Friday 27th May, 2022

HDPE conveyor guards built for a sunburnt country

Diacon Australia’s HDPE conveyor guards are lightweight, safe and designed for the harsh Australian conditions.

Diacon Australia’s HDPE conveyor guards are lightweight, safe and designed for the harsh Australian conditions.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia has one of the highest levels of ultraviolet light (UV) exposure in the world.

Just like skin, these harmful rays of light can cause materials to crack and degrade. When plastic materials are used to build safety guarding for conveyor belts, this UV can drastically affect the lifespan of the products.

Brendan Refalo, Managing Director at Diacon Australia, one of the nation’s leading conveyor guarding specialists, says this is why it is critical to use products designed and manufactured in Australia, for Australia.

“Internationally, there are some companies that say their materials will last for 10 years, but these are designed to last in places like Europe, where the UV levels are much lower,” he says.

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“Often, when these get put into operation, the Australian sun will quickly degrade them, reducing their lifespan by years.

Diacon Australia is a manufacturer of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) conveyor guards, designed specifically for Australian conditions. The products were the result of two years of research and development in 2010, after the company saw a need for significant improvements in conveyor productivity, machinery guarding, work area demarcation, and fall protection.

At the time, existing steel guards were cumbersome and had a short life due to the amount of corrosion in workplace environments. To limit corrosion, steel guards must be maintained and kept painted, or replaced prematurely which is costly.

Diacon’s HDPE conveyor guards take advantage of the fact they are made of plastic, meaning they are up to 40 per cent lighter, never have to be painted and can be easily recycled at the end of their useful life. In addition, Diacon guards have UV stabilisers and guarantee a 15-year lifespan in Australian conditions, unlike any other supplier.

Refalo says Diacon was one of the first companies to design and manufacture a plastic conveyor guarding system in Australia, with a high level of user friendliness in mind.

“The system can be removed by loosening two bolts instead of removing and storing fasteners. The bolts are also captive in the guards, so they can’t be dropped or lost, a major benefit when working up high,” he says.

“The hook and hang system means it is quick and easy to remove the guards without them becoming a tripping hazard – something particularly important when removing multiple guards.

“Conveyor maintenance can often mean 10 or 12 guards need to be removed, which can be a long process when moving them down to a safe area, or an expensive one if a crane is used. Removing Diacon guards takes mere minutes as they can be stored on the nearby handrail.”

The Diacon system is made up of three components – hungry boards, mounting brackets and guards. Installation only requires three steps: attaching the mounting bracket to the troughing frame, connecting the hungry board to the bracket with the locking wedge, and hanging and locking the safety guard panel to the bracket. During onsite installation no steps require hot work, removing a key potential hazard from the process.

All of Diacon’s guards are specifically engineered to meet the requirements of AS4024.3610-2015 for general conveyors and AS4024.3611-2015 for belt conveyors for bulk materials handling. In particular, the system focuses on the suitability of material for purpose, aperture size considerations relative to reach distance, deflection criteria when the guard is under load, correct signage, and the ability to unlock through the use of a tool.

Refalo says Diacon designs and tests its guarding systems and products rigorously, using best practice manufacturing techniques and software.

“We use laser scanning equipment at a site to measure the conveyor system before designing the guarding on top of a 3D model that includes all of the potential interferences and obstacles,” he says.

“Then we can manufacturer the guards and provide a full installation that meets and exceeds Australian Standards in a full, turnkey package.”

The company continues to grow and plans to move into a new larger factory by the end of the year. The move will provide Diacon Australia with more space to design and test the guards, along with improved production capacities.