Home The Big Story Conveyors – A bespoke solution

Conveyors – A bespoke solution

Conveyors – A bespoke solution

Conveyors in the waste industry are a huge part of the infrastructure and are a fundamental part of any MRF. A good, solid and reliable conveyor can assist in the process of converting waste into quality recyclables and alternative fuels.

With the huge array of different types of conveyors available for waste businesses, Skip Hire Magazine looks at what business owners should consider when deciding to implement a new machine into their business.

A brief summary

A conveyor in the waste and recycling industry is essential for the movement of different materials. They replace the need for manual workers and provide a range of benefits.

A conveyor belt system, includes a pulley system with an endless ‘loop’. When the pulleys are powered; one is powered and one unpowered – known as the drive and the idler, respectively.

There are two classifications of conveyors. Those in general material handling, inside a factory for example and those used to transport resources, such as sand and salt.

In the waste industry, they are commonly for the transportation of waste and recyclables to their destination within the sorting environment. In the waste industry, they are used for the movement of materials that have aggressive characteristics.


A waste paper business in Swanley was prosecuted in March 2014 after two of its employees, in separate incidents, injured their arms; with one tangling his arm in the roller and the other drawing himself into the conveyor. The business was heavily fined for neglect, which could have been avoided if proper safety measures were in place.

Making sure that the conveyor has the ultimate in safety features will make sure that you, as a business, are complaint, but will also protect the overall health and safety of your employees.

What safety can be added?

Fast moving rollers and belts can be a serious risk to the safety of workers, even potentially life-threatening. There are a range of products on the market that can be attached to conveyors to ensure that workers aren’t seriously hurt.

Roller guards

A roller guard is designed to prevent workers being drawn into a moving roller in the event of a mechanical or technical failure. There are usually various points of protection including quick release pins, visual inspection points and brackets.

Barrier guards

Barrier guards provide high-level protection for a variety of conveyors and can be customised to the specifications of the conveyor. They are easy to put up and take down and can be transported easily.

Conveyor netting

Netting is a practical solution for conveyors that are overhead. Items can easily fall off or become dislodged when moving, so netting keeps the waste contained.

Mezzanine netting

Netting can also be applied to mezzanine, to prevent falls, items dropping and other accidents.

Personal protective equipment 

Employers have a duty to ensure that what is known as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is a concern in the workplace. In large spaces where conveyors are, it’s essential to make sure that the correct PPE is provided. They also have a duty to ensure RPE (Respiratory protective equipment) is allocated to workers.

This includes items such as goggles, gloves, shoes, outerwear and high-visibility clothing


Quality is essential in any large-scale purchase and should be considered as a key factor in the purchase decision. It’s easy to cut corners and purchase an unknown brand, but at what cost?

The saying “Buy cheap, buy twice” can certainly be applied to the waste industry. Here at Skip Hire Magazine, we are always being contacted by waste business owners who have purchased a piece of equipment from an unknown brand and regretted it later.

It’s always wise to speak to other business owners who have purchased the same type of conveyor and many business owners will let you go on a site visit to their premises so you can see it in action before you buy.


Again, price is probably the biggest determinant when making big business decisions. For large-scale machinery and equipment, there are a range of finance options available to you. To read more about asset finance specifically for the waste industry, see page 52 of the July issue or visit: http://goo.gl/ENsV1D

Noise control

Noise consideration is easily overlooked, but is an important factor. Making sure that the conveyor you are considering is within the legal decibel limit and will not harm your workers’ hearing is essential. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations can tell you more about this in detail: http://www.hse.gov.uk/noise/regulations.htm

Other key factors

Waste conveyors have to be built in order to withstand the harshest of environments and must be able to resist the severe conditions present in a waste processing area.

Output rates can speed up the waste and recycling process. Therefore speedier conveyors, although may cost more at first, can inadvertently boost your return on investment. Similarly, automation saves time and money. Implementing a conveyor reduces staffing costs and speeds up the process of transporting waste.

Another key factor for business owners is energy consumption. According to the whitepaper, Optimising Energy Efficiency of Conveyors (http://goo.gl/SLMjL6), Daniel Clénet suggests that 60% of conveyors are running continuously at any one time, whether loaded or unloaded. Therefore, it is imperative for the savvy waste business owner to be conscious of energy consumption when having a conveyor built. The more modern the conveyor system is, the more likely it is to have reduced energy consumption.

Common types of conveyors:

Incline conveyors

Depending on the layout of your conveyor and how it has been built into your space, will depend on how much room it gives you. When custom-building conveyors, the manufacturers will look at ways in which you can gain additional space by building them in a way, so that they go up on different levels or make the most of the room you have. Incline conveyors offer an ideal solution where space is limited.

Gravity conveyors

Gravity conveyors can be a cost-effective solution for a waste business. Rather than use a power source, they are powered by gravity. The conveyors are inclined, so the items can move on their own. Commonly, they are installed with a ramp-type conveyor with rollers that help the conveyors move. Some of the larger conveyors have a spiral (staircase style) structure for transporting objects. Typically, the longer the conveyor, the quicker the objects move. Gravity conveyors are not recommended for items which are fragile or delicate.

Lineshaft Conveyors

Also known as lineshaft roller conveyors, they are powered by rollers on a shaft which runs below the length of the conveyor. A lineshaft conveyor is generally the most versatile and is suitable for the movement of lighter objects, such as cardboard boxes, making them an ideal choice for paper waste.

Belt specification

A conveyor can usually be built to exact specifications, making the most of the room you have available. Some materials may need a wider belt, whereas some may need a slimmer belt. Always make sure that you have full engagement with the manufacturers and designers of the conveyors to get the most out of your space and requirements.

Conveyor extensions

Some conveyors can be extended, so if you do have one that isn’t ready for the scrap yard yet and you do need a larger one, it could be that you may be able to get a conveyor extension.

The rules and regulations

Since 1998, any business that has a conveyor must conduct a PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) assessment. This is to ensure that safeguards are satisfactory. Often these assessments reveal if additional safeguarding is required.

Sometimes it is better for companies to build new conveyors as they can take safeguarding into account from the offset and implementation of the design.

More information on PUWER assessments can be found here: http://goo.gl/P5qaWB