September 15, 2015

County is home to the world’s largest compactor

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

McKenzie County’s Landfill can now boast of having the heaviest trash compactor on the planet, and the only one in the state of North Dakota. The 62-ton Al-Jon Advantage 600 Compactor, which arrived last week, is already making its huge presence felt at the landfill.
“The new compactor had to come in three different trucks because it was so big,” said Rick Schreiber, McKenzie County Landfill Solid Waste director. “Three wheels came in the first truck. The fourth wheel and the blade came in the second truck. And the machine came in the third truck. Once all the pieces were here, we assembled it on-site. We put the wheels on with our loader and the mechanics came in the day after.”
The Al-Jon Advantage 600 weighs 62 tons, twice as heavy as the landfill’s older compactor, the Bomag, which weighs about 30 tons.  The blade, itself, weighs 17,000 pounds and the wheels weigh 12,000 pounds a piece. The cleats on each wheel weigh about 80 pounds each and are 10 inches wide. The cleats are what penetrates and breaks up the trash, says Schreiber. And the cleats on the old compactor maybe weigh about 25 pounds each.
“That’s a 25-ton increase per cleat,” says Joshua Moody, McKenzie County Landfill Solid Waste Operations supervisor. “It’s a tremendous amount of pressure and weight going into the trash. It’s crazy. We’re at about 1,000 pounds per square-inch (psi) of compaction with the old machine. With the new machine, just as it is, will go from 1,000 to 1,500 psi right away. But we are shooting for 1,700 to 1,800 psi.”
Because of the amount of trash that has come in and continues to come into the landfill on a daily and consistent basis, Schreiber says it’s vital that they have the new landfill compactor. Still running at about 150 tons of trash a day - averaged out through the month, it’s extremely important for the landfill to get the best compaction it can, to allow each cell to last as long as possible.
“The trick is to have a wheel and a combination that will break up the trash,” said Schreiber. “If it’s all broke up, you can compact a lot more than if it’s in big chunks. We want to compact as much as we can into a cell as possible. If you can save $5 million in expansion just by adding two years to a cell, it’s worth it. We don’t have the luxury of extra employees so we have to do the best with what we have. With the new compactor, it will ultimately save us time. So, it’s a no-brainer.”
According to Schreiber, the Al-Jon Advantage 600 is custom-built and designed for landfills like the one in  McKenzie County. Because of what the landfill takes in, it’s a perfect fit. However, they will be keeping the  old compactor, the Bomag, as back-up. The county bought the Bomag for $600,000, and since it’s paid for, the plan is to keep it around so the landfill is never put in a situation where they don’t have a compactor.
At the end of last week and beginning of this week, the landfill crew from Dickinson came out to see the new compactor at the McKenzie County Landfill and to see if it is something their landfill wants to purchase.
Schreiber and Moody started talking about a compactor that could compact more trash about a year ago. They had to build a case as to why they felt the landfill needed it, the money it would save in the long run, and hopefully, influence the McKenzie County Board of Commissioners to accept their idea and move forward with the plan.
“The Board of Commissioners was instrumental in getting the new compactor,” said Schreiber. “They stepped up when they didn’t have to. We pleaded our case and tried to influence them on going forward with the Al-Jon. So it definitely wouldn’t have happened without the support of the Board.”
In addition to getting their new compactor, the McKenzie County Landfill officially opened its new Public Drop-off Area about a month ago. According to Schreiber and Moody, the process has been going very well and has been successful with the landfill users.
“People really like the fact that they don’t have to go into the cell anymore,” stated Schreiber. “People are making it easier on themselves because we are making it easier for them. People don’t have to worry about big commercial trucks, driving down into the cells to the various drop-off areas, or the mud. Commissioner Nordby has even had some comments from people saying this landfill is the most efficient landfill they’ve ever been to. That’s nice to hear.”
The road leading from U.S. Highway 85 to the landfill has also recently been completed, allowing for better access and a paved roadway - just another benefit the landfill has seen in recent weeks. And coming up on Oct. 17, the landfill will be holding its first Household Hazardous Collection Day, which has been three years in the making.
“It’s taken me three years to get ready for this event and actually do it,” says Schreiber. “If we get a good turnout and it’s successful, we hope to have this event annually.”