Compost from organic waste not only makes an ideal fertiliser for use in gardens and agriculture, but also reduces the amount of waste going to landfill. In Germany, widely regarded as Europe’s ‘green’ pioneer, the collecting and composting of biowaste began to gain ground nearly 25 years ago.
Given that more than 14 million tonnes of organic waste are now composted annually across nearly 1,000 sites, it was a moment of foresight for the Grossman family, which had been farming the outskirts of Munich, in the southern German state of Bavaria, for generations. Grossman Soils & Compost took a bold step and branched out into building and running their own composting facilities. Now, as their agricultural profitability continues to decrease, it’s the compost business that forms the primary focus for the business.
“We’re one of 15 composting facilities in the Ebersburg county alone,” explains Owner Markus Grossman. “We take in waste from the local municipal authorities, then process and compost it to provide high quality soil substrates, compost/soil mixes, and other materials for the landscaping industry and consumers.
“We’re also very popular with private customers, who bring us their kitchen and garden waste and take away compost.”
Shifting tonnes and tonnes of soil, gravel, green matter, compost and other materials calls for appropriate handling equipment that’s up to the job. Just two months ago, Mr. Grossman first took delivery of a Cat® 910M Compact Wheel Loader. Its job is to make short work of all the moving and sifting, often for hours at a time.
“I enjoy working with machinery,” he says, “so the comfort of the Cat cabin, and its low noise levels while operating, was very important in selecting this model, as well as the performance we would expect from the Cat brand.”
“We’ve been using it to move material around the site, to fill up the drum sieve machine, for sorting of incoming biowaste, and – with forks fitted – to move pallets.
“We take on various tasks, but in each of them I have been struck by the liveliness and agility of the 910M. Its acceleration is superb and the hydraulic system’s high performance has been noticeable.”
Owing to the size and complexity of the composting operation, the 910M is driven by a number of different operators, and it was the ease of the 910M’s operation that has impressed Mr. Grossman. “I said it was essential to have a machine that was going to be easy to operate and that would require no special training.
“What’s more, because we often need to collect material from customers, the machine would also have to cope with covering long distances on the road. So I took the 40kph version, for that reason, and I’ve not been disappointed. The driving on the road is very smooth and comfortable.”
While composting may appear fairly uncomplicated – taking in waste, sorting and mixing it, leaving it to ferment and break down, and producing the finished product – it is in fact a carefully timed process, with specific procedures that need to be carried out at predefined times. If a machine breaks down, a crucial link in the chain is broken.
“Reliability is very important to us. We can’t afford to have a stoppage. One of the real benefits of dealing with the Cat dealer is that he’s accessible to us at all times, especially as we’re often working late into the night. I’m assured of fast service, with a permanent and ‘always there’ contact, to ensure technicians and parts are on-site very quickly. What few problems we’ve had have been solved quickly and easily, because it’s a simple and efficient system.
“What’s more, the generous standard equipment list, including things like a reversible fan for dusty work, is of real benefit considering how we use the 910M for so many different applications.
“The combination of reliability and features really pays off in looking at the machine’s lifetime operating costs. Purchase price isn’t so important; it’s total operating costs that concern us.”