John Sacco
Sierra International Machinery owner John Sacco presented two sessions with Ricardo Diaz, the company's lead technician during Scrap Expo.
Photo courtesy Tony Vasquez

Scrap Expo: How to treat balers, shears, loggers like a sportscar

At Scrap Expo, experts at Sierra International Machinery discuss the importance of proper maintenance of shears, balers and loggers.

September 22, 2022

For John Sacco, president and co-owner of Bakersfield, California-based Sierra International Machinery, and Ricardo Diaz, lead technician at Sierra, maintaining shears, balers and loggers is exactly like maintaining a Ferrari.

During Scrap Expo, which took place Sept. 13-14 in Louisville, Kentucky, Sacco and Diaz discussed how operators should maintain balers, loggers, shears and two-ram balers and why it's vital to operations in sessions titled Logger/Baler and Shear/Baler/Logger Maintenance and Two-Ram Baler Maintenance.

“The price of a Ferrari is the same price as [shears], two-ram balers and conveyors,” Sacco said during the session. “If you won’t keep your Ferrari [in poor condition], why would you keep a piece of equipment you’re going to spend more money on like that?”

Diaz said that the cost of repairs varies depending on the size of the repair and the time it takes to ship parts. It could range between $500 and $80,000, and a broken logger/baler or shear/baler/logger could cause up to three weeks of downtime.

To ensure these machines stay in shape, Sacco and Diaz advised performing basic preventive maintenance on them daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Some basic preventive maintenance tasks that operators need to have on their checklists include:

  • checking engine oil levels;
  • checking the machine’s hydraulic oil levels;
  • checking for leaks;
  • monitoring grease usage;
  • testing hydraulic fluid and cleaning hydraulic reservoirs;
  • checking structural welds for cracks; and
  • checking clamps, jack pins and the engine’s coolant.

Ensuring basic preventive maintenance tasks are preformed is the responsibility of a scrap yard’s management team, Sacco said.

In addition, Diaz suggested that operators inspect these balers, loggers and shears while they are running to get a full view of how they move. He said to look at areas including circuit boxes, doors and pumps. He stressed that even if a smaller part on these machines break, that small break can snowball into something worse if left unchecked.

Preventive maintenance also means being prepared to replace something if it breaks. Sacco said that operators should have at least one replacement part for parts of machines that see the most wear. For shear blades, he advised having two replacements on hand because the time it takes to ship shear blades has increased since the start of the pandemic.

Proper employee training and testing could also be the difference between clean and damaged equipment. Sacco said companies should perform drug tests on their equipment operators, stressing that they should never allow someone under the influence to operate machinery to ensure the safety of both the employees and the equipment.

Equipment storage and the layout of the scrap yard also play an important role in equipment longevity. Sacco and Diaz said balers, loggers and shears should never be parked next to scrap piles or drums since that would pose a fire risk.

Additionally, Sacco and Diaz said the environment a machine is stored in determines how it should be maintained. For example, they said machines on concrete surfaces may not get dirty as quickly as those that are placed on the ground.

Diaz said operators also should check gauges that come with their machines. He advised against operators removing these gauges from the machines since those are helpful for making diagnostic tests.

Sacco and Diaz added that operators need to be willing to invest in their equipment, noting that it’s better to spend a little bit of money on their equipment now rather than a lot of money on repairs later.