Annaco Inc. is no longer working on the railroad.
One of the leading scrap metal recyclers in Ohio, Annaco has utilized rail-mounted cranes for its heavy lifting for decades. Recently, though, all the old rail cranes were taken out of service, superceded by Annaco’s expanding fleet of Sennebogen rubber-tired material handlers.
According to John Biro, operations manager of Annaco’s recycling yard in Akron, OH, the switch to Sennebogen “green machines” was simply a matter of economics.
“Those old cranes were just costing too much to maintain,” said Biro. “We keep our cranes busy 50 to 60 hours a week, so we really can’t allow downtime. The rail cranes were past their prime; so we decided to replace them instead of continue to service and repair them.”
In the years since the rail cranes went into service, Annaco had made a considerable investment in concreting its yard. With 70 percent of the site now paved, the decision in favor of wheeled scrap handlers was clearly the way to go.
“Mobility was a major factor in our decision,” Biro said. “Wheeled machines can do anything a rail crane can do, without being confined to their reach from the rail line. With their mobility, the wheeled machines are much more flexible in where they operate and the jobs they do.”
The beginning of the end for Annaco’s rail crane actually came more than three years ago when the plant engineer of Annaco, Rich Robertson, saw an ad for the Sennebogen 835 M machine.
At that point, Annaco had experience with many other machines, tracked and wheeled, and Robertson thought the unit in the ad looked like “a good beefy machine.” He made a call to Sennebogen and within a month a demo machine was at work on the site.
“We could see right away that the machine was very strong and well built,” Robertson recalled. “The swing ring is just mammoth compared to other machines. It also looked good to work on; it has a lower profile design than most machines, so it allows easy access from ground level for oil changes and service.”
Within a year, Annaco’s management team was convinced that the “green machine” was every bit as good as it looked. A second 835 M was commissioned into service in 2003. The performance of these two machines decided Annaco’s route when the time came to replace the rail cranes.
“They’re very good from a servicing standpoint,” Biro said. “And the service from our distributor, Gibson Machinery, is especially good. We always did our own maintenance in the past, but we recently switched over to have Gibson do service on two of our Sennebogens. Their response time is excellent, and it’s unusual to see such a tight tie-in between the dealer and the manufacturer.”
Biro added that the president of Sennebogen North America, Constantino Lannes, had been there to exchange ideas on the machine and that Erich Sennebogen, the managing director of Sennebogen GmbH, came by after the ISRI Show last year.
“I think it’s good for the guys in the yard to meet the manufacturer of their equipment personally. The Sennebogen people have really jumped through some hoops for us,” he said.
According to Robertson, once the decision was made to take the old rail cranes out of service, the company knew exactly what it wanted to do next.
“It’s easier to work on than competitive machines and it lifts more. Anything you can pick up with a Sennebogen, you can move with it and put it anywhere you choose within 360 degrees. With other machines, they might be able to pick it up but you can’t swing it or run with it. So you can lift more and do more with the Sennebogen,” he said.
“When you combine the lifting plus the strength plus the service access, that’s when we decided ’this is the crane for us.’ We really didn’t look at any other options for the new machines because we’ve ’been there, done that.’ We wanted to get the best machines to replace the old ones and we already decided that Sennebogen is the best,” he added.
Annaco now has three 835 M machines and one 850 M, with another 835 M on the way this Spring.
The machines cover the full range of lifting duties in the yard, loading trucks and rail cars as well as feeding the shear and block breakers.
The new 850 M, fitted with a Bateman Grapple, is ear-marked for Annaco’s heaviest jobs.
“The 835 M can lift good weight for unloading trucks, etc., but it can’t lift the entire legal limit for a truck in one go,” Robertson said. “The 850 M can.”
Annaco occasionally receives a truck loaded with a single casting that weighs up to 50,000 lbs. (22,680 kg). Rather than rent or hire a specialty crane, Annaco considered purchasing a 50,000-lb. forklift to offload these castings.
“Then we found that the cost for the forklift would be about the same as the additional cost of an 850 M,” said Robertson. “The difference is, a forklift would sit idle most of the time where, with the 850 M, there’s no such thing as idle.”
When speaking of heavy lifting, Robertson referred to the 5-ton (4.5 t) drop ball the company uses on site and indicated that the 850 M was well suited to this operation.
While the days of the rail cranes are gone at Annaco, the wheeled Sennebogen “green machines” are helping make sure this recycler’s productivity stays right on track.
Sennebogen has been a leading name in the global material handling industry for more than 50 years. Based in Charlotte, NC, Sennebogen North America offers 21 different purpose-built machines to suit virtually any heavy lift or pick-and-carry application.
A network of distributors supports Sennebogen sales and service across North America, ensuring professional machine support and parts availability.
For more information, visit www.gibsonmachinery.com or www.sennebogen-na.com.
Caption:The Sennebogen 850 M, equipped with a Bateman Grapple, is one of three machines on site at Annaco’s recycling operation.