By Adam Redling, Waste Today Magazine
May 29, 2020
When contemplating a transfer station redesign, expansion or new build, operators need to weigh several factors to make an economical choice that works in both the short and long term.
The physical layout, size and design of a transfer station heavily influences both the scope and ease of operations within that facility. If the incoming volume surpasses the capacity of a facility, or the facility is no longer conducive for processing the materials coming through the door, it could be time to weigh the benefits of redesigning, expanding or building a new site altogether.
According to Evan Williams, who is in charge of project design at design-build specialist Cambridge Companies, there are a number of factors business owners should consider when deciding on what route might be best for enhancing the capabilities of their operations.
When does it make sense to build?
Williams says that an increase in volume can signal a clear need for facility expansion or redesign. Increases in volume commonly arise from taking on new customers or diversifying the materials the facility processes. In these cases, improving capacity often becomes a must in order to stay competitive and continue serving customers’ needs.
“When it comes to renovating or expanding a facility, it [usually boils down to either expanding the volume or changing the mix] of materials,” Williams says. “Some transfer stations receive municipal solid waste and they might innovate and renovate their facility so they can receive single-stream recyclables that might otherwise get transferred to another facility.”
Other reasons to consider upgrading a transfer station include issues with odor or dust and subsequent environmental compliance regulation; structural deficiencies that need to be fixed to maintain safe operation; or the desire to better separate different streams such as white goods, organics and construction and demolition materials within the facility.
Williams says a redesign or expansion might also be required if there is a change in a site’s incoming vehicles or use of equipment.
“[Facilities might also be renovated or expanded] to receive a particular type of compactor or to accommodate a larger type of trailer,” Williams says. “I know some transfer stations are going away from the more traditional 53-foot empty box trailers to the newer chip trailers to handle more volume. Other operators might want to switch out their existing wheel loader for a material handler with a grapple and need more ceiling clearance, for example. … In these cases, an operator may say, ‘Hey, what we’re doing now isn’t working. We need to improve it. So, what is the next step?’”