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Middleton Baler helps improve waste recycling for Thatchers Cider

Middleton Engineering was selected following industry recommendations, but also as a local Somerset business with a good reputation for quality and service.

British family cider maker, Thatchers Cider, has contracted Middleton Engineering to supply and install an 80 tonne baler and slider-bed feed conveyor at its Myrtle Farm cider mill in Somerset, to compact and bale waste packaging materials at source, prior to shipment to re-processors.

Sustainability and the environment are core concerns for the 100 year old cider maker which today employs over 200 staff producing a range of premium ciders including Thatchers Gold, available across the UK and to a growing customer base overseas.

Neil Day, Operations Director at Thatchers Cider explains: “Sustainability is vitally important to our business and nothing goes to waste. For example pomace from our cider presses, the solid residue once all the juice is extracted, goes to cattle feed and prunings from the orchards are used to fire our biomass boiler. The new baler allows us to take charge of our packaging waste, means we can recycle more and pushes the whole company into thinking about waste and the environment.”

Middleton Engineering was selected following industry recommendations, but also as a local Somerset business with a good reputation for quality and service. Installed and up and running just 12 weeks from initial order, the new machine provides a robust, small footprint, solution capable of delivering consistent mill size bales and achieving maximum bale weights for optimal onwards transportation.

Part of the installation has included a bespoke conveyor to feed the baler and designed specifically for the size of cardboard the company deals with. Currently Thatchers Cider is baling around five tonnes of cardboard packaging waste and one tonne of plastic waste each week, which in turn is creating a new revenue stream for the business.

Neil Day and his team have been very pleased with the experience. “The new machine has been operating smoothly for some weeks. Essential safety training and the overall experience of dealing with Middleton Engineering, including service and support, has been excellent.” he added

Written by Gaye Spencer

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More conveyor power for Biffa Polymers

Middleton Engineering, has been supplying balers and recycling equipment to Biffa for over 15 years, including sites in Bradford, Cardiff, Grimsby, Hull, Dewsbury and the Isle of Wight, together with conveyor solutions for Biffa Polymers since 2015.

In 2016 Middleton Engineering installed a sec-ond bespoke conveyor to enhance processing require-ments at Biffa Polymers, the world’s first food grade High Density Polyethylene (rHDPE) recycling plant, based at Redcar in Cleveland.

The conveyor forms part of a new recycling line for mixed post-consumer rigid polypropylene (PP). This produces high quality mixed plastic flakes and forms part of the continued expansion at Biffa Polymers, doubling output for its HDPE recycling capacity to some 20,000 tonnes.

With an overall length of 9.3 meters, the conveyor was designed to meet precise process requirements, transferring material from a shredder, up to the in-feed conveyor for a granulator. It includes a 600mm wide cross-stabilized 3-ply rubber belt, with a rising section angled at 25 degrees to carry material at a rate of 1.5 tonnes per hour. Sprung castor wheels maintain belt tracking while 50mm high cleats together with valances to either side prevents material from slipping back, ensuring a consistent feed.

A magnetic head drum for separating ferrous contami-nation at the head of the belt or discharge end of the con-veyor further improves waste stream purity and quality. This provides secondary metal protection with continuous separation, trapping metal debris as the drum rotates, while clean product is discharged.

Lock off emergency stop switches, safety pull gantries on the rising section and SCADA controls to fully integrate the conveyor with the other machine processes complete the installation.

Alan EdwardsProject and Improvement Engineer explains: “Running the Poly Prop processing line 24/7, as with all our production processes, requires robust and reliable equipment. Selecting Middleton Engineering for this new conveyor was the obvious choice. The company takes the time to understand our requirements, is quick to resolve issues and support has been excellent.”

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Polymer Industries selects Middleton baling solution for its new recycling arm

Middleton Engineering has designed, supplied and manufactured a compact solution incorporating a Middleton ME80 closed-end semi-automatic baler, fitted with a bespoke slider-bed feed conveyor.

