LONDON, ONTARIO – After thirty years of service, John Zubick Ltd. Scrap Metals knew that its stationary shear was living on borrowed time and had to be replaced. Being proactive, brothers George and Bruce Zubick started looking around at their choices in 2007. What they were looking for was a replacement shear with a minimum of moving parts and hydraulics and no squeeze-box. After much observation and many visits to other scrap yards in the US and the Vezzani manufacturing facility in Italy, they selected a Vezzani PC 1023 AC Press Shear. The 1000 ton guillotine shear allows a continuous processing of scrap by a patented 30 degree inclined gradual compression gravity feed box. Combined with a rubber-tired material handler with a unique remote control set-up, the Zubick’s Vezzani shear went into operation in August 2008.
“Although it’s a little too early to tell what the shear’s maximum rate of production is yet in the remote control set-up,” says Bruce, “it has already surpassed our expectations. It maximizes our uptime and saves us time and money. We couldn’t be happier with it.”
Key success factor –The right spec from the right people
“Equipment acquisitions have been a bit of a stretch for us over the past few years,” says George Zubick. “We’ve bought on trust, faith and observation. Obviously, we’re not afraid to try the new kids on the block.”
Mike Pass, President of Vezzani USA Inc., concurs with George’s observation. “The Zubicks are curious and they’re not afraid to think beyond what is accepted practice and products. Their curiosity about Vezzani shears is what led to this application.”
Pass says he began calling on the Zubick brothers about eight years ago. “I made a couple of calls on them and then we always met at various industry conferences over the years and kept in touch,” says Pass. “When the time came for them to purchase a replacement shear, they had done their homework and they were pretty familiar with our product.”
Bruce Zubick stresses 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,” says Bruce. “The choice to go with Vezzani was based on many factors, including durability, reliability and, especially, simplicity of operation and operator-friendliness.”
“It always comes down to maximizing your uptime and efficiency,” says George. “The design of our Vezzani shear offers simplicity in terms of its minimum of working parts and gravity feed. The typical North American shear includes a squeeze-box, hydraulic hoses and a number of other moving parts that can potentially create a maintenance nightmare. We don’t have that worry with the Vezzani unit.”
Vezzani custom-builds machines to customer specifications
Each Vezzani shear is custom-built to the customer’s specifications. This attention to the customer’s needs is something in which the Vezzani company takes great pride, according to Gabriele Merlo of Vezzani. “We are an engineering company, first and foremost,” says Merlo. “Every machine that leaves the factory in Italy is custom-built to meet the customer’s application.” To meet the Zubick yard’s application needs, Vezzani representatives spent time evaluating the operation and figuring out how the Zubicks would be best able to maximize their investment. The Vezzani engineers recommended a PC 1023 AC gravity feed Press Shear with an all steel heavy duty conveyor system. They also suggested that the shear and material handler operator be the same person in a remote control application. The Zubicks liked the idea and proposed that the remote control unit be installed on their material handler. “This meant,” says Bruce, “that the one operator could control both the crane and shear from one central location – something not done before in North America.”
Inclined gravity feed moves things along
Something the Zubicks really appreciate is the fact that the shear’s inclined feeding box configuration permits the introduction of bulky, dirty and large uneven pieces of scrap. “We can process a dog’s breakfast of unevenly sized feedstock,” says George. “And because the Vezzani Press Shear will accept scrap of a larger size, we save time and money since we don’t have to pre-cut our feedstock.”
The processed scrap slides out of the mouth of the shear onto a heavy duty, purpose-built conveyor, which was also installed by the Vezzani technicians from the factory. It is then carried along to a shaker table manned by four pickers.
Wireless remote diagnostic technology maximizes uptime
According to Pass, “All service and support for Zubick’s Vezzani Shear comes from Italy. Technical troubleshooting is done by a connection to the shear’s computer located in the operator’s tower in the Zubick yard to the Italian factory. In fact”, continued Pass, “Vezzani technicians can even monitor and modify the Zubick shear’s program from Italy and if needed, replacement parts can be sent overnight.”
The Zubicks have had to call upon the Vezzani remote monitoring system just once since the shear was installed. “Shortly after its installation, the shear required some minor tweaking,” recalls Bruce. “It was a matter of a phone-call. Using wireless remote diagnostic technology, the Vezzani technicians back in Italy tapped into our shear’s computer and made the adjustment in minutes. No need to wait for a serviceman and no lengthy shutdowns. That’s the kind of uptime we appreciate.”
