When SA Recycling was established in 2007, there was little doubt it was going to be a recycling powerhouse. Formed through the merging of industry giants Sims Group Ltd. and Adams Steel LLC assets, its status was all but predestined. And it has not disappointed. Today, SA Recycling owns and operates 54 scrap yards throughout Arizona, Nevada, northern Mexico and California, with more than 20 in the Los Angeles area alone, and regularly handles more than a million metric tons of ferrous and nonferrous scrap annually.
While each facility within the ever-growing SA Recycling family has its own strengths and areas of expertise, a commitment to excellence in customer service, safety and environmental stewardship that extends to its use of technology to get the job done as efficiently and safely as possible is a commonality. Throughout the SA system, outdated equipment is regularly being replaced with newer, more productive and more reliable technology. This commitment, coupled with expert leadership, has enabled SA Recycling to emerge from the economic downturn as a stronger, more viable player in the domestic and international scrap scenes.
At the company’s flagship 30-acre Anaheim, CA facility, roughly three-quarters of all the scrap crossing its scales will eventually be destined for the on-site shredder—an electric 9,000 HP unit equipped with a custom dust collector, regenerative thermal oxidizer and a scrubber, all designed to ensure that emissions from the shredder have as minimal of an adverse environmental impact as possible.
“Everyone in a position of authority at SA Recycling, from our president George Adams on down, is committed to environmental stewardship as it relates to this business,” says Mike Brimhall, SA’s general manager for its Anaheim yard. “As a result, we try to be ahead of the game. We don’t just adhere to the law, we go that extra step to make things better. George has pointed out that we have a storm water treatment plant at one of our facilities that's bigger than most people's scrap yards. He really believes that respecting the environment is a big part of recycling, and he leads by example."
A “Cleaner” Cut
At Anaheim, the massive volume of material that isn’t shredded is downsized using a trio of Genesis GXP 1000R mobile shears. Doing so, says Brimhall, has significantly minimized the use of acetylene torches, kept production volumes up and made the work environment safer.
“Truth be told, there is a huge difference in environmental impact between a shear and a torch. There will be emissions from both processes, either from the machine on which the shear is mounted or from the torch. The difference is the volume of material that gets processed in a given timeframe, and in that regard, there’s just no comparison. A section of railcar frame, for example, will easily take a torch two hours to process while emitting noxious gases into the atmosphere. That same frame can be downsized in two minutes using the shear.”
He adds that exposing a worker, even one equipped with protective equipment, to potentially harmful fumes from the acetylene mixture or from a reaction with the material being cut, is something they try to avoid. “Shearing has the advantage in almost every regard.”
Found a Better Way
SA Recycling has been a proponent of mobile shearing literally since the time it was introduced, using some of the earliest designs on the market and then converting many of those models to Genesis shears shortly after the Superior, WI-based company was founded.
“This facet of the business is about production, efficiency and safety, and we quickly found that shears deliver in every regard. While we still maintain torches on-site for any material that is simply too large or too stout to cut with any shear, torching is really the exception rather than the rule today.”
The Genesis GXP 1000R shears at work in the Anaheim yard are mounted on 100,000 lb. base machines and feature a jaw opening and depth of 38 inches with a cutting force of 1,750 to 1,925 tons, depending on hydraulic pressure.
“They’ve been outstanding performers for us at this yard and at many of our other facilities,” says Brimhall. “Depending on the volume of inventory we have at any given time, we can work from 16 hours a day to around-the-clock and the shears are always there for us. Regular maintenance such as hard-surfacing and blade rotation are fast and easy, so downtime is never an issue. In addition, we process a pretty broad range of material, everything from light gauge aluminum, I-beams and other demo debris to rail cars. The Genesis shears are really indiscriminate in what they’ll cut. In addition, we have great support from Genesis and the Los Angeles branch of Bejac Corporation, their dealer, and that means a lot.
Port Side Recycling
About 30 minutes from SA Recycling’s Anaheim site, its Port of Long Beach operation shares many of the traits of its sister yards. However, because it is situated at one of the busiest ports in the world, Brimhall says it also presents its own particular challenges.
“The material at Long Beach, scrap gathered from our own regional yards and from customers who ship directly to the port, is loaded into ship holds or shipping containers,” he says. “Unlike the Anaheim yard, material at Long Beach is not shredded. Instead, it is processed using either mobile shears or a 1000-ton Lindemann stationary unit to maximize the stowage factor on the ship and the value of the scrap itself. We obviously want to sell for the best price we can, and we know that #1 prepared scrap will always get a better price than #1 unprepared, so the shears at Long Beach are critical components in making that happen.”
One of those mobile shears, a newly-purchased Genesis GXP 990R MAXX, has proven to be the workhorse of the port yard, processing a broad range of material including boxcars, tankers, hopper cars, material from industrial accounts and more,” says David Brown, general manager of the Long Beach operation.
“Some of the frames on the railcars can be sizeable, 12- to 15-inch beams with 1- to 1 ½-inch flanges, but the 990R MAXX just cuts through it all. We’ve used a number of different shears out here over the years. This one outperforms everything else we’ve seen.”
Once material has been sheared, a grapple loads it into one of the yard transfer trucks which drives to the dock and dumps its load of newly-prepared scrap into a skip pan, which is a hopper attached to a massive four-rope Gottwald HSK 330 EG crane. The crane lifts the pan and dumps the scrap into the ship’s hold. Alternatively, depending on its eventual foreign destination, scrap can also be loaded into shipping containers which are then loaded onto container ships for overseas delivery.
“Getting the scrap down to a size that can fit into that hopper and also maximize the load in the ship’s hold is extremely important in the port scrap operation,” says Brown. “The Genesis shear has been an excellent performer for us. We’ve tried others, with some success, but when it came time to replace those, we went back to Genesis.”
Brimhall adds that their all-around satisfaction is the reason they’ve been so committed to Genesis. “The shears cut more scrap and bigger scrap with less downtime than anything else at work in the yard. For us, that’s what it’s all about.”
“This company has really taken some bold steps to show its commitment to environmental issues,” says Brimhall. “The very nature of what we do as scrap recyclers is a positive thing - manufacturing steel from recycled metal, rather than from iron ore, reduces greenhouse gases and saves resources. People generally don’t think of that when they see a scrap yard. But we’re trying to change perceptions all the time, and the technology we use to help make that happen is an important part of that effort.”