Devon-based plastics re-processor and recycling company Polymer Industries, which established a mainstream recycling arm, Recycling South West, earlier this year to provide additional services to customers across the region, has selected a baling and conveyor solution from Middleton Engineering.

Full flexibility to bale a range of materials such as paper, cardboard and polythene through to rigid plastics including drums, crates and bumpers, while at the same time achieving maximum bale weights for optimal container transportation, were key requirements for the solution, which is installed at the company’s expanding site at Wrangaton in South Devon.

Under the contract Middleton Engineering has designed, supplied and manufactured a compact solution incorporating a Middleton ME80 closed-end semi-automatic baler, fitted with a bespoke slider-bed feed conveyor. This includes an in-floor section to ease loading, with the addition of gravity driven roller tracking to convey completed bales out through an opening into a storage yard.

Jason Goozée, Polymer Industries’ MD explains: “Recycling South West extends the range of services we offer both existing and new customers and is a natural fit for Polymer Industries which joined the TGM Recycling Group in 2016, one of the largest paper and cardboard merchants in the south of the UK. As part of a larger group we also benefit from direct relationships with processing mills, which in turn means we can offer the keenest rates to our customers for recycled paper and card.”

“Selecting Middletons followed a visit to their manufacturing operation in Somerset and positive industry feedback. We were impressed by their quality workmanship and the enthusiasm of the team. The baler gives us the flexibility we need with the option to bale rigid plastics at optimal weights as our new service develops,” he added.

With the new baler operational, Recycling South West is already handling a significant tonnage of materials from across the South West region and beyond. As volumes increase more staff will be added with the intention of running the baling operation on an extended double shift for 15 hours a day.

The company is already offering a weekly or fortnightly collection service for cardboard, polythene and some hard plastics, accommodating both small and large customers and will also accept materials delivered direct to site. In addition, the business will also accept pre-baled cardboard, re-baling it to achieve mill size dimensions and optimum loading weights more suited to sea containers.

The project and installation process followed a short lead time to build and ship the equipment and structural works for the in-floor section of the conveyor and site preparation took a little over a week. Following this Middletons coordinated the delivery, craning and installation of the whole baler unit and it was up and running within 72 hours.

Jason Goozée and his team have been impressed by the experience, together with the engineering and build quality of the machinery and the attention to detail. “Service and support has also been excellent,” he said “A number of minor teething problems were promptly and professionally resolved by Middleton engineers and the equipment has now been operating smoothly for a couple of months and our operators have been fully trained in its use and performance.”

Written by Gaye Spencer

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How to minimise baler downtime – common faults and actions you can take to prevent issues and improve performance

A simple guide to prevent issues, improve performance and minimise downtime.

1. Dust and Debris

The No.1 culprit for most common faults is dust and debris. This builds up during the production process and regular cleaning is essential. We can’t stress enough how important this is. Follow a vigorous cleaning routine and you’ll experience far fewer issues.

Electric motors and oil coolers must be cleaned daily to prevent over heating. Likewise, the air filter should bec checked and cleaned

Faults with automatic tying systems are nearly always due to dust and dirt. A good system of cleaning around the wiring guiding routes and on the head itself will eliminate most issues associated with tying off bales.

Light sensors to detect when the hopper is full, will not operate correctly if full with dust. Consequently, the baler will think the hopper is filled when it isn’t.

Remember to clean the main press and the feed conveyor at the required intervals. This will prevent jams and interventions.

2. Proper Lubrication

Insufficient lubrication is the second most likely cause of faults. This will stress moving parts and eventually jam the machine. It’s easily rectified with good practice and your operating manual should detail:

  • The number of points to be lubricated
  • The correct grade of grease or oil
  • The number of operating hours between lubrication
  • The amount of grease or oil used

Specific parts to watch for include wire pulleys, wear pads and needle tip rollers. It’s important to stick to the prescribed service intervals. If in doubt, check.

