The scrap metal industry is one of those businesses that most people don’t think about. Scrap yards operate on the peripheries of cities—no one’s ever heard of a scrap yard with a charming downtown storefront. Scrap yards don’t have heavy presences on TV and radio. And while everyone takes the garbage out every week, they probably don’t drag high-quality sheet metal to the curb. But despite keeping such a low profile, there’s big money in scrap metal. Perhaps you want some of that money for yourself.
A scrap yard doesn’t just need space to receive product and space to sort it. We’re dealing with heavy materials, and that calls for some pretty heavy tools. But once you’re properly outfitted for scrapping, you can start thinking about a pretty healthy return on your investment. Whether you’re just now getting into the scrapping business, expanding your concern into scrap metal, or taking inventory of your existing lot, here’s some of the essential equipment you need for a scrap yard.
You’ve heard it enough times by now: safety first. Before we get into the tools of the trade, make sure that all workers are properly outfitted with all necessary safety equipment. That means goggles, hard hats, gloves, and, if necessary, knee and back braces for heavy lifting. Working in a scrap yard also calls for well-soled boots to protect against any sharp debris on the ground. And of course, if anything does go wrong, have first aid kits on hand.
We’ll start in earnest with the basics. Handheld hardware like a hammer, screwdriver, hand drill, and pliers are all tools you’d find in any homeowner’s garage, but they play an integral role in the scrap yard, too. You never know what you’re going to find at the yard, and you don’t know what may need to be taken apart by hand before getting the heavy hitters involved. Don’t skimp on the fundamentals—make plenty of basic tools available.
It’s the old warhorse of heavy industry: the forklift, or lift truck, necessary for lifting and moving the heavy objects that come to the yard. With the volume of material that comes into a well-functioning scrap yard, you’ll have a lot of hoisting to do, and you can’t expect your workers to carry everything by hand. You’ll need at least two forklifts, and experienced workers who can safely operate them.
Commonly known by a popular brand name, the Sawzall, the reciprocating or “recip” saw is a real wolverine of a handheld tool, powerfully cutting through wood, metal, and just about anything you put in front of it. Your recip saw is instrumental in slicing up disused machinery to get to the good stuff, like the valuable non-ferrous metals that bring in your scrap yard’s revenue.
An abrasive, or “cut-off” saw is another valuable cutting tool you’ll need. When you need to sacrifice the precision of a reciprocating saw for some raw power on big jobs, that’s when you turn to the cut-off saw. While a recip saw is versatile in what it can cut through, you’ll specifically want to deploy the cut-off saw against metal—and lots of it. If you’re taking apart a washing machine, some big prompt scrap from a manufacturer, or even an old car, a cut-off saw gets the job done.
Sometimes even the cut-off saw requires too fine a touch for what you need to do. Cutting long rebar or huge sheets of metal down to size is simply all about getting it done. That’s when you call in the alligator shear. This hydraulic tool takes care of oversized materials quickly and easily, making sure your shredder doesn’t take on more than it can handle.
All sorts of metal comes through scrap yards. The key to making money in the scrap business is identifying the metals that are of high value. Ferrous metals, or those containing iron (Fe), are plentiful and useful, but the high supply means low demand, and that means low resale value for you. On the other hand, non-ferrous metals like aluminum, copper, brass, zinc, and nickel carry much more value. The way to sort them out is through magnetics. Ferrous metals are magnetic, and can be separated from the pack, leaving non-ferrous metals behind to sort through. You can do this with acrane magnet that swings in, separates your iron from your non-iron, and leaves you with the moneymakers.
It’s smaller than those big hunks of steel, but there’s big money in wire. And getting down to the copper often requires stripping insulation from the wire so that it’s ready for the next step. Wire strippers can range from handheld tools to full industrial installations that tear off insulation with ease. Because the wire itself can come in all shapes and sizes, it’s good to have a variety of wire strippers for a variety of jobs.
You’ve probably seen hay balers down on the farm—heavy machines that take loose hay and compress it down into easily portable bales. Scrap metal needs to be baled, too. There are a variety of baling systems on the market, with some sending material upward to the machinery and others down into a compacting pit. However you choose to arrange your baler, the end result is the same—small, compact units of product that are ready for market, and ready to make all this cutting, stripping, sorting, and crushing worthwhile.
As you may have guessed, Moley Magnetics is primarily in the electromagnet business, producing a variety of hard-working and versatile magnets for recyclers and heavy industries. But owing to the primacy of magnets in the scrap business, Moley has diversified into many of the other necessary tools for scrapping, making Moley Magnetics a virtual one-stop shop for people entering the scrapping industry or fortifying their existing presence within it. Once you have the magnets you need for the job, expand with our lines of scrap grapples, alligator shears, scrap shredders, wire granulators, and hydraulic generators. There’s a lot of essential equipment you need for a scrap yard, and Moley Magnetics can outfit your yard with equipment that’s built to last and will always work hard for you.