“The Komatsu loaders stand up to the challenge and just keep going’”
Pete Zetich recalls driving by IMSAMET of Arizona’s location in Goodyear as a youngster. “I remember seeing airplanes sitting here,” shared IMSAMET’s Maintenance Lead Man. “The story is that at one time this was a facility where World War II aircraft were dismantled and melted down.”
Today, it’s an aluminum-recycling foundry; one of several production facilities around the world that operates under the Real Alloy corporate umbrella. The global leader in recycling aluminum and magnesium turns those commodities into tailored products such as molten and solid ingots.
“IMSAMET of Arizona gets scrap aluminum from a variety of sources,” explained Zetich, who has worked at the foundry for 31 years. “Some of it goes directly into the furnace. We have other material that has to be broken up and then run through a crusher and a ball mill.
The concentrates that come out of the mill are blended to customers’ specifications. They may want some zinc or copper mixed into their product. Eventually, nearly everything coming in is melted and poured into molds to make 1,800- to 2,200-pound ingots.”
A variety of industries use the resulting products, including automotive, construction, manufacturing and engineering. In addition to aluminum recycling, the plant produces non-metallic items such as cement additives. It runs 24 hours a day, and, when fully staffed, has close to 40 employees, including Zetich, Maintenance Manager Andre Presley and Mechanic Lloyd Garvin, who oversee equipment planning and service.
Durable, long-lasting machines
Several years ago, IMSAMET of Arizona switched to Komatsu wheel loaders, including two WA320s – a Dash 6 and a Dash 5 – equipped with narrow buckets to charge the furnace. Operators swap buckets for forks to move ingot molds. They feed the crusher and mill with a WA380-6 and a WA380-7.
“This is a harsh environment for equipment; it’s hot, dusty and to compound that, the materials going into the crusher and mill contain salt, which can accelerate rusting,” said Presley. “It’s also abrasive. The Komatsu loaders stand up to the challenge and just keep going. They are extremely reliable, and premature rust is not a problem.”
Zetich highlighted Komatsu’s longevity. “The WA380-6 has more than 20,000 hours, and we have yet to replace the articulating pins, the steering bushings or the trunnion mounts. We have exchanged pins three times and changed the front brakes twice on a competitive loader that was put into service only three years ago.”
“We still have the original brakes in the Komatsu loaders,” Garvin added. “With the hydrostatic transmission, when the operator lets off the throttle the machine stops, so there isn’t the reliance on braking that comes with the other brands. That saves costs and increases production time.”
Garvin further emphasized that the differentials and transmissions on the facility’s Komatsu loaders have been issue-free. “Routine maintenance and replacement of typical wear items such as pumps, hydraulic lines, gasket covers and belts are about it. They are bulletproof.”
IMSAMET of Arizona relies on Road Machinery, LLC to acquire and maintain its loaders. The business currently works with Territory Manager Earl Stagger.
“Road Machinery takes great care of us, from every standpoint,” reported Presley. “Anytime we need something, they are right on it. We take care of most of the maintenance ourselves, but Road Machinery handles major items that require cab removal. They have always been upfront and honest on pricing, availability of parts – they usually have what we need on hand – and when they can get to us for service.
“Earl is fantastic, too,” added Presley. “He’s been our rep for a short time, but we have developed a solid relationship. Whenever I call or email, he responds quickly. Earl and Road Machinery understand how vital it is to limit our downtime, and they do everything possible to ensure that’s the case.”