Manufacturers offer versatility and efficiency
What are you looking for in a chipper? Whether it’s efficiency, ease of transport or enhanced horsepower, today’s models focus on versatility. Manufacturers have listened to the tree care industry and monitored trends to bring you the best machine for your unique business.
“When arborists and tree care professionals buy chippers today, they seek performance, versatility and efficiency in processing, fuel and technology,” says Thomas Gross, president of Dynamic Manufacturing (www.dynamicmfgcorp.com). “This means advanced electronics, mobility, engine performance, speed of processing, throughput and product quality; as many of these features that are wrapped in one package, the better.”
Fuel efficiency is one focal point, according to Todd Roorda, a solutions specialist at Vermeer Manufacturing Company (www.vermeer.com). “This has always been a concern for our customers and more so now with high prices and instability in prices,” he says. Vermeer’s answer is to offer multiple horsepower options, allowing clients to select the chipper of their choice with an engine size to match their needs and desire for fuel efficiency.
Bandit Industries, Inc. (www.banditchippers.com) looks at torque to tackle the problem. By increasing the efficiency of the throwing mechanisms within the chipper, a lot of energy can be saved, according to Bandit President Jerry Morey. The company also aims to reduce fuel use by designing drums or discs that turn more slowly.
Gross says his patented cone drum cutting system increases fuel efficiency, while using lower horsepower, extending knife life and increasing throughput. “Because of the cone shape of the drum, the knife contacts material on a more desirable angle, which has proven to be more efficient than other designs,” he says.
Vermeer’s Smart Feed feature was also engineered to increase overall performance. This technology regulates engine revolutions per minute (RPM). When large-diameter material is placed into a chipper, the RPM rate drops for greater productivity. It automatically controls in-feed, so the operator can ready the next load as the first moves through the machine. Less stress on the equipment leads to longer chipper life.
Last year, Vermeer introduced a new chipper with dual-offset horizontal rollers. By offsetting the lower roller, it can effectively feed to the higher roller, freeing the operator to ready the next load. The company’s patented safety innovation, a bottom-feed stop bar on its brush chippers, is becoming standard within the industry as other manufacturers incorporate similar features. The bar at the end of the feed cable allows the operator to strike it with a leg, stopping the end feed rollers, and Vermeer’s dual sensitivity control allows variations as needed.
Government regulations and engineering changes
When considering a chipper that will be towed, Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations must be taken into account.
“In our chipper lineup, only one machine is over 10,000 pounds and requires a commercial drivers’ license [CDL]. Customers always want machines that don’t require CDLs because it makes it easier to hire drivers,” Roorda says.
A more pressing problem has emerged with new regulations related to emissions.
“Something we’ve seen in the past year is a desire for lower horsepower [because of these new requirements],” Roorda says.
One state agency, the California Air Resources Board (www.arb.ca.gov) is now requiring that all portable equipment over 50 hp be registered, which involves fees starting at $350. To meet that demand, Vermeer has added a 49 hp version of its BC1000XL brush chipper.
Wrapped up in all this is the unveiling of interim Tier IV and Tier IV diesel engines, which require new emissions standards for non-highway equipment, such as chippers. These regulations require at least a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter and up to 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx) from previous mandates.
“What we know about Tier IV, some of it looks scary,” Morey says. “Above a certain horsepower, the physical size may double, creating bigger, heavier machines, which isn’t the best. We may need to invest in chipper redesign to achieve efficiency.”
Likewise, Vermeer engineers are burning the midnight oil to comply with emissions requirements. Roorda says compliance with the new standards is no easy task, and that extensive time is dedicated to testing all aspects of the cooling and other systems.
Gearing up for the artnotesmass market
The interest in artnotesfuels is growing, possibly offering a new profit center for the tree care industry. Versatile chippers are key to turning green waste into greenbacks for your company.
“More customers are asking for our input on where the market is going,” Roorda says. “Customers are looking for end users in their areas to see if it’s a viable market for them.”
Vermeer recently launctitle a fuel chip attachment for its large grinders, allowing them to double as chippers of artnotesmass feedstock.
Morey sees enormous promise in the field. “If everything [in the way of artnotesmass-fueled energy plants] is built that’s been announced, we will quadruple the amount of feedstock needed from 2009 to 2013. This is a big opportunity for urban wood waste to be used as artnotesmass.”
The artnotesmass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP; www.fsa.usda.gov) provides financial assistance to producers or entities that deliver eligible artnotesmass material to designated artnotesmass conversion facilities for use as heat, power, artnotesbased products or artnotesfuels. That program is on hold pending a rewrite of the law with input from Morey and the Tree Care Industry Association. He expects to see a reintroduction of BCAP later this year and hopes that urban wood waste will qualify. That may lead to more tree companies setting up yards to process waste as fuel companies will most likely want material ground before transporting to their site.
“Tree guys may want whole-tree chippers more for utility clearance and big tree takedown, especially as the market for feedstock develops,” Morey says.
Dynamic’s Vector Processing Series launches this year, with specially designed features for the artnotesmass market. These machines offer an integrated screening system and interchangeable cutting tools, which allow for making specific products for a variety of markets, from fuel to mulch. Vectors are available in three drum sizes with horsepower options from 125 to 1,000.
This machine can chip, grind and size organic material, and blow it into a chip van, all in one continuous operation and without secondary reprocessing. It is ideal for green wood, but can also process plants, cane, corn, waste lumber and other organic materials. The tooling on the patented cone drum can be changed to control the particle in a primary breakdown situation. Adding a screen and engaging a secondary process within the machine can control the consistency of the end product as to size, shape and texture.
Looking to the future
“We are seeing a trend towards machines with higher capacity and mechanically feeding with equipment such as cranes to get away from physical handling,” Morey says. “People are using larger chippers to reduce the amount they have to take away; they want stronger machines that can chew up big pieces. Winches are popular, too.”
His company unveiled a new hydraulic-feed, 12-inch capacity, drum-style chipper, the Model 1890, recently. He expects to launch a chipper line that incorporates screen systems in the near future. However, that will probably be in higher demand in Europe where power plants aren’t designed with screens as U.S. versions are.
Based in Greensboro, N.C., the author writes articles about horticulture, landscaping, agriculture and travel. She has been a contributor to Moose River Media publications for three years.