In recent years, I have had numerous conversations with customers considering going electric. Regardless if we are discussing concrete crushers or wood grinders, the answer is normally not cut and dry.
Let’s start off with the obvious. For those of you who have 460v, 3 phase, 60 Hertz power at your site and all of your recycled material is trucked to you free of charge, the decision is simple. GO ELECTRIC! If neither of these apply to you then consider the following…
Advantages of Going Electric:
The most important part of your recycling equipment is your engine. In the extremely dusty environments that we work in, replacing a diesel engine with an electric motor is a huge way to save. Not only are electric motors more efficient and cost less money to run compared to equally sized diesel engines, electric motors are virtually trouble free. No more fuel, oil, and air filters, say goodbye to troublesome clutches and clogged radiators, and no more expensive engine repairs. Electric motors have considerably more torque than diesel engines too, so why doesn’t everyone change over to electric?
Disadvantages of Going Electric:
The largest disadvantage is that you are giving up portability. The majority of contractors are crushing or grinding off site at a variety of locations. Most of the sites do not have electricity so diesel/hydraulic is the only viable solution.
Another disadvantage is the major cost associated with getting electricity to your site. Not everyone has adequate electrical power, so you must calculate the cost of power lines, transformers, etc. In most instances, there is an average 3 to 4 year payback period. This may not sound bad, but most contractors find it difficult to come out of pocket for this investment.
The final disadvantage of going electric is resell value. Since the minority of machines are electric, the demand for electric is less, and thus resale values are lower.
Have you heard of Hybrid Machines?
In recent years manufacturers of crushers, grinders, and screeners have made hybrid powered machines. These machines have a generator on board and can be powered by either the generator or shore power. Why not buy this all of the time? It is the best option, but it is a very expensive one. Hybrid machines generally have higher price, and very few have trickled down to the used market. Even so, I do anticipate this being the wave of the future.
It is my experience that most companies that have chosen to go electric are more established and have established a presence in the area that they are located. They have already owned portable machines and have decided to invest in infrastructure and electric recycling systems. Customers are bringing material to them to be recycled so being portable is not a concern. These select recycling companies are extremely smart and are normally extremely profitable. I do see more hybrid machines being introduced into the market as well since it is a great solution.