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This article takes an in depth look at compactors and their use.
You will learn more about topics such as:
What is a Trash Compactor
Types of Trash Compactors
How Trash Compactors are Used
How a Trash Compactor Works
And much more…
Chapter One – What is a Trash Compactor?
A Trash compactor is a machine or device designed to compress, reduce, and compact a variety of materials through hydraulic, mechanical, or pneumatic force. The initial steps in the compacting process are the collection of the material to be compacted. This is completed using various means from manual loading, loaders, conveyors, or other dumping methods. Once the compactor reaches a certain level, it is activated to compress the material into a smaller form by forcing out air, fluids, and moisture.
The process of compacting reduces the volume of waste and its footprint, allowing a more convenient and economical method for removing it. Compactors are an environmentally compliant method for removing waste cleanly and safely. The reduced volume and mass of waste decreases its space in a landfill.
Chapter Two – Types of Trash Compactors
In modern industry, an industrial trash compactor is a must in order to keep up with the continually changing regulations regarding pollution and proper disposal of waste materials. Every industry produces its own unique type of waste that has to be handled in a specific way. The type of waste is the determining factor regarding the type of compactor.
In essence, there is a compactor to meet the needs of every kind of waste product, from ones designed to handle metals to others made for fluids and liquid waste. A major part of an organization's planning is to decide on the time of compactor required for waste management.
Trash Compactor Types
An auger compactor has a rotating auger located in the feeder or waste collector. As waste material is fed into the collection chamber, the auger or screw crushes it and moves it into a second container. Auger compactors have the strength, endurance, and power to crush very large items, much like a pre-crusher compactor.
Auger compactors can crush wet and dry waste, making them an ideal solution for a wide variety of commercial and industrial uses. The size and shape of the waste material is significantly reduced prior to being packed in the receiver container.
A bag compactor is designed to compress bags into a removable bin. They are designed to control the dust created by the compacting of plastic and paper bags. Bags are loaded into the bag compactor, which pulls in any dust or contaminants. The bags are then compressed into a removable bin that can be lined with a plastic bag for easy transfer to a dumpster. Bag compactors come in sizes that range from 50 gallons to 150 gallons.
Chute Fed Compactors
Chute fed compactors are used in multistory buildings, hospitals, and resorts and have a two or three yard front or rear load container. They have a chute hopper that receives trash that sends it to the compacting chamber. A sensor detects the quantity of the waste material and activates the compression cycle of the ram. When the compactor is full, an alert light lets the operator know to unload the compactor.
Portable Trash Compactor
Portable trash compactors are located inside buildings and are smaller than stationary, vertical, or self-contained compactors. They can handle 1000 gallons of trash and can be moved to be positioned in different locations. They have a built-in cart for the safe removal of the compacted waste.
The compacted material is formed into a block in the cart in the lower part of the compactor. It is loaded through a front latched door and compacts the waste material into the cart.
A pre-crusher is a unique form of compactor that compacts materials before they can be compacted. Their purpose is to smash waste materials before they are compacted to reduce the volume of the trash. The majority of the items that are put through a pre-crusher are large and bulky such as furniture, drums, and pallets.
If a large item is not broken down before being placed in a compactor, it will leave gaps and open space in the compactor bin. A pre-crusher breaks down large items to ensure that waste material is tightly packed. They are designed for use in heavy duty work environments such as construction and industrial manufacturing.
A function of pre-crushers is to destroy products, materials, and items that could possibly be used for resale. The crushing process destroys any value that a product may have.
The purpose and design of self-contained compactors is to hold and crush wet waste, which makes them ideal for food processing locations. Under normal circumstances, a self-contained compactor is attached to a building with an opening that allows it to be loaded from inside the building. They may also be placed in a building.
Wet waste is loaded into the compactor, where the ram crushes the material to 75% smaller than its original volume. The mechanism of the compactor is fused to a container that holds the waste and prevents leakage. Self-contained compactors are liquid tight for the safety and protection of workers and the environment. When they are fully loaded, the compactor and container are taken to a landfill, where the compactor is unloaded.
Stationary compactors are designed for large volume operations that produce huge amounts of dry, bulky waste material. The name stationary is a complete definition of a stationary compactor since they are bolted to the ground and have a large footprint. Waste from hospitals, department stores, restaurants, warehouses, and manufacturing are collected in a receiver box, which can be filled by a conveyor, by hand, or other loading system.
The design of stationary compactors allows for the crushing of dry waste. They should not be used for wet waste since the compactor is not self-contained. Materials that a stationary compactor can compact include cardboard, mixed paper, plastic, and textiles.
A vertical compactor is a front load compactor. They have a small footprint and are ideal for use in small, crowded spaces. Waste is loaded through the front door of the compactor and can include plastics, cardboard, paper, and some wet waste. When the compactor chamber is full, its ram is activated by a switch causing the ram to move down on the waste and compress it.