First of its kind in North America
Marrying their shear and scrap handler in a remote control set-up that would allow one operator to run both units simultaneously is a first for the Zubicks and the first of its kind in North America.
“When we were assured that a remote control set-up was possible, we gave a green-light to the project,” says Bruce. “Our crane supplier installed the remote control system in the material handler and operator’s tower in June and the Vezzani crew oversaw installation of the PC 1023 AC shear and a take-away conveyor in July. We were in production by the beginning of August.”
Located in a tower that overlooks the shear and scrap handler, and which also houses the shear’s hydraulic unit and electrical cabinet, the remote control system consists of an operator’s chair identical to what you would have inside the scrap handler, and a joy-stick that operates the scrap handler and a computerized control panel at the operator’s left hand to control the shear. The shear itself runs on a unique auto cycle system, while the operator runs the scrap handler, which is located on his right side, just as if he were inside it. Fitted with a 1.5 yd grapple with a magnet, the scrap handler feeds the shear in a continuous cycle.
As George points out, “There is no umbilical cord linking the scrap handler and shear. 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. The operator also has a perfect view of the shear’s inclined chute. He can see how much material is in the chute and maximize the operation.”
Zubick builds partnerships with its trusted suppliers
“It’s all about the relationships you build with your suppliers,” adds 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. We plan on building that kind of relationship with Mike Pass and the Vezzani company.”
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.”
Mike Pass is delighted to be able to add the Zubicks to Vezzani USA Inc.’s growing list of clients. “I welcome them onto our client list of customers and look forward to developing a close business partnership with them,” he says. “With their permission, I look forward to showcasing their shear and remote control setup for future demonstrations for other customers.”
“Existing customers like the Zubicks are our most precious resource. We find that our satisfied customers are really like our ‘unofficial’ sales people who sell the product for us,” says Merlo. “People in the scrap industry are very knowledgeable hands-on people who know what their needs are. Once they get to know the Vezzani company and its products and realize that we’re a hard-working, trustworthy operation, they tend to like us and become repeat customers who tell their colleagues about us.”
THE VEZZANI STORY – IT ALL STARTED WITH A WINE PRESS
Located in the ancient town of Ovada, Italy, Vezzani began manufacturing presses for the local wine industry just after the Second World War. Soon the fledgling company was producing presses for other industries, including the scrap metal sector. By the 1970s, the ferrous metal industry had become the company’s main thrust and it introduced its patented 30 degree inclined gravity fed press shear. Under the leadership of Paolo Merlo, the company was taken to a whole new level. During his watch, Vezzani expanded and perfected its manufacturing base, developed comprehensive sales and marketing strategies, and strengthened its presence in the United Kingdom and North America. Today, the Vezzani company is a recognized leader in the scrap metal industry with machinery and complete systems working all over the world.
“Our philosophy is simple: Give our customers high quality equipment that is most suited to their requirements,” says Gabriele Merlo, Vezzani’s Business development director. “We take into account everything we can learn about the customer and his onsite application. Then we incorporate the necessary modifications to the machinery to make sure they get the best possible cost efficient result when installed. We’re an engineering company, first and foremost. We always begin with the function and desired onsite application and work from there. Every machine we deliver is tailor-made to the customer’s specifications. We pride ourselves on making everything we turn out in-house in our factory.”
Necessity and curiosity, according to Merlo, are the two things that usually draw prospective customers to the Vezzani brand. “We try to be as sensitive as possible to what solution they are looking for and then we show them working solutions. Then taking into account their needs and budget, they decide if a Vezzani machine is for them,” says Merlo. “Our approach is to develop a strong working relationship with our customers. With our assistance, each of our clients has the opportunity to achieve their individual optimum solution. We think that ‘Actions speak louder than words’ - we believe in showing not saying.”
“Once we have identified and understand the client’s application, we arrange a series of site visits and technical meetings that are tailored to illustrate specifically how a problem can be solved. In other words, they are able to see an onsite demonstration representative of how our prescribed solutions will meet their specific job application. That, in a nutshell, is the Vezzani philosophy and how we do business.”