The planning and development of an E-scrap recycling plant investment can set the stage for future performance almost in stone. Developing the right line for the right price must be done to enable proper financial performance. There are many correct methods depending on your point of view, but I will attempt to comment from my experience.
Review Inputs and Outputs:
Most firms will have significant variation in their business plans which need to be accounted for in the facility design. Some focus on gate fees for legislatively prescribed programs while others seek only intrinsic value or charge for other services such as data capture. In all cases, the volumes, methods of inbound and outbound freight, types of scrap, and qualities of commodities to be produced will forge the layout, processes, and equipment. For example, large volumes of low value scrap may require mechanized conveyance for easy sorting. Data capture type clients may need a powered roller line with barcode scanning. Some contracts may stipulate the shred size requiring a larger shredder with a small sizing screen.
Choosing a new facility is one of the more critical and unforgiving decisions to be made. Understanding zoning and permitting should be undertaken prior to any lease. Consider whether there is sufficient power for mechanized processing if so envisioned. Review roof clearances to ensure equipment and racking have clearance needed. Check that sprinklers meet the hazard level of the business and storage planned. The foundation thickness and construction should be reviewed if installing heavy equipment. Appropriate lighting apparatus and levels should be reviewed to avoid future costs as lighting is a fundamental of operating safely. Even items such as office space sizing, breakrooms, number of restrooms, HVAC should be analyzed before move in to avoid unplanned tenant improvement costs. Weather should be considered in building selection to ensure drainage, snow loading, insulation, and make up air are understood. High material velocity, minimal storage, and efficient manual or mechanical processes are must haves in the new marketplace.
There is not one particular right way to shred electronics. Business plans, customer requirements, commodity markets, and available budget will ultimately influence what type of shredder is purchased. Smaller particles out of the shredder(s) produce more liberated metals and plastics and can lead to improved commodity quality. Certain shredding solutions will require more maintenance. The most common shredder used is the reliable 4-shaft shear shredder. The 4-shaft shredder has become a popular choice for many companies due the flexibility and numerous suppliers of these types of machines. This solution can be used as stand-alone to deliver a desired particle size. The shredders are slow speed (18-26 rpm) and high torque shearing type shredders which produce less dust and fines compared to higher speed solutions such as granulators and vertical mills. The lower pair of shafts and cutters performs most of the shredding while the upper shafts help recirculate materials not small enough to fall through a sizing screen directly under all the cutters. Overall, the 4-shaft is very adaptable to changing business conditions via cutter thickness or screen size changes. Many models are offered in electric or hydraulic drive. Popular shred sizes can range from 1.75” and beyond. Adding a pre-shredder prior can significantly increase throughput and add a quality control point to remove any large steel or materials likely to cause shredder jams. Ringmills can also have a place in the line depending on the grade of the scrap and can play a good supporting role in refining shredded steel and aluminum streams to higher grades. For a small footprint or budget, a 2-shaft shredder with a downstream screen and several recirculation conveyors can do the job. For a more ITAD focused data destruction application, a portable hard drive shredder can be enough for which there are multiple solutions for all types of drives and security standards.
Any downstream separation systems should be engineered to fit the shredder throughput and particle size. It is important to understand the efficiency curve of each machine vs throughput and undertake trials of representative material before purchasing the equipment. Fortunately, many new versions of separation equipment for the scrap industry have been developed in the last 10 years at an accelerated pace and are widely available. A typical downstream plant could include a screening step, magnetic separation of ferrous metals, eddy current non-ferrous separation, further screening, and usually a metal sensor air-jet separator. More advanced lines could have color sorter air-jets to enhance quality of commodity streams. Recently, some exciting developments in downstream separation have occurred in eddy currents and sensor sorters. The eddy currents now feature a higher frequency changing magnetic field (# of pole flops per second) which allows separation of smaller non-ferrous metals. Many sensor sorters not only have more sensitive metal detectors, but complex shape recognition and improved color cameras for separation of individual wires and finer particles. More importantly, these new machine must be properly selected and put in the proper order to ensure correct application fit and scale.
Remember, the core input to the business is composed of electronics which are constantly changing in composition and design. A good business plan may need re-balancing in a shorter period of time and each new type of product that enters the recycling stream should be studied for optimum manual and physical processing. It is important to allow for future modifications in shredding plant layout to accommodate future separation machines and new recycling technology. If undertaking this journey, select the right guide that has the right experience to ensure you benefit from their expertise and network.