Shredder operators can benefit from making a low-copper ferrous product.

Automobile shredder operators are seeking new and innovative ways to obtain a premium ferrous shred that yields a higher value per ton and meets the most stringent steel mill standards. That goal was particularly top of mind at Tri-State Iron & Metal Co., Texarkana, Arkansas, as the owners were considering how to supply a high-grade ferrous product to steel mills while also reducing the amount of picking labor required to do so.

Established in 1947, Tri-State Iron & Metal is a third-generation family business that still is located at its original location in Texarkana. The business has grown rapidly over six decades and has the capacity, experience and expertise to handle a variety of recyclables, including steel, iron, aluminum, brass, copper, auto bodies and many other types of scrap.

Setting higher goals

Tri-State set a goal to increase its profits by supplying a high-grade ferrous shred to steel mill customers and—at the same time—to reduce the amount of hand-picking on its line. To meet that goal, the company researched and ultimately purchased a Shred1 Ballistic Separator from Erie, Pennsylvania-based Eriez.

The Shred1, designed to separate iron-rich ferrous from the mixed metals and waste material in the postdrum magnet flow, produces a premium low-copper shred, according to the manufacturer.

Tri-State Iron & Metal reduced the number of hand-pickers on its line by half by adding the Shred1.

“We had a few objectives when we were looking at the Shred1,” recalls Adam Glick, vice president at Tri-State Iron & Metal. “We needed our ferrous shred to contain less than 2 percent copper. Previously, we were between 2.4 percent to 2.6 percent copper content. We also wanted to reduce our hand-picking labor cost with a more efficient way of handling this process. Ideally, we were looking to use technology rather than labor to increase our profit margins.”

Yielding more value

The Shred1 uses magnetics and ballistics to separate materials into two distinct fractions: a premium low-copper ferrous No. 1 shred that contains less than 2 percent copper and a traditional No. 2 shred. The first fraction is a high-value, low-copper-content ferrous product. The second fraction represents less than 25 percent of the material flow and contains mostly mixed metals: copper and aluminum with steel housings or cores.

That 25 percent, the No. 2 shred product, goes through a hand-picking station at Tri-State Iron & Metal. Fewer pickers are required on that line because of the lower volume of No. 2 shred produced by the addition of the ballistic separator. They also are more efficient at the task because of the reduced material flow.

The first fraction is worth considerably more than a No. 2 shredded scrap grade, and demand for this No. 1 grade is increasing.

The more ferrous recovered from the shred, the greater the profit for the operator in terms of higher quality ferrous scrap and increased copper pickings that can be marketed separately.

Selling a premium, low-copper-content ferrous product gives operators a competitive advantage when dealing with most steel mill scrap buyers and leads to greater value or a greater share of the local market.

Scrap processors also can see additional revenue by reselling the residual copper from the No. 2 fraction, which is worth considerably more per pound than the ferrous scrap fraction.

“Interest in the Shred1 continues to intensify as scrap processors like Tri-State Iron & Metal seek greater value in a premium ferrous product,” says Chris Ramsdell, recycling product manager for Eriez. “The ferrous premium combined with the increased copper pickings and reduced labor helps the Shred1 quickly pay for itself in three different ways.”

Improved recovery

The unit’s ballistics enable Tri-State to automatically produce a premium No. 1 low-copper ferrous product. Its high-speed processing sends clean high-grade ferrous on a different trajectory than mixed metals, such as meatballs and wire harnesses, which also contain copper or other nonferrous metals.

These mixed metals degrade the ferrous product and often limit the frag to low-value uses, such as rebar production. On the other hand, the premium low-copper ferrous is highly valued by most steel mills; it is that sort of product that Tri-State can now deliver to its regional customer base.

Tri-State sees economical and operational returns from this installation. Glick says the company reduced its pickers from four to two and has experienced a higher recovery rate by implementing this technology. “We looked at different solutions to pull more copper out of the ferrous, even adding more pickers,” he says. “But we decided to invest in the technology and had Eriez demonstrate the unit. Eriez answered all our questions before we put it online,” he says.

This feature was submitted on behalf of Eriez,, Erie, Pennsylvania. The company’s magnetic lift and separation, metal detection, materials feeding, screening, conveying and controlling equipment can be applied in the process, metalworking, packaging, plastics, rubber, recycling, mining, aggregate and textile industries.