in the US.
He says nations like Japan have stricter laws on disposal of plastic and less space for physical disposal, so methods like using granulators to prepare plastic for reuse or as part of the Refuse Derived Fuel industry become an essential part of the life cycle of consumer plastic products.
“Around the world, there’s a lot more Refuse Derived Fuel applications than we see in the United States and that really has to do with the cost of disposal [being] lower in the United States than it is in other places in the world,” he says.
Even among shredders, there are shredders that can specialize in warehouse needs, in e-waste disposal, and in landscaping disposal. Some shredders are made especially to handle all the rocks life throws its way, so to speak. One example is the difference between a tub grinder and a horizontal grinder.
“In general, either machine may be able to grind large volumes of many organic materials, but there are differences between the two machines at some level in almost all applications,” explains CW Mill in a paper about the types of shredders. “As some basic examples, big gnarly material like a whole, large, rooted out stump is only handled well by a large tub grinder, and a very long pole-like log is only handled well by an open-ended horizontal grinder if those large materials aren’t first sheared or sawed into smaller, shorter pieces.”
When waste processors look at buying a primary shredder, Richter says they should choose a shredder with an independent shaft control that will provide the most versatility when processing varying material streams. The HAAS TYRON shredders have the ability to run either shaft in forward or reverse, together or separately, and at different rpm for varying lengths of time. The main advantage of this feature is that tough materials can be broken down with a random shredding action (always reorienting material in the cutting chamber) so that soft pliable materials such as plastics and wire will not wrap the shafts due to the varying rpm and back-and-forth shaft motion.
The HAAS TYRON has been designed to operate around the clock in all weather conditions, ranging from extreme heat to frigid climates, says Richter. The machines are equipped with proven Scania industrial engines, top-of-the-line closed loop hydraulic systems, and an easy-to-use operator interface. These shredders also can be used to produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and to reduce volumes at landfills and transfer stations.
Improvements in Shredders and Granulators
Wenger says shredders have come a long way since the days when his father was running the company. He says in the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn’t possible to choose which shredder you wanted for a specific task.
“Some people used to think ‘a grinder is a grinder is a grinder’ and that was back in the day, 30 years ago, 40 years ago,” he says. “In the late ‘80s, people were just using hay grinders and throwing trees into them.”
But his dad wanted to make a better grinder. So he began experimenting with types of motors and types of blades. Over the course of years, he adjusted and adjusted his design until he had created a better type of tree shredder than just a refurbished hay grinder, he says.
Wenger says CW Mill tries to keep that same philosophy by staying small enough to have ongoing relationships with their customers and incorporating new design enhancements into models based on direct customer feedback —plus being open to special modifications for each customer.
Not every shredder will be perfect for every job, however, and figuring out the right questions is important when choosing a shredder.
“As far as productiveness, it comes down to matching the right machinery and machine setup with the actual job site’s actual application,” the company stated in a research information sheet, “and then a machine’s best production may simply become a factor of productive and efficient loading to enable the machine to use its available horsepower in producing the desired product. The maximum loading rate of an undersized or inefficient loading process can easily become the maximum production limit for any grinder.”
In addition to getting larger, shredders have gotten more advanced. One advancement is the adoption of hydraulic drives, rather than electric drives, to run the machines, Burt says. While electric drives work for most shredders, the very largest need enough torque to crush the hardest, toughest metals and materials. Hydraulics provide the “oomph” needed to complete a job of that magnitude.
Advancements in other fields have also made it necessary for shredders to adapt. The e-waste disposal industry has created another need for shredders as hard drives, computers, keyboards, smartphones, servers, and other computer devices need to be dismantled and disposed or recycled. This is especially important when considering the need for thorough destruction of items that house sensitive data, such as personal and business hard drives on unused computers and out-of-date smartphones.
At the end of the day, Wenger says it takes a skilled operator to get the most out of any shredder and granulator, and attention to detail helps keep these machines in tip-top shape. “The best pilot can fly the best plane, and the worst pilot can’t fly the best plane,” says Wenger. “In some ways, it works like that with grinders.”