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Case Studies

Aluminum Scrap Prototype


Challenge 

Automotive manufacturers are making increasing usage of lighter weight materials, including aluminum, searching for ways to increase fuel efficiency. This is putting new stresses on manufacturing processes, including scrap handling. 

Problem 

One of the world’s leading car and truck manufacturers was preparing to manufacture stamped parts using both steel and aluminum in one of their American plants.  Unfortunately, the scrap handling system was set up to handle only steel. To meet material cost projections, the steel and aluminum scrap had to be segregated and shredded to increase scrap values enough to offset higher material costs. 

Solution 

Our comprehensive solution was a deceptively simple. Compass Engineers modified a scrap-handling conveyor to operate in both forward and reverse. Steel scrap from stamping machines was handled as before, moving forward along the same path it had traveled for 50 years. 

When aluminum parts were manufactured, conveyors reversed taking scrap along a new path. First to a shredder where it was reduced in size for easier handling. Then on a journey through the plant, via pneumatic tubing, to dump trailers located 1,500 feet away and outside the building. A custom-designed delivery system automated the filling of dump trailers, approximately 43’ long x 8’ wide x 8’ deep. The shredded material increased the density of the scrap by a factor of 6:1 reducing the size of the trucks required and increasing the value of the scrap, increasing the viability of the aluminum parts project. 

An All (En)Compassing Turnkey Project 

This project required single point accountability, so Compass delivered a complete turnkey solution incorporating our Engineering, Fabrication and Installation expertise. 

  • Engineering The entire integrated system was designed to operate with minimum labor while delivering more than 95% pure aluminum scrap to recyclers. Utilizing 3D animation software, we were able to show the client the entire system as it would be installed within their plant before fabrication even began. Controls interacted with the plant’s computer system using part numbers to signal if a part in production was steel or aluminum. The integrated system then set up for the material being run without relying on hourly operators. The control system changed conveyor direction and started system components, including shredder, pneumatic conveying systems, material distribution system and flow monitoring system. The final system was also designed to handle an additional four press lines, providing future flexibility and cutting expansion costs per line. 
  • Fabrication All fabrication was completed in our plant using laser measurements taken at the client’s plant. Controls were programmed, run and debugged before delivery. All components were staged with the control and tubing systems to ensure trouble-free installation and operation. We delivered more than 17 tractor trailer loads of equipment to the client’s plant in the eastern United States within five months of completed engineering.  
  • Installation Compass installation crews fully installed and tested the system in less than three months, completing our turn key process.   

OUTCOME 

Scrap handling systems is an added manufacturing cost whose ultimate value is determined by payments from material recyclers.  In this case we were able to maximize this value by working with recyclers before engineering began to determine the scrap characteristics most valuable to them.  Purity and density of material were important to these recyclers who were willing to pay more for both. 

This system has now been in operation for over 15 years with minimum maintenance.  Full payback on the investment was achieved within two years. 

When last audited the client was running more than 8 million pounds of aluminum through the system delivering 98% purity. This helped them secure a premium price from their scrap recycler. Additionally, the plant has saved over $960,000 per year in labor costs while cutting trucking and scrap handling costs by more than 50%. 

Once again, Compass pointed the way to lower labor and scrap handling costs. 

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