Every lorry or trailer trip costs time and money. So whether you are concerned about fuel prices, profit margins or the environment, it makes sense to load as much as is safely possible for each journey or, where practical, to leave material on site.
This necessity for efficiency, plus pressure to recycle and opportunities to re-use botanical waste, continues to drive the market for woodchippers and shredders.
Product development encompasses all sizes and all types of waste management kit; from smaller chipper/shredders suited to "man and van" garden maintenance firms to £250,000 commercial grinders sought by those users who are feeding material into the fuel industry. But we are also seeing kit developed that gives added value in terms of the options available to aid clearance operations or to provide new possibilities for the re-use of waste material.
Recognising the increased interest in smaller, more economical machines, UK-based engineering company GreenMech has developed a compact professional chipper - the GMR-100 - for "on the spot" processing of timber up to 100mm in diameter, or armfuls of hedge and shrub prunings.
Another two chipper/shredders arrived in the UK this summer from the US. The first is the Echo Bear Cat chipper/shredder. Powered by a 24hp Honda engine and capable of taking material up to 5' (13cm), this mobile kit uses four reversible heat-treated steel chipper-blades plus 36 free-swinging shredder knives. It is a self-feed unit with 360 degs rotating discharge chute. Its list price is £6,395 ex VAT.
On the woodchipping side, Echo Bear Cat has announced the arrival of a 12' (300mm) machine powered by a 99hp Kubota four-cylinder diesel engine and featuring a "live" hydraulic feed system with "try again" facility. Expect to pay around £27,995 ex VAT for this beast.
The other US-built chipper/shredder is the three-in-one Salsco, supplied in the UK by Equipment Supply Services of Wales. Offered in two versions with 16hp engine and 4' capacity (10cm) or the bigger 25hp and 5.5' (140mm) model, the Salsco is designed to process material routinely produced in landscape maintenance and uses the same chipping system as the company's mainstream range. The Salsco's third function is vacuuming. Small material such as clippings can be collected via the vacuum hose and then bagged, heaped or blown into a skip or trailer. Prices range from £4,500 to £5,000 ex VAT.
Chippers with capacities from 6' (152mm) to 10' (254mm) remain the mainstay of tree surgery and grounds maintenance businesses. Making its debut appearance in this category is the Predator CH150 (see kit tests, p38).
Tracked machines continue to increase in popularity, their advantage being the go-anywhere capability that gets them to the material rather than the material having to be carted to the machine.
It's not surprising then to find that Timberwolf has mounted its S426 multi-purpose shredder onto tracks. Like the road-tow version, this new model benefits from a large feed inlet (426mm x 230mm) and the ability to process a wide range of material, including brash, leylandii plants, rootballs, pallets, pvc windows and packaging products.
There has also been an increase in "whole tree" crunching equipment as Rotochopper enters the UK market and Vermeer introduces another model.
Rotochopper's horizontal grinders are designed to produce a consistent and manageable size of woodchip while requiring up to 25 per cent less power and fuel than competitor machines. There are models with outputs from five tonnes to 65 tonnes per hour and machines are designed with features aimed at avoiding expensive downtime and the costly replacement of broken parts.
One of these features, the PLC Grind & Control System, monitors and controls all main functions and enables operators to download data for analysis.
Another is the Stop Watch Tramp Metal Stop System, which closes down the machine and prevents damage if metal is detected in the material being presented for grinding. It also closes down the machine if the pressure sensor detects solid foreign bodies - like rocks or lumps of concrete. A remote gives the operator control over material being fed into the machine, so tough materials like round wood and demolition timber can also be chipped.
"Even difficult material can be ground efficiently," says managing director Sean Reilly of Rotochopper importer Equipment Supply Services of South Wales. "Material such as saw-mill waste can be very inconsistent, which makes it very hard to grind. The PLC system lets the operator accurately manage the rate of feed by altering the speed of each element of the system independently."
All Rotochopper grinders use the patented Slab Ramp to change the angle of presentation of the material to the teeth of the rotor, allowing the operator to change the grinding characteristics for more challenging waste.
