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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.

Written by Gaye Spencer

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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.”

Written by Gaye Spencer

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How to Boost Productivity & Safety

Boost SafetyRichard Turner, service co-ordinator, at baler specialist Middleton Engineering explains the issues and top tips for minimising downtime

The recycling sector is a tough environment so essential plant machinery such as channel balers and feed conveyors, tying heads and other MRF plant have to be built to last. But with machines in constant use and so many abrasive materials often breakdowns and malfunctions can occur.

Margins in the sector are slim so any downtime can be very costly with men and machines idle and your yard quickly filling up. Malfunctioning machinery is dangerous too and in an industry considered to be one of the most dangerous to work in according to the Health and Safety Executive, maintenance should never be ignored.

A properly qualified onsite maintenance manager, with responsibility to implement and manage safe PPM (planned preventative maintenance) programmes will certainly help. The same person will be able to carry out essential servicing, liaise with suppliers to purchase and stock spare parts, and even recommend appropriate modifications and improvements to support productivity and safety.

Not everyone has this luxury as many smaller firms are unable to justify a full-time maintenance engineer, so here are some tips to ensure a trouble free operation. Combine these with regular servicing and you should experience better performance and fewer costly surprises throughout the year.

Correct operation is one way to ensure machinery isn’t abused or over stressed. Overfilling the baler, for example, will eventually cause problems. Cylinders, rods, hydraulics, electric motors and other components are likely to wear much faster if operational procedures for different waste streams aren’t followed. Common sense really, but it means that operator training is important. This also has a direct bearing on productivity and operator safety.

Baler training, when the machine is first installed, is crucial. Operators should also be given refresher training at regular intervals. This is particularly useful to address issues, correct bad habits and where staff turnover is fluid.

Cleaning is another easy way to ensure good performance. In fact it’s the best preventative maintenance that you can carry out. Moreover it’s simple. Dust and debris are the culprits here and it’s important to remove these from air filters, motors and other areas that can be susceptible to overheating. On balers, tying heads are susceptible to jamming if they aren’t regularly cleaned with compressed air and it’s important that sensors controlling fill levels and other aspects of the machine’s operation aren’t obstructed. A regular cleaning regime with good site practice will always deliver improved long term performance and fewer unexpected breakdowns.

Another trick when you are buying a new machine is to check the likely availability of spare parts and the manufacturer’s policy on spares. This can be especially problematic if you buy from abroad and need to wait for specialist parts to be shipped before repairs can be carried out. Parts may not be readily available and they might be unique to your machine. Middleton’s policy is to build a set of spares specifically matched for each baler we manufacture and for the life of the machine. This means we can normally rectify issues within 24hrs or less for a Middleton supplied machine.

Simple servicing and safety checks, between maintenance intervals, are something else you can easily carry out to ensure optimal performance. Moving parts should be lubricated at manufacturer specified intervals and operators should be able to carry out visual checks for obvious signs of wear, especially leaking hydraulics or seals.

Take care – any work you carry out to inspect your machine, conduct cleaning or to clear a jam should be carried out following set procedures. Crucially machinery should be switched off and locked off, so that it can’t be inadvertently started. Buddy systems should also be considered, especially if you need to enter the machine.

To maximise your investment and deliver lasting performance, a professional maintenance regime will help spot potential issues before they become problems, lower the cost of ownership and ensure higher resale values too. Planned preventative maintenance can also be scheduled at shut downs or convenient times for your operation, so minimising disruption. But do check what’s covered as not all contracts are the same. If you are buying new, choose machines with remote logistics, as we can often spot malfunctions before processes are halted and provide support to reset the machine over the phone.

Written by Gaye Spencer

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Middleton Engineering help Merthyr Tydfil Borough County Council massively exceed recycling targets

MRF Sorting System

In 2015, waste recycling specialist Middleton Engineering took responsibility of designing and installing a complete material sorting system for Merthyr Tydfil Borough County Council. The contract was agreed after a £2million grant from the Welsh government, in a bid to help the authority meet recycling targets, allowing for a complete overhaul of the pre-existant recycling collection services.

This funding was primarily invested in new collection vehicles, depots and equipment, bringing about a transformation of the dated co-mingled recycling service into a new kerb-side sort system.
The new service means each household now has two recycling boxes and a reusable sack, allowing for weekly collection of most recyclable materials, alongside a fortnightly removal of garden waste products. All recyclate is then taken to the borough’s material recovery facility, where it is processed by the recycling sorting equipment.