The process of a vertical compactor creates a bale or block that can be used for recycling. A vertical compactor can be configured for rear or front load pickup. Full containers can be kept on site to decrease the frequency of pickups.
Trash compactors have become an essential part of several industries to reduce the volume of waste produced from production, record keeping, shipping and receiving, and various manufacturing processes. As concern for the condition of the environment grows, the use of compactors as a means for reducing the size of loads dumped into landfills has increased.
The simple process of crushing waste and compressing it into bundles, blocks, and bales has had a significant impact in limiting the size of waste material. Since the introduction of the first compactor in the 1940s, their use has grown from a convenience to a vital part of environmental protection and sustainability.
How Compactors are Used
The use of compactors can be categorized by the industries that depend on them. In general, every type of business produces some form of waste material to be removed and dumped. The size and volume of work of a business increase the need for the use of a compactor.
The widest use for compactors is found in various retail, restaurant, and hotel operations that produce a variety of waste products from packing materials and boxes to leftover food. Years ago, a major concern for commercial enterprises was the types of rodents and vermin that lived off the piles of waste their businesses produced. The implementation and use of compactors have eliminated the problem while decreasing the footprint that commercial waste produces.
Commercial compactors are normally vertical and are placed either inside or outside, depending on the needs of the business. Vertical compactors come in a variety of sizes such that they can be placed in a work area or outside the back door.
Uses in the Healthcare Industry
The healthcare and medical industries have a completely different type of waste material that is potentially dangerous and harmful. The disposal of medical instruments and tools requires careful care and planning to protect waste management personnel from being infected by needles, swabs, and other used instruments. The waste materials are carefully managed and monitored and equipped with alerts warning of dangerous or hazardous conditions in the compactor.
The design of a medical waste compactor necessitates the employment of containment, storage, and transportation to prevent exposure of waste to the public. Healthcare professionals and local health departments generally accept these requirements.
Industrial compactors are larger and capable of processing greater quantities of waste material. An emphasis for modern industrial operations is the collection of recyclable and reusable materials. A popular method in the recycling effort is the single stream self contained compactor that separates recyclable material from landfill materials. Paper, aluminum, and plastics are placed in one container, while landfill waste such as wet and food waste is placed in the other.
Industrial operations use a wide selection of compactors with stationary and self-contained being the most common.
Uses in Schools
There is a growing demand for schools to recycle paper, furniture, plastic bags, toner cartridges, computers, and electronic devices to save landfill space and remove pollution from the environment. One method that has become a practical solution for school recycling is the indoor hopper, which is ideal for use in busy corridors and hallways. Indoor hoppers are on casters for easy mobility and placement. They are designed to be front or rear loaded for easy access. When full, they can be wheeled to the hauler area to be unloaded.
The few uses for compactors listed above are a small fraction of the applications where compactors are used. Airports depend on compactors to keep surfaces clean. The food industry relies heavily on self-contained compactors for compressing and decreasing their volume of waste as well as preventing infestations from rodents and vermin. Any place that has waste, whether it be large or small, depends on a compactor to reduce the volume of its waste material and diminish its waste footprint.
Chapter Four – How a Trash Compactor Works
The many configurations of Trash compactors have a single goal: to compress waste material into a compact size for removal or recycling. From this general principle, manufacturers have developed a variety of methods and techniques that are designed to meet the needs of specific materials and applications.
In the majority of cases, the compression process is initiated by a ram that is powered by a hydraulic or pneumatic motor. The size, force, and power of the system depends on the types of materials to be processed and the size of the chamber.
Design of a Compactor
Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU)
The HPU supplies the power to the compactor and consists of an electric motor, pump, hydraulic directional valve, a pressure control valve, and a reservoir. To avoid the hazard of electrical shock, the power unit is not connected to the compactor box.
The ram is the working mechanism of a trash compactor since it is the part of the compactor that crushes and compresses the contents. It is a giant rectangular piece of metal made of heavy duty metals that thrusts forward with great force. How the ram attacks the waste matter depends on its design since it can be moved vertically or horizontally.
The image of the ram below is from a vertical compactor.
Several terms are used to describe the part of the compactor where the trash and waste is collected. Chamber, hopper, bin, and other terms are used to designate this space. The bin is the largest part of a compactor and where the ram moves through to compact the contents. Some manufacturers suggest organizing materials in the bin with larger pieces of waste in the center and smaller ones along the side.
There are restrictions on the materials that can be placed in the bin such as items with hazardous chemicals, explosive materials, certain foods, and any items that have a strong odor or smell.
In the compactor below, the bin opening can be seen on the left of the image of a stationary short pack compactor.
