Smelter Service Corporation- Making the Most of Resources

Smelter Service Corporation has spent the last four decades providing customers with the highest quality recycled aluminum in the industry. With a focus on quality, safety, environmental care and pricing.

Smelter Article

Few of us give much thought to popping a can of our favorite soda and tossing the remnants in a blue recycle bin. However, it’s precisely what happens after the can hits the bin that Smelter Service Corporation, based in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, is invested in.

“If you buy an aluminum can today, drink that beverage and turn it in to be recycled, it’s going to be processed and back on the shelf in 60 days,” said David Ray, Operations Leader at Smelter Service.

Started in 1978, Smelter Service Corporation has spent the last four decades providing customers with the highest quality recycled aluminum in the industry. With a focus on quality, safety, environmental care and pricing, the nationally recognized company strives to be the industry leader in conserving the world’s natural resources and supporting a variety of industries.

“For our customers that basically are the aluminum product producers, they have aluminum that needs to be recycled, we process those materials back into alloys those customers can use,” Ray explains. Smelter receives scrap aluminum that is generated through manufacturing waste, discarded materials, products and parts.

At Smelter Service Corporation, sorted and cleaned aluminum goes through a re-melt process, turning it into molten aluminum and removing the coatings and inks that may have been present. Temperatures can reach up to 1,400 degrees. The aluminum is then made into large blocks called ingots that are sent to mills or returned to clients who utilize them again. Additionally, Smelter can produce molten aluminum that is transported to clients for use in the remanufacturing of new products.

“We want to be on the leading edge of processing technology. … Basically we make sure at every step of the process we’re controlling the melt, controlling the furnace so we can get maximum recovery for our customers and maximum energy utilization for ourselves and for our environment,” said Ray.

Processing the thousands of tons of used aluminum Smelter Service Corp. receives is no small task and integral to their success is the equipment they use. For the better part of 20 years Smelter Service Corp. has used Volvo equipment.

Willie Green is the Melting System Leader for Smelter Service.

“The Volvo machines perform very well for us. They hold up under the pressure and the rough environment.” said Green.

“Rough environment” is an understatement. Every day and night, Volvo equipment moves, pounds, and lifts the rugged pieces of discarded aluminum.

“In recycling aluminum, we have to deal with furnaces, we have to deal with certain salt products, so you’ve got an atmosphere of plenty of heat, some corrosiveness from the salt itself.  The Volvo machines do great, they’re built very sturdy for an industrial environment,” adds Ray.

Smelter has tried other manufacturers’ equipment but none has held up to the harsh conditions as well as the Volvo machines.

“When we’re looking at equipment, we start with quality first. We don’t want to buy a machine and turn around and have it fall apart very quickly. Can we get parts? Are they going to be available very quickly? We really look at all of those things before we go to price,” said Ray.

Ray adds that is why his company utilizes Volvo-made equipment.

“We think the Volvo machines stand out, compared to competitors. They are well built – you can tell just from the design of them, they’re really meant for industrial processes. They’re a more sturdy construction.”

Specifically, Smelter Service employs three different models of Volvo equipment to get their daily job done.

A Volvo EC220E crawler excavator withstands daily use at Smelter Service, in an environment that puts the machinery to the test. There, it’s primarily used to break up incoming material to make it smaller and easier to process. The machine is built with a Volvo engine that produces power while reducing emissions and maintaining fuel efficiency. The system includes optimized hydraulics that match engine power, reduce power loss and improve controllability and response time.

In addition, five Volvo L70H wheel loaders are utilized at Smelter Service to move material from the staging area to the furnaces. The high-capacity loaders each average about 5,000 hours of use per year. The L70 uses Volvo’s patented Torque Parallel linkage. This arm design keeps loads parallel throughout the lifting range to ensure exceptional stability and unobstructed visibility.

A Volvo MC135C skid steer loader is assigned to the loading dock at Smelter Service to load and unload trucks. The loader has a single loader arm to deliver the loading performance and durability of a traditional two-arm machine (with a rated operating capacity of 3,000 pounds) and the advantages of side entry for best in class visibility and safety.

The skid steer has racked up over 4000 hours and is a testament to Volvo durability by design. Said Ray, “We have tried other brands but Volvo is the only one that has held up for this many hours in this harsh application. From engine, pumps and drive motors to the overall frame and loader arm, all components remain in top working condition. The outside may look rough but operationally it is still a mint machine.”

In addition to the function and durability offered by the Volvo equipment, the machinery is designed with operator comfort and safety in mind. The climate-controlled cabs create a productive environment for Smelter Service employees. In addition, Volvo incorporates ergonomic designs, adequate use of mirrors and monitors to enable employees to do what they do best.

“The more comfortable it is the better job they do, the less stressed out they are and the more work we’ll get done,” shared Green.

While the durability of Volvo equipment minimizes service calls, when things do break down, Scott Equipment – a licensed Volvo dealer – is the company handing the service calls. That’s because Scott understands that a down machine costs time and money for this 24-7 operation.

“In the middle of the night, one or two in the morning, if we are having any issues, it can slow up our productivity. We don’t want that, we really want equipment that’s going to last, that’s why we feel good about our partnership with Volvo and Scott Equipment,” said Ray.

While recycling aluminum has led the company to great success over the years, the positive impact it has on the environment is another driver for Smelter Service Corp., but company leaders didn’t stop there.

In addition to doing its part to recycle an earthly resource, Smelter Service strives to support its community’s most precious resource, its children. In 1999, CEO Jim Barrier founded the Kids on Stage Foundation of Maury County. The nonprofit, supported by Smelter, integrates the arts with the school system’s core curriculum and has a direct partnership with the Mount Pleasant Middle School of the Visual and Performing Arts.

“The concept of the program is if you put a kid on stage, it gives them self-confidence, self- esteem and they’ll be successful in everything they do,” explains Sara Williams, leader of cultural development and Kids on Stage for Smelter Service.

The program and underlying principles that support it, influence the company and the people chosen to join the team, says Williams.

“It starts with our CEO Jim Barrier– it’s important to him and he’s led all of us to feel the same way. We look for that – when we hire people we want them to believe being a good citizen and advocate is an important thing to do.”

It’s a business and personal philosophy that makes Smelter Service a place people want to work, and do business with.

“We want to do the right thing. We want to make things better. We also want to have fun, we like to work hard, but we also like to laugh a little too,” chuckled Ray.


Smelter Service Corporation: Making the Most of Resources

Scrap aluminum recycler in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, uses Volvo loaders and skid steers in conditions that can reach up to 1400° F.