The material sorting system was entirely designed, fabricated and installed by Middleton Engineering. The process, from start to end, took around 20 weeks and was completed by June 2015, in time for Merthyr Tydfil’s recycling relaunch in September 2015.

It was predicted that, this particular waste sorting machine would be set to handle a total of 5,000 tonnes of recyclate per annum; but is capable of sorting 1.2 tonnes and baling 5-6 tonnes per hour. This solution, provided by Middleton Engineering, includes an in-feed conveying line with external sorting bays, an elevated picking station with television monitoring, variable belt speed control, an over-band magnet and Eddy current separator.
There was also a building extension and civil works completed, in order to house the in-floor sections of the system. The remaining plastic in the waste stream is fed through a Middleton Engineering bottle perforator. Storage bays were also provided for the collection of sorted materials, prior to being processed by a fully automatic Scapa Middleton ME2R80 Twin Ram Baler with in-feed conveyor.

Speaking at the opening of the material recovery facility in 2015, The Welsh Government’s Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said:

“My ambition is for Wales to become number one in Europe for recycling. The high-quality, high recycling, low-cost services being provided here in Merthyr can be provided right across Wales.”

“I would like to see a standard waste and recycling service that is distinctly Welsh and based on the principles of sustainable development. That’s the journey we are on and I’m confident that we are going to reach 70% recycling before the target date of 2025 and become number one in Europe.”

Thanks to Merthyr Tydfil’s new collection service and Middleton Engineering’s MRF system, the district managed to, not only meet last year’s statuary recycling targets of 58% but massively exceed them by recycling 62% of all it’s household’s waste. This meant a huge increase of 25% on the previous year and made the council the 4th best for recycling in Wales. The district now looks set to exceed the Welsh Government’s 70% recycling target, well before the 2025 deadline.

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St Helier recycling gets a boost with Middleton in-floor conveyor solution

In-Floor conveyor solution

Waste recycling machinery specialist Middleton Engineering has won a new contract from St Helier Municipal Services in Jersey to design and install an in-floor conveyor solution to optimise and improve materials handling of waste recyclables for its expanding baling operation on the island.

St Helier is responsible for kerbside collections and residential recycling for one third of the population plus card and packaging waste from 70% of the island’s commercial properties, all of which is sorted, baled and transported off island for reprocessing. A growing population, currently around 100,000 and with rising tourist numbers, adds to the pressure.

The new chain conveyor which will incorporate a two metre in-floor section, rising at an angle of 30° degrees in a swan neck configuration, will provide an important upgrade to the St Helier facility making it both easier and faster to load an existing SCAPA ME 80 horizontal baler supplied by Middleton’s in 2014.

As part of St Helier’s materials recycling line, the new conveyor is designed to feed material at up to 3 tonnes per hour or 24 tonnes per day, providing a consistent material feed to load the baler correctly and improve throughput. The in-floor section will significantly improve loading and at the same time reduce the level of manual handling. The process will also contribute to the production of consistent bales of waste material, in terms of weight and size, to further optimise containerised transportation and storage.

Under the contract, Middleton Engineering were responsible for the design, manufacture and installation of the conveyor which was completed in June 2016, plus designs for the civil works including the pit for the in-floor section of the conveyor. Ease of access for scheduled cleaning and maintenance were also important design considerations. These allow debris to be removed and preventative maintenance to be carried out at required weekly intervals to limit service interruption.

Safety systems are another crucial aspect of the design and with an overall length of 11.5 metres the conveyor incorporates a fully adjustable safety rope pull system over the conveyor with dual channel reset switches at each end. Other features include an automatic chain lubricator, an energy-efficient motor with soft start to minimise wear and speed controls to optimise flow rates.

Piers Tharme, Facilities & Resources Manager at St Helier Municipal Services, explains: “Optimising our recycling capacity and throughput for commercial and residential waste is crucial and this latest upgrade from Middleton Engineering will both simplify and speed up how we load the baler. This in turn will help with throughput, increasing efficiency at the depot, and improve the overall consistency of the process.”

Mark Smith, Engineering Director for Middleton Engineering says: “We’ve gained a reputation for supplying high quality waste baling and conveying equipment to island communities, including St Helier Municipal Services on Jersey, as well as operators in Guernsey, Malta and Gibraltar.”

