Safeguarding Your Conveyor Systems

Conveyor systems play a major role in the manufacturing and distribution industries.  They are cost-effective and efficient which results in increased production and greater profits.   Conveyor systems are relatively simple in design but are still capable of causing injury to workers if health and safety guidelines are not adhered to.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that 30% of workplace injuries are caused by conveyor systems.

In 1998 it became a legal obligation for companies who use conveyor systems in their operations to conduct a PUWER Assessment.  This allows health and safety officers to identify sections of the system which may cause injury. Therefore prompting the installation of safety guards and other measures to maintain a safe system. There are a number of other pieces of legislation in place relating to the safeguarding of conveyor systems in the workplace.

Manufacturers design and build their conveyor systems in accordance to this legislation to ensure safety in the workplace.  Customers are able to increase the safety of their equipment by including extra safety equipment in their conveyor system. It is essential companies undertake regular monitoring and maintenance of their conveyor systems in order to prevent workplace injuries and accidents.

Conveyor Systems In Manufacturing And Distribution

Conveyor systems have been used in production and the collection of materials for hundreds of years.  We only really became aware of the stealthy nature of conveyor systems due to Ford’s car production plants.  Until then they just made transporting materials such as coal and wood easier and more efficient. These days we require conveyor systems to increase the speed at which we manufacture goods and prepare them for delivery.

Virtually all factories have followed in Ford’s footsteps by installing modular systems allowing a large number of products to be worked on at the same time.  Amazon is a huge example of the need to prepare millions of parcels for delivery in an almost inhuman amount of time. Without miles of conveyor systems we would not receive our order the next day.

PUWER Assessment

The 1998 PUWER Assessment requires companies who purchase generic conveyor systems to add relevant safety features to increase the safety of their system.  Companies who purchase bespoke machinery are expected to incorporate safety features at the point of design and construction. PUWER or Provision and User of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998 is one of a number of pieces of safety regulations that are to be adhered to when installing and using mechanical equipment.

Companies must also take the following pieces of legislation into consideration when installing machinery.  BS EN 620: 2002 which covers, ‘Continuous handling equipment and systems – Safety and EMC requirements for fixed belt conveyors for bulk materials’. BS 4531: 1986 covering, ‘ Specification for portable and mobile troughed belt conveyors’ and BS 7300: 1990, which is the code of practice, ‘for the safeguarding of the hazard points on troughed belt conveyors’. (Source: HSE).

Conveyor systems can also carry the CE Mark which is a certificate of conformity.  This is more difficult to apply to whole systems as certain components may hold the CE Mark but not the system as a whole.  It is therefore important to discuss the CE Mark with the manufacturer of your conveyor system. Checking to see if the system conforms to the aforementioned legislation is much more straightforward.

If you would like to find out more about our conveyor systems contact us and we would be happy to discuss your options.

Who Invented The First Conveyors?

Conveyors are a mechanical piece of equipment that enables the movement of materials from one place to another. There is a wide range of different applications for conveyors including; the motor industry, construction, food industry, electronics, farming, scrap, pharmaceuticals,  supermarkets and airports. They increase the rate of production and have revolutionised manufacturing.

There are many different types of conveyors including; gravity, belt, bucket, pneumatic, vibrating, chain, and vertical conveyors. Conveyors move either mechanically or by using the force of gravity.  Industrial conveyors either transport boxes and heavy items along the factory floor or transport bulk items such as grains, salt, coal etc.

Conveyor belts have been in operation since the late 18th century. Modern conveyor belts are similar in construction to the leather and wooden conveyors of the past. The first conveyors were very primitive in design and used to transport coal, ores and other metals.  Henry Ford made conveyor belts famous through the product of the Model T Cars in 1913.

The First Conveyors

Historians estimate the first conveyor belts were invented at the end of the 18th century.  They had wooden frames and leather belt and the basis of modern conveyor belts we see today.  Steam was the main source of power for conveyor belts in the beginning. The first example of combining conveyors and steam power was the production of biscuits for sailors.  

The Onset of the Industrial Revolution saw great advancements in conveyor technology.  Thus enabling the transportation of bulk materials such as coal. The first steel conveyor system was developed in Sweden. In 1905 Richard Sutcliffe patented the first conveyor system used in coal mines.

Model T Cars

Henry Ford drew the world’s attention to conveyor systems in 1913 through the production of the Model T Cars.  Production was faster and more efficient because workers did not have to keep moving their tools to each car. Therefore reducing the production time to 93 minutes.  By 1919 conveyors were part of all production lines in the automotive industry.

Modern Systems

Modern conveyor systems are very similar to the very first conveyors but the technology within them is constantly developing. The demand for conveyors is greater than ever due to the surge in online sales.  Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Robertsville has 14 miles of conveyor belts to help sort and package items for shipment. The video below demonstrates how their vast system works.

 

The modern world is the perfect environment for the development of conveyors as we all rely on goods delivered to our door.  As the population increases there is a greater demand for quicker and more efficient ways to ensure people and companies get the goods they ordered on time and in good condition.

If you would like to find out more about conveyors contact us and we would be happy to discuss the options we have available.  