3. Periodic Functional Inspections

Periodic functional checks are also needed to ensure continued smooth running. For a competent operator, these are easily carried out and should be clearly documented with prescribed time intervals in your manual.

Typically these fall at 8 hour, 40 hour and 300 hour operating intervals. Most should be carried out with the machine off and isolated from the mains electrical supply. Note – it is crucial to respect the hazard information provided with your machine and to follow safe working practices when carrying out any checks or interventions.

Typical items to check and replace include:

  • Hydraulic oil level
  • Oil and air filters
  • Hydraulic pipes and cylinders for damage or leaks
  • The working pressure of the hydraulic system
  • Oil temperature
  • Strapping device, needle assembly and twisting assembly

At longer intervals, the wear pads on the main press should be checked. These stop the press from wearing into the main body of the baler, which can be expensive to put right. These can be shimmed or easily replaced. Other things to check include the condition of the needle slot rubbers and clamping plates, the condition of the shear blade if fitted and the scraper.

4. Daily Electrical Checks

Electrical faults are rare but daily checks must be performed to ensure operator safety.

  • The condition of exposed cable and limit switches – it may be necessary to encase cables to prevent rodent attacks. Note: Lethal voltages are involved and remedial work should be carried out by a qualified electrician.
  • Safety limit switches on all access doors should be checked to ensure safety interlocks activate when doors are opened.
  • All emergency stop systems should be operating correctly before the machine is used.

5. Achieving breakdown free operation and zero maintenance issues

So, there’s plenty you can do to limit breakdowns and maintenance issues. It’s all about taking control and good site practice. And it’s not as time consuming as you may think.

Combining daily preventative maintenance with a professional annual service, will deliver:

  • Greater peace of mind
  • Fewer unexpected breakdowns
  • better long term performance from your investment

At Middletons we are here to help. We now offer remote diagnostics to help you resolve issues quickly and we service all makes of machine. For free advice on reducing breakdowns or further information on our services, why not give us a call?

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Borough Market installs free drinking water fountains in a bid to phase out the sale of all plastic drinking bottles

Part of the market’s initiative to become the UK’s biggest, entirely plastic-free shopping destination.

Borough Market in London has installed free drinking water fountains for the public, in a bid to phase out the sale of all plastic drinking bottles.

The capital’s biggest, independent market has plans to ban the sale of all disposable bottles in six months time, with hopes that the free fountains will be a welcome alternative for shoppers. There are a total of three fountains around the market, each one has two streams for drinking from and one to refill reusable bottles. The market also plans to offer refillable bottles, made from recycled plastics, that will be available to purchase around the site.

The move comes as part of the market’s initiative to become the UK’s biggest, entirely plastic-free shopping destination. They have also pledged to make all other packaging used by it’s 114 traders, bio-degradable and compostable, helping the market to achieve a goal of zero waste to landfill.

A recent study has found that over 38.5 million plastic bottles are bought in the UK everyday, with just over half of these being recycled. Plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to break down once they reach the sea.

Darren Haneghan, mananging director of Borough Market, has said that he hope the move will inspire other retailers.
“It’s great that people are increasingly aware of the health benefits of keeping hydrated, but we’ve been troubled to see increasing numbers of plastic bottles used every day.”

“By using the new Borough fountains our visitors will be able to refill and refresh without having to buy a plastic bottle each time. We are proud to take this significant step forward as part of our ongoing commitment to making Borough Market Britain’s greenest place to shop and hope that others will follow suit.”

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Our solution for creating dense bales, even with PVC windows!

