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Zubick’s Remote Controlled 850 M First in North America

Fri July 17, 2009 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Bruce and George Zubick of John Zubick Ltd., Scrap Metals, chose a Sennebogen 850 M to feed its newly installed stationary shear. What really intrigued them was the thought that they could retrofit this machine with a remote control setup. Both the shear and the material handler are remote controlled simultaneously by one operator sitting in a central tower.

“When we were spec’ing the purchase, the possibility was raised of having one operator run the shear and material handler in a remote control application,” remembered George Zubick. “So we approached Sennebogen with a simple question: This is what we want to achieve — is it possible? When they said, ’Yes, it is,’ we took the plunge.”

After installation was completed by Sennebogen and the dealer, Top Lift Enterprises, at the beginning of August 2008, the material handler/shear combination immediately went into operation. The Zubicks haven’t looked back since.

The Zubicks chose to go with a rubber-tired Sennebogen 850 M as opposed to a pedestal-mounted unit primarily for purposes of mobility and flexibility.

Bruce Zubick stressed the importance of matching any new equipment to its desired job application.

“Every time we require another piece of equipment, we assess the job application and go from there. Two important factors we always consider are cost of the equipment and the amount of power we need to meet the needs of the majority of our work. You need equipment that is strong enough to do the job, but not too big that you’re wasting power,” said Bruce.

“We were already familiar with the durability, reliability and, especially, the simplicity of operation and operator-friendliness of our existing Sennebogen 850 and 835 material handlers, so another Sennebogen material handler was always our first choice. And we knew we wanted a rubber-tired machine that could move around the yard when the need arises. For example, if for whatever reason the shear isn’t running, the operator can turn the remote control button to OFF and jump in the 850 and travel to another site on the property and go to work. It comes down to maximizing your uptime and efficiency by maximizing your mobility and flexibility. Minimizing your costs doesn’t hurt, either.”

“The Sennebogen 850 M features simplicity of design and operation, with its absence of a computer on-board and easy-to-maintain hydraulics,” added George. “Having no computers to break down or over-ride keeps the machine up and running and allows for the retrofitting of onsite applications like our remote control set-up.”

Sennebogen LLC President Constantino Lannes echoed George Zubick’s sentiments.

“Our engineers have designed the machines to allow for the retrofitting of just about any kind of features like wireless remote controls and additional onsite hydraulic applications. We offer our customers maximum flexibility in adapting their Sennebogen material handlers to the desired job application.”

First of Its Kind in

North America

Marrying their scrap handler and shear in a remote control set-up that would allow one operator to run both units simultaneously is another first for the Zubicks, who acquired the world’s first Sennebogen 850 back in 2004.

David Shea, president of Top Lift Enterprises, the authorized Sennebogen dealer for Ontario, recalled how the remote control application took shape.

“Once the Zubick brothers let us know that they wanted the remote control unit on the crane rather than on the shear, we contacted Sennebogen LLC to see if it was feasible. Once we were told that ’it is possible,’ we reported back to the Zubicks and the project moved forward.”

“When Sennebogen assured us that a remote controlled set-up was possible, we gave a green-light to the project and the Sennebogen engineers went to work designing and building the application,” said Bruce.

“Bob Slaght from Top Lift Enterprises and a team of technicians from Sennebogen installed the wireless remote control system in the 850 M and operator’s tower in March/April and the Vezzani crew oversaw installation of the shear and a take-away conveyor in June/July. We were in production by the beginning of August.”

Bob Slaght, road technician of Top Lift Enterprises, recalled how quick and clean the installation of the remote control unit actually was.

“It was essentially a ’Plug and Play,’ installation,” said Slaght. “The Sennebogen engineers in Germany designed it and tested it over there — all we had to do was hook up the connections under their guidance. It took us one day to install and another two days to test and get the operator used to the application.”

Located in a tower that overlooks the shear and material handler, the remote control system consists of an operator’s chair identical to the one inside the material handler, and a joy-stick that operates the material handler and a control panel at the operator’s left hand to control the shear. With the 850 located on the right side, the operator runs the material handler just as if he were inside it. Fitted with a Bateman 1.5 cu. yd. (1.1 cu m) Mag-Grab, the Sennebogen 850 M feeds the shear in a continuous cycle with what George calls a “dog’s breakfast of unevenly sized feedstock.”

As George pointed out, “Rather than two operators, we now have one person running the entire application from the climate-controlled comfort of a tower with its increased visibility.”

It’s often said that a “happy operator is an efficient and productive operator,” and Steve Walz, the 32-year Zubick veteran who operates the firm’s new remote controlled set-up is very happy to have been chosen for the job.

“When Bruce told me about the company’s plans for a remote controlled set-up, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first. But now, there’s no comparison between the new remote controlled set-up and the way we used to do things,” said Walz. “It’s about 75 percent faster than our old operation; in fact it’s a bit scary how fast it is.”

Walz admitted that it took him a while to orient himself to the tower set-up and remote controls, but after a few hours of trial and error on-the-job learning, it was full steam ahead.

“The view is spectacular, just like in the hydraulic cab.”

“Equipment acquisitions have been a bit of a stretch for us over the past few years,” said George Zubick. “Beginning with our purchase of the world’s first rubber-tired Sennebogen 850 M back in 2004, then an 835 M, and now the remote-controlled 850 M and our shear — we’ve bought on trust, faith and observation. Obviously, we’re not afraid to try the new kids on the block.”

“It’s all about the relationships you build with your suppliers,” added Bruce. “If it’s all about price, anybody can be a supplier. But when you take factors like product knowledge, pre-delivery preparation and post-delivery follow-up and service into account, then only a few can be true business partners. The Sennebogen organization and its Canadian dealer, Top Lift Enterprises, have earned our trust and we think of them as our partners rather than just suppliers.”

According to George, this attitude is in line with the company’s business philosophy and practices.

“Our people care for each other and look out for each other and our equipment. Our employees respect the equipment and they treat it as their own. At the end of the day, it is about productivity and making the most of the equipment we have. Everyone is considered a part of the Zubick team. Our relationships with our trusted suppliers are no different — as a team we all need to be moving forward towards the same goal.”

David Shea appreciates the faith and trust that the Zubick brothers have placed in Top Lift Enterprises.

“We are excited to be part of another groundbreaking first in North America with the remote-controlled Sennebogen 850 M and shear combination,” said Shea. “We work hard to maintain the trust and loyalty of customers like the Zubicks.”

For more information, call 877/309-0099 or visit

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