As featured in Recycling Today
Thriving Recycling Company Eliminates Manual Scrap Metal Handling To Speed Processing And Accommodate Bustling Door Trade
It’s Saturday at 8 a.m. and a line of two dozen cars, minivans, pickup trucks and other vehicles is already winding down the street and around the corner in an otherwise tidy if nondescript business district in Hackensack, New Jersey. To the uninitiated, it looks as if these people are waiting for rationed gasoline. But they’re not here for gas. Their vehicles are teeming with scrap metal and the people at Cinelli Iron & Metal Co. are about to turn it into cash. This second generation, family-owned and operated company specializes in handling, processing and shipping both ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal all over the world. With three New Jersey facilities, a fleet of trucks on call 24 hours per day, a slate of heavy equipment and a dedicated team of hands-on professionals, Cinelli is enjoying the ravenous demand for commodities along with year after year of startling, robust growth. Nowhere are these conditions more apparent than in the company’s door trade business.
“That line of customers forms every Saturday and it goes on like that all day,” says Tommy Gatto, retail buyer and manager of the door trade business. “We handle literally hundreds of people every week and the more people we can handle in a day while still providing the professional level of service our customers expect, the better it is for everyone.” As scrap metal prices rose in recent years, Gatto noted a surge of new customers on top of increasing visits from existing customers and wanted to capitalize on the opportunity without turning people away or upsetting people with aggravating wait times. “Saturday is a busy day for our customers and they just want to get in and get out fast with some extra money in their pockets,” says Gatto. Examining the process by which people drive up, unload their scrap by hand, carry it to the scale and then carry it to a roll-off container in the yard, Gatto realized that streamlining this process – even though it was entrenched at scrap yards worldwide – would help dramatically.
Gatto tested a variety of carts and containers to help the process move faster while sparing customers from the bulk of the manual lifting and handling of the wires, pipes, appliances and other heavy, unwieldy items. Old postal carts quickly failed under the heavy loads and their canvas bodies ripped from sharp, metal corners and jagged edges. Plastic tilt trucks seemed a fine idea but it was tricky for people to balance the loads and raising them onto a lift truck would have created a safety hazard. Then Gatto learned about a plastic utility cart in the Recycleosaurus container line called the 50P-16 from the material handling product manufacturer Meese Orbitron Dunne Co. (MOD), Ashtabula, Ohio (www.Recycleosaurus.com). Featuring a rugged, rotationally molded plastic container set atop a 5/8″ marine plywood base with six industrial strength casters, the 50P-16 had been replacing postal carts and other canvas and wood utility trucks in a host of collection and transport applications throughout industry for years. Its unique caster configuration with larger casters in the middle creates a slight tipping action that makes pushing it smooth and easy, even up or down a curb. Cinelli’s customers flocked to the new carts. With the 50P-16, Gatto replaced the cumbersome, manual scrap handling process with a new approach that was far easier for customers of all sizes and ages to manage. Customers simply placed their scrap into the containers using a different one for each type of material, then rolled it onto the scale, received payment and went home. “These carts turn on a dime and they can be pushed or pulled 360 degrees in any direction,” says Gatto. “That’s very helpful and customers notice and appreciate it.” Depending on the volume and type of material, a forklift would then either dump the loaded bin into a gaylord or into a roll-off for transport and shipping around the world.
But the celebration was short lived. “The forks would catch between the casters and squeeze the cart until it would break,” says Gatto. “They were designed for rolling but not lifting. We needed it to work on a forklift, too.” And according to Gatto, dramatic growth in the door trade had made these carts a necessity. MOD’s Jim Cavallaro and his team of engineers worked with Cinelli’s George Reyes to develop a new, forkliftable design. Reyes had previously developed Cinelli’s breakthrough covered roll-off as well as the latch system that keeps the cover in place during dumping. The result of their work is a modified MOD 50P-16 that thrives in the punishing work of a scrap metal yard. It features metal fork tubes attached to the underside of the cart with its casters attached to the fork tubes rather than to the base of the cart. This setup permits the cart to be raised safely and securely on a forklift without the forks coming into contact with the casters or the cart itself. The new model works so well that Cinelli’s drivers are able to lift, rotate and turn the carts completely upside down to unload them over a roll-off. Carrying scrap and tossing heavy metal objects into the roll-off by hand have been eliminated.
Now once a cartload is weighed, it’s quickly picked up by a forklift and whisked across the street. “There’s almost no manual lifting or carrying anymore,” says Gatto. “These carts made the whole operation safer and more ergonomically sound.”
Further, building the logistics system around these 50P-16’s has cut about five minutes off the time required to process each cartload. With hundreds of loads processed each week, adding a 50-cart fleet has helped Gatto manage more customers than ever before while accelerating the whole process and making it easier, safer and more inviting for the customer to scrap at Cinelli. In fact, Gatto considers the carts a competitive advantage. “Customers who come here for the first time, because they were attracted by our better scale prices for example, say, ‘Wow, this is great not having to load everything by hand,'” says Gatto. “Customers have told me that we have the nicest bins around.” Though precisely quantifying the impact of happier customers is always a challenge, relying on the bright red fleet of 50P-16’s is entirely consistent with the company’s high energy approach to courteous customer service and to its commitment to using the most advanced technology available, according to Gatto. “There is no doubt our carts are as important to the success of our operation as our fleet of trucks.”