Square dense bales without any ragged edges

Exporting recycled waste for reprocessing is a costly business and margins can be minimal. With volatile material prices and growing containerised transportation costs it’s crucial that maximum payload weights and space are fully utilised

Materials like paper and cardboard, plastics, cans or RDF are bulky and need to be compacted and baled to facilitate economic handling and storage. Achieving the optimum bale weight and density for the material you are working with can be problematic. Appropriate bale dimensions to optimise container loading is an issue while poor compaction will result in deformed bales which expand of sag, meaning that some containers are simply not filled to the optimum

Our solution is a Twin Ram machine with high compression giving uniformly square dense bales without any ragged edges. A bale separation door also minimises cross contamination. With bales measuring 720 x 1050 x 1400 mm this allows six bales across the back of a container, eight rows deep, leaving approximately 800mm to shut the door!

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Helping Amey drive recycling targets in Gloucester City

Middleton Engineering Conveyor SolutionIntroduced to divert a further 2,000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year.

Amey, the waste and recycling contractor for Gloucester City Council, is operating a new waste sorting and baling solution at its depot in Gloucester, designed and installed by recycling machinery specialist Middleton Engineering. This follows a new kerbside collection regime to boost recycling across the city to 50% and reduce costs in line with budget pressures.

It forms part of an overall strategy with Gloucester City Council to deliver significant cost savings and to divert a further 2,000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year. Amey’s waste and recycling contract with Gloucester City Council runs until 2022 with an option to extend to 2027.

Selected following a competitive tender, Middleton Engineering was responsible for all aspects of the bespoke solution including, design, fabrication, installation and commissioning. This comprises a series of chain and slider bed conveyors, five in total, to transport material through a number of overhead automated sorting processes.

These include Overband and Head Drum magnets to re-move ferrous metals, an Eddy Current Separator and finally a state-of-the-art Steinert UniSort PR optical sorter, for separating a range of plastics.

Sorted material drops into infeed bays constructed in steel, each measuring 5.5m wide by 7.5m deep and 3m high. Access gantries and walkways, SCADA controls to fully integrate each element of the system and lock off emergency stop switches and safety pulls, complete the solution.

Malcolm Cox – Operations Manager for Amey said “The new sorting system and baler have been running extremely well. Middletons have been a perfect partner, completing the project inside a tough ten week window to deliver a system that gives us added flexibility and capacity to increase recycling across the city and maximise income streams.”

Sorted materials are then loaded into a new SCAPA ME2R80 twin ram baler, incorporating a wire tying head.

Middleton Engineering has been supplying Amey with balers since 2005 and the latest plant, designed to process material at three tonnes an hour and sized to optimise available space at the Gloucester depot, upgrades earlier ME70 and ME80 machines.

Written by Gaye Spencer

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Middleton conveyor solution helps boost Ecogen document destruction capacity

Middleton Engineering Conveyor SolutionNew capacity equates to 28 fully laden artic trailers per week

Confidential document destruction and shredding capacity at Hampshire-based Ecogen Recycling has jumped seven fold following a £90,000 investment in new technology. Core to this is the installation of a custom-made conveyor solution developed by waste recycling machinery specialist Middleton Engineering, feeding a state of the art AXO-704 shredder with prototype ‘hard head’ technology.

The Middleton solution, which is designed to optimise material feed to and from the shredder, incorporates a bespoke feed hopper and stand for the shredder, with two opposing slider-bed conveyors, inclined at 32 and 27 degrees, together with end hoppers and all electrical controls and interfaces.

The set up delivers a highly efficient solution capable of handling seven tonnes per hour and at the same time designed to minimise precious floor space. Locating the new facility adjacent to an existing baler and feed conveyor, supplied by Middletons in 2015, also ensures minimal material handling is required to load shredded waste into the baler.

Ecogen Recycling handles commercial waste recyclables from commercial clients in retail, manufacturing and distribution across the UK with a national collection service. Commercial Director James Lewis explains: “With demand increasing for our confidential document destruction service we decided to commission the latest AXO-704 shredder with a unique custom-made conveyor system from Middleton Engineering. This £90,000 investment has future proofed this part of our business taking shredding capacity from one tonne to seven tonnes per hour. That’s equivalent to 28 fully laden artic trailers a week.”

