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Lift Truck Tips: From tossing it out to raking it in

Specialized lift truck clamps help booming waste paper industry reduce, reuse and reap profits.
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
February 01, 2012

Recycling on both a personal and commercial scale has become so ubiquitous it can seem as though the green revolution is more or less complete. But according to Tim Wilson, national product manager for pulp and paper at forklift attachment maker Bolzoni-Auramo, there is still at least one sector where the shift to resource recovery is in an all-out boom: waste paper materials handling solutions.

The need for clamps and attachments purpose-built for this application is going nowhere but up, says Wilson. Citing the American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA), Wilson says the rate of recovery of waste paper in the United States is up dramatically in the last seven years. In 2004, 48% of waste paper was recovered. After setting an initial goal of 60% recovery by 2013, the AFPA reported a rate of 63.5% in 2010, says Wilson. The new target is to recover 70% by 2020.

“It’s good for the materials handling industry in general,” says Wilson.

A number of attachment manufacturers have seen spikes in demand for clamps for lifts trucks rated from 3,000- to 40,000-pound loads. Wilson says the growing range of clamp offerings aims to improve safety as the amount of material needing to be handled skyrockets. Too often, he says, forklifts are used to move paper bales only as an afterthought.

“You’d be amazed at how many people are still stabbing these bales with forks, sometimes three at a time,” says Wilson. “It’s very unsafe. Putting paper bales on pallets is no safer, since the loads are unpredictably weighted. Lifting under an unsecured bale is very unsafe. You really need to grab them from the side.”

But the benefits of the paper recovery boom extend beyond increased clamp sales. Wilson adds that waste paper handling is much rougher on forklift equipment than you might think. Loose paper tends to get caught in moving parts or the exhaust system, and there can be more exposure to the elements than a typical forklift endures. The wear and tear keeps local dealers busy, says Wilson, and requires ruggedized clamps.

In addition, companies whose core competencies couldn’t be further from waste handling find themselves using paper clamps to make a little cash on the side, says Wilson. “In some cases, instead of throwing it away or sending it to the recycler, customers want to bale and sell waste paper themselves,” he says. “People are seeing dollar signs.”

Read more Lift Truck Tips columns.

About the Author

Josh Bond
Senior Editor

Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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