David J. Joseph Company


May 4, 2010

Komatsu reliable equipment and dealer support

While recycling has gained popularity during the past few decades, the concept has been around for much longer. In fact, this year marks the 125th anniversary of the David J. Joseph Company, which began trading scrap metal in 1885. That scrap metal is sent to mills and eventually made into new products that are found in practically every facet of day-to-day life.

David J. Joseph Company — a subsidiary of Nucor — is the United States’ largest scrap broker. With 11 domestic ferrous brokerage offices, it also trades internationally. In addition to brokerage services, the company operates nearly 60 scrap-processing facilities throughout the U.S.

The company’s extensive list of services includes mill services, which comprise blending, inspection and loading in steel mills throughout the country. At its operation in Jackson, Tenn., the David J. Joseph Company subcontracts to process raw materials. About 30 people work at the facility, an around-the-clock operation with four shifts.

“We’re handling upward of 700,000 tons of materials each year, all of which comes to us by truck or railcar,” said Paul Love, Superintendent of Operations. “We thoroughly inspect each load and separate it by properties such as chemical makeup. The mill gives us specifications — a recipe, if you will — based on the end product it’s going to produce. We have to properly blend the raw metals to ensure they meet spec. When it comes in, we separate it into various piles by metal content in order to get the exact chemistry.”

Love emphasized that achieving the right chemistry is an exact science. “There’s much more to what we do than dumping a bunch of metal into a kiln and melting it down. If we don’t get the correct blend of metals, the end product will be substandard. The mill relies on us to get it right, and we’re able to deliver because we have experience and knowledge backing us. That’s why we’ve been working for this mill in Jackson for more than 20 years.”

Keeping materials moving

The David J. Joseph Company ensures the proper blend of metals by combining its experience with technology. The company developed its own real-time software, Intelliload, which Love and the staff use to produce the proper blend according to mill specifications. Those specs are then transmitted to the company’s equipment operators and drivers, so they can create the right blend. On-board scales in the machinery help ensure accuracy.

“In the past, switching to a different blend could take up to a day because we had to pass that information through different channels,” said Love. “Now, I can key in the blend and send it out instantaneously. That lets us adjust on-the-fly and saves us a lot of time and effort.”

Among those receiving the information are drivers in Komatsu 60-ton-plus HD465 rigid-frame haul trucks. The trucks transport the metals from stockpiles to a large “melt bucket” that feeds the mill’s kiln. Crews load the trucks using a variety of equipment, including a Komatsu WA600-6 wheel loader. Each piece of Komatsu equipment is specially modified or equipped to handle not only the rigorous conditions of working with scrap materials, but to do it more efficiently.

“Getting the correct blends is one step in the process; another is making sure the materials get to the melt bucket as quickly as possible,” said Love. “We can’t afford breakdowns because if we have to shut down, so does the mill, and we can’t let that happen. We load the different metals into the trucks in layers, the order of which is determined by specification. Normally, when a truck dumps, the material spills out and spreads. We can’t have that, so on the backs of the truck boxes we installed special fins that direct the material into the melt bucket and maintain the proper layering. However, that method modifies the center of gravity, so we filled the front tires with foam to compensate.

“One thing we especially like about the trucks is their very tight turning radius, which allows us to get in position and back to the melt bucket without needing much room,” he added. “These trucks were designed for mining operations, which normally means a lot of wide-open runs. But our application involves much more stopping and starting. That’s harder on a truck, but the Komatsus have held up very well. That says a lot about their quality. We can move a large capacity with confidence that the trucks are not going to cause us catastrophic downtime.

“Everything we do is designed to maximize our uptime so we can keep material constantly moving,” Love continued. “Our Komatsu WA600 loader is a big part of that. It’s easy to operate, and allows us to get materials into the trucks in a pass or two, depending on the blend. We put specialty tires on the wheel loader because, as one can imagine, scrap metal is hard on tires. The solid tires we use allow us to run without worrying about cuts that would lead to flats and shut us down.”

Love said that the Komatsu equipment, purchased from Power Equipment’s Memphis branch with the help of Territory Manager Jimmy Spence, has given David J. Joseph Company maximum uptime. “Our Komatsu equipment is literally running around the clock, and we’ve never had a problem with it,” affirmed Love. “Because we run 24/7, dealer service at anytime is critical to us. If we ever need something, I know I can call Jimmy or anyone else at Power Equipment and they’ll respond quickly.”

Continued commitment

Love emphasized that the David J. Joseph Company takes its commitment to quality and safety seriously. “Continuing to efficiently provide the mill with high-grade materials is vital. That’s the commitment we’ve made and will continue to follow. With increased emphasis on recycling, we’re moving more material than ever. We expect to be here for a long time to come.”