TRIM WASTE RECYCLING — REPURPOSED DOLLARSJune 2006 BY ERIK CAGLE, Senior Editor
When printers think of money makers, they think of heavy iron from manufacturers such as Heidelberg, KBA and MAN Roland, the press makers. But there are other manufacturers, such as G.F. Puhl, Vecoplan, Ohio Blow Pipe, Air Systems and Design, and American Baler, that may not have the household name recognition level, but can spur a ROI while those Komori and Mitsubishi presses are churning away in the pressroom.
Recycling and selling trim waste can be quite lucrative for those graphic arts establishments that generate copious amounts of said material. Quad/Graphics, of Sussex, WI, certainly fits that description—if any printer can fill a scrap box with paper scraps, it’s a $1.8 billion annual performer. Quad averages about 1,500 tons of trim per month from press and finishing, not including the process tonnage of signature and white waste, etc., according to Pat Rock, recycling manager for the Sussex plant. That tonnage (total waste is 4,500 tons/month overall) is generated in the Sussex facility alone.
With increasing business and a paper recycling system that was beginning to show its age, Quad/Graphics decided to embark on an installation of mammoth proportions. North America’s largest privately held commercial printer tapped G.F. Puhl to design and install what is believed to be the largest trim paper collection system in the country, with seven 45-foot-tall cyclones housed in their own 15,000-square-foot facility. Each cyclone is rated at 50,000 cubic feet of air per minute which, according to an executive at G.F. Puhl, is enough to fill one hot air balloon in less than two minutes. The installation included four new high-capacity, auto-tie balers and, all told, the trim collection system encompasses more than two miles of piping.
In determining how big of a system the Sussex plant would need, Quad looked at the balers’ ratings, as well as redundancies. “We always want to have a backup line. That way, when we do maintenance on the equipment, we don’t have to shut down the binder, stitcher, multimailer or flat cutter,” Rock says. “They can run without a hitch or hiccup, and we just keep maintaining the equipment.”
The size of the system is determined by a complex formula involving the volume of air to tons of waste produced. Quad/Graphics opted for balers rated well above their tonnage needs in order to run them at slower speeds as opposed to the maximum rated speed.
Though the systems resemble old-school manufacturing, with the massive cyclones that look like they belong at a construction site, the trim recycling gear is wired for operation via a Web browser. Rock notes that operators can access the system from home and check on its status. Throughout the plant, operators can perform functions via a touchscreen, and a large control system is positioned in the building that houses the system.
Let’s take the 10-cent tour of how a trim recycling system works. Product is sucked upward out of a retaining bin at one of the finishing lines and, in the case of Quad’s Sussex plant, hits a top speed of 85 miles per hour (7,500 feet per minute). The piping then turns for a more horizontal run at slightly less speeds (68 mph) until reaching the top of one of the cyclones. At that point, the paper is treated to an anticlimactic free fall at a heart-racing 3 mph until reaching the final destination at the bottom of the cyclone.
The cyclone separates the dirt-filled air from the trim waste. The paper gets condensed into a 1,500-lb. block while the air is filtered and released back into the shop or outdoors. The paper is then destined for tissue mills, or can be reborn into fine writing paper or cover stock.
Rock notes that it generally takes three months to train new employees on the system, with extra care given in light of dealing with the paper baler—viewed by many as the most dangerous machine in the printing industry. With dozens of diverter valves and blowers, clogs represent the most common operational issue. That’s where the redundancies prove pivotal. Clogs are generally caught early on because of Quad’s system of checks and balances.
The ease of use is extremely attractive, according to Rock. “The nice thing is having all of these controls and knowledge right at your fingertips,” he says. “The diagrams tell you exactly what’s going on. If there is a blockage, the system not only tells you where it is, but how to fix it or who to call if you can’t.”
Rock is not at liberty to divulge information related to ROI or cost justification, though he did say his company is extremely pleased with the results thus far. “The main thing we do is install the best machinery available so that our core business—printing and binding catalogs and magazines—stays running,” he says.
Publishers Printing, of Shepherdsville, KY, embarked on a new system installation at its Lebanon Junction, KY, facility that started in June 2005 and was completed this past March. In the process, about two-thirds of the roof over the baler room needed to be removed and raised 20 feet.
The two-cyclone setup occupies 5,000 square feet of space, which includes the dust collector, according to John Hardin, warehouse receiving manager. It replaced a smaller, but similar, system that was lacking in both size and user-friendliness. The old system needed to be shut down once per shift to swap out the dust collector barrels; only an airlock needs to be shut off on the new system, sans stoppage.
Publishers Printing produces an average of 2.2 million pounds of baled, recycled paper per month, notes Hardin. He adds that G.F. Puhl, which designed the system, factored in current and perceived future needs in determining the size of the trim recycling system required.
Hardin likes that it is linked by phone line to service technicians, who can easily access Publishers Printing’s system to help solve any issues that arise.
Prepared for the Future
“This system is much more efficient and results in a cleaner environment,” Hardin points out. “Also, with the addition of an RG42 PLX/60 Vecoplan shredder, we can easily shred the waste from the pressroom and bindery using the Vecoplan and our existing incline shredder. We saw the need to totally upgrade the waste collection system and did so. With this expansion, Publishers Printing is prepared for future waste and dust collection needs.”
Not all systems need to be
massive to produce desired results, not to mention a quantitative ROI. Bison Printing, Bedford, VA, generates roughly 100,000 pounds of trim waste per month. Prior to its summer 2005 installation, the waste paper was manually deposited into tall Gaylord boxes from cutters and vacuum pumped from the stitchers to the boxes. Machines were stopped when the boxes were filled, and they would eventually be loaded onto a trailer, untreated, and delivered to the recycling company.
The results have been somewhat dramatic in terms of recycled paper revenue generation. “You can get more money—close to double—for baled scrap as opposed to loose scrap,” notes Franz Beisser, who operates the company along with brothers Chris and Alfons. “Plus, you save on freight if you can have a fully loaded trailer that’s close to weight capacity as opposed to fluffy waste.
“The only problem with the rate on return is that scrap prices can’t be counted on; they go up and down all the time. We don’t know what prices are going to be in six months, or even a month or two from now.”
The system itself, installed by Air Systems and Design, takes up just 400 square feet. Given its small size, the setup consists of a 40-hp motor fan and a slant separator as opposed to a cyclone. The baler and air filtration unit round out the system.
The impetus for installing the new system was Bison Printing’s perfect binder; the older, smaller cyclone could not mesh with the binder. The results have been fantastic, Beisser notes, and there haven’t been any hard costs associated with the system’s maintenance. Even clogs have been kept to a bare minimum.
Aside from getting better return on baled scrap paper, Beisser estimates that the system (the air filtration component in particular) can virtually pay for itself inside of two years due to saving on heating and cooling costs. The old system, minus the filtration aspect, prompted Bison to reheat or recool the lost air, which added up to big bucks in energy costs.
In the end, gaining productivity and recapturing substrate monies—no matter how small the scrap—is the name of the game.
“We don’t have to stop to empty or move a box any more,” Beisser remarks. “That’s a big thing because if you’re filling up so many boxes of scrap per day, every time they’re filled, it’s an excuse for (employees to take) a break. Now we don’t have that, and it’s much easier to run consistently all day long, without any excuses.”
For More Information
on trim paper recycling systems, visit www.piworld.com/infocenter and enter the numbers below.
Advanced Equipment Sales 390
Air Systems and Design 391
American Baler 392
Balers and Stuff 394
Hawthorne Systems 395
Ohio Blow Pipe 396
G.F. Puhl 397