With the new facility in full operation Ecogen Recycling is currently processing around 100 tonnes a week of secure document shredding. This in turn is then baled and shipped to paper mills around the world for re-processing. Importantly the new capacity means that confidential waste can be sorted and shredded as soon as it reaches the company’s Hampshire depot – adding further confidence to clients who depend on the service.

“The new system has meant that we can sort paper all day and shred everything on site in a couple of hours” says James Lewis. “We are no longer waiting for the machine to keep up; instead we now need to keep up with the machine. Our experience with Middletons has always been excellent and it’s all backed up by a service level agreement which helps minimise downtime – if Middletons can’t be with us the same day we know they will be here the following morning.”

Mark Smith, Engineering Director at Middleton Engineering said: “We have a long term relationship with the team at Ecogen Recycling and are delighted to have been involved in this latest initiative to increase document destruction capacity. Engineering challenges to help increase efficiency and throughput in the recycling sector are what we do best.”

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What to consider when buying a Conveyor system

Middleton Engineering ConveyorIs your conveyor an afterthought or integral to your operation? Mark Smith of baler and conveyor specialist Middleton Engineering considers the role of conveyors in delivering plant productivity and advises how to choose the right baler for your operation.

The humble horizontal baler might not be the most exciting plant machinery, but it plays an essential role in compacting loose and often bulky recyclables to facilitate economic handling, storage and transportation. What is less recognised is the importance of the conveyor, both to feed the baling operation and other production line processes. Like the baling press, the conveyor is ubiquitous across the sector but is frequently taken for granted, with little consideration as to whether it is effective or efficient at what is designed to do.

Given the wide range of conveyor types making the right decision can be challenging. A proper assessment of your site should cover the type and range of materials you will be processing, the weight and volume you expect to handle, as well as the available working space and electrical supply.

Design Considerations

Conveyors that are overfilled and continually spilling material or even under filled, are typical. Inefficiencies and production issues will impact the overall effectiveness of the operation and poor design and inappropriate conveyor choice are often the reason. But belt speed, overloading issues, poor synchronisation with other machinery and maintenance issues all play their part.

As the baler won’t deliver uniform, well compacted and consistent bales of material unless the feed conveyor is up to the job, it also means you won’t achieve maximum payload weights for the bales produced.

A smooth and consistent flow of material optimises the loading of the baler and minimises the number of compression strokes and therefore power and time required to achieve bale density and weight. Productivity depends in part on the effectiveness of this relationship. So how can you achieve this?

Of course the conveyor needs to be robust enough for the environment and the weight of the materials to be handled. Reliability is crucial too. The last thing you want is constant shut downs as this inevitably brings other processes to a halt. Planning for your conveyor is crucial.

Experience at St Helier

St Helier Municipal Services on Jersey for example has operated a Middleton ME80 baler with a slider bed on-floor conveyor since 2014. Optimising capacity and throughput is crucial as all recycling is shipped off island for reprocessing, and as volumes have increased it was recognised that an upgrade to the conveyor, adding a new in-floor section with a conveyor pit, would be beneficial.

The chosen solution is a chain conveyor incorporating a two metre in-floor section, rising at an angle of 30° degrees in a swan neck configuration. This makes it both easier and faster to load the baler, improving overall productivity.

Understanding material volumes and throughput is important and solutions like this are designed to feed material at between 3 and 10 tonnes per hour. The in-floor section simplifies and speeds up loading while reducing the level of manual handling, allowing material to be simply tipped or pushed onto the conveyor deck.

Ease of access for scheduled cleaning and maintenance are also important design considerations. These allow debris to be removed and preventative maintenance to be carried out to limit service interruption.

Choices choices….

