Printers Discuss What to Consider When Buying Waste Paper Trim, Baling Systems
Paper recycling systems are to printers what roofs are to homeowners—a necessary evil that won’t exactly make you beam with pride or add value. These systems quite often leave printing executives mumbling under their breath about what they could have purchased instead. Sometimes, the cost of doing business can cost you a piece of your sanity.
Sure, the ROI for these systems can be relatively long range. Replacing them can require cutting holes in walls or even building new structures. Plus, only the most granola environmentalist of customers would look at your new paper collection system and give you work on that reason alone. It’s not a new capability that can help you sell deeper with your customers or land new accounts.
James Pilcher feels your pain. The vice president of manufacturing for Freeport Press in Freeport, Ohio, has seen a lot of printing companies with antiquated systems that have long since fallen out of compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“It comes down to risk management—people just have to bite the bullet and do some system upgrades,” Pilcher says. “But a lot of companies in our industry are really struggling. So, if they are going to make an investment, [a paper recycling system] is probably not tops on their list.”
Freeport Press doesn’t fit under the category of “struggling company,” as the publication and catalog printer is in the process of installing a new waste paper collection system for a startup facility in New Philadelphia, Ohio. It will also mark the third time that Freeport Press has turned to Kernic Systems for its scrap paper recycling solution. The large system—which includes dust collection, an air separator, auto baler and five fans—is expected to be fully installed and operational by the end of this year.
“We wanted to make sure we were sizing the scrap recovery system to match up to new machines,” Pilcher says. “Not only for the new equipment going in now, but also for long-term investments that we have mapped out for the future. We sized the system so it’s scalable, then we won’t have to make lots of changes as we move forward; we’ll just bring extra lines on, put in a couple extra fans.”
The Freeport facility produces eight to 10 truckloads of baled scrap paper per week, so the company does enjoy substantial return on its scrap. But Pilcher views it more as an infrastructure outlay rather than a profit center—not unlike servers or MIS software. He’d much rather produce less scrap paper, but chalks it up to the cost of doing business.
Most systems offer relatively low maintenance obligations, and Pilcher believes the key to walking the compliance talk is having a good dust collection system. Freeport Press will have a briquette system on its new install, which will make it virtually dust-free. He adds that his company also replaced an older bag filtration system on its existing system in order to maintain compliance.
One of the keys that enabled Freeport Press to keep its outlay to a minimum was in acquiring used components to incorporate into the full system design. Kernic performed the design and engineering for the project, the air separator and the custom fabrication. Freeport Press obtained used fans for the system and acquired an auto baler at an auction where a plant’s assets were being liquidated. Used/rebuilt parts don’t equate to short-arming the project, as many of the larger components are in excellent condition and just need to be spruced up with newer parts.
The upshot? Freeport Press was able to save up to 30 percent on the project.
“Finding used equipment in the market isn’t hard because it’s not specific to our industry,” he says. “For example, corrugated plants will have a baling system or waste handling system. Many times, we can buy systems and components from different industries that will work with our system. It pays to have a good relationship with your system supplier.”
Another company that has forged a lasting relationship with its system supplier is Diversified Global Graphics Group (DG3), based in Jersey City, New Jersey. The firm contracted Advanced Equipment Sales (AES) for a complete trim removal and baling system around 1999. Most recently, AES performed a system upgrade for DG3’s new digital printing line.
DG3 had long employed cutsheet digital printing, but didn’t need to address the scrap paper issue until it obtained an HP T230 inkjet web press with a sheeter and three-knife trimmer. Peter Manetakis, vice president of engineering for DG3, notes his company looked at several solutions, including a standalone system that would grind the paper. Manetakis was concerned about that offering’s durability.
“It was like a toy, but it was still real expensive,” Manetakis says. “So I turned to Jeff Dietterich [at AES], who offered a system that was more industrial and expandable. We talked about design, what we had in terms of space and he put together a drawing with specs. It was installed in five days, and it’s now been in a year and a half.”
One of the benefits of the system, Manetakis believes, is its lack of a cyclone separator. The Dansep separator unit is a paddle system—reliable and compact—that ties into DG3’s house pipe (though it can be run independently, with the paper dropping into Gaylord boxes). The digitally-generated trim paper can present challenges, as Manetakis has found.
“Some trim systems on the equipment trim in continuous pieces, leaving long strings of paper,” he notes. “You can get roping, where it starts to twist around and then jams up paper collection equipment. So, we put in a blower with a heavy-duty fan blade, and it chops up that rope. It’s made for an inexpensive, efficient solution for handling our digital web paper waste.”
