Close Quarters at Recycling Yard

Staff | September 28, 2010

Close quarters, limited storage space and long, busy work-days at the Billings, MT, branch of Pacific Steel & Recycling require a mobile and reliable purpose-built material handler to get the job done.

Marshall Knick, manager of the Billings recycling yard, said his Sennebogen 835 M material handler allows operators to move around the yard quickly and efficiently, unloading trailers and loading rail cars as well as completing other general material handling duties throughout the day.

"We're a pretty small yard — long, narrow and pretty tight," Knick said. "We need to be able to unload material and put it in the right spot and then get it out of here as fast as we can. Everything needs to keep moving — we just can't afford any equipment downtime. Reliability is what drew us to Sennebogen. We needed a dependable piece of equipment that we could trust to get the job done. Our 835 M has certainly done that since going into operation about a year ago."

Pacific Steel & Recycling is the Intermountain Northwest's largest Steel Service Center and Scrap Metals Recycler. Headquartered in Great Falls, MT, the company has 38 branch offices in Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana. It is a 100-percent employee-owned corporation that has been in business for more than 100 years. The Billings Recycling branch has served the Yellowstone Valley for 70-plus years.

"We're a full service recycling yard, but we use our Sennebogen 835 M primarily for handling scrap metal," Knick said. "We've got it equipped with a Jewel 1.25-cubic-yard orange-peel grapple, which can quickly adapt to pick up its own toadstool magnet. We're on an asphalt base. The rubber-tired 835 M can cruise around pretty quickly and set up shop anywhere in the yard. That kind of flexibility and mobility better serves our customers. They don't have to wait around for slow-moving machinery or long attachment changes. It's our responsibility to get them in and out as quickly as possible."

Elevating Cab

Part of getting the customers in and out quickly is operator visibility. Knick speaks highly of the unit's elevating cab.

"This enables my operators to unload our customers much quicker and more safely than in the past," he explained. "Being able to adjust the height of the cab lets operators see the bottom of the railcars when they are being loaded, something they were never able to do before getting the 835 M. They can see when the material doesn't pack correctly. Shipping air is expensive, and we now have the opportunity to adjust the load and take full advantage of the cubic feet available.

"The increased visibility is just great," Knick added. "Being able to move the cab around to suit the job you're working on is a wonderful safety feature. Fixed cabs just never seem like they're in the right spot. Having the hydraulic elevating cab has made a world of difference to our productivity. We've definitely seen our rail car volume increase thanks to the 835 M. Operators can load and unload much faster and more safely and there is far less potential for damage. It's certainly a more efficient packaging job."

Pacific Steel's 835 M was the first Sennebogen machine that the Billings branch of Modern Machinery had ever sold, and it was the first one purchased by a Pacific branch. Accordingly, Marshall Knick likes to think that Pacific and Modern Machinery "have learned together on the machine."

"Modern Machinery and Sennebogen have been there every step of the way with us," Knick said. "Tom Skodack and the Sennebogen folks came to Billings and helped get us up and running. They took my operator to school and showed us how to maintain the machine so that we can use it for many years. Modern Machinery stocks all the parts we need and their response to any issues I have had has been same day. It's been a great relationship."

A recycling yard can be a harsh environment for equipment, and Knick feels that simplicity of design in equipment is the key to maximizing its uptime. He feels that excessive "bells and whistles" on equipment bring more problems.

"I just love the simplicity of Sennebogen material handlers," says Knick. "The absence of computers on the 835 M makes it the ideal purpose-built material handler for a scrap yard. Keep it simple and build it tough — that's what Sennebogen has done. It's a very well-designed machine, not just a repurposed excavator."

Based in Charlotte, NC, Sennebogen America offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any heavy lift or "pick & carry" application. For more information on the full line of Sennebogen green line material handlers, visit their website at