Safety is important with such a beast of a machine. With the Rotochopper, all working parts are fully guarded, and access doors and service guards are interlocked into a central safety control. In addition, all the machine's functions can be remotely monitored via the TRAKKA system and an SMS alert transmitted in the event of operational problems. Machines are also fitted with dust suppression systems or hoods.
Grinding screens and teeth are the key to the Rotochopper's efficiency and low running costs. Screens are made from 0.5'-thick (13mm) t-1 steel and have hard facing applied to grinding surfaces to increase service life. They are available in 22 sizes with round or square holes and baffled from 0.5' to 8' (203mm). There are nine different designs of teeth available to provide a tooth and screen combination to achieve efficient grinding of any product. Teeth are fitted using the company's Pocket Loc system. Reilly explains: "There are between 24 and 28 teeth. This means they apply higher horsepower per tooth to aid cutting efficiency."
Ground material is removed by an under-rotor conveyor, independently powered via the machine's hydraulics so its speed can be managed without affecting or draining power from the main motor. The whole feed-grind-removal system means operators have close control over chip size - hence the company's slogan "Perfect in One Pass".
Rotochippers machines offer the choice of electric or diesel engines, and wheels, tracks or a static format. The range starts with the 275hp MP2, capable of grinding five to 10 tonnes per hour. At the top end is the B66 with a 700hp engine and performance of 40 to 65 tonnes per hour. Colouring and bagging plants can be supplied.
Another generation of organic waste-recycling technology has arrived with the HG6000CE horizontal grinder from Vermeer. Building on nearly a decade of grinder research and development, the machine is for large-scale reduction and recycling of waste and storm debris.
The kit harnesses the Duplex Drum cutting system with reversible hammers and cutter blocks to extend the life beyond that of single-sided designs. The HG6000CE also boasts SmartGrind to increase machine productivity while reducing wear to components by constantly monitoring rpm levels. Another advance is in the easy-access screens, which are said to be quicker to change than side-loading ones.
Coming in wheeled or tracked versions, the Vermeer HG6000CE offers mobility and is road-legal. It benefits from a new AutoReverse for more aggressive feeding in of large wood. It also features a remote control to display information and machine parameters as well as providing real-time engine data and fault-code feedback.
Such innovation as shown by the Rotochopper and Vermeer's HG6000 will be welcomed by those people processing large tonnages for mulch, compost, fuel and even animal bedding.
But whatever the size of your business and your throughput requirement, you can be sure that technologies will continue to enter the marketplace to satisfy the needs of those managing botanical waste. There is even a whisper that an exciting new chipping system may be introduced early next year.
ADDING VALUE TO WOODCHIP MULCH
West Glamorgan-based Equipment Supply Services is marketing the Firechief and Eco-Colour ranges of woodchip to increase the value of woodchip mulch. Both include a selection of 10 standard colours, with bespoke shades also being available. The colourants are liquid, so they soak into the wood to give a long-lasting colour.
The Firechief range benefits from being an effective fire retardant and can be used for roadside verges close to junctions in car parks and around offices.
Arbor Eater Brushwood Chippers 01273 493180
Atkinson Vos 015242 62922
Bunce (Ashbury) 01793 710212
Chippers International 01789 414871
Echo Bear Cat 01844 278800
Emak UK 01543 687660
Equipment Supply Services 01639 722838
Eric Hunter 01628 778622
FGM Claymore 01789 490177
Fletcher Stewart 0161 483 5542
Globe Organic Services 0121 707 4120
GreenMech 01789 400044
Harry West 01948 840465
JBM Machinery (Richard Court Forestry) 01403 820818
Liston Equipment 01273 891890
Major Engineering 01524 850501
Makita UK 01908 211678
Pinnacle Power Equipment 01932 788799
Predator Manufacturing 0845 402 1756
Prochip 01449 770044
Redwood UK 0845 850 4550
Rochford GM 01963 828000
Ryetec 01944 768232
Stihl 0800 137574
Timberwolf 01449 765800
Tracmaster 01444 247689
Vermeer 01933 274400