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A baler is a type of industrial farm equipment designed to cut and press materials for easier transportation. The precursors of these devices were invented in the middle of the 19th century, while the first devices that resembled those used today were first put into production in the 1930s. Today, balers are used all across South Africa for both farming and industrial purposes. Used and refurbished balers are sold as companies shut down and open on a yearly basis. Like most large industrial equipment, buying new machines is typically seen as too large of an investment, meaning the same used balers rotate around the country for decades.
The first balers were created to cut and press hay into more unique hay stacks. In fact, the name baler comes literally from the term 'bale of hay'. Farm balers are typically pulled behind tractors, collecting harvested hay, cutting it and pressing it into a roll. This hay is then automatically wrapped with twine and ejected from the back of the baler, creating a perfect bale. Some balers also compress hay into a square shape, making it more efficient to store and transport.
The same technology that led to the creation of the first farm balers has also been put into use in the industrial market. Balers are commonly found in warehouses that process large amounts of boxed goods. Recyclable material is thrown into a baler and compressed into a more easily shipped size. These balers are typically made of steel and use a hydraulic ram to compress the materials into a rectangular shape. Compatible materials include cardboard, paper products, corrugated fibreboard and plastic.
Workers who are required to use farm or industrial balers are generally required to go through safety training first. For farm balers, this is largely because of the many sharp blades the baler uses to cut and wrap hay. In the case of industrial balers, the largest safety concern is the power of the ram that compresses materials. Most balers are strong enough to crush bone and completely remove limbs.
When searching for used balers, always learn more about the model of baler you are purchasing. Aside from the embarrassment of buying the wrong kind of baler, you also need to know what replacements parts your baler may need if it breaks down, as well as if parts for your specific model are even available.