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… Another Man's Treasure

Wed December 07, 2016 - National Edition #25
Ronald Mullins

At the sorting and cutting stage, Tervita puts four Volvo crawler excavators to work, including an EC340, EC350, EC380 and EC480D.
At the sorting and cutting stage, Tervita puts four Volvo crawler excavators to work, including an EC340, EC350, EC380 and EC480D.
At the sorting and cutting stage, Tervita puts four Volvo crawler excavators to work, including an EC340, EC350, EC380 and EC480D. Tervita Metals Recycling’s Red Deer site sprawls across 17 acres and contains every type of scrap metal imaginable, from damaged rail-cars to expired city buses and gas field piping. Stuart Sharpe, general manager, Tervita, said his team is gaining fuel efficiency and lowering operating costs as new generations of shears are allowing them to get the same power on 35- and 40-ton machines that used to be achieved with only larger machines. Quang Nguyen has more than 35 years of excavator and tracked shear operating experience, and has served as an advisor to multiple manufacturers regarding their equipment.

By Ronald Mullins


Shortly after sunrise each morning when General Manager Stuart Sharpe and his team arrive at the sprawling Tervita Metals Recycling worksite, located in northeast Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, they gaze out over tons and tons of what others would call junk. But to them… they see nothing but treasure.

This massive seven hectare (17 acre) site is the headquarters of Tervita's metal recycling operation and is a jumbled maze, covered with every type and kind of scrap metal imaginable. To the casual visitor it appears to be somewhat like organized metal recycling chaos gone wrong. There are damaged railcars, stacks of worn out railcar wheels, expired city buses, kilometres of used gas field piping, expendable parts from oil wells, drill rigs and well drilling companies, bitumen concentrators, cooling radiators, heating units and parts from oil and gas refineries… if it was made of metal and has served its purpose… it is likely here. The company also has satellite metal recycling operations in Peace River and Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tervita Metals Recycling is a division of Calgary, Alberta, based Tervita Corporation. Tervita Corporation, with over 2,000 employees in Canada, is a leading environmental solutions provider and a trusted sustainability partner to an ever-growing number of oil, gas, industrial and mining companies.

Where Does It All Come From?

The company collects this scrap metal in a wide variety of ways. They have a series of dumpster-style bins placed at strategic locations throughout central Alberta, they do onsite demolition and metals reclamation, and they also purchase scrap metal from the general public.

Unique to the company is their rail salvage operation. Currently, this division is under contract to Canada's two major railways, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National, and is on standby 24/7. Should there be an accident or derailment, Tervita gets the call to head out and clear the track and salvage the damaged railcars and rails. Time is always of the essence for this division. Additionally, they provide on-site demolition and metal recycling services for a number of the country's major oil and gas producers, including Cenovus, Suncor and Shell.

What Happens Next?

When the scrap metal is brought into the yard, it is weighed and checked for any form of contamination, including radiation. Once cleared, it is sorted into ferrous and non-ferrous material, processed and cut into marketable dimensions, bundled, sold and shipped by rail to mills in Canada, the USA and by a rail/ship combination to off-shore smelters.

It is at this sorting and cutting stage that the company's heavy, tracked equipment comes into play. Currently in Tervita's Red Deer yard, they have five track-mounted hydraulic shears and four large track-mounted material handlers. It is here that Volvo Construction Equipment and their dealer group Strongco have been playing an important role. The last four crawler excavators that Tervita has purchased have been Volvo and include a Volvo EC340D, EC350E, EC380E and their most recent purchase an EC480D.

When Stuart Sharpe was asked what the company looks for when considering the purchase of a new tracked carrier he explained it this way. “Typically in the past we have run forty-five to fifty ton machines, but since the hydraulic shears have improved and gotten lighter and more powerful, we can now run good solid shears on smaller carriers. These lighter machines are more fuel efficient and easier to transport and maneuver as we chase the scrap.”

So Why Volvo?

