Easy Installation: Baling Equipment

By Jeff Dietterich and Jeffrey Burnley
As published in the February 2013 issue of Recycling Today

So, you’ve made a purchase decision for a new baler, but there’s plenty to be done before the truck arrives with your new equipment.  Since baler delivery times can range from six weeks to six months or more, you should take advantage of this time to get ready. How far in advance you need to start planning will depend on your particular situation and the type of baler that you purchased. Some simple steps to be taken in advance of the baler delivery can save you time, money and aggravation. With careful planning and preparation, your baler installation and start-up can proceed as smoothly and safely as possible.

Addressing Electrical Requirements

One of the first things to plan for is the electrical supply required for the new baler. Almost all industrial balers are designed to operate on three-phase electrical power. The size of the circuit required to operate the baler will be dictated by the combined motor load of the baler. The baler manufacturer can provide the motor horsepower information and your local electrical contractor or utility company can tell you the size of the circuit required to operate the baler. Start this process several months in advance of receiving the baler if there is any possibility that you will require additional service from the utility company. Otherwise, your electrical contractor can provide a timeline and cost for the electrical service. In cases where electrical power from the grid is not available a three-phase generator can be used to provide power to the baler. Careful sizing of the generator is important to ensure that it can handle the surge load imposed by induction motors.

Determining Location

The location selected for the baler installation can be influenced by any number of factors such as:

  • Interface with existing equipment or processes
  • Access to storage and loading areas
  • Suitability of the floor to support the baler
  • Delivery method of the incoming material
  • Access for maintenance and repairs
  • Proximity to floor drains or sewer grates
  • Protection from loaders and forklifts

In most cases, the baler is working in conjunction with other equipment. Ensuring efficient material handling to and from the baler is the ultimate goal. Most equipment suppliers can provide assistance with determining the best placement of the baler relative to other processing and material handling equipment.

Many balers can be installed directly on a reinforced concrete slab as long as it is relatively level and in good condition. Larger high-volume balers can require special foundations to support the weight and handle the impact of the shear forces exerted by the baler. Some balers require floor pits to accommodate certain accessories such as vertical wire tiers. Always ask the manufacturer about the type of foundation required for your new baler.

Consider the ambient temperature where the baler will be installed. How hot or cold will it get? Most high volume balers are equipped with oil coolers to deal with the heat. However, depending on the type of baler, you may need to consider oil tank heaters if you expect to encounter low temperatures in the baling area.

The installation location must provide access for maintenance or repairs. This includes access to remove the baling ram and ram cylinders, which are the biggest and heaviest components to service.

Make sure there are no open drains or sewers in the proximity of the baler. A hydraulic leak from a broken hose can disperse a lot of hydraulic oil in a very short amount of time. If this oil gets into a storm sewer or floor drain there could be significant environmental impact and cost implications to your company. This can be avoided by using food-grade hydraulic oil. The baler manufacturer can make a recommendation or supply a specification for the type of oil needed for their baler.

Protect your baler against damage from loaders and forklifts by installing brightly painted bollards and guardrails. This is especially important in high traffic areas around hydraulic cylinders and other accessories that extend out from the baler frame. These are critical components that can be time consuming and expensive to repair.

Selecting Freight Carriers

If you are arranging freight for the baler, be sure to work with a freight broker that understands how to ship machinery. Balers are most commonly shipped on flatbed trailers with air ride suspension. Both the loading and unloading conditions must be taken into account when determining what type of trailer is best for the job. Your rigging company can provide valuable advice on the type of trailer that allows for the efficient unloading and handling of your materials. Give specific instructions ensure the baler is tarped at all times while on the trailer, and provide detailed instruction for the dates and times for pick-up and delivery. It is important that all parties are clear on the need for timely pick-up and delivery, as it costs money to have a rigging crew waiting for the trailer to arrive. Make sure the carrier is aware you will need time load and unload the trailer. Some other important considerations include:

  • Freight Insurance: Manufacturers typically do not provide transit insurance, so know how much, if any, coverage is provided by the carrier.
  • Oversized loads: Larger balers may be classified as oversized by Department of Transportation regulations, adding significant cost to your freight bill.
  • Dedicated truck vs. LTL (less than truckload): Some smaller balers may be able to ship with other loads. While this is less expensive than a dedicated truck, it can cause delays in delivery time which will cost you money on the back end.

Unloading and Rigging

Unloading your baler and rigging it into place should always be left to professionals that know their craft and can supply the right equipment for the job. Make sure your rigger is experienced, qualified and insured. You should walk through the affected areas with your rigger well in advance of the baler’s arrival and carefully consider the path of transit from the unloading site to the installation site. Look for building obstructions, floor elevation changes, wires, cables, or other overhead clearance issues.

Installing the Baler

Installation of your baler should always be performed by an experienced and qualified professional that has been factory trained for your specific baling equipment. Make sure that you know what is and what is not included with your baler. Read your contract documents carefully. Some important questions to ask your baler provider include:

  • How much operator training will be provided?
  • What other trades (electrician, mechanical contractor, etc) are involved with the baler installation?
  • Who is responsible for coordinating the activities of the different tradespersons involved with the installation?
  • Are permits required?
  • Does the baler come with hydraulic fluid?
  • How much and what type of baling wire do I need?
  • How much time will installation require?
  • Will the baler installation require a production shut down?

Starting it up

It is important to have an ample supply of the materials you will be baling to start up the baler. This allows you to put it through its paces and make any adjustments while the baler technician is still on site. Some balers require several tons of material to build up hydraulic pressure and bale density. The manufacturer can provide guidance on how much material you will need. It is best to use “virgin” material rather than breaking bales and then re-baling. Having the right materials and the labor required to get them to the baler will make the start-up process as fast and efficient as it should be.

Avoiding Unnecessary Downtime

Your baler is an investment that, with proper use and maintenance, should provide many years of service life. Following the manufacturer’s schedule for routine maintenance and periodic service intervals will help protect your investment and preserve any warranty that comes with the equipment. If you do not have in-house service capabilities, you will need to establish a relationship with a qualified vendor who is experienced with your particular baler. The baler provider and/or manufacturer is a good place to start. Most companies cannot afford to have their baler down for long periods so know how emergency service is handled. If your operations run 24/7, you’ll want to ask how the service provider responds to calls placed after-hours, on weekend, and holidays.

A successful baler installation doesn’t happen on its own. There are many details that need to be addressed before your baler arrives. Planning and coordination are the keys to a safe and successful installation that is on time and on budget.