When it comes to equipment for mulch producers, there’s good news and bad news. The good: There are numerous companies offering a wide range of horizontal grinders, tub grinders, shredders and other equipment and accessories to serve the ndustry.The bad: There are numerous companies offering a wide range of horizontal grinders, tub grinders, shredders and other equipment and accessories to serve the industry.
For mulch producers, the dilemma is having to sift through the brochures, Web sites and other materials to try to determine what equipment will best suit their needs. Horizontal or tub grinder? What capacity? Will the machine be able to handle future business growth? What about biomass applications?
“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” advises Bob DeSousa, general manager at West Salem Machinery. “Look at what’s been successful and is utilized in the industry.”
The other issue he stresses is a machine’s strength and durability.“Look at component sizes in a given machine, whether it be shaft diameters, bearing sizes, hammer weights, machine weights,” he says. “In the mulch industry you’re bringing in a wide range of materials that you do not control until it hits your plant floor. So it’s not a matter of ‘if’ there’s going to be something in that raw material pile that you didn’t anticipate, it’s just a matter of when and how often.”
“There’s a variety of factors that go into selecting equipment,” says Todd Dunderdale, director of sales at Komptech USA. “You’ve got to take a look at your incoming feedstock. What is your desired output? And it comes down to cost per ton. What is your operating cost, complete totally loaded operating cost? You can’t know what to sell it for it you don’t know what it costs to produce.”
“Buy the most substantial grinder with the most horsepower that you can afford rather the undersizing your needs,” advises Brian Bergman, operations manager at CW Mill Equipment Co. He admits that “at the end of the day, it will come down to your budget.”
Todd Roorda, environment solutions specialist with Vermeer Corp., agrees that budget constraints often influence buying decisions, but opting for the most substantial machine available should be the goal. “You could probably make yourself some mulch with a backyard wood chipper but if you’re going to be in the business, that wood chipper may not last you very long and it won’t be able to keep up,” he says.
Ultimately, the end product that you are trying to produce (i.e. fuel pellets, wood chips or mulch) will determine the type of equipment you will need to purchase, whether it be grinding, chipping or shredding equipment. Although the demand for landscape mulch continues to be strong, manufacturers have recognized a shift in the market to an increased demand for biofuel. In response to this trend, many manufacturers have introduced new machines and attachments to meet market demand.