Volume 11 | Issue 6 | Year 2008

We can probably all imagine a car in a junk yard lifted by a mechanical arm and deposited in a crusher, whereupon it meets its final, yet compacted, destiny. Most of us rarely give the mechanical arm hoisting the vehicle a second thought. But to the people at Rotobec that mechanical arm has lifted it to prominence in the material handling industry.
Rotobec Inc., located in Sainte-Justine, Quebec, Canada, designs, manufactures and markets material handling equipment using hydraulic rotation system technology that enables users to optimize their operations. The 33-year-old company is a leader in continuous rotation and rotating grapples for the industrial, scrap, waste and forestry industries.

Grappling refers to the gripping, handling, and controlling of material and is instrumental in lifting and moving material that is not your garden variety small object. Grappling equipment has been around longer than the 33 years it took Rotobec to become a leader in the market but it was Rotobec that revolutionized the industry by conceiving, designing and manufacturing the first continuous rotation. Prior to the release of the continuous rotation grapple, most grapples dealt with multiple lines getting tangled with other lines and with the grapple itself. This stalled jobs and ruined equipment.

With the advent of the continuous rotation grapple, moving materials became infinitely easier and materials once deemed too difficult to move as a whole were now in play.

“We were looking to improve ways to manage and move bulky materials and the continuous rotation grapple definitely fit that bill,” says Mark Shukla, director of marketing for the United States. “These products exponentially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of material handling.”

With a global economy dominating the business landscape and driving most corporate decisions regarding products and services, traditional domestic products like grapplers are continuously faced with the specter of joining the party. Rotobec is no different in that it has an international component which is the fastest growing segment of the company.

“It’s important for us to expand into the global market and it was a natural progression for our company,” Shukla says.

The company’s reputation extends well beyond the borders of Canada and the United States. In addition to the North American continent Rotobec’s products are distributed in some 20 different countries around the world, including Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand and Russia, where commercial agents or distributors represent the company.

Over the years, Rotobec has gone through many phases of expansion leading to the establishment of subsidiaries in Western Canada and in the United States. Created in 1986, Rotobec USA, a 10,000-square-foot facility in Littleton, New Hampshire, serves the eastern United States. It carries out the same objectives in terms of customer service quality as the plant located in Kelowna, British Columbia known as Rotobec West, Inc. which was founded in 1994 and serves markets in Western Canada and the Western United States.

Today, the Sainte-Justine, Quebec plant covers an area of 150,000 square feet and is equipped with the latest in design and manufacturing technology. With sales of over 40 million per year, Rotobec now employs more than 200 people.

With about 150 grapplers already in stock, the company can build any type of grappler base on customer requirements. Shukla says a custom-made grapple can take anywhere from four to 16 weeks to go from design to completion. He says special orders do not upset the company and often times a special design can be repurposed for other industries depending on customer exclusivity agreements. However, Shukla says the vast array of existing products more than satisfies customer requirements.

The company has seven sales representatives who manage distributors, agents and value added resellers. Their main purpose is to educate their customers and deliver on-site sales training and seminars. The company also offers phone technical assistance.

There are eight different primary product categories that Rotobec handles.

Rotators launched Rotobec to success through innovative design and production. Using exclusive RotoMax™ technology, customers get three distinct benefits – water-resistant design, easy maintenance and a design strong enough to support heavy radial loads. The rotators are available in many different models, configurations and capacities while offering a high level of versatility and performance. They beat out their closest rivals by far mostly because of the uniqueness of their sealed structure. The rotator components are protected from water and dust. In addition, their maintenance is simplified and reduced, providing another advantage over the competition.

Rotobec rotators are designed for use on loaders, excavators and material handling equipment. They are perfectly designed for working in wetlands and extreme environments, are modular and have the motor torque and additional reliability in a protected housing.

Forestry grapples come in all shapes and varieties with extremely different purposes. The log grapples are used for selecting and sorting, wood loading and unloading, feeding log de-barkers and chippers, and for moving large logs or entire trees. Grapple saws also work like log grapples but also handle cross-cutting the logs. Then there are the combination grapples that add handling metal scraps and materials for recycling. Forestry grapples also include bunching grapples, pulpwood grapples, heel booms, and butt’n top grapples.

Next come scrap recycling grapples that sport Rotobec’s orange peel grapples that offer an ultra-sturdy structure with oversized pins, bearings equipped with sealed joints and high-pressure cylinders with extremely durable guarding. Looking like giant claws, these products handle scrap metal and recycling materials as well as unstacked short wood logs. These grapples are ultra-sturdy with oversized pins and bearings equipped with sealed pins, high pressure cylinders, thrust bearings and a patented sealed rotator.

Rotobec offers waste handling grapples for material compaction, moving waste materials in transfer stations as compaction waste material, moving heavy items or clean up after storms. These grapples are used by recycling centers, sandpit or quarry operators, waste collection companies and landfill operators.

The company distributes clamshell buckets for loading and unloading aggregate and bulk materials for station operators in sandpits or quarries. The product, also known as a scoop, is a specialized container attached to a machine. The bucket has an inner volume as compared to other types of machine attachments like blades or shovels. The bucket could be attached to the lifting hook of a crane, at the end of the arm on an excavating machine, to the wires of a dragline excavator, to the arms of a power shovel or a tractor equipped with a backhoe loader or to a loader, or to a dredge.

Rotobec has grown at a steady pace thanks to the commitment of its qualified staff and its offer of reliable and innovative, products at a competitive price. The company has a quality assurance department and is known throughout the industry as a stickler for high quality products. Rotobec highly encourages employee involvement and considers that the company is a reflection of its employees’ performance.

Rotobec began as a small company in western Canada and through innovation, design and a dedication to customer satisfaction has made it to the top of the material handling world. The company has been grabbing for the top of the industry ever since.

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