The force and power of the compactor is created by the hydraulic pump that forces the ram against the trash. Hydraulic fluid in the pump pushes a piston that pushes the ram. When a sufficient amount of pressure builds up along the surface of the ram, as the trash is compacted, the piston retracts, pulling the ram back to allow more trash to be loaded in the bin.
In the image below, the hydraulic pump can be seen at the top of the image of a vertical trash compactor.
The control panel of a compactor includes a variety of switches and buttons designed to enable the easy and safe use of the compactor. The key feature to the control panel is safe operation since it contains more than a simple on and off switch.
The majority of industrial compactors have a key that is required for access to the controls. Once access has been granted, the operator can turn the compactor on and off. Three indicator lights display the status of the compactor. A red light indicates that the compactor is full and should be emptied. When the ram is in motion, a green light will appear on the panel. For some models, a yellow light indicates that a cleaning or deodorizing agent is being applied.
An essential feature of all large compactors is the emergency stop button that halts the operation of the compactor regardless of where it is in its cycle. This is a necessary safety feature, especially for large industrial compactors such as pre-crushers, self-contained, and stationary compactors that handle large volumes of waste and crush it with great force.
Chapter Five – Benefits of a Trash Compactor
Regardless of the size of a business, waste management is a key component of its operation. In modern society, this particular aspect of business has gained greater significance due to the sustainability movement and the need to be eco-friendly. Inappropriate, irresponsible, and improper waste management can threaten the existence of a business and lead to it being shut down.
The easiest to use and widely available method for waste management is the trash compactor that comes in sizes, designs, and configurations to fit the needs of any business. A small investment in a compactor can lead to multiple benefits in business operations.
The proper management of waste and its control can lower the costs of doing business. The compacting of waste, garbage, and refuse reduces the need for its collection and having bins and containers for storing it for pickup. The use of a trash compactor removes the need for trash bags or other such measures.
The consolidation and compression of trash lowers the waste footprint of a business and diminishes the number of trips to the landfill to unload and empty trash. This saves on the costs of trash pickup and the necessary labor.
In the present business environment, every means is being taken to cut down on the time used for a certain job or project. The elimination of the concerns for waste management can be a simple and efficient method for eliminating one major issue. This can be facilitated by installing a compactor system, which cuts down on cost, eliminates wasted time, and provides a smooth and economical solution.
The size of a business’ footprint is a constant concern since the greater the size of the footprint, the greater the cost. Trash compactors can reduce the size of a company’s footprint by disposing of bulky and space consuming waste materials. Large pieces of waste matter can be transformed into a small manageable cube or block that makes the waste matter easier to handle and takes up less space.
Easy to Use
The installation and use of a compactor are easy, convenient, and efficient. Once positioned, the simple pressing of a button activates the powerful mechanism that compresses, flattens, and crushes large quantities of useless or recyclable materials. Any member of a company’s staff can operate a compactor with proper guidance.
There are several factors related to the accumulation of trash, the most important of which is its toxic and harmful nature. When waste is allowed to set and be untreated, it rots and produces odors, which can be harmful and possibly dangerous. Trash and waste can easily be disposed of in a trash compactor that contains the odor and compresses the material such that it is less likely to produce huge volumes of toxic chemicals.
Appearance of a Compactor
The very old, tried, and true method of throwing trash in a bin or trash can until it overflows has been found to be ineffective and diminishes the appearance of a business’ property. A major benefit of a compactor is its ability to take those overflowing piles of garbage and trash and compress them into small, insignificant bundles for easy disposal. The appearance of the exterior of a business is left looking spruced, clean, and well organized.
Society has become acutely aware of how a business deals with environmental issues and tends to support those businesses that show concern for sustaining and protecting the environment. This single factor can be the turning point in how a business appears to the public. Concern for the environment can be seen everywhere in the United States with recycling programs by trash collecting companies and sustainability programs by major corporations.
These many efforts create a positive public image that encourages customers to support a business. Implementing a compactor system is a vital step in a program for improving how a company is viewed.
Of all the many benefits of instituting a compactor program, environmental awareness is the most vital. Going Green is the slogan of the century and one that all concerned businesses have placed at the forefront of their objectives. A compactor reduces the size of the waste sent to a landfill and has the potential to assist in separating recyclable materials from landfill waste. It is the optimum environmental mechanism that removes contaminants and safely constricts and controls them.
A compactor is a machine or device designed to compress, reduce, and compact a variety of materials through the use of hydraulic, mechanical, or pneumatic force.
The process of compacting reduces the volume of waste and its footprint, allowing a more convenient and economical method for removing it.
In modern industry, an industrial trash compactor is a must in order to keep up with the continually changing regulations regarding pollution and proper disposal of waste materials.
As concern for the condition of the environment grows, the use of compactors as a means for reducing the size of loads dumped into landfills has increased.
The many configurations of compactors have a single goal, which is to compress waste material into a compact size for removal or recycling.
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