View a printable version of this page.Print Page

Wheeled Loader in Composting Application

Custom Compost add a new Liebherr L 5502plus2 articulated wheeled loader

Walsh Mushrooms, founded by Pat Walsh in 1979, has estab-lished itself as one of the leading marketeers of fresh mushrooms to the UK, providing a high quality marketing service to growers in Ireland, the UK, Holland and Poland. Sister company, Custom Compost of Gorey, Co Wexford is recognised as a major producer of value-added mushroom compost, selling its compost to mush-room producers throughout Ireland. Having invested heavily in a state-of-the-art composting facility, Custom Compost recently added a new Liebherr L 5502plus2 articulated wheeled loading shovel to its fleet of materials handlers.

Walsh Mushrooms is one of the largest businesses in the mush-room industry and, says the company, accounts for around 10% of the UK fresh mushroom market. The compost production facil-ity in County Wexford is the powerhouse of the group's Irish op-erations and, over the past ten years, Custom Compost has in-vested more than 12 Million to make this the most modern, technically advanced and environmentally friendly operation in Ireland and the UK. The facility currently produces and delivers over 1,300 tonnes of high quality compost weekly and is licensed under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The group also has a smaller facility in the UK - Agricultural Supply Company (Fairford) Limited, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire - producing mushroom compost and green waste.

Custom Compost pioneered aerated bunker compost in Ireland twelve years ago, followed in 1999 by the creation of Ireland's first fully enclosed indoor aerated tunnels, combined with ex-hausting emissions at height which, in turn, is further enhanced by an overhead filling system for optimum uniform material mix. This year, Custom Compost invested a further 1,5M on enclos-ing the rest of the composting process, adding a 40 metres high exhaust stack to significantly disperse and dilute any emissions that may occur. Tunnel systems are state-of-the-art, purpose built and computer controlled and are carefully managed under a stringent hygiene programme to ensure clean, selective and con-sistent compost.

The company's approach to materials handling equipment is as rigorous as their attention to detail in the composting process. "We surveyed the market, visited a number of other owners of loaders in the region and made many comparisons between the various makes available" says Director Mark Walsh. "We had seen Liebherr loading shovels at work during our frequent visits to Holland and heard good reports, so we obtained a machine from Liebherr here in Ireland for trials. The fuel efficiency and power of the L 550 were impressive", he continued, "plus the significant quietness of the machine was an added bonus and an important factor when choosing the Liebherr, as we are very con-scious of keeping both noise and production emissions down to a minimum".

The L 5502plus2 is an articulated, hydrostatically driven wheeled loader in the 16 tonnes class, with a tipping load of 11,650kg and is one of a range of sixteen hydrostatic wheeled loading shovels from Liebherr. Power is supplied by a new generation Tier III Liebherr made engine which develops 130kW. The model taken by Custom Compost is equipped with heavy-duty tyres with a traction tread to provide added traction, stability and durability in the load-and-carry application on site, which can become slippery due to the materials being handled. The arm is supplied with a heavy-duty quick-hitch for exchange of the buckets, forks and grab attachments needed for the wide variety of tasks demanded in this composting facility, which largely comprise cell loading and unloading.

Liebherr loaders feature a high level, isolated cooling system which is equipped with an automatically reversing fan to maintain radiator cleanliness and efficiency; cyclonic engine air pre-cleaners are also included to combat the dusty environment found in many recycling applications. The hydrostatic driveline system on the loader not only contributes to considerable fuel consumption benefits but also, with limited slip differential in both front and rear axles, produces good efficient pushing power whilst, at the same time, prolonging tyre life. An automatic greasing system is standard and greatly contributes to reducing maintenance time.

The operator's cab is typically comfortable, air-conditioned and with full instrumentation. On Custom Compost's loader, a single lever incorporates the forward and reverse direction change switches as well as the control for the auxiliary hydraulics that operate the grab jaw. This makes the machine easy to operate, as the driver's left hand remains on the steering wheel while the right hand controls all other operations. This greatly contributes to the machine's agility and accuracy during the working cycles.