One of many benefits of using high density polyethylene (HDPE) instead of steel is its excellent resistance to corrosion and rust, which is why plastic conveyor guards are growing in popularity.
A bulk handling site in Kwinana, WA, has recently made the switch from steel conveyor guards to ones made from HDPE.
These locally manufactured guards have been custom designed to cope with the extremely corrosive nature of the material being carried by the conveying system. They have unique angle bends at the top and bottom of each panel to help prevent material build up and have different size mesh in the same panel, due to the distances of the hazards behind the guard. Stainless steel posts have also been fitted to further contribute to corrosion resistance.
Thomas Greaves, DYNA Engineering’s General Manager, says there has been an increase in enquiries for HDPE rather than steel conveying componentry and fabrication.
“Since we released our HDPE conveyor guards back in 2019, enquiries have risen consistently,” he says. “So, we invested significant capital into new facilities and machinery to enable us to produce and install more HDPE product in late 2020 to meet this increasing demand. More recently there has been an upswing in orders which is keeping us ticking over quite nicely.”
“As more are installed across the industry, we anticipate a growing demand for HDPE in other products and components. Certainly, in our case, we’re always examining and looking for new opportunities to replace steel with HDPE. We believe conveyor guards are just the first of many others to come.”
Another product designed by DYNA to use HDPE is the company’s Under Cover Guards (UCG). The guards can be made from recycled and recyclable HDPE instead of steel, offering an environmentally sustainable and more productive alternative to conventional steel mesh.
They also provide additional benefits including corrosion resistance, increased safety, quick installation, and easy maintenance.
Key safety benefits of HDPE conveyor guards
Compared to conventional steel, HDPE conveyor guards are a light-weight solution – being up to 40 per cent lighter.
The safety risks around lifting weights are constantly in the mining industry spotlight. Lifting objects weighing 15 kilograms or more is considered a no-go. Most steel guards struggle to remain lighter than 12 kilograms, and when site operators are consistently removing and re-installing guards to maintain conveyors, the repetitive nature and stress can add up and take its toll.
During maintenance shutdowns, HDPE guards can be safely and easily secured on the conveyor’s handrail. This conveniently ensures they are out of harm’s way. It also reduces the likelihood of them being misplaced, which sometimes occurs under maintenance shutdown pressures
In addition, special hot tooling requirements for costly on site cutting and welding with steel guards are no longer necessary with HDPE guards.
Each HDPE guard can be removed in a matter of minutes with simple tooling, for access to the guarded conveyor. For installation, the guard is simply slid into place and fastened with two bolts so it can’t be removed. No complicated instructions or special skills are required, reducing the likelihood and risk of accidents during maintenance.
Conveyor systems are considered one of the highest risk areas on a mine site. Reducing time spent in and around the conveyors is a major plus and helps reduce overall risk.
Being manufactured in Perth WA, a replacement guard for an existing conveyor can be manufactured in as little as a couple of days, compared with potential weeks or months for overseas products. Naturally, lead-times will vary depending on the scope of the work.
“We’re great believers in engineering improvements emanating directly from those using it first-hand,” Greaves says.
“This product isn’t something that was built overnight, it’s something we’ve been putting together over a number of years. We’re hugely focused on safety and cost reductions when it comes to new product development and innovations.
This superior HDPE material, coupled with our ‘X’ design for stronger and safer mesh, ticks both boxes beautifully.”