Grain Handling Conveyer System Case Study

The Client

(Anonymous) An agricultural grain flow, storage and handling company operating throughout Queensland.

The Challenge

Operational with both single-silo and multi-terminal handling stations at inland and portside locations, our clients focus was the efficient and cost effective handling, storage and out-turn of large quantities of bulk grains and other agricultural food supplies. Following a referral to manufacture and supply rolled panels for the stations grain silos, Metlink was invited to provide an improved, re-engineered solution for the grain handling conveyor systems that were prone to breakdowns resulting in heavy costs of replacement parts and down-time on the line.

The Solution

Using 3D solid works drafting packages, the team at Metlink began drafting and remodeling the mechanical aspects of the conveyor system and created a virtual 3D model from the 2D architectural specification files, provided by site engineers.

It was quickly identified that the conveyor system contained a number of ‘fall areas’ that were inherently difficult to access without dissembling, cutting and re-welding the line. It was also apparent that the sections of the conveyor system known as the “head & tail sections” (where the product starts and ends) housed all the major mechanical drive parts, gearboxes and motors for the conveyor system. Traditionally designed as fully welded assemblies, these sections required major disassembly for maintenance and mechanical repairs – both a timely and costly exercise.

The Metlink design team focused on finding the solutions for fully effective on-site maintenance. Utilising Metink’s CNC manufacturing processes, the fully welded units were redesigned and reformed using a number of bolted sections similar to a “meccano set” that replaced the incumbent and impractical, fully welded assembly.

Access hatches with safety guards were designed into the new bolted panel system to assist operatives with quick and easy access for any repairs on mechanical parts or to place additional and removable polyurethane wear liners within strategic areas of the belt system to dramatically reduce deterioration on the main conveyor material. This resulted in dramatically improving on-going service and maintenance schedules whilst eliminating excessive downtime and production losses across the grain-handling conveyor lines.

Fully galvanized inside and out, the new conveyer system is made of mild steel unlike its predecessor, that was traditionally made up of heavily welded components all cut from different sized plates with varying degrees of angles. The re-engineered solution optimised the use of Metlink’s state-of-the art robotic turret punch machines, meaning that the conveyor system panels could now be precision folded with minimum welding and then bolted together to allow quick access to all the major mechanical parts.

The Result

Metlink completed the whole design process achieving economies of scale for production in greatly reducing the welding and therefore achieving significant weight reduction overall, as well as saving further costs on the use of‘Hot Dip Galvanising and fully utilizing CNC folded panel manufacturing.

Parts such as drive motors and shafts were fitted to the pre-assembled ‘Meccano-like’ manufactured sections, including correctly setting up the torque and tensions on the drive heads and motors in preparation for easy bolt assembly and belt fitting in-situ. Metlink’s qualified assembly team provided its client with additional mechanical fi t-out processes in Brisbane, eliminating some expensive onsite assembly costs.