Sam Jacobs has learned that life on the plains of Nebraska includes blizzards, droughts, windstorms, frigid cold and blistering heat.
Jacobs first went to work in his family’s recycling business, Columbus Metals, nearly 30 years ago and, in 1994, became the sole owner of the company.
“We can have some nasty winters out here,” Jacobs said. “Anytime from November to April, it can go to 20 below zero. So we have several heated buildings and, in the winter months, we park all the equipment inside; then we’re ready to start right away in the morning at 6 a.m.”
The same kind of thinking led to Jacobs’ preference for buying purpose-built machinery, such as a Sennebogen 835 M material handler.
In years past, the scrap-handling machines at Columbus Metals were all converted from earthmoving excavators.
“We have a very capable shop here,” Jacobs said, “so we used to do all our own conversions in-house.”
But after seeing the advantages of purpose-built wheeled machines, Jacobs hasn’t purchased another excavator since 1998; and sold off his last one in 2005.
“We need the wheeled machines to run around the yard,” he explained. “With the diversity of the material we process, wheels give us the flexibility to manage the flow and mix of material. If we are running some big tube from the shear into the shredder, for instance, and a piece gets lodged up in back of the deck, the Sennebogen can ’up’ its outriggers, ’down’ the cab and circle around to recover the piece. It can drop the piece into the shredder and return — it’s about 150 to 200 ft. of travel — and it’s done in 5 minutes or less. If you do that a few times a day, tracks are way too slow to have equipment and people waiting for them. The Sennebogen is made for this kind of work; it makes it easier to keep everyone in the yard working together and keep the product flowing.”
The Columbus Metals yard covers approximately 25 acres and employs 30 people. A 5 acre area surrounding his 80-in. (203 cm) Metso shredder is paved with concrete. His scrap-handlers operate more than 2,000 hours per year on and off the pavement, keeping pace with the shredder’s capacity and loading customers’ trucks.
The Sennebogen 835 M is normally fitted with a grapple but, according to Jacobs, it also can “mag up” pretty quickly to clean up around the yard.
“Dust is really an issue here, especially around the shredder when the wind gets up,” Jacobs said.
He recycled water from the yard’s underground oil/water separator system to spray over the shredder for dust suppression. The 835 M handles dust with its hydraulic reversing fan — the operator can simply turn a switch to blow out debris from its cooling system.
Since the Sennebogen is engineered with minimal electronics, blowing dust has less chance to cause problems with its performance or engine controls.
“The ’no computers’ design definitely takes that problem out of play,” Jacobs admitted. “Competitors seem to want to add electronics just to keep up with the times. They need to get back to the real world and just get your hydraulics designed right and get the flow going. That way, you can pass by a lot of problems when you’re troubleshooting, too.”
For this kind of equipment, “purpose-built” means built for the operator, too. Again, Jacobs is particular about what he brings into his yard and he indicated he has been very satisfied with the 835 M.
“I’ve run it myself; it’s very fast and the visibility is good. All my operators were trained on material handlers — they aren’t excavator operators. We picked them and trained them to control with their fingertips for grappling, rotating, lifting and loading. If you’re moving your arms around all the time, you’re taking too much time.”
According to Jay Young of Midwest Equipment, operator comfort has been a key priority for Sennebogen designers.
“The engineers there are always interested in hearing our customers’ ideas. That’s why you see factory people walking around job sites so often. As a result, the new D-series models have come out with several new comfort features: more space, adjustable seating, easier exit and entry thanks to the new and unique sliding door. It’s all part of giving more to the operator to get more from the machine.”
Jacobs said he found the 835 M very easy to maintain because the engine compartment door opens up to provide clear access to all engine filters and fills, with technician-friendly hose routings to allow quick servicing.
“I expect the next scrap-handler we buy will be Sennebogen, too,” he said. “We have bought almost everything we need from Jay Young for the past 7 or 8 years — they’ve treated us pretty well.”
For more information, visit www.sennebogen-na.com.