Customer case

SA Recycling’s uniquely designed pan loader boosts efficiency, reduces downtime

May 14, 2024 6 min read

Case details

Country United States
Company SA Recycling
Industry Recycling

Seafaring vessels demand quick port turns, making equipment performance and uptime critical. SA Recycling moves mountains of scrap metal aboard seafaring vessels in 25% less time using a newly designed skip pan loader made from Hardox®500 Tuf.

Case details

Country United States
Company SA Recycling
Industry Recycling

Watch the full story in the video

“Our downtime has been reduced substantially. I like this pan loader. It’s doing her job… Hardox® 500 Tuf, I love it!”

Moises Figueroa, SA Recycling Regional General Manager

Every minute counts when exporting nearly 1 million tons of scrap per year from the Port of Los Angeles, California, where 1,819 vessels arrived in 2022 alone. A leader in the metal recycling and processing industry, SA Recycling recognizes the importance of protecting natural resources and is committed to environmental sustainability, which means operating at peak efficiency.

SA Recycling’s critical loading work depends on quick-turns and robust equipment performance. When it came time to identify improvement opportunities, the company’s nearly 20-ton skip pan loader presented heaps of potential.

Overcoming a downtime design

Primarily, the pan’s original design created too many costly, time-consuming maintenance stops. While using A514 and A36 steels may have seemed “beefy” in order to deliver a super-strong performance, this style loader with multiple-support ribs requires multiple weld joints that actually contribute to downtime as a result of them cracking under heavy use.

Not only that, but the hefty pan loader exerts added strain on the mobile harbor crane’s hydraulic system, and its overall weight put extra pressure on lift capacity, impacting the entire loading process. The maximum weight per swing allowed by the crane is 70 tons. The weight for the recycling pan was 20 tons, thus limiting the maximum scrap weight to just 50 tons.

“Our old skip loading pan is heavier and thicker with a lot of parts welded together,” explains Moises Figueroa, SA Recycling’s Regional General Manager. “It requires a lot of welding because it cracks, definitely bends, so it gives us a lot of downtime. Therefore, we were looking for options to see how we could keep the size, get more volume and lighten it up.”

Faced with these challenges, SA Recycling’s team wanted to build better and develop a higher performing, longer lasting, efficient, less burdensome scrap pan as light as possible to increase payload. But how?

SA Recycling’s redesigned skip pan loader is operated using the crane’s remote system controls.
Moises Figueroa, Regional General Manager at SA Recycling notes the thinner pan loader’s design improves the harbor crane’s capacity and operational performance.

Partner with professionals driven by innovation

That’s when they turned to their scrap-handling equipment fabricator for suggestions. SA Recycling’s long-time local partner, Cutting Edge Supply (CES), is an independent, family-owned business, and certified Hardox® Wearparts center with more than 70 years of experience in heavy equipment wear parts, wear enhancements and repair.

“Our customers want more capacity,” says Adam Porto, CES Engineering and Design Manager. “So if we can build them something that is lighter, stronger and holds more material, then it’s all wins.”

Undoubtedly, the hard and tough performance of Hardox® wear plate in extreme applications combined with advanced technical knowledge of its core benefits led to a revolutionary skip pan loader design. Knowing this, the companies entered a co-development effort to create a lightweight, higher capacity loader and employed SSAB’s Product Engineering service to develop a lean design with as few components as possible that would be easy and cost-efficient to manufacture.

“Before the project kickoff, we conducted an innovation workshop to set the targets and priorities,” says Joaquin Azcona, Head of SSAB Product Engineering. “It helped reduce lead time to project completion, which was less than two months, while maximizing collaboration and transparency.”

Benefits of using the world’s number-one abrasion resistant wear steel

Engineers selected Hardox® 500 Tuf for its unmatched wear resistance and toughness properties. Compared with a traditional abrasion-resistant steel, it can also function as a structural steel. This offers new opportunities to reduce or exclude supporting structures, allowing Hardox® 500 Tuf to take the load instead.

For many companies, an upgrade to Hardox® 500 Tuf, delivers increased wear life, increased payload along with faster turns. By using a thinner plate of Hardox® 500 Tuf, many manufacturers easily get 10-15% greater load capacity for a dumper or container. Or, when they stay with the same thickness, get a 30% longer service life or more, depending on the abrasive material.

SA Recycling eliminates costly downtime and speeds up vessel turn times in port.

Rapid results

In this project, engineers boldly took advantage of both benefits, long life and structural properties, to introduce weight-saving and capacity-boosting features, made possible only by the wear and structural properties found in Hardox® 500 Tuf.

For SA Recycling, that meant overcoming two consistent challenges: (1) eliminate expensive downtime from performing continuous repairs as a result of premature wear and cracked support welds and (2) reduce strain on the mobile harbor crane’s capacity for better performance.

More importantly, the lighter weight contributes to major boosts in operational efficiencies overall. For example, the pan loader now features a sleek, tapered shape with a wider rear section. Not only does this provide a safe center of gravity for easier lifting-chain handling by ground personnel, but it provides a safer entry and faster unloading by the dump truck drivers tasked to turn mounds of scrap on a dime.

Hardox® 500 Tuf used to form the pan loader also improves workshop efficiency at Cutting Edge Supply.

Making friends in the workshop

For fabricating companies like CES, the efficiency benefits processing Hardox® 500 Tuf means cutting, welding and forming are more predictable.

“Hardox® 500 Tuf is a clean steel with extremely consistent, guaranteed properties for flatness, thickness and bending performance,” says James Allen, Technical Development Manager for special steels at SSAB. “It ensures predictable fabrication in the workshop. For example, you can weld it using any conventional technique and there’s no pre-heating required up to 5/8 inch (16mm).”

Hardox® 500 Tuf in real life - innovation results speak for themselves

The newly designed skip pan loader takes jabs and impact, is 25% or 5 tons lighter, with increased overall capacity and requires about 25% less time to load outbound ships. This lightweight version with fewer welds, adds safety factors and reduces maintenance without unplanned downtime.

“This new one is a lot thinner and doesn’t have that many welds all over the place,” says Figueroa. “It’s lasting longer and it easier to maintain. The main savings for us is the weight. We can put more scrap in the pan and load more efficiently. We’re definitely going to be saving about 25% of the time it takes us to load the ships. Our downtime has been reduced substantially.”

Ready to step up your steel?

Join companies like SA Recycling and take full advantage of an upgrade. Ask about reducing weight or extending service with Hardox® 500 Tuf. Trust Hardox® wear plate, the world’s leading abrasion-resistant (AR) steel in your extreme application.

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