By Evan Williams of Cambridge Companies, and Chris Hawn of Machinex
Cambridge and Machinex Technologies share five tips for designing a material recovery facility that accommodates future needs.
The material recovery industry is defined by a constantly changing target market and a need to be nimble and quickly adapt to changes in the market. The capital investments required in a new material recovery facility (MRF) and the long in-service timeframes make changes on-the-fly to respond to market conditions a difficult task. However, there are several ways operators can plan their facilities to meet the challenges of an evolving market.
When designing a site plan, operators may have a well-defined mix of inbound vehicles and how a plan to load out the baled and residual materials. Operators should also consider designing the site for the largest potential vehicles that will need to accommodate in the future. For example, there may be a facility that will receive all its materials from route trucks, but there may be a need to accommodate walking floor trailers in the future. If the facility’s access roads were designed with tight turns, this might not be possible.
The goal is to take a step back from a MRF’s immediate need and think about how that operation might look like in five, 10, or 20 years and see if the design still works for each reasonable need. An additional site consideration is to accommodate for possible building expansion. Operators want to ensure the site can accommodate expansions to the tipping area, bale storage, and process areas if there is a possibility the company’s market share can grow in the future. While it may not be required initially, it would be best to design a site that can allow for future growth, rather than be constricted by site features that will increase the cost to relocate later.
Building Shell Design
Like site planning, when designing the building, operators should try to project what those operations may evolve into as the operation grows. Operators need to plan out how that could be addressed within the current building footprint or within an expansion. Equipment suppliers often provide layouts that accommodate the current request of the customer, but also take into consideration future expansion.
When designing the system, it is important to understand any present limitations or future bottlenecks and what can be done to remove that obstacles as the MRF continues to grow.