Stopping Mixed Media Recycling Facilities From Wearing Out
- 13 April 2011
- Company & Industry News
Wear Protection is the key to meeting demands for increased throughput from recycling plants and preventing excess maintenance and running costs.
The escalating cost of landfill, plus EU requirements for increased levels of recycling mean that recycling plants are coming under ever increasing operational pressures. Significant investments in plant and equipment are an answer to these pressures, at the same time opening up possible new revenue streams as processing of recycling materials becomes more efficient and inclusive. However, the generation of such revenues — and the ability to maximise earning potentials - depends on efficient continual operation of all installed plant and equipment, particularly such close-to-process items as transfer chutes, pneumatic pipework, cyclones, separators, hoppers, screens and crushing plant.
Today all manner of materials must be recycled: including glass, ash, metals, plastics, wood and even stone. However some of these materials are extremely abrasive when transferred; especially so when they are conveyed pneumatically in enclosed pipework systems and at high throughput rates and speeds in order to meet plant recycling targets. If adequate wear protection is not provided, the inevitable result will be high levels of wear that can cause premature failure — holes in pipework systems, chutes, hoppers and the like - and also spillages that can be difficult and costly to clean-up.
For plant operators looking to protect their investments against such occurrences there is a simple solution: wear protection — the process of coating or lining process plant and equipment with ceramics, metallics or polymers to extend its life. The economic argument for wear protection is compelling: the benefits can be appreciated at a glance from the attached graphic prepared by wear protection specialist, Kingfisher Industrial. The graphic compares the ongoing costs associated with equipment and installations that do not benefit from wear protection with the one-off (i.e. purchase) costs of enhanced protection, highlighting the continuous operational gains of the latter investment strategy.
"It is far more profitable for recycling contractors to employ suitable wear protection on their plants, than having to provide maintenance and repair of equipment at regular intervals, due to problems associated with wear and corrosion," said John Connolly MD of Kingfisher. "Reduced maintenance means reduced risk, reduced cost, and more uptime over longer periods — all of which are critically important to improve the efficiencies of companies that frequently operate around the clock."
Kingfisher has calculated that, on average, users of its wear protection systems benefit by a factor of 5 times their initial outlay, with many installations providing wear life of up to 20-years following appropriate wear treatment.
An application at a Scottish recycling facility underlines the benefits. The facility grinds glass bottles and then blows the material pneumatically through pipework and a cyclone into a glass batch furnace. However, this process was being interrupted by the highly abrasive nature of the ground glass, which was causing the pipework to fail 'in weeks'. Kingfisher was called in to provide a solution — in this case its K-Zas ceramic lining material. Since installation there have been no failures in any of the wear protected areas for over 2-years.
A key benefit of wear protection is that it can be employed at any time in the life of a recycling plant. However, if the plant is designed with wear protection from its inception, then overall equipment costs can usually be reduced, because the system chosen to protect the equipment can often remove the requirement to manufacture components using heavier grades of material.
This is possible because high conveying speeds and abrasive materials cause wear of varying intensity at different points in recycling pipework systems. Consequently, protection need only be applied to areas of plant that are most vulnerable to wear, further reducing upfront costs and improving ROI for the system user.
Using a combination of ceramic, metallic and polymer lining systems, Kingfisher has had overwhelming success in protecting equipment and extending the service life of plant that, without intervention, would otherwise have been designated as scrap. In many instances, the benefits of protecting plant are threefold: in addition to protecting against wear, the low friction nature of the lining material reduces energy usage and allows a greater volume of material to be throughput.
A recycling plant that is equipped with a well designed wear protection system also offers a number of incidental cost saving benefits. Because pipework no longer has to be broken down for maintenance at regular intervals, no specialist labour is required, avoiding the safety risks of personnel working at height, performing hot work and lifting operations. Also avoided are the tasks of organising access platforms and plant hire, with their attendant costs — and risks; and those of devising clean up procedures for any spillages that can occur when process pipework is perforated.
Using Kingfisher's AbrAlarm system the risk of spillages can be reduced to almost zero. Comprising a low voltage electrical indicator that is integrated into the wear lining, the AbrAlarm displays a fault when the lining is worn through. Early warnings of this type are particularly important in critical cases, where pipework/equipment failures could result in the discharge of toxic substances or gases into the atmosphere.