The conveyor was installed on time in June 2016.

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Jersey an Island Imperative on Baling up its Waste

St-Helier-ME80-Baler-1Covering some 45 square miles. the Channel Island of Jersey’s population is currently around 100,000 and growing.  As an attractive holiday destination this is boosted significantly each year, with around 10 visitors for every resident.

Jersey has a Zero Landfill policy which put the focus firmly on recycling. Any residual waste going to incineration at the Island’s Energy From Waste (EFW) plant.  The goal is to remove as much recyclable material as possible and the commodities baled and shipped off Island for processing, either to France or England. The Island simply does not have the resources or scale for its own facilities.

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Return on Twin Ram Investment within 3 years

ME2R80 (1024x681)Middleton Engineering’s new energy efficient Two Ram balers are now better than ever.

Designed with low running costs in mind, and with a revolutionary dual tying head for multiple waste streams, the SCAPA ME2R Twin Ram design is proven to save costs, providing a 3 year return on investment.

Customers with our revolutionary plastic tying systems have confirmed a significant reduction in overall running costs as well as:

• ROI in 3 years
• Reduced quantity of straps required
• Up to 50% reduction in RDF processor costs
• Reduced environmental impact

We are raising the benchmark for balers again with our 2 Ram range. The fully automated equipment comes with touch screen controls and delivers between 80 – 150 tonnes of press force with a throughput for RDF of over 30 tonnes per hour.

If you would like to know more about the reduced cost systems download our new brochure by clicking the button.


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Yield UK Takes Delivery of 3rd Baling Solution from Middleton Engineering

Middleton baler and conveyor at Yield

Environmental services company Yield UK, based in Widnes Cheshire, which provides security shredding and full on-site waste management services to a range of public and private sector organisations, has taken delivery of a third baler and conveyor solution from Middleton Engineering to meet expanding customer requirements.

The fully automatic Scapa HB60 channel baler, together with an in floor feed conveyor, designed and manufactured at Middleton Engineering’s Somerset factory, will be operated on behalf of the fast growing B&M retail discount brand which now operates over 450 stores in the UK. Under an outsource contract, Yield UK is helping to ensure that all back hauled packaging waste including paper, plastic and card at B&M’s new site in Middlewich is sorted, baled and diverted from landfill.

With its 60 tonne press force and compact design, the Scapa HB60 is ideally suited to Yield’s requirements, ensuring the best use of limited space and delivering highly compact and stable mill size bales of card and plastics to optimise available storage and onward transportation. The robust solution is designed for easy maintenance with a typical throughput of 4 – 6 tonnes per hour, depending on waste stream and bale weights of between 450 and 550 kg.

Tony Gibbons, Operations Director for Yield UK commented: “Our ability to schedule and service client recycling contracts smoothly and support their environmental goals for diverting waste from landfill depends on the right equipment. Yield UK has used balers from Middleton Engineering since 2008, service has always been fast and efficient and they were the obvious choice for this latest machine.”

Under the contract Middleton Engineering is responsible for the design, manufacture and installation of the baler with an integrated in-floor feed conveyor to optimise loading, as well as full operator training. The company will also offer ongoing service and telephone support to provide Yield with expert backup to minimise issues and potential service disruption.

Mark Smith, Engineering Director for Middleton Engineering said: “Repeat business from happy clients is a good sign that we are doing things right and we are delighted to be extending our relationship with Yield UK. 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.”

  Download the HB60 Brochure 

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MRF opened to help Merthyr Tydfil meet recycling targets

Recycling engineers Middleton Engineering have completed a new materials recycling facility (MRF) for Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council designed to support the council’s new kerbside recycling strategy.

The facility built at the council’s site in Pentrebach, can handle 1,000kg of mixed household plastics and metal waste per hour and incorporates a series of bespoke feed conveyors including an in-floor section to facilitate loading.

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M J Church opts for Twin Ram Baler from Middleton Engineering

IMG_2424 (1024x782)
mj church


With six times the output of an existing machine, a new twin ram baler from Middleton Engineering is helping M.J. CHURCH deliver on its goals to recycle 100% of waste materials from commercial and industrial customers. Waste streams include mixed construction plastics, rigid plastics and cardboard plus waste from the company’s skip hire and collection service.

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