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North East fabricator engineers solutions for a zero-waste future

A major expanded polystyrene manufacturer has hit its zero-waste target, thanks to innovative technology developed by Gateshead-based Tech Projects.

Gateshead-based AMF member, Tech Projects has delivered new conveyor system solutions to Cramlington-based S&B EPS to support its environmental goals.

S&B EPS has been manufacturing expanded polystyrene for over 40 years and required a conveyor solution to enable it to reduce product waste during production. 

Responding to this need, Tech Projects designed and manufactured a conveyor system solution that would firstly improve the quality of the end product delivered and secondly provide an automated solution for handling product waste.

Tech Projects has more than 20 years’ expertise in designing, manufacturing and installing conveyor systems for a range of industries and has specialist capabilities in stainless steel fabrication.

The first conveyor delivered has enabled S&B EPS to ensure that any waste material from the blocks of polystyrene produced are automatically moved separately along the conveyor to a shredder. The shredder takes the waste material and produces pellets which are then recycled, this has removed any need for manual handling.

The conveyor is manufactured from mild steel and operates at a low level and low speed to minimise any damage to the polystyrene blocks and has a lead in edge.

The motor on the conveyor system is interchangeable with motors on other conveyors. This means that S&B EPS doesn’t need to hold as much stock, because if there was a fault with the motor, the company would be able to easily swap the motor for one from another conveyor – reducing any future downtime and keeping the 6.5m conveyor line operational.

Following the successful design and installation of the conveyor to manage recyclable waste, Tech Projects was commissioned to design and manufacture a conveyor system to handle the safe transfer of the finished polystyrene block.

S&B EPS’s previous system featured a series of rollers which moved the finished product along the line with another conveyor lifting the product onto another roller bed before the product was stored, ready for dispatch. This process often meant that chips were taken off the edges of the blocks, resulting in damaged product which could not be used.

The solution designed by Tech Projects introduced a new buffalo conveyor belt, which performs well in abrasive and high impact conditions. Tech Projects also introduced a pusher to automatically move the block forward. This prevents the block from being damaged on its corners, as it no longer jumps between the belts and the whole process is more effectively controlled. A video of the solution can be viewed here.

Darren Smith, Managing Director at S&B EPS commented: “We’re continually reviewing our working practices to help us work smarter and we are striving to meet recycling goals. Working with Tech Projects has enabled us to achieve a 100 per cent recyclable product, with any waste being captured and recycled into a new product.

“I am extremely happy with the solutions designed by Tech Projects. These have enabled us to resolve issues around the movement of our product, with less waste and product damage. We’re also experiencing additional benefits such as improved speed and efficiency through automated solutions. This has also provided safer working conditions through the removal of manual product handling.

“Over the past few years, we’ve invested heavily to expand our warehousing and manufacturing facilities to 100,000 sq ft and we look forward to working with Tech Projects in the future as we continue our investment in technology and machinery.”

Michael Donachie, General Manager at Tech Projects added: “Working with S&B EPS has enabled our team to showcase its extensive design and manufacturing capabilities and we have once again provided an innovative solution which enables a business to make significant efficiencies.

“We are also delighted that we have been able to help S&B EPS hit its zero-waste target.

“We hope to work with Darren and his team again and provide more bespoke production and automation solutions to S&B EPS.”

Tech Projects, a company owned by Go2 Engineering Group, can also draw on the complementary capabilities of a growing portfolio of engineering companies. It is therefore able to offer a wide range of engineering services to industry, including – but not limited to – non-destructive testing products and equipment, hydraulic fixtures, manual fixtures and machine tooling and 3D printing.

Tech Projects applies its specialist fabrication expertise to a range of projects including conveyor systems, material handling products and structural access solutions.

For more information on Tech Projects, view its member profile here.

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