Conveyor Belts – Santa’s Faithful Helper

If you have ever wondered how Santa has managed to hit the Christmas Eve deadline in toy production and packaging for the last few centuries you won’t be surprised to hear that he has invested in conveyor belts.  Initially when the population of children was much smaller and contented with small wooden toys, a basket system of transferring presents to the sleigh was perfectly adequate.

Elf And Safety

Eventually the increased population of internet savvy children, who expected bigger more expensive gifts, started to show cracks in the system.  The sheer weight of the gifts were causing Santa’s elves to take increasingly more sick days,  due to bad backs and hernias.  Eventually this health issue became such a problem in terms of Elf and Safety and decreased production that the Leader Of The Union Of Elves had to call a meeting with Santa.

Conveyor Belts and Elf And Safety

After a discussion about poor working conditions Santa recognised that there was a problem and in order to avoid a strike, commissioned one of his clever elves to invent a machine that would transport presents around the factory.  The clever little elf invented what are now known as conveyor belts and all of the Elf and Safety issues were resolved.

Gravity Conveyor Belts

It is estimated that the first conveyor belt used in Santa’s factory would have been simple gravity conveyor belts because they would have been more cost effective and pretty quick to build. Presents would simply be wrapped, placed on the correct country’s conveyor belts and dropped gently into the correct sack.  Eventually Santa would have to opt for Bespoke conveyor belts due to the complex logistics involved in being based in the North Pole and the complicated sleigh delivery system.

Now that Santa’s Elves are happy and healthy they are able to enjoy their working conditions and can spread Christmas cheer all around the world.

Conveyor Belts In Your Establishment

If you are finding that you are encountering the same issues as Santa Claus and your production line requires a bit of a boost maybe you should consider investing in  conveyor belts.  At Challenger Group we can help you to design  bespoke conveyor belts for your specific needs.

Belt Conveyors In Manufacturing – A Brief History

Belt conveyors have not always been used in manufacturing

This can be difficult to comprehend because they have become indispensable in production lines.  belt conveyors are used in a wide variety of settings including; food production, recycling, car manufacture, super markets and retro television shows (The Generation Game) to name a few.  As with most practical inventions there is no one individual that can be named as the sole inventor of the conveyor belts.  It would seem that as manufacturing processes got more intense and quicker, belt conveyors evolved to make the whole process easier.  

The first belt conveyors

In the 18th Century belt conveyors were isochronic, which is a little bit like clock work.  By the early 19th Century, and the start of the industrial revolution, belt conveyors were steam powered.  It is thought that the very first belt conveyors was used to make biscuits for sailors.  belt conveyors designed by Richard Sutcliffe were used in coal mining to move the heavy coal from the mine so it could be loaded into transportation vehicles.  Many companies have been recorded using belt conveyors in their production line but the most notable one is Henry Ford, who used belt conveyors in his car production line from 1945.

Advanced Technology

Advanced technology has increased our ability to design and build a large variety of belt conveyors with many different purposes.  Sophisticated belt conveyors systems are controlled by a series of electric motors called variable speed drives. Variable speed drives enable belt conveyors to be programmed at different speeds, depending on the type of job being carried out in that section. Most companies tend to purchase bespoke belt conveyors because their production lines are unique to the product or system they are using it for. 

Second Hand Belt Conveyors

However if you are lucky and you require belt conveyors that have already been produced you will find that you can save up to 50% of the original sale price.  This is definitely the case if you are able to purchase equipment that is part of a cancelled order.  Often this type of order is listed as second hand machinery but is actually brand new and has never been used.

At Challenger we have five brand new belt conveyors available for you to look at.  They are all for sale in our second hand section because the customer cancelled the order.  If you would be interested in discussing the belt conveyors or other second hand or new equipment we have available please contact us here.

Choosing the Right Conveyor for Your Needs

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When choosing a conveyor system there are a fair few things you should think about before going ahead and buying one.  There are lots of different choices when it comes to conveyor belts such as size, weight, capacity, length, material so knowing how the system is going to be used is key to help you decide what the best option is for you. Here are some of the things we recommend you think about to help you make the best decision:

What belting options are available? What products are you going to be transporting using your conveyor system? What material, size and weight will they be?  Different types of conveyor system are suitable for different tasks. For example, a general conveyor system is suitable (not surprisingly, given the name) for a wide range of applications. They are oil resistant, heat resistant and troughed for ease of moving large products. A plastic belting however would be more suitable for handling smaller products and a wire belt is most suited to handling food products. Inclined conveyors are for moving products from one floor to another.

How easy is it to repair and can I get spare parts in case of a breakdown? – You want to choose a system that has widely available spare parts or parts available from the supplier.  At Challenger we take care of all after sales needs and endeavour to solve problems if they arise.

Buy old or buy new?  It may be that you decide that a used conveyor will do the job for you.  If this is the case make sure you thoroughly inspect it beforehand and be aware of it’s predicted life expectancy.

Safety – Of course safety is critical.  Your new system must meet safety standards for example, having an immediate shutdown if anything gets caught in the system.

Energy consumption – Nowadays with rising costs, a lot of thought needs to be put into this. Are the costs of running it going to be worth it in the long run?

Can it be upgraded if necessary? A modular system can be upgraded and changed to add inclines, curves etcetera if a need arises for it.

Also, think not just of your current needs but also what your needs may be in the future!