Greeley: Rabid recycler eats scrap by the ton | VailDaily.com

Greeley: Rabid recycler eats scrap by the ton

Bill JacksonThe Greeley TribuneGreeley, CO Colorado
**FOR USE IN WEEKEND EDITIONS OF MAY 30-31**In this photograph taken on Friday, May 1, 2009, bits of steel fall off the north end of the shredder at Anderson Sales & Salvage Inc. east of Greeley, Colo. The business, which is celebrating its 50th year, recycles about 700,000 tons of scrap metal per year. (AP Photo/Greeley Tribune, Bill Jackson)
AP | Greeley Tribune

GREELEY, Colorado It’s got a voracious appetite like nothing else in the region. It can eat 60-120 tons an hour and averages between 70 tons and 80 tons. From one end to the other, it’s 420 feet long.It’s the M88 Mega Shredder, built by Riverside Engineering of San Antonio, Texas, and it has been in operation at Andersen’s Sales & Salvage Inc., east of Greeley, since October.It’s one of only 275 in the United States and one of five in Colorado, said Dean Andersen, who owns and operates the business with his parents, Kennie and Sandy, who have been at it for the past 50 years.”This one will do in three days what our old one would do in a month,” Andersen said. “If we wanted, it would grind a semi-truck.” The new shredder, he said, took nearly a year to set up and get operational.As it is, it will shred a car, engine and all, in about 30 seconds. The old shredder, about 13 years old and still used on smaller jobs, took two minutes to shred a car, Kennie Andersen said.It takes only a handful of employees to operate the massive machine. One feeds a conveyor belt at the south end that moves cars, pickups, refrigerators, stoves, water heaters, old farm equipment about anything that contains metal to the top of the first tower, where another employee monitors the incoming scrap as it is fed into the shredder.The shredder itself is a rotating drum that contains 10 hammerheads weighing in at 450 pounds each. They are driven by two 2,000 horsepower rebuilt locomotive electric engines. The tip speed of the hammerheads, Andersen said, is 160 mph. There are about 40 other motors of varying sizes to keep everything else running, including the hydraulics.”For a short burst, when we really get something hard, we can get 6,000 horsepower,” he said. In the event that won’t break down a large object, it is automatically ejected from the hammerhead container.The hammerheads can shred about 1,000 tons before they need replacing, which Dean said is required every two to three days. It takes two hours or less to take the old ones out for recycling and replace them with new ones.Once shredded, the material keeps moving along on another conveyor belt until it reaches two more rotating drums, one of which is magnetized. The steel is lifted across to another belt by the magnetized drum and keeps moving north, while other debris, including aluminum and brass, falls to another belt to be separated at a different location along the east side of the shredder.Pieces of scrap iron and steel move through an enclosed shed near the end of the shredder, where another four employees hand-pick any nonmetal pieces that may have made it to that point. It is then ejected out the north end in piles for shipment to steel mills and overseas.As the conveyor moves through that area, Andersen picks out a couple of pieces and quips that “the bigger one is a Ford, the smaller is General Motors because Fords are tougher.” He said he tells that to visitors constantly and many of them believe him, even though he’s just joking, “because I’ve been a Ford man all my life.”Dean Andersen said computers that drive the machine are hooked by fiber optics back to San Antonio “so they know in real time if something is wrong.” A bearing was getting too hot recently, and Andersen’s was notified immediately to take steps before it burned out.”We have a high degree of control here, but it’s nice to have that kind of backup,” Dean Andersen said.