Of course there is a huge range of options. Slider-bed, steel slat, rubber or steel belt, chain driven, inclined, swan neck, fully enclosed, or in floor designs. Generally a chain conveyor will be used where larger volumes of material are being handled. A slider-bed solution is more appropriate for lighter materials and smaller volumes and will generally cost less as it doesn’t need to be as rugged. Products like RDF which can be much denser in volume than card and plastics require higher specification parts for chains, belts, motors and gearboxes. The corrosive nature of the material can also mean higher wear and maintenance considerations.

Achieving a continuous and even flow of material will also depend on factors like belt width, motor sizes – powerful enough to handle the weight of the material to be conveyed – and control systems used.

The temptation to fit a low cost standard option might provide initial savings, but it’s unlikely to deliver the overall performance you expect and is more likely to result in frustration and downtime. Bespoke solutions designed and tuned for your specific environment are superior, and in the long run guaranteed to be more cost effective and safer to use.

Optimal Speed

With the right design, a conveyor feeds material at the optimal rate for your process, and at a volume and speed that matches other machines or processes. Generally control systems and telemetry should link each piece of machinery so that they work smoothly and harmoniously as one. It is important, therefore, that your supplier is equally competent with both the mechanical and software aspects of your chosen solution. And check that commissioning, testing and tuning are all provided as part of the service.

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Helistrat selects Middleton Engineering Baling Solution for Major Retail Distribution Centre

Scapa HB60 HM3 BalerHelistrat, the UK based contract management partner delivering sustainable waste management consultancy and solutions to top UK businesses, has deployed a Middleton Engineering baling solution as part of the recycling operation for a major new retail distribution centre.

The fully automated Scapa HB60 HM3 channel baler, designed and manufactured by Middleton Engineering in Somerset, forms part of an inbound goods waste packaging recycling stream. It is linked to an automatic conveyor feeding waste cardboard packaging from goods received at the warehouse and decanted into storage. At peak volume the solution is designed to handle some 1200 waste cartons per hour. Baled waste is then sent to re-processing mills.

Overcoming some challenging site constraints with a difficult layout, while delivering the performance requirements and volumetric throughput needed to service the facility, were key factors in selecting the Middleton Engineering solution explains Mitchell Thornley, Equipment Manager for Helistrat Management Services.

“After reviewing a number of manufacturers Middleton Engineering were most able to meet our client requirements and specifications,” Mitchell Thornley said. “A key consideration was the support and advice we received during the process and the level of work and effort to adapt the solution to our client’s needs. Equipment and support have been excellent. We haven’t been disappointed.”

Middleton were responsible for all aspects of design, fabrication and installation of the solution which included modifications to the bale discharge chute, a new bin tipper hopper, gravity feed roller tracking for completed bales, alarm interlocks and full SCADA controls for remote monitoring and control. This links the baler and inbound conveyor to optimise the process and when inactive switches the machine to standby mode to save energy.

Middleton’s HB60 range of horizontal balers are designed to meet the demanding requirements of leading waste recycling operations as well as retail distribution and manufacturing companies dealing with large volumes of waste packaging materials.

With a 60 tonne press force, it produces compact, high density mill size bales with a throughput at 50/kg per cubic meter of up to 13 tonnes per hour, depending on materials. Bales measure 1100mm x 720mm and compression is easily adjusted to achieve the maximum reduction in waste volume. A small 6.8 metre long footprint makes the HB60 ideal for most medium to large operations and was particularly important for Helistrat’s requirements.

Mark Smith, Engineering Director at Middleton Engineering said: “We were really excited to win this contract from Helistrat. We thrive on engineering challenges in the waste recycling industry and are particularly pleased to be contributing in a small way to their sustainability and recycling targets. The Scapa HB60 is an extremely reliable baler, incorporating our proven hydraulic wire tying solution to produce consistent high quality bales. Its small footprint and low headroom make it an ideal solution for a wide range of recycling environments.”

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