Sunday 8th Dec, 2019

Another brick in the wall

For more than 10 years, hopper liners from industrial plastics specialist E-Plas have helped one of Australia’s biggest brick manufacturers stay productive.

PGH Bricks and Pavers is one of Australia’s largest clay brick producers, making millions of bricks a year.

Its Bringelly brick factory, located in New South Wales, has been a key production centre for decades.

Around 45 tonnes of clay are supplied to the site’s box feeders every hour to begin the crushing process. However, just over 10 years ago, the company ran into an issue.

Mohammad Khan, Maintenance Manager at PGH Bricks, says dirt and clay had begun to stick to the walls and the corners of the hoppers.

“The clay would get cold and wet in certain weather conditions, sticking to the steel,” he explains.

“The consistency of the raw material’s flow is important for production and brick quality and any that was stuck to the hopper wall had to be scraped off manually, which presented a safety issue.

“This was potentially dangerous, as the material could collapse without warning.”

In addition, the clay sticking to the hoppers created a bridging effect, where material becomes blocked and flows erratically.

Because of this, gaps would form on the conveyor in between material surges. This resulted in reduced productivity and less compaction, creating lower quality bricks.

To improve its production, PGH Bricks reached out to engineering and industrial plastics specialist E-Plas.

The company installed Tivar 88 liners on the steel sections of the hoppers. Made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, the liners have a low coefficient of friction and high wear resistance, stopping the clay from sticking to the sides of the hopper when fed through it.

Tivar 88 has been specifically designed for the bulk handling industry and has undergone rigorous laboratory and field testing to ensure it reduces arching, ratholing and erratic material flow.

A variety of bulk handling applications can use Tivar 88 liners including chutes, silos, bins, screw conveyors, truck beds, slider beds, vibratory feeders and more. It can also be used for wear strips, belt scrapers, conveyor skirting and chain conveyor flights.

The plastic has a high abrasion, corrosion and impact resistance with no moisture absorption. It is able to retain its properties at temperatures of -269 to 80 °C and is resistant to aggressive chemicals.

It also has a significantly long lifespan. Mr Khan says the material has never needed to be replaced over the decade it has been installed at the factory.

“When we were looking to extend one of our hoppers by two metres, we didn’t even need to replace the plastic, just the steel walls behind it,” he says.

“E-Plas has given us a quality product that has greatly improved the safety of our facility, which is one of the most important things for our business.”