Mike Gregson, Corporate Account Manager at ERIKS, discusses the increasingly important role of manufacturers and the OEM contractor in designing and adapting systems and solutions that meet the changing needs of the sector.
As the number of landfill sites continues to fall, the waste and recycling sector is changing beyond recognition. There remains however a number of fundamental principles around the transfer and transportation of waste, regardless of whether it’s an energy from waste plant, a recycling facility or landfill.
In 2010, the UK had in the region of 140 landfill sites throughout the UK but by the end of the decade, numbers are expected to dwindle to a third of that. While there a number of factors at play, perhaps one of the biggest is the reduction in business waste and the effect that landfill taxes have had on business.
Further reductions to waste volumes are also expected as a result of the food waste recycling plan that was announced in July, with a target to reduce 10 million tonnes of annual food waste. As a result of the action plan, it is hoped that further economic benefits can be realised via new revenue streams for the recycling industry, and the potential for energy to be generated from food and green waste, via anaerobic digestion plants.
Striving to do more with less, has become a widely used mantra throughout business as well as in the consumer world, as a means of controlling costs and driving efficiencies. For many businesses, the hike in landfill taxes nearly 12 fold per tonne in just under ten years, has effectively become the stick to engender change and it’s certainly worked. In the manufacturing world the concept is also growing, known collectively as ephemeralisation – or, in other words advancements in technology that enable us to do more with less.
In The Future, There Will Still Be Waste
It is this theme that continues to run through the development of automation technologies within our homes, businesses and industry, and the waste and recycling sector is no different. While the future of the waste and recycling sector is not entirely clear, what is certain is that there will always be some form of waste stream that requires disposal, removal and conveyance, and businesses continually striving to improve efficiencies and costs. From specialist conveyors, to sorting and handling equipment, the role of OEM manufacturers and the supply chain has never been so important – ensuring businesses maintain productivity and efficiency, at all times.
To ensure the continued day-to-day running of equipment and to maintain productivity, continued monitoring and maintenance is crucial. From vibration analysis to thermal imaging for the detection of overheating, stresses and leaks, there are numerous processes and maintenance tactics that businesses can take either as part of a regular maintenance programme, or a continual monitoring process.
It pays to work with the experts and truly understand the data and the components in place in order to offer the best possible solution in the event of breakdown or, as part of a preventative maintenance programme. As operations alter it’s also worth considering the demands on equipment and how these might affect the productivity of plant. Extra load or a different load may demand more advanced drive and belt solutions for example and seemingly simply repairs may in fact be covering larger problems.
Automation can offer a welcome support in this aspect. Sensor technology, connected to an end-users PLC or telemetry system, enables maintenance teams to gain remote access to vital monitoring data via a secure transparent communication channel. The cloud-based services such as the ERIKS Asset Guard Plus takes continual readings of equipment performance; flags any incidents that occur and identifies any key trends. With such a detailed overview of key mechanical functions, allow for any minor faults to be identified and dealt with as soon as they arise, instead of being left unchecked.
Another increasingly popular concept is Root Cause Analysis is another maintenance programme designed to quite literally get to the root of a problem, rather than simply repairing or replacing what seems to be the troublesome component. Implementation of programmes like this can be complex and time consuming but in the long term can help to reduce maintenance costs thanks to the ability to tackle the root cause. With the true culprit identified, future problems can be prevented either through re-engineering, or by changing the maintenance approach or frequency entirely.
Regardless of the changes afoot throughout the waste and recycling sector, some aspects will not change and it pays to be prepared, to look to the future and ultimately to find processes and partners that can help top take the pressure off the day-to-day running of the site, and keep operations and applications running smoothly. Routine maintenance is an incredibly important part of the mix, and should be prioritised, ensuring businesses remain prepared no what lays ahead.