Manetakis advises fellow printers to opt for a system that has more versatility and allows for future growth, as opposed to a specialized system for only one printing component. Expandability and industrial strength are the key factors.
“Not only was it heavy-duty, I was able to mount this system outside the digital room to keep the room quiet,” he says. “That’s pretty critical.”
Engle Printing & Publishing Co., of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, employed a number of home-grown solutions during its 61 years of publication printing. The company, which publishes 24 zoned weekly newspapers, as well as specialty titles, had relied on local HVAC businesses to create basic fan systems to pick up scrap and deposit it into a cart next to the trimmer. A semi-automatic baler was brought in later. While these systems were functional conveying systems, they weren’t very clean and created a lot of dust.
According to Daryl Rutt, production manager, Engle Printing finally turned to Air Systems Design (ASD) in the late 1990s for a cleaner, more efficient solution. The timing was right, as the company had built a new facility in 1997. The system has seen several updates and modifications over the years. Here, too, the choice was made to go to a cyclone-free system.
“Most other systems were using cyclone separators that required holes in the roof or mounting it outside,” Rutt says. “ASD designed and fit the system within the envelope of the building. We did have to cut a few holes between the rooms to get piping through, but it was designed around existing structures.”
Rutt estimates the system covers 20 feet by 35 feet, and its vertical design makes it compact and unobtrusive. The system currently ingests three lines’ worth of material. The latest upgrade is a printed waste shredding system for startup material.
“The system itself has been very reliable as far as fans and controls,” Rutt says. “We’re very pleased with how the equipment has performed. The shredding system requires the most maintenance; you need to stay on top of changing the cutter blades. ASD engineererd this addition to the system and selected a shredder from Weima, which has stood behind its equipment and worked with us.”
Engle Printing sells its bales to either scrap vendors or paper mills, depending on demand. When it installed the newest shredder, the printer debated over whether to put in an entirely different system to segregate the clean waste from the printed waste, but decided that mixing would ultimately be the most cost-conscious move.
The new shredder projected an ROI of about five years, based on the volume it was handling at the time of installation. “In addition to getting value for the waste, it’s a huge labor saver,” Rutt points out. “We used to manually gather up our printed waste, dumped it loose into trailers and packed it in there as best as we could. We couldn’t get the volume in there [to make it worthwhile], and it took somebody to tend to that process.
“The new system dumps, shreds and bales it. All we have to do is come by with a fork truck, pick the bale off the end of the baler, weigh it, log it and put it in the trailer. The bales take up much less space, which is always at a premium.”
Rutt also cautions against only going with the rock-bottom cost provider without taking any other variables into account. “You need to understand the value in what you’re getting,” he says.
“We tried it on the cheap for many years and had a lot of headaches for not doing it right. Get a well-designed system that takes into account the cleanliness of your facility, as well as what you get for your waste. There’s value in the ability to continuously run without problems, especially the kind that shut down the rest of your production lines.”
Although it has only been operational for about 10 months now, a new scrap paper recycling system is already paying dividends for Specialty Print Communications, a single-source direct marketing resource provider based in Niles, Illinois. The new waste paper recycling system was installed by G.F. Puhl in the company’s new 140,000-square-foot lettershop, which opened in October of 2014.
According to Adam LeFebvre, president of Specialty Print Communications, the company recently changed the way it looked at scrap/waste paper and its attitude toward its role as a profit center. Specialty Print generates about 600 tons of scrap per month. Incredibly, given the amount of scrap the company is now recovering and selling, the ROI for this project is less than a year and a half.
It all started with LeFebvre putting together a procedures document as the company dedicated itself to a more austere recovery program. “We’ve done a lot to change the culture of how we treat scrap and how we treat waste,” he says. “It’s taken scrap revenue up significantly and taken our cost of waste hauling down significantly.
“Throughout the entire organization, we’re being more green and considerate of the world than ever before. It was amazing how much change we could drive just by formalizing [procedures]. It drove me nuts that we were taking up landfill space and being inefficient about how we do things.”
When it came time to choose a vendor, LeFebvre shopped around but thought Greg Puhl’s knowledge, combined with the service and support offered by G.F. Puhl, was compelling enough to sign a deal. While it represents a rather large upfront expense, LeFebvre advises printers to take the hit now and recoup the outlay on the back end.
“It’s a revenue generator for us, a considerable line on our income statement at the end of the year,” LeFebrve points out. “It would be a third of what it is if we sent nothing to scrap in baled form. You really need to scour up the money and buy a system if you’re generating any kind of tonnage.” PI