As a manufacturer of shearing equipment since 1962, Ovada, Italy-based Vezzani produces traditional horizontal shears and inclined, gravity-fed models,which the company first introduced to the market in 1977, according to Gabriele Merlo, Vezzani business development director. “Lower maintenance costs, higher productivity, higher output density, lower labor cost and [the] ability to processoversized scrap were the main factors that drove the development of such technology,” he says of inclined shears.
Inclined shears can offer processing versatility. “Horizontal shears are normally equipped with seven cylinders, while the inclined shear is doing the same job with only three cylinders plus a smaller one that operates the sizing door, allowing the user to cut to any length (as short as 4 inches and as long as 7 feet or more),” Merlo says.
Inclined shears also can be loaded continuously, which can lead to increased production for the operator. Their open box design also allows for processing oversized material. The unit’s combination of side compression and top compression concentrated on a smaller area produces more force per-inch and more demolition force, Merlo says, resulting in denser material. “Denser material provides a huge benefit by lowering shipping costs significantly,” he adds.
Because inclined shears can feature fewer moving parts than traditional shears, their maintenance costs can be between onehalf and one-third those of traditional horizontal shears, Merlo says. In addition, lower labor costs can be realized with an inclined shear, as a dedicated operator is not necessary, nor is preprocessing, he adds.
In the Q&A that follows, Merlo shares his thoughts on the market for shearing equipment as well as Vezzani’s recent advances in its inclined shear technology.
Q: How would you characterize the market for gravity-fed and horizontal press shears currently?
Gabriele Merlo (GM): We are quite happy with the current market conditions. Of course there are certain regions where the demand is lower, following the global steel and metals market. However, there are always regions or companies that are investing. 2012 was a very strong year: We supplied, among other equipment, six stationary inclined shears in the 1,600-ton shearing force range to major steel mills and scrap dealers located in the United States, Europe, Middle East and [the] Far East.
Q: How has your inclined shear design changed over theyears?
GM: The design of our inclined shears has been modified significantly and keeps changing to provide the highest flexibility to the customer. On top of this, we also are supplying additional equipment, such as special cleaning systems that separate ferrous material from nonferrous material and remove dust, because steel mills are demanding very clean and dense material. We have also worked a lot to allow customers to cut very short to increase the density as much as possible without losing productivity. With light material, the results are very close to what is obtained from shredders but with dramatically lower operating and maintenance costs.
Q: For scrap processors considering purchasing a shear, what are some key considerations to keep in mind?
GM: Pay attention to the ongoing costs and savings, not only to the [initial] price of the equipment. The price is an important figure, but if you look longer term, the savings and lower operating costs provide benefits that exceed savings on the initial price. Because the total cost per ton for operating an inclined shear versus a horizontal shear is less than half, when you multiply this cost by the tons of material that are processed per month or per year, this figure has a huge impact on the earnings and cash flow of a scrap processor or steel mill. Eventually it will take a much shorter time to pay back the investment in an inclined shear than in a horizontal shear. The second piece of advice is to spend time to gather detailed information before purchasing a shear: An investment like this deserves to be evaluated properly. Spending a few days watching different machines in operation helps you understand the different capabilities and reduces the risk of purchasing equipment that is not going to meet your expectations.
Q: When might a stationary inclined shear make more sense than a portable shear at a scrap processing operation?
GM: It is all about reliability, flexibility and cost per ton produced. Stationary shears give the best flexibility to the customers, allowing them to process bigger quantities and a wider variety of materials with different dimensions with the advantage of a lower cost per ton produced.Portable shears are designed to be lighter. In any case there is a physical limit to how light you can make them to guaranteenormal operation. It makes sense to have a portable shear only if it has to be moved frequently.
Q: What are the infrastructure requirements for an inclined shear installation?
GM: Today the infrastructure requirements are very low. We have put a lot of effort in designing new layouts in order to have the lowest costs for foundations and other infrastructure requirements. For example, we are now installing the majority of the equipment above ground level with no requirement to dig pits (which was a common design in the past). We have also made the design of the shear more compact to reduce the land required for the installation. Today, installing an inclined shear requires less expensive foundations and a smaller area than [those needed] to install a horizontal shear.
Q: How difficult are inclined shears to operate?
GM: The crane operator simply needs to acquire the right sensitivity and to understand the amount of material that needs to be loaded. In order to help the operators, our latest remote controls show the actual cutting force: Keeping this parameter under control helps the crane operator to understand if he is overloading the machine or if he can load more material and increase the productivity.
Q: How is Vezzani helping customers in the areas of preventive maintenance and trouble-shooting?
GM: Maintenance is a key factor affecting shear performance and reliability. We are stressing the concept of preventive maintenance because it is important to reducing costs and increasing the life of the equipment. We are becoming more proactive, and with the use of the latest technologies our aim is ultimately to be able to detect the issues before they happen. Our latest machines are connected via Internet to our office so we can detect several issues directly from our headquarters and provide service over the phone or correct system failures remotely. This is a powerful tool because it allows you to prevent issues from turning into bigger problems. Many problems can be solved directly by the customer’s personnel, saving them the expense of having one of our technicians on site. At the same time, we guarantee that in case of major issues, one of our technical engineers will be on site within 24 to 48 hours.
Q: What factors generally lead an operator to upgrade to a larger shear?
GM: One of the main factors is certainly the growth of the customer’s business and the advantage of having a lower cost-per-ton produced. A larger inclined shear will allow a customer to do more with less. More means being able to have a higher productivity, to process materials that the customer wasn’t able to process before and being able to retain a higher margin through a lower operating cost. Less means less use of manual labor to process material and less maintenance required by a better design.
Published on Recycling Today magazine - March 2013