Automation Service’s Steve Ploudre explains how recycling process control equipment improves the environment and the bottom line
Plants have long faced the dilemma of replace versus repair for industrial equipment. However, even after users decide to replace equipment, they face another choice: scrap or recycle. We asked Steve Ploudre, raw materials manager for Automation Service, a global leader in remanufactured process controls, to discuss the growing trend of recycling process control equipment. To contact Steve with your own questions, visit www.automationservice.com.
Modern Pumping Today: How are companies like Automation Service influencing the choice to recycle process control equipment? Are more plants choosing to by recycle their parts instead of scrapping them?
Steve Ploudre: Automation Service’s instrument and valve reclamation program is the right thing to do for the environment as we focus on truly extending the life of these products as opposed to filling a landfill (with plastic cased items) or grinding them for scrap metal. Just as important, and regardless of the current method of disposal, our program promises to offer our customers the maximum value available for their unwanted, used, or obsolete equipment with no additional effort on their part.
Pitching a transmitter in an unsorted metal scrap bin might yield somewhere between .06 and .08 cents per pound. That means a typical instrument will not even generate one dollar from the scrapyard. Controllers and positioners that are plastic-cased items have zero scrap value. In our evaluation process, there are factors that affect the overall value of items like condition, material of construction, generation of equipment, and completeness of the item, just to name a few. But if our program allowed merely $10 or $15 per piece on any of these items it would be considered a huge windfall. The truth of the matter is that, in most cases, you can expect five to ten times that amount with our reclamation program.
MPT: When considering the huge volume of old, used control valves, transmitters, flow measuring equipment, and process controls, what are some of the current recycling trends in the industry?
Steve Ploudre: Being environmentally conscience and recycling all that you can have become priorities in every aspect of what we do. For that very reason many companies have established their own investment recovery departments to try and recoup as much of their assets as possible. The internet has also made it very easy to sell/buy used equipment. Unfortunately there are many drawbacks to disposing of used and obsolete material in that fashion. The cost, knowledge and manpower required to market an extremely wide variety of industrial material can be overwhelming and is time consuming. It’s very common to move much of this equipment to brokers or auctioneers who make it impossible for the seller to realize the full value potential of these items for themselves. Even worse, there can be liabilities involved when you have no control of where your serialized used equipment is going to end up. These concerns are nonexistent for our customers.
MPT: What are your customers telling you on why they choose to recycle their old control valves and instrumentation?
Steve Ploudre: There are numerous reasons why customers choose to recycle their instruments and control valves. The “green” aspect is definitely one factor. We have some customers who recycle their items with us with zero expectation of any value in return purely because they recognize it’s just the right thing to do for our environment. Still, having said that, value is always going to be one of the top reasons for participation. One of the best aspects of the credits we issue for the materials we receive is the fact that our customers, who are responsible for maintaining these types of items within their facilities, are allowed to retain the value of that asset for their department, as opposed to losing that value to a general fund fed by the scrapping or liquidation of that material. We have even heard comments that the credits earned through this program have made upgrades and/or projects that originally seemed unlikely due to budgetary restrictions possible.
Another favorite reason is our unique rewards program. Automation Service’s Reclamation Road Trip rewards program allows participants to accumulate points (or “miles” in this case) to have popular regional foods shipped to them from all over the country. These “miles” are for select items they recycle and are in addition to the credits they receive. It’s a great way to provide a celebration or holiday party for an entire department. Participants also have an option to convert their “miles” into a cash donation to a charity of their choice, in the event that a food option does not work for their purpose. It’s a great bonus to an already rewarding program. ■