Comparing the functionality and benefits of a lot of different shredders at the same time is a great opportunity. But it can be difficult to differentiate between systems, especially for delegates with no prior knowledge of providers’ capabilities.
So how can informed decisions be made as to the best-fit and best-value machinery for varying business needs?
The key thing is to plan ahead. Before 4 July arrives, delegates should consider what they want to achieve from their visit. Every waste scenario presents specific criteria for suppliers to try to satisfy, and shredding for anaerobic digestion is no different.
- Before you start any marketplace research, have a solid understanding of what the shredder must achieve. Devise a list of essential and desirable criteria with the help of others at your company, such as plant managers, financial directors, engineers or operatives. Do not be tempted to draft a quick checklist on the way to the event. This should be a thorough and considered process because it will underpin the future success of the plant and will help guarantee return on investment (ROI).
- While an additional ‘wish list’ may evolve along the way, suppliers’ sales pitches should not deter you from concentrating on the initial criteria identified. Perhaps prepare a scorecard to help maintain focus.
- Ask detailed questions to aid an assessment of the machine’s true performance. To process organic waste optimally, the shredder should be slow-running and designed to produce a reliable particle size. Ask about the equipment’s cutting system, and any special tooth and cutting gap geometrics that will help to ensure the right fermentation substrate.
- Look for a sealing system that has been specially developed for shredding food waste and packaging. These potentially aggressive materials could corrode machine components, so request evidence that the bearings and gearbox will be protected.
- Does the equipment have foreign object protection? The contents of waste streams can never be guaranteed - for example a fork could easily end up in restaurant food waste.
- Consider the equipment’s flexibility. Some machines can shred for different purposes, such as the segregation of food wastes from packaging, or the finer shred of vegetable and food wastes perhaps in cornstarch bags to achieve a particle size of less than 12mm in one direction. Outline the nature of your waste materials, the particle size required and the need for the equipment to adapt.
- The cost of the shredder has to be taken into account, but do not simply consider initial capital outlay. Ongoing operational savings, uptime, ease-of-maintenance and the frequency with which parts have to be replaced will all affect long-term cost efficiencies and ROI.
- Even if you have your own on-site engineering team, look for a provider that offers ongoing consultancy and servicing expertise. The added support of the people who have designed, manufactured and supplied the machine will be hugely beneficial.
- Remember that a number of knowledgeable industry peers will also be at the show, so speak to fellow delegates about their equipment and the benefits and pitfalls they have encountered.
- Do not feel pressured to make a decision on the day. Review literature from potential providers and request case studies or contact details. Also request a subsequent meeting with the provider, either at their headquarters or your plant, so that you can ask more detailed questions after further thoughts.
Chris Oldfield, managing director of Untha UK