In our relay interview we regularly interview an employee of the Müller-Guttenbrunn Group to introduce him and his mandate to get a better insight in the practical side of the group’s recycling activities. This time we visited Walter KEFER on his car-shredder at Metall Recycling Mü-Gu in Amstetten (Austria):
EDITOR: How long have you working at Müller Guttenbrunn?
WALTER KEFER: Since January 1979
EDITOR: That’s more than 36 years. That is a long time, why have you stayed this long with the same company?
WALTER KEFER: I learned the profession of locksmith as a young man in Waidhofen at the company IFE, but unfortunately they could not retain all apprentices. So, that is why I spent four months in Vienna at a small locksmith. I did not want to stay there for a long time, particularly as it was so far away from my home. When I heard that “MüGu” was looking for someone, I immediately checked this out and I was able to start right away. At that time the office building did not yet exist and there was only a mill, which had just been put into operation, and a hydraulic scrap metal shear.
EDITOR: And was your job in these days?
WALTER KEFER: In these days it was my task to operate the mill. As soon as the car-shredder was purchased in the year 1985, I was the first to be trained on this system.
EDITOR: So for over 30 years, you have been working on the shredder?
WALTER KEFER: Indeed, however over time quite some things have changed. Much of the installation has been expanded or remodeled until this huge machine really worked excellently. And only this year a major refurbishment took place with the installation of a completely new E-Motor, the replacement of the entire conveyor belt system and the enclosure of the entire shredder with silencing Panels.
EDITOR: And what are your responsibilities today?
WALTER KEFER: It is my role to take particular care that always enough material is present to feed the shredder…..not too much, nor too little…..so that the shredder is always running continuously. So my main focus is on the material feed of the shredder. For example I have to see that no gas cylinders or massive iron blocks are being fed, that could damage something within the machine. If the material is mixed properly, then we process around 35 tons per hour. If there is a lot of bulky material such as sheet metal, then the hourly feed is less. So I am supervising the shredder. All material is pre-sorted first and I throw virtually the last eye on the material before it is being fed and if anything is wrong there, I make sure that it is removed.
EDITOR: Have you ever overlooked something?
WALTER KEFER: Yes, in 2007, we had a tremendous explosion in the shredder. A car had an LPG gas system installed under the rear seat. So, this car was converted to gas operation, but it did not show it. And when I dropped the car in the shredder there was an explosion. The shock wave threw me a few feet backwards! Since then I am even more cautious. But in reality nothing serious can happen, because everything is protected by bulletproof glass.
EDITOR: So, you’ve experienced a lot in these 30 years?
WALTER KEFER: Every now and then, you hear a bang and then we know that something is torn again. But I hardly notice this anymore. And if somehow there is a fire, then I know that I have to fight it.
EDITOR: Does the shredder run continuously?
WALTER KEFER: The shredder is powered up at six o’clock in the morning and a full function check is performed. After the function check, we start producing at seven o’clock. Normally the shredder is running until 16:30 o’clock, after which everything is cleaned. At 17:00 hr. we shut down. At times when there is more material to be processed, the shredder runs longer.
EDITOR: What do you do, when you discover something that will impede the shredding process?
WALTER KEFER: I’ll stop the conveyor belt and talk with the excavator driver over radio-transmission and ask him to remove the object.
EDITOR: In Austria there are only six such shredders. So you have a pretty exclusive job.
WALTER KEFER: Indeed and you have to watch everything very closely and you need to be focused all the time. My long professional experience is very helpful, in that I have created a kind of 7th sense of what is happening. For example, I can hear very quickly if for instance something in the hydraulic system is not working as it should. But the most important element is that the material is pre-sorted well – then everything runs smoothly.
EDITOR: How many hours has the shredder been running to date?
WALTER KEFER: Approximately 59.000 hours. And I calculated that I have been in the driver seat for as much as around 50.000 hours. Around 100 cars are processed per day. In the past, cars were just pressed or cut with scissors – not recycled. With today’s options, you can get much more out the feed material and separate the waste into usable raw materials. The shredder shreds the material and separates it into ferrous and other non-ferrous metals. These shredder residues are transported to Metran, where these residues are processed.
EDITOR: What makes the difference at Müller-Guttenbrunn?
WALTER KEFER: The company is reliable and there is a good working atmosphere.
EDITOR: Tell me something private about Walter Kefer please.
WALTER KEFER: I was born in Opponitz – near Waidhofen – and currently live in Waidhofen an der Ybbs and have three children and four grandchildren. I like to go hiking and enjoy looking for mushrooms and love skiing in the winter. But my real passion is football. I am a die-hard Wacker Innsbruck fan. Once or twice a year I watch the games at the Tivoli stadium also live and then I connect the same with a trip to my second homeland, in the Zillertal. My passion for football has been around for decades, ever since Ernst Happel was coach in Innsbruck….I am known throughout Waidhofen for my balcony, because I designed the canope in the colors of Wacker Innsbruck.
EDITOR: That means that you must be going through “hard times” with Wacker Innsbruck in the second division … I can only wish good luck for the next season. Many thanks for the interesting conversation.