So the next obvious question to Stuart was, “With the wide variety of tracked carrier manufacturers available today, why Volvo?” Without hesitation Sharpe explained it this way, “As part of a large corporation we have to go out-to-bid and we include all of the manufacturers when we are looking for carriers for our shears. The last four machines that we purchased have been Volvo and the reason for that is the exceptional value we received for the dollar we spend. They are very competitive and give us extremely reliable machines with low operating costs. So based on that, for the last four competitions, Volvo has won the bid.”

What Is Most Important?

Currently, the company owns ten tracked carriers for their hydraulic shears as well as a number of pieces of support equipment, including material handlers, balers, wheel loaders and skid steer loaders. Wade Englesby, Tervita's Operations Manager, is very pleased with the company's recent Volvo purchases. “To be successful in this business you need to be cost efficient.” Wade went on, “In dealing with Volvo there was some strengths in terms of fuel economy as well as in the size and weight of the machines. We move a lot of machines off-site and Volvo was better than the other brands in those areas.” Englesby went on, “We decided to give Volvo a try. So we brought one machine in and you know what, the fuel economy was great but more important than anything else was the customer service. That to us is truly important, because downtime on a machine is very expensive. I want to minimize any downtime and increase my machine utilization and that is the formula we have been getting from Volvo and Strongco.”

Answers From The Cab.

It is certainly advisable to get the answers to the important questions about their Volvo purchases from the company's management team. But what about the guys or gals who are operating the machines… those folks who spend eight to ten hours a day in 'their office'. In this case, one can do no better than to speak with an operator who has been working in scrap yards in his native South Vietnam as well as Hong Kong, Macau and China, and for the past thirty years in Canada.

Quang Nguyen has been operating excavators and tracked shears for more than 35 years. He is a respected expert on the combination of crawler excavators and hydraulic shears. So much so that Genesis Hydraulic Shears and crawler excavator companies, including Volvo Construction Equipment, have been coming to him for advice and direction. So we spoke to a recognized expert.

This day, Mr. Nguyen is operating Tervita's latest purchase, the Volvo EC480D. “I've operated all types (brands) of machines. The Volvo is good for me. I like it.” He went on, “It has a lot of power to operate the shear. It works for me. Awesome! And the cab is excellent. I can see everything, I like it. And the seat… excellent. I'm just a little guy… the Volvo is great. I like it!”

The fifty ton, 373 hp Volvo EC480D crawler excavator has the reach and lifting power as well as more than adequate hydraulic pressure, making it the ideal shear carrier for Tervita. With an overall width of only 11 feet, 11 inches, it is easy to transport and works well in tight quarters.

An Interesting Job?

Interesting… is certainly one word that can be used to describe a recent job completed by Tervita's Rail Salvage Division. This past winter saw the team called out to Churchill, Manitoba, on the shores of Hudson's Bay in Canada's far north, to deal with a legacy rail accident for the Hudson Bay Railway Company. The company loaded their Volvo EC380E mounted with a hydraulic shear and moved it across three Canadian provinces to Churchill were they cleaned up the accident in addition to decommissioning a number of out-dated railcars. The scrap was then loaded directly onto Tervita's own railcars and shipped south to the mills in the USA.

It was a very challenging job, the machine and crew were thirty kilometres south of Churchill in the wilderness, it was minus thirty degrees Celsius and at that time of the year, and at this latitude, the battle between daylight and darkness added to the crew's challenge list. But the EC380E performed perfectly and the job was completed in record time.

The Volvo Advantage.

Stuart Sharpe summed it up this way, “We have been deliberately moving from the larger machines. The new generation of shears are lighter and very powerful and we can run them on the 35 to 40 ton machines. This gives us lower initial capital outlay, lower operating costs, much better fuel economy and just that agility to move quickly to the scrap and I know that that gives us a competitive advantage in this business. We are very happy with Volvo and their dealer Strongco.

Canada's Tervita Metal Recycling, with the able assistance of Volvo Construction Equipment and Strongco… proving every day that one company's junk is another company's treasure.

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