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Two for one: Levy’s Crawfordsville site replaces two drop ball cranes with one SENNEBOGEN 870

Crawfordsville, IN – A long-time site manager for Levy Steel Mill Services, Tommy Combs, has worked in the scrap industry, from Alabama to Indiana, for 20 years. Everywhere he’s been, he has seen SENNEBOGEN purpose-built scrap handlers on the job. But this is the first time he can actually feel one of the green machines as it goes to work.

He’s talking about the big SENNEBOGEN 870 R-HD Hybrid machine that Levy recently put into drop ball service at the Nucor steel mill in Crawfordsville, Indiana. “I’m roughly about a quarter mile away,” Combs says, “and I can feel it in my office!”

Dropping the 20,000 lb. ball
Fitted with SENNEBOGEN’s K18 boom and stick, the 870 R-HD, with a wide undercarriage, is a 220,000 lb. (100,000 kg) material handler that can reach almost 60 feet high (18 m). Releasing a 9.5 ton drop ball from that height, the operation makes an earthshaking impact every time the ball smashes into the waiting pile of carbon steel scrap and slag.

Combs has the SENNEBOGEN working 10 hours a day, sizing and loading the material to be reprocessed for the Nucor mill. Previously, the site operated two cable cranes to share drop ball duties. The new 870 easily keeps pace with the workload while making this operation more safe, efficient, and significantly more comfortable for the operator and less costly with increased availability. The 870 was one of the first models from SENNEBOGEN to adopt the Green Hybrid system. Based on SENNEBOGEN’s renowned expertise with intelligent hydraulics, the Green Hybrid feature gives the 870 increased lifting capacity relative to comparably sized machines, with dramatically reduced fuel consumption.

“Green Hybrid” energy savings
Designed as an energy recovery system (ERS), the SENNEBOGEN Hybrid system uses the weight of the boom to drive a large hydraulic cylinder centered between the two boom lift cylinders. On each downstroke of the boom, this center cylinder captures energy in gas accumulators at the rear of the chassis. On the next upstroke, the system then releases the energy to assist the boom lift and, in effect, counterbalance the load weight of the boom. With the ERS in place, his 870 consumes 30% less fuel on every cycle.        

As a fully hydraulic system, Green Hybrid is built entirely with familiar mechanical components. It achieves significant energy costs and fast cycle times without relying on any sensitive electronic controls or computers. The system prevents the failures and the associated downtime that come with over-reliance on electronic devices in harsh environments.

A complete uptime solution
Crawfordsville’s nearby SENNEBOGEN dealer, Brandeis Machinery, has teamed with Levy to keep the 870 up and running. The 870 is just one machine in Levy’s growing SENNEBOGEN fleet in this yard. Combs also oversees the operations of five other smaller SENNEBOGEN scrap handlers that keep busy offloading rail cars and loading sorted material for the mill. To ensure the highest level of machine availability, Brandeis has located a factory-trained SENNEBOGEN technician on the Levy site.

Combs notes that, despite widespread supply chain issues in the industry, his yard has had no issues accessing parts for the SENNEBOGEN fleet. He credits this success to SENNEBOGEN’s engineering philosophy of using industry-standard components, manufactured in North America and readily available off the shelf along with SENNEBOGEN’s parts warehouse in North Carolina carrying $50M+ in on-hand parts inventory for leading to no unscheduled downtime. Brandeis’ own stores of SENNEBOGEN parts and service kits are typically in stock from local industrial supply shops as well, including frequently needed items such as hydraulic fittings and electrical relays.

Increasing capacity
As noted, Combs has 5 other smaller material handlers at the Crawfordsville plant. Two are 850 models, equipped with magnets while three others carry 2-yard grapples. Unlike the crawler-mounted 870 R-HD, the 850 M models all run on solid rubber tires. Combs is now awaiting delivery of his first 855 M with the Green Hybrid technology. The new 855s will be fitted with 4-yard grapples, adding capacity in the yard to match the mill process changes for furnace production.


SENNEBOGEN has been a leading name in the global material handling industry for over 65 years. Based in Stanley, North Carolina, within the greater Charlotte region, SENNEBOGEN LLC offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any material handling application. Established in America in the year 2000, SENNEBOGEN LLC has quickly become a leading provider of specialized equipment solutions for recycling and scrap metal yards, demolition, barge and port operations, log-handling, transfer stations, waste facilities and the tree care industry from coast to coast. A growing network of distributors supports SENNEBOGEN LLC sales and service across the Americas, ensuring the highest standard of professional machine support and parts availability.

For more information on the full line of SENNEBOGEN green line material handlers, contact:

1957 Sennebogen Trail
Stanley, NC 28164
Tel: (704) 347-4910 or fax (704) 347-8894