About three-and-a-half years ago, Bordeau Metals reached a tipping point. The scrap-metal processing and recycling business in White Bluff, Tennessee, had been growing steadily. It was time to invest in more equipment.

Until then, Bordeau Metals hauled loose metal to its steel mill customers. The company was looking for a more efficient way to ship this material because transportation costs were brutal.

“We needed to ramp things up,” says Brad Bordeau, president and CEO of Bordeau Metals. “We wanted to clean up our yard and maximize our transportation costs so we could handle more volume.”

Bordeau Metals purchased a baler/logger—the RB6000—from Sierra International Machinery, Bakersfield, California. The company uses the machine to crush car bodies, washing machines and appliances into dense bales and logs. The company also uses the baler/logger to process new production industrial clips into No. 1 bundles.

Bordeau says the addition of the baler/logger has changed his business. “We went from shipping 5-ton loads to 20-ton loads, which has reduced our transportation costs by 25 percent,” he says. “It has allowed us to develop new markets for our materials because, with lower transportation costs, our materials can travel longer distances.

Bordeau Metals was able to reduce its transportation costs by 25 percent by shipping baled or logged material instead of loose ferrous scrap. Photo: Sierra International Machinery

“Transportation costs can be 15-20 percent of the value of our product, so the baler/logger has made a huge difference,” Bordeau continues.

The RB6000 also has reduced material handling costs for the company. The machine, which comes equipped with a crane, is fully automatic, so only one worker is needed to load and operate it.

Kris Brooks, vice president and co-owner of Bordeau Metals, says the baler/logger’s portability also is a benefit. The company can transport the machine to customers’ sites to process scrap metal.

“We’re able to go out and buy more material,” Brooks says. “That’s important because scrap metal is hard to come by.”

In the blood

Bordeau has worked in scrap metal for more than 25 years. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Denny Bordeau, who was well-known in the industry.

“When I was 8 or 9, my father took me to work on Saturdays and let me run the equipment,” Bordeau says. “I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. All my friends wanted to grow up and be police officers or firefighters; I wanted to be a scrap metal recycler.”

Early in his career, Bordeau worked at several scrap-metal companies and even owned part of one. He established Bordeau Metals about 12 years ago.

“I had always wanted my own business—a company that cares about its employees, where people enjoy working and feel part of a team,” Bordeau says. “I want them to feel they are making a difference by doing a good job.”

Bordeau Metals buys ferrous and nonferrous scrap metal from manufacturing plants, demolition companies and the public. Its fleet of 11 trucks and various roll-off containers picks up material as far as Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the west, North Carolina to the east, Florida to the south and Illinois to the north.

The trucks bring the material back to Bordeau Metal’s processing yard, where the metal is sorted, graded and processed for remelting. Now, with the RB6000, the company also can bale or log material.

Bordeau Metals also offers consulting services, sending out mobile crews that teach manufacturers and demolition firms how to sort recyclables, maximize their transportation efficiency and increase profits.

“Some companies want to get all the value they can out of recycling,” Bordeau says. “Some just want to reduce their labor and handling costs so they can focus on their core business. We come up with solutions based on their needs,” he adds.

Bordeau Metals promotes itself as environmentally friendly. The company modifies the self-dumping hoppers it uses so oil drips to the bottom, where it is collected and then recycled. It also employs an oil/water separator, which features a concrete pad surrounded by a 1-foot-tall wall, to aid in stormwater management.

“I want to keep the environment clean,” Bordeau says.

A smashing success

Bordeau Metals bought the RB6000, which Sierra says is the most powerful baler/logger in its class, in 2015. The machine is one of four models, including the RB5000, which has a shorter box and smaller crane than the RB6000, that Sierra offers.

Bordeau turned to Sierra for the baler/logger because he was comfortable with the firm. He says he has worked with processing equipment supplied by the company for 20 years and has found it dependable and easy to maintain.

With the RB6000, scrap metal needs no preparation. The crane lifts and lowers the material into a 20-foot-by-8-foot folding box. Both the crane and box are mounted on the same trailer.

The machine, powered by a six-cylinder diesel engine, compresses the metal into bales or logs in about 90 seconds.

“Once the operator closes the box and presses the automatic button, the logger does the rest,” says Jose Pereyra, Sierra general sales manager. “It makes the bale, retracts the main cylinders and opens the box. The operator then uses the crane to take the log out of the box and starts the process again.”

From left: Brad Bordeau, president and CEO of Bordeau Metals, with Kris Brooks, vice president and co-owner of the White Bluff, Tennessee, company; photo: Bordeau Metals

The RB6000 can handle automobiles of any size, along with log tin, clips and sheet iron. Sierra says the machine can bale 12 to 16 tons of metal and log 18 to 22 tons of material and 26 to 32 tons of automobiles every hour.

According to Sierra, each bale and log, measuring 40 inches wide by 24 high in variable lengths, weighs about 850 pounds and 1,200 pounds, respectively, though Bordeau says he can produce 1-ton logs with the RB6000.

The crane on the RB6000—which features a boom measuring 26 feet 3 inches long and a four-point grapple that is well-suited to grabbing automobiles—can lift as much as 5,000 pounds when fully extended. The crane also is capable of continuous rotation.

“That’s important because with some machines made by competitors, the crane doesn’t have any power while you’re making the bale, because the crane and box are on the same circuit,” Bordeau says. “On the RB6000, they put in an additional pump and circuit to run just the crane, so the crane can keep sorting material while the bale is being made.”

The portable RB6000 comes in two styles: One is mounted on a three-axle trailer that can be driven to various sites; the other, the RB6000 SL, comes equipped with hydraulic legs that lift and lower the unit. A trailer can back under the RB6000 SL to transport the baler/ logger.

Going mobile

Bordeau Metals bought the three-axle trailer version of the RB6000. It cost about $500,000. For Bordeau, the return on investment has been worth it.

The company runs the machine six days per week and processes from 2,000 to 2,500 tons of material in the unit every month. In June, the company processed 3,000 tons with the baler/logger.

“That’s a bunch,” Bordeau says. “That’s pretty unheard of.”

Also, thanks to the baler/logger, Bordeau Metals for the first time in its history can make No. 1 bundles from new production clips.

The machine’s portability has opened new markets for the company farther from home. Bordeau Metals transports the baler/logger to a new site every couple of days.

“That’s one reason we can do on-site processing,” Bordeau says. “It’s very easy to move. That’s another real nice feature.”

Despite the company’s heavy-duty usage of the machine, the baler/logger has not broken down, though a hose failed once because of a flying piece of metal. But Bordeau says that was probably his company’s fault.

To maintain the unit, Bordeau changes the oil and filters regularly in-house.

“We run the heck out of that machine, and there are virtually no problems,” he says. “That’s unheard of for any machine, especially one in its class.”

“Transportation costs can be 15-20 percent of the value of our product, so the baler/logger has made a huge difference.”
— Brad Bordeau, Bordeau Metals

If a bigger problem ever arises, Bordeau says he would call Sierra, which can send parts overnight if needed. Although the RB6000 is made by Idromec SpA in Italy, Sierra keeps parts stocked in the United States.

Bordeau advises anyone considering purchasing a baler/logger to consider how much production will be required before deciding on a model.

“And don’t buy strictly on price point, because it won’t do much good if the machine doesn’t operate correctly or if it’s broken,” Bordeau says.

As for his company’s baler/logger, Bordeau says, “Go watch one run. I think you’ll be impressed.”

The author is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area. He can be reached by email at rsandrick@yahoo.com.