If you produce wood waste and don’t process it yourself and if you’re not fortunate enough to have a manufacturer next door to which you can convey your material, you’ll have to develop a loadout process—unless you prefer dunes of wood waste crowding your land, that is. For this loadout process, you have two options: live load and storage. Of the two, we argue that live loading is usually the better choice.
Live loading involves conveying waste material straight to a truck trailer as it comes off the production line. This is a simpler process than with storage, as storage requires two steps: conveying the waste to a chip bin, concrete pad, or other system, which holds material until a truck comes along to collect it, and then transferring the waste from storage to the trailer. The additional step makes the process less efficient, and it means there is a greater risk for something to go wrong. It also increases the initial cost.
There are other reasons why we prefer live load. 1) Storage is often unnecessary. If you can load trailers without it, why opt to add expensive equipment at your plant, equipment which takes up valuable ground space?
2) Live load is also safer than storage, particularly compared to truck bins. Bins are a liability. People have been killed in and under bins while trying to unplug them (wood won’t flow when it sits too long; rat-holing and bridging are common problems, as well).
3) Bins are also dirty. When they open to fill a trailer, they emit a large dust cloud, especially if the material is dry.
4) Bins furthermore cost considerably more than trailer loading stations.
Argument for Trailer Bins
Those in favor of truck bins may argue that, while the above is true, bins allow producers to get by with only one truck trailer. With a live-load system, they’ll need multiple trailers, as one trailer would always have to sit under the loading station. Those who favor bins may also argue that they can fill trailers faster with a bin than with a live-load system, which is important to consider if trucks from an outside transportation firm receive the material, as it will be expensive if these contractors have to wait extended periods to fill their trailers.
In response to the issue of multiple trailers, we argue that trailers are not the expensive part of this equation. An extra trailer costs much less than the premium you’ll pay for a truck bin. As for the load time, we admit this is a drawback to a live-load system (in lower-output situations, at least).
But even then, there are safer and less expensive solutions than a truck bin. You could, for example, store material in SMART Containers—containers equipped with moving floors. The SMART Container would output into a drag conveyor to feed the loading station. This setup costs less than a truck bin, won’t plug, and will feed trailers at the rate of the container output instead of the output stream from production. It can fill a trailer in as little as ten minutes when multiple bins are used. The truck can be on its way, and you’ll have departed with less cash.
And that’s ultimately what you want, isn’t it?