DA Autoparts invest in a new Hyundai HX180L equipped with a Powerhand VRS.

I can remember the times when you took a car to be scrapped it was stuck straight into the baler and sent off somewhere unknown the size of a large suitcase!

Thankfully these days are long gone and vehicles at the end of their life or those in unrepairable accidents are now required to be environmentally processed.

Many companies now offer a service where the vehicles are brought in and they are stripped of any components with a re-sale value before their fluids are drained and the vehicle is crushed and sent off for shredding and onward processing.

One company taking the end of life vehicle recycling just a step further is Dumfries based DA Autoparts who operate two centres on the outskirts of the town along with a third base in Stranraer. Operating in the salvage and scrap metal industry since 1984, the company has seen many changes to the way in which they operate. Sourcing all of their material direct from insurance companies, DA Autoparts not only salvage and scrap end of life vehicles but offer those with a future, once repaired, on their own auction site.

To assist with the recycling part of the business the company has recently invested in a new Hyundai HX180L equipped with a Powerhand VRS to replace an old Doosan excavator.

Whilst some exponents of the recycling trade use a material handler equipped with five-tine grab to remove various components from the vehicles, DA Autoparts have taken a step further. The more traditional method of removing parts with a material handler was never 100% reliable. This meant the carcass of the vehicle being sent away with various semi and precious metals still stuck inside and therefore giving the end recycler the opportunity to make money from them, or worse still, the material being lost through the shredding process. The management team at DA Autoparts looked at this and approached Powerhand to supply a VRS system for their old excavator. Such was the success of this combination that the company has recently supplied a new model fitted to the new Hyundai excavator.

The HX180 was chosen thanks to the reputation of the brand in the local area. “The old machine wasn’t up to the job,” explained Richard Stewart, at DA Autoparts “We looked at other options and all the comments came back in favour of the Hyundai, especially with the backing of Taylor and Braithwaite.”

The HX180L weighs in as a standard machine at a shade over 19 tonnes and is powered by a T4F Perkins diesel which delivers 137hp at 2050rpm. The 4.1m long undercarriage sits on 700mm track pads and provides a stable base for the machine. Complete with a 5.1m boom and 2.6m dipper, the machine is straight off the production line with the only additional features being added are the flow, return and rotation lines to the front-end equipment.

Where this machine really gets specialised is when you see what is situated between the tracks. In full cooperation with Hyundai and Taylor and Braithwaite, Powerhand have installed a bespoke, heavy duty mounting frame between the rear idlers on which the VRS system is affixed. The robust chassis for the VRS system is similar in style to that of a dozer blade mounting found on some excavators and has been over engineered to cope with the lateral movements put through it when manipulating the vehicle in its grasp. Mounted to the frame and operated by a pair of large hydraulic cylinders is the VRS grab. The grab frame itself measures in at just over 4m and with each independently operated arm fitted with a variety of shearing points, knife blades and bracketry to hold and manipulate various parts of the car, the VRS is a formidable opponent to any redundant vehicle.

Mounted to the dipper of the Hyundai is the Powerhand shear. The long and slender design of the shear allows it to gain access to parts on the car which are usually inaccessible with a traditional orange peel grab. Equipped with an extremely powerful bite, the shear with its flat tips is able to grab and manipulate engines, gearboxes and catalytic converters away from the shell of the vehicle and segregate them for onward recycling. The addition of a set of cutting blades in the throat of the shear allow it to be able to cut through bodywork should it be required to. The shear is able to rotate and allows the operator to grasp the car’s wiring loom securely before ripping it out. Any remnants of plastic connectors still attached to the loom when it comes from the vehicle can be stripped off with the multi tool on the VRS arms. The hydraulic system on the Hyundai was deemed more than capable of supplying the required flow rates for the VRS system with just a maximum flow of just 120 l/min required to close the shear and the same to close the arms.

During our visit the Hyundai and Powerhand combination was quickly used to strip out various components from the cars. What would take skilled mechanic hours of labour to undertake, the combination was able to do in seconds. Manoeuvring the car between the arms with the shear and then clamping it from the side allowed the operator to strip off the bonnet before quickly removing the engine and wiring loom. The cars were then flipped over and spun 90 degrees before the legs were dropped onto the upturned shell and the transmission removed. With the required components removed and set aside, the shell of the car was placed to one side for crushing. Attention was turned back to the engine that was stripped out and with deft control, it was picked up and dangled between the arms of the VRS. Like a Praying Mantis the arms moved in and simply lopped the cylinder head away from the engine block. “We have to try and segregate as much material as possible,” explained Richard “Doing this gives us the best possible return on each grade of steel and makes recycling far easier.”

The Hyundai has been on site for a number of months now and has been impeccable in operation as has the VRS system. “The service and attention to detail from both Taylor and Braithwaite and Powerhand has been first class. Richard commented. “The addition of the combination will help us to recycle vehicles far more efficiently, safer and quicker.”

Associated Businesses

  • Appleby, CA16 6NS