An elite force of nomadic wood processing professionals

ASC 55The more than 85 seasoned wood processing experts with Sarasota, FL -based Consolidated Resource Recovery are constantly on the go in search of the next biomass fuel harvest.
by Randy Happel
By definition, nomadic refers to people who typically move about from place to place as a means to obtain food or make a living —i.e., individuals who offer their skills and services to those in need. In today’s industrialized society, because the stereotype that comes with being called nomadic is often associated more closely with instability than productivity; most of us would refute even the mere suggestion of being considered nomads. Yet at Consolidated Resource Recovery (CRR), a Florida based, recycled biomass products supplier, there is an elite workforce of professionals, proud to embrace the moniker of nomad. Together, they traverse Florida and Georgia demonstrating their wood processing skills.
“We don’t stay at one site very long,” says Ed Lee, vice president of CRR. “We are a very mobile business. Aside from a handful of employees who work primarily from one of our established processing sites with a few wheel loaders that are permanent fixtures at each, most equipment and personnel are constantly on the go.”
“We work on a campaign basis, moving from site to site. We process the volume of green waste present at each one, and then move on to the next job. We currently also have 17 tractor trailer rigs on the road loaded with equipment destined for different sites throughout Florida and a good portion of Georgia. Wherever our skills and services are needed, that’s where you’ll find us.”
Originally founded as a contract, site clearing operation in 1990, CRR later launched a green waste recycling division when legislation imposed strict limitations on the volume of green waste Florida landfills could accept and bury. Today, the land clearing, green waste recycling and biomass fuel specialists operate from three Florida locations including Sarasota, Clearwater and Tampa. From there they serve municipalities and provide land clearing services for a variety of industrial and residential development companies.
Process, screen, convert
Defining the recycling operational process of CRR might best be described by envisioning the three sides of the widely recognized recycling triangle symbol. In the case of CRR however, the three sides would be changed from Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, to Process; Screen; Convert. Lee describes the company as being composed of three separate divisions, each with a specific service objective. Those include: 1. supplier of biomass fuel to power plants, 2. land clearing specialists and 3. long term contract recycler of green waste for municipalities.
While many wood processing companies struggle to secure consistent supplies of waste wood to meet demand, CRR has been able to mitigate supply concerns by aggressively seeking long range municipality agreements. Currently, CRR is fulfilling long-term contracts for recycling green waste with 29 municipalities located throughout Florida.
CRR also contracts supplemental land clearing jobs. The length of their contracts ranges from three to 10 years. This provides the steady supply of green waste required to meet the biomass fuel demands of the three major biomass fueled utility providers served by CRR. Additional land clearing projects help meet the demand as well.
The focus of the third component of the company’s business involves the marketing and delivery of the end products. According to Lee, CRR delivers from 6000 to 7500-cubic-yards of processed wood waste to various market sites across the state of Florida every day using an extensive fleet of trucks; primarily 100-yard capacity flatbed trailers. During peak production periods, CRR will also contract with third party trucking partners to assist with hauling. The cumulative green waste end product generated by CRR amounts to more than one million tons every year.
Monitor, measure, evaluate
Of course, it takes a reliable, efficient and durable fleet of equipment to accomplish that production. CRR’s equipment fleet includes horizontal and tub grinders, excavators, wheel loaders, wood hogs, bulldozers and other specialized equipment; all of which play an important role.
While all of the machines in the CRR fleet are important, grinders and trommel screens that feature custom engineered enhancements have helped streamline production efficiencies. That allows Consolidated Resource Recovery to process more green waste volume in less time. By using customized equipment, CRR is able to achieve the different biomass fuel particle size and configuration specifications required by different biomass energy facilities. Currently, Lee has seven Vermeer® TG9000 tub grinders in nearly continuous operation.
“Our relationship with Vermeer dates back 12 years to be exact,” Lee says. “In fact, we were involved with developing the prototype of the first TG9000 tub grinder model; a machine we actually ended up buying. Since then we’ve bought 10 more. We like them because they last, and they’re consistent.”
CRR diligently monitors and maintains an ongoing evaluation of machine performance and cost of operation. Every new grinder is subjected to what Lee refers to as the “lap test.” This is a rigorous and thorough measurement of the machine’s production efficiency.
“When we look at new machines, we put them on bell scales to look at real production, and measure performance over time,” Lee says. “We measure everything by the ton and are diligent in keeping precise records of the exact tonnage delivered to each site. We then divide the tonnage by the amount of time it took the grinders onsite to process it; with consideration for fuel, repairs and maintenance costs — we even track cost of wear parts replacement frequency and labor.
“We can look at a machine over various hours-of-operation intervals — 6,000, 8,000, 9,000 hours, etc. — and determine its cost to operate. We can then compare this information to that of other machines we’ve had in the past; which is how we’ve made the decision to stick with the Vermeer TG9000 tub grinders. Over time, the Vermeer machines have been more effective for us, more consistently.”
Achieving specifications — product development challenges
Flexibility and ease of swapping out difference size screens to achieve different end product size specifications is also a consideration when selecting grinder models and trommel screens. Screen sizes used by grinders are based on product end use. Since the vast majority of green waste processed by CRR is recycled for use as a biomass fuel, and the fact that different plans require different specifications — albeit ever so slightly — Lee needs machines that can come as close as possible to achieving even the most minute size adjustment from one customer to another.
“For the most part, we are using 4-inch x 4-inch size opening on Vermeer screens, depending what we’re going to do with the end product. Obviously, the larger the screen the faster the throughput; but it depends on what the ultimate end product is. We do run screens as small as 3-inch x 3-inch  and as big as 6-inch x 10-inch. But 80 percent of the time we’re likely running 4-inch to 5-inch screens.
In addition to biomass fuel applications, Lee and company have also found a lucrative use for fines that fall short of the size specifications required for biomass fuel. Increasing concerns about peat moss as a potting soil ingredient and for use in other gardening products has created a demand for the screened fines. Since peat moss comes from wetland bogs in Canada or Michigan, and is not sustainable, green wood waste processed by Consolidated Resource Recovery ends up in potting soils as a replacement. Approximately 20 percent of CRR’s material is used in this way.
“I’m not aware of any machine that’s ever been built that is perfect,” says Lee. “Everything we’ve ever bought has needed repair at one time or another and that will most likely be true of any machine we’ll buy in the future. What’s important is getting them back up and running.”
“Aside from the capital cost of a machine, the resale value and of course, its productivity and its usefulness over the grinder’s lifespan, is what we’re most interested in,” he says. “That is why we make sure we buy a machine that has strong dealership support behind it, the kind that can get the parts on time and respond to things that happen in a hurry. We’re looking for a way to optimize our run time and leverage that fixed expense with all those machines we have in our fleet. We have to trust our vendors. That’s really what it comes down to. Relationships like the one we have with the people at Vermeer Southeast are critical to the success and longevity of our business.” For more information on Vermeer Corporation, visit their website at www.vermeer.com .

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