What Is a Hydraulic Baler?

Lori Kilchermann

A hydraulic baler is a machine used for compacting cardboard, paper and plastic for recycling. Commonly found at retail and grocery stores, a hydraulic baler is used to neatly dispose of the packaging products that are discarded by the stores on a daily basis. Functioning much like a home garbage compactor, the hydraulic baler uses an electric motor to power a hydraulic pump. The pump feeds large, hydraulic rams that push the refuse into a compactly packed bundle that is secured by wire.

A bale of hay produced from a hay baler.
A bale of hay produced from a hay baler.

Many stores take advantage of a hydraulic baler to compact discarded cardboard and paper into a tight, square bundle. The bundles are secured by wrapping several pieces of heavy wire around them as the ram applies pressure against the garbage. Much like a hay baler forms neat and manageable bales of hay on a farm, the hydraulic baler creates large bales of recyclable material that can be sold to recycling centers, often for profit. Refuse that used to cost a store owner to dispose of can now be used to generate additional income for the store. The bales of refuse are typically loaded onto trucks using forklifts and are shipped to a recycling station.

A hydraulic baler uses a compression system that is very similar to the one used in garbage compactors.
A hydraulic baler uses a compression system that is very similar to the one used in garbage compactors.

The heavy-duty machine uses a system of electronic sensors to monitor the pressure of the hydraulic ram. This maintains equal pressure on all bales compacted within the confines of the baling machine, which translates into equally weighted bales of recyclable materials. Other safety mechanisms aid in the event that an employee or other person should happen to fall into the baler as it is switched on. Emergency stop buttons, bars and photocells assist the inadvertent victim in escaping the powerful compactor rams. Many balers employ a type of activation switch that requires both of the operator's hands to engage at one before the machine will turn on.

Available in both a vertical as well as horizontal models, the hydraulic baler is also available in a wide selection of sizes and styles. The size of the hydraulic baler is typically determined by the physical dimensions and weight of the bale that is produced from the machine. Most store owners position the baler inside of the building on or adjacent to a loading dock. This not only provides easy access when loading materials into the machine, it also makes it easier to load the bales onto a truck to be shipped to the recycling center once the baling has been completed.

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