Choosing the Right Baling Equipment for Your Facility


Whether you’re new to manufacturing or have been in the industry for years, choosing equipment that fits your space, your needs, and the way you work can be challenging. This is especially true when it comes to baling equipment. Balers may seem like humble machines, but their impact on waste management and recycling processes is profound. This makes choosing the right baler essential to successful operations.

Let’s dive into what you need to consider when adding a baler to your facility.

Understanding Industrial Balers

Let’s start with the basics and cover what a baler is and how it’s used. A baler is a piece of equipment designed to compress and bind materials into compact bundles, known as bales. Material is loaded into the bale chamber. When the chamber is full, the baler is cycled to cause a ram or platen to press down with enough force to compact the materials. The ram operates using hydraulic pressure to repeatedly compress the materials until the bale is fully formed. The bale is then tied with baling wire before being ejected or removed from the machine.
Balers are used in many industrial applications to handle diverse materials such as scrap paper, corrugated containers or sheets, metals, plastics, clothing, and agricultural products.

Types of Balers

Balers are not one-size-fits-all. Choosing the right baler for your operation is paramount, as it can impact the efficiency of your recycling and waste management processes. Let’s explore the different types of balers and their uses.

  • Vertical Baler: Vertical balers are small, upright-oriented machines widely used for low-volume applications such as retail and grocery for managing empty corrugated cartons. Facilities with limited floor space and ceiling height may use vertical balers to handle low volumes of paper or other scrap from their manufacturing process. Materials are typically hand-loaded into the front of the machine but can also be fed by a conveyor belt or a cart tipper, which uses a hydraulic lift to empty the contents of the scrap cart or Gaylord box into the baler. Finished bales are tied with strong wires fed through slots in the baling chamber and twisted with a specialized tie tool.
  • Horizontal Baler: Horizontal balers are larger than vertical balers and can handle substantial quantities of waste material. These balers load materials from a top-feed hopper, compress them with a heavy-duty ram and eject finished bales from the end of the baling chamber. Materials can be loaded manually, but greater efficiency is achieved with automated feeding via conveyors, cart tippers, or air conveyance systems that deliver the material through ducting in a continuous stream. Bales may be tied manually, with wires fed through slots in the baling chamber and secured using a tie tool, or be automatically tied with a wire-tying system (see Auto-tie Baler below).
  • Auto-Tie Baler: Auto-tie balers, available in single or double ram options, process materials without an operator needing to monitor and manage the bale cycling and tying process. Most auto-tie balers are fed by an automated conveyor system. These systems typically use either belt conveyors to deliver materials to the baler or pneumatic conveyors, which transport the scrap through a series of pipes or ducts on a current of air. In either case, the material will enter the feed chute of the baler for automatic processing and tying of the bales. The completed bale will be ejected from the chamber, and the process repeats itself. Auto-tie balers can increase efficiency and reduce labor costs in high-volume production environments.
  • Two-Ram Balers: Two-ram auto-tie balers have two separate rams and baling chambers. They are typically used in high-volume, multi-material facilities such as municipal or private recycling centers (MRFs) or other bulk packing operations. Their ability to produce bales of segregated or distinct types of materials helps recyclers manage the waste stream more efficiently and get the highest return for the bales on the secondary materials market.
  • Closed-Door Baler: These balers produce dense bales by packing materials against a closed door at the end of the chamber. This makes them perfect for facilities processing a variety of recyclables or waste that may be of various sizes and densities and ensures a tight bale.
  • Specialty and Custom Balers: In some cases, you may need specialty or custom-built balers to accommodate specific materials and sizes, such as tires or metal storage drums, which can be difficult to bale using standard machines. Specialty balers are purpose-built to withstand the wear and tear of heavy-duty scrap.

How to Choose the Right Baler for Your Facility

To ensure you choose the best baler for your facility, you should follow a systematic approach that assesses your unique requirements and matches them to the most suitable baler type. Here are a few tips:

  • Begin by conducting a thorough analysis of the materials you intend to bale. Consider factors like the type of material (cardboard, paper, plastic, metal, etc.) and its volume. The make-up of the material, its size, density, and production rate are all important considerations.
  • Calculate the average volume of material that must be processed daily or weekly. This is commonly referred to as the throughput rate. The baler and its associated components must keep up with your production rate, meaning the aggregate of scrap produced from all manufacturing sources in your plant. This number, combined with the total production hours per day, will determine the Tons Per Hour (TPH) the baler must handle.
  • Identify the specific needs of your operation. Consider factors such as automation, loading mechanisms, and cycle times. How many bales do you need to produce in a day? What about labor resources? High-volume operations benefit from automated conveyance and baling systems, while lower-volume facilities may be just fine with cart-tippers and manual tie baling.
  • Evaluate the available space in your facility. Site selection is another crucial factor in running an efficient baling program. Will there be a separate baling room, or will it be on the production floor? Will the baler be fed manually or automatically? Both methods require a host of additional considerations, including ceiling height, distance to production machines or other input sources, and available power. The baling area’s dedicated floor space or footprint should allow for ease of access for operation and maintenance, with ample room for removing finished bales with a forklift or pallet jack for storage and transport.
  • Consider your budget. Depending on their applications and features, different baler types come with varying price points. Used and reconditioned balers can help stretch your budget, but pay close attention to condition, age, and suitability for your needs.
  • Choose a trusted supplier. Whether buying new or used, a reputable equipment dealer can install, train, and provide the maintenance and repair services you need for a successful baling program. A good quality baler is an investment that can deliver years of service. Ensure your choice aligns with your budget while meeting your operational requirements.
  • Think about your future needs. Will your business grow, and will your baling equipment requirements change? Choose a baler that can handle additional capacity when new machines are added to your production lines.
  • Keep your equipment in good repair. Balers need regular maintenance to operate at peak efficiency. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and use qualified baler technicians to help keep your equipment in top form. Preventive maintenance pays huge dividends by reducing downtime and supporting uninterrupted production schedules.

Trust the Baler Pros at AES

The most important tip for choosing your baler is this: don’t go it alone. It’s highly advisable to consult with experts in the field to select the best baler for your needs and budget. Baler manufacturers and suppliers can provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to your needs, and AES is here to help. If you’re still looking for the perfect baler that will suit your workflow and facility, contact us for personalized assistance.