LandClearing and Site Prep

When purchasing a grinder, contractors and municipalities look for a reliable product that offers desirable features and the best overall value. Too many times, however, buyers get caught up in the price of the machine versus the cost of ownership and operation.

The purchase price may be a small factor in the overall cost of a grinder during its estimated 5-to-7-year life span. The true costs begin the day the machine goes into operation, and without some research to understand the cost to operate the machine, the customer may experience buyer’s remorse.

“A number of buyers look for the lowest possible price within a horsepower range,” says Jerry Roorda, environmental solutions specialist, Vermeer. “They do not take into account the cost of ownership and operation.”

So what exactly are the costs? These include any expenses incurred whether the machine is working or not. This includes the purchase price, finance charges, depreciation and projected hours of use within the depreciation period, insurance and the cost of operation, reflected on a per-hour basis.

The cost of operation also includes maintenance and operation expenses such as oil, filters (engine and hydraulic), grease, fuel and wear items like cutters, screens, belts, augers, the anvil and labor. The cost of operation is closely tied to the production of the machine, giving you a finished unit or hourly cost.

If a more expensive grinder greatly reduces your day-to-day operation cost and gives you a lower-cost finished product, over the life of the grinder the higher-cost unit may be a better overall value.

Tools available
Many manufacturers offer software tools to help determine the cost for a specific grinder. These can help you compare the cost of ownership and operation side-by-side across different units.

For example, Roorda will meet with a customer and use their actual numbers to determine the cost of ownership and operation. If a customer is purchasing their first grinder, he will use data from comparable operations to create an estimate.

Rubber hits the road
Roorda explains that the majority of the ownership and maintenance (oil changes, etc.) costs are going to be the same from one grinder to the next. Where the differences come into play is in wear parts and productivity.

For example, let’s suppose a customer is deciding between two competitive grinders and the purchase price for Brand A is $100,000 more than Brand B. But after careful examination, Brand B, while less expensive, has a unit cost of $1.30 per finished yard while Brand A’s unit cost is only $.50 per finished yard. That may be a significant cost savings over the useful life of the machine.

Why the difference
Understand how the grinder is built and how these features can provide benefits. For example, most manufacturers offer a wet clutch, fluid coupling or torque converter drive system. Some of the drive systems are more efficient in that they provide a direct connection between the power source and the drum, allowing you to run a lower-horsepower grinder, but realizing the same efficiency as a higher-horsepower unit. However, the lower-horsepower unit will consume fewer gallons of diesel fuel per hour while producing the same amount of finished product.

By looking beyond the purchase price you can help avoid buyer’s remorse and limit lost production.

– Supplied by Vermeer