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Is there added value in your wiring looms?

wiring looms awaiting collection
What are you doing with your wiring looms?
What happens to the wiring looms in the end of life vehicles you break? Do you take them out and put them in a skip? Do you leave them in the hulk to go to the frag? Or, with the price of copper, have you considered granulating them?

On the face of it, with copper getting on for $10,000 a tonne, there is big chunk of money tied up in those looms. In Sterling terms, if you are selling the looms on, then you are probably getting just over £1 per kg at the moment, so £1,000 per tonne in round figures. If you granulate the looms then you are looking at around £4,000 per tonne. So do the sums add up and what are the snags, after all nothing is ever that straight forward!

To take a closer look at the costs, I am going to make use of some figures that SEDA have supplied me. The prices are in Euros, so as you get around 87p at the time of writing for your Euro, we shall reduce the Euro prices by 10% to get to pounds. So what do SEDA’s figures show? We shall only look at the main figures but the spreadsheet they supply is comprehensive covering wages, maintenance, power consumption etc, and it spreads the cost of the machine purchase over 4 years. The annual number of end of life vehicles (ELVs) is set at 1,000 with the average weight of cable per vehicle being 10kg. There is also a cost included for cables sourced externally. More about this point further on but for a cable granulator to process car looms there are a number of serious issues and one way of making the whole thing work well is to add conventional cable (such as twin and earth) and this is what this cost is included for. The buying in price on the spread sheet is 1Euro per kg which is a little out of date. I was given a price of £1.50 (1.65 euro) for commercial cable. That aside, based on the information used, the spreadsheet indicates the following figures:
  • Shredder costs - £12,442
  • Dismantling costs - £450
  • Annual revenue from granulated copper - £30,000
  • Annual revenue if looms sold on whole - £10,000
  • Profit if granulated - £17,558
  • Profit if sold on as looms - £9,550

So on these figures, there is an extra £5,000 per year by granulating. Bear in mind also, each of the first four years includes £5600 of machinery costs. Hopefully you would get more than four years out of the equipment which would double the return after that. If you are interested, then contact SEDA for a copy of the spreadsheet. You can then change all the figures to match your business volumes and costs to see how the figures stack up for your circumstances. David Pinner of Crow Environmental even suggests getting the stanley knife out and physically stripping a loom or two so you can find out just how much copper you will get. Don't forget the heavy duty leads as well!

Now for the downside. We touched on this earlier. Car looms have a number of issues that make the job not as straight forward as stripping conventional cables. I contacted David Pinner of Crow Environmental who supply a range of equipment for cable granulation about these issues. David explained, “The problem with cable looms from cars is the scotch tape that they are often bound together with and the tar like substance used to stick the cable to the body work. These components tend to ball up in the mill, especially once it has been running for 15 minutes or so as the heat melts the glue.” He went on to say, “You have 4 options:
  • Clean off 95% of the tape and glue before processing.
  • Clean off the major obviously large bits of tape and add a talcum powder type substance to bind the glue.
  • Process the cable on a 30 :70 ratio with standard commercial type cable.
  • A combination of the above".

The IT show in the states
Copper Granulators come in various sizes, with many add-ons to improve the process
SEDA’s Andreas Rieser added, “If a dismantler decides to shred copper cables from wiring looms, he should understand that it´s not a feed and forget process, but if he takes care about it and mixes it together with normal electrical cables, then he can make good money with it”. There are number of do’s and don’ts here. All the plugs, connectors and other fittings should be cut off, remove as much of the adhesive tape as possible, then feed the shredder with a mix of looms and conventional cable. Another important point is not to mix in any steel wires or aluminium cable. If it is all starting to sound rather daunting, bear in mind that shredding cable is quite commonplace in European yards so it can’t be that tricky.

What equipment you should have depends on the size of your operation and the amount of cable you plan to process.. There are a number of suppliers out there who offer not only the shredders but the ancillary equipment that can upgrade the operation as necessary. Items such as pre-shredders, automatic sieve cleaners, and vibrating tables can all help increase the efficiency of the system. Prices for a system seem to start around £20,000 and as with most things the sky is the limit. If you think this may well be of interest, then visit Crow Environmental and SEDA. Both companies should be able to help you decide whether it makes sense and what you would need.

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