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Road Agency Launches Recycling Operations

Nebraska County Finds Match with DuraTech Tub Grinder to Process Trees, Green Waste

By IRI Staff
Date Posted: 10/1/2006

PLATTSMOUTH, Nebraska – When the Cass County Department of Roads went looking for a grinder, it found DuraTech Industries.

      The department and its 26 employees are charged with maintaining 980 miles that crisscross the county; that figure includes only 90 miles of paved road – the rest are gravel roads.

      Cass County encompasses Platts­mouth, a small city of 7-8,000 people located on the southeast edge of Nebraska, less than 20 miles south of Omaha.

      The road department found itself getting into the recycling industry. The city of Plattsmouth had a dumping site for trees, and the debris was burned periodically, a few times a year. Burning caused problems, however: smoke, blowing ash, and accumulating illegal debris.

      “Plattsmouth is in a bowl,” said Lenny Thorne, assistant highway superintendent for the county road agency, and smoke from the burns filled up the city, causing a nuisance to its residents and its neighbors in Cass County. The fires also may smolder for weeks. Burning generated a lot of complaints, and Plattsmouth residents and officials were looking for a solution.

      “Our initial plan was to grind all the trees people were bringing in,” explained Lenny. Cass County officials made an agreement with the city; the city was allowed to participate in the county’s new recycling site and in turn agreed to halt burning.

      “They got rid of their smoke problem,” said Lenny.

      The department applied for a state grant to help finance the purchase of a grinder. When the grant was authorized, the agency advertised for bids to buy a grinder. Four companies eventually submitted bids.

      The department researched and compared the various bids before making a decision. The DuraTech 3010 tub grinder met all the specifications of the bid, and some equipment and features even exceeded other grinders that were priced higher, Lenny indicated. “This was the best bang for the buck, and you got everything you wanted.”

      DuraTech’s price “was a lot more competitive for some of the same options,” he said.

      The county’s recycling center is limited to recycling four types of material at the outset: trees, yard waste, tires and metal. “We’re starting with the basics,” said Lenny. The metal is collected and sold for scrap, and the used tires are supplied to another recycling business. The county’s new grinder is used to process the trees and yard waste. The recycling center is situated on 27 acres and so far is using only about one-third of the property.

      The department has been operating the DuraTech model 3010 tub grinder about six months. It is used strictly for grinding trees, limbs and other vegetation, Lenny explained. “We do not take construction lumber.”

      In this start-up phase, the machine is being operated about once weekly for about eight hours.

      “We love it,” said Lenny. “It’s worked out great…We’re really impressed with the price and the quality. We’re very happy with it. The service is excellent. Those guys are great people.”

      “It’ll take just about anything you can lift up to it,” said Lenny. The grinder has processed logs up to 36 inches in diameter. “We put 24-inch material in there all the time. It’ll chew it up if you can get it in there.”

      Four department employees went to DuraTech’s plant to tour the manufacturing facility and to receive training in operating and maintaining the grinder. DuraTech also dispatched trainers to teach employees on-site for two days.

      The department’s DuraTech model 3010 industrial tub grinder is equipped with the optional continuous rotating grapple loader on a 25-foot boom. The grinder is powered by a Caterpillar 540 hp Tier III diesel engine that is enclosed for reduced noise. Features include wet clutch, joystick controls, hydraulics to lift the cab 4 feet, a 50-degree side-to-side radial stacking conveyor, self-cleaning radiator, and impact-resistant laceless belly belt. The machine weighs 51,540 pounds and is mounted on a regular three-axle semi-trailer and is also available as a track machine.

      The newest of the DuraTech line of grinders is the model 6000 horizontal grinder, which features a Caterpillar C27 905 hp Tier II diesel engine and 60-inch feed opening.

      The department also has towed the grinder for off-site work on a few occasions — to a village and a private subdivision. The machine was put to work, grinding piles of brush. “It worked out great,” said Lenny.

      Grinding off-site was part of the department’s strategy to spread the word that the service is available. The agency wants communities to know that, in the event of storms damaging trees and other events, it can go on-site to grind the debris.

      The DuraTech machine likely will see increasing service next year, according to Lenny. “We’re starting to get more interest in remote use of for grinding for cities and villages.”

      The recycling center was busy in the spring, activity let off in the summer, and as fall approached, “It’s picking back up,” said Lenny.

      The DuraTech can be operated by one person although the department always has another employee stationed nearby for safety purposes to keep people away from the grinder.

      The machine can be operated from the cab that also controls the grapple, but also may be operated by wireless remote control.

      So far, the mulch produced from grinding has been given away free. Residents only have to pay if the department uses equipment to load their truck or other vehicle. At first, “we couldn’t keep enough chips on hand,” Lenny recalled. “They went as fast as we could grind them.”

      Some excess built up during the summer. “We’re trying to turn it and compost it,” said Lenny. “We’re kind of new at that, but we’re working on it.”

      “The best thing about it is the bang for the buck and the service,” said Lenny. “We’ve had nothing but great service from DuraTech. Any problems we’ve had, they’ve taken care of them, and to us, that’s worth a lot. They’re on the ball. They have someone here or get us the parts right away. We’re new at this game…Right now, I would recommend this machine to anybody.”


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