By Darrin Cline
In the demanding world of industry tools, no machine can last forever. Brush chippers are not exempt from this fate; hours of labor and tons of trees and shrubs processed each year inevitably contribute to reducing the life of the machine. When a contractor decides a brush chipper has reached the end of its useful life, an upgrade is needed to keep processing at the expected production rate. There are a number of variables that come into play, but largely the decision is based on operator preference and maintenance.
“We have customers who will trade-in based on hours; others will base it on a calendar, whether it is three years or even up to eight years in some cases,” said Todd Roorda, sales manager for tree care, rental and landscape business units at Vermeer. “It can also be heavily influenced by the material being processed in the chipper. If you are doing large material, it’s going to cause more wear. You could also have operators who do smaller materials, but they are putting on a lot of hours on the machine.”
This combination of total hours and level of demand can lead to varying philosophies on when an upgrade should be considered. Nonetheless, wear can show over time, and one of the earliest indicators of a potential upgrade is the knives. While stringent adherence to a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule can mitigate the problem, the chipper knives can dull and lead to a hammering effect, instead of cutting. Along with affecting chip quality, this hammering will then cause excessive vibrating throughout the machine, which can compound over time and could eventually cause stress cracks.
A proper maintenance schedule can prolong the life of a chipper, and being proactive with maintenance will help prevent any issues. Whether the owner is motivated by wear to the current machine or interested in taking advantage of new technology, Roorda said the key is to right-size your brush chipper to the work you are most commonly asked to perform.
“The best practice is to buy a machine with a capacity at 90 percent of your workload. For example, if you are an average contractor and most of your work is large takedowns, then you want to base your choice off that, but you also have some flexibility to handle larger or smaller material. If you buy a chipper that is too large, then you could be overspending. If you buy to small, then you limit the jobs you can complete.”
Trading in or selling your used chipper
For operators who are buying a new chipper, selling or trading in their existing chipper is a viable option. There is a tremendous market for used chippers that are still in good condition and have retained high functionality.
“Owners can trade them in on a new machine for market value; the dealer will then sell the chipper. There is a long line of people looking for used chippers,” said Roorda.
Dealers and manufacturers are more than willing to explain and demonstrate all the features of the new brush chippers. Two of the main areas that Vermeer stresses when talking with operators who are in the market for a new chipper are the Tier 4i engine compliance and the EcoIdle technology.
“Tier 4 has been the biggest change in the market; basically every chipper now will be at least Tier 4 Interim or Tier 4 Final,” said Roorda. “It’s different than what many operators have seen in a long time and we like to help them understand the technology and how these engines produce cleaner emissions.”
EcoIdle is a feature that works to automatically reduce the rpm to idle levels after anywhere from 60 seconds to 5 minutes of inactivity to help reduce fuel consumption. It also helps reduce noise and greenhouse emissions.
Knowing your equipment is essential to maximizing productive life. With brush chippers as a lynchpin of many fleets, being knowledgeable about wear indicators and features of new chippers can provide a combination of insights to help owners best plan for upgrades.
Darrin Cline is a features writer at Two Rivers Marketing.
Article submitted on behalf of Vermeer.