Safe scraps: West-Trans

Andrew McKinna, West-Trans National Sales and Marketing Manager, talks to Waste Management Review about addressing rising safety standards with automated tarping systems.

One of Western Australia’s largest metal shredder operates out of the Sims Metal Management scrap metal facility in Kwinana. Running consistently throughout the day, the machine shreds for a large portion of the state’s booming scrap metal recycling industry.

At the Kwinana facility, Sims purchase scrap metal from businesses and individuals across the region. As one of the largest metal recycling companies in the world, the facility sees near constant traffic, and as such, processes at the site are taken seriously.   

As scrap metal recycling is complex, there are multiple steps required before material can reach the shredder.

The process begins with the collection and transport of raw scrap, before pre-treatment, melting, refining, forming and finishing.

Despite the aggressive nature of the shredding process, it’s the initial stages, collection and transport, that pose the biggest safety concern for operators.

According to WorkSafe Western Australia, the most common injuries in the scrap metal sector are falls from heights, being hit by moving objects and muscular stress from handling and moving material.

Additionally, truck and trailer drivers are some of the most at-risk employees in the industry.

To get in front of potential safety issues, Sims Metal Management engaged transport equipment specialists West-Trans, to supply a range of automated tarping systems in early 2019.

Automatic tarping systems enable safer operations by keeping drivers on the ground, which in turn reduces the potential for work related injuries. By cutting the time it takes to load and unload material, automating the tarping process also increases route profitability.

Andrew McKinna, West-Trans National Sales and Marketing Manager, says the company’s tarping and load covering systems were developed in direct response to the rising demand for safety optimising equipment in the scrap metal and general waste and recycling industries.

“The technology, manufactured by UK based manufactures TransCover, is purpose-built for waste transport,” Andrew says.

“The system weighs just under 200 kilograms, which is half the weight of the traditional hydraulically actuated tarps currently being used in Australia, at roughly 70 per cent the cost.”

After a consultation period, West-Trans installed six DoubleCover automated tarping systems to a series of high cube tipper trailers at the Kwinana facility.

“Sims’ main objectives were of course load security, but most importantly operator safety,”
Andrew says.

“The team at Sims were pleased with how the tarping systems operated, making particular note of how they enabled more trips per day and all-weather operations.”

Following the successful trial in Western Australia, Andrew says West Trans fitted a further two trailers for Sims in Victoria.

Sims high cube trailers are 15 metres in length, with a full height of 4.3 metres, which Andrew says presents a challenge when drivers are required to secure a load on top of the trailer.

He says the lightweight DoubleCover system eliminates this problem, as the automation removes the need to manually untie and tarp.

“Drivers operating trailers fitted with DoubleCover systems pull up before or after the weight bridge, before rolling both the driver and curb side open. The rear frame follows the front frame when rolled, open or closed,” Andrew says.

“They then climb back into the truck and enter the yard to load or unload, and on leaving the yard, the driver closes the curb side first, the driver’s side last, climbs into the cab and drives away.”

Andrew explains that the entire process is completed from the ground, just behind the cab.

“No tying is required, no walking backwards and forwards around the trailer, and no climbing,” he says.

“Not only does this enhance safety for the driver, but could soon become a necessity, as more and more operations ban pedestrians from their yards.”

Andrew says DoubleCovers are generally used as a tarping solution for trailers with a length beyond the effective use of a traditional Hycover, or a tarp tower, which is more suited to hooklift applications.

“The DoubleCover system features a simple crank handle operation, and due to the design of the gear box, requires no pressure to secure the tarp in position once closed,” he says.

For high frequency use, Andrew says a hydraulic gear box option is also available.

“The whole system sits within the existing trailer height and width, and adds around 200 millimetres to the front of the trailer at the top,” he adds.

“Several mesh or net types are available according to the loads and contents to be contained, but the standard net, which we installed on the Sims’ trailers is incredibly tough, and capable of managing abrasive material.”

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Scott Morrison visits New York MRF

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has highlighted his commitment to working collaboratively with state governments and industry to grow Australia’s recycling infrastructure capacity.

The statements were made following a tour of the Sims Metal Management materials recovery facility (MRF) in Brooklyn New York.

Commenting on the scale and scope of the MRF, Mr Morrison said he was excited to see similar technology employed in Australia.

“What we’re seeing here is truly exciting, and it is truly achievable because it is commercial, and it’s a partnership between the public and the private sectors,” Mr Morrison said.

“I mean, up to about two thirds of the revenue that is generated here doesn’t come from the contracts they have with governments, it comes from the products and the revenue streams that are generated by selling that outside of this facility.”

Mr Morrison said the facility’s success highlighted that improving the recycling sector was achievable through public and private sector partnerships.

“There are many environmental challenges that we face, and we need to take action on all of them, but this one for Australia, in a highly urbanised society, one where our waste is our responsibility, these are the commercial solutions that we need to have in place,” Mr Morrison said.

“And this will be a centrepiece of our focus, not only on our domestic environmental agenda, but on our international environmental agenda.”

Sims Metal Management CEO Alistair Field said it was important that contractual arrangements with city governments were mutually beneficial.

“We work very closely with New York City, and in the times that we have ebbs and flows and commodity cycles, there has to be an understanding of how our business can manage through those cycles,” Mr Field said.

“We have seen instances here in the US and throughout the world where that has not worked. So that’s a really key arrangement and our commercial arrangement with business and government.”

When asked by media why similar technology wasn’t being implemented in Australia, Mr Morrison said the scale of operations was challenging.

The Prime Minister added that he would work closely with state governments and the Commonwealth to build that scale.

“The discussion I had with the states at the last meeting of COAG was a very enthusiastic one. I think there’s a real willingness to identify the things that can facilitate this sort of commercial activity,” Mr Morrison said.

“One of the things we are looking at is the procurement practices of our road building agencies, to ensure that they are incorporating recycled asphalt into their procurement in the tens of billions of dollars that we are spending on roads.”

Mr Morrison said higher energy costs in Australia were also a challenge, however noted the potential inherent in waste to energy processes.

“One of the exciting things about waste management is that it can generate its own energy, and plants like this can potentially become fully energy self-sufficient, through recycling waste and converting it through gasification and other processes into energy,” Mr Morrison said.

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Sims Metal Management to open Australian waste-to-energy plant

Sims Metal Management will expand into the waste-to-energy market, with plans to install and operate seven plants over the next 10 years, according to an ASX report.

The metals and recycling company will leverage expertise and best practices from joint venture partner LMS Energy, a leading landfill energy company in Australia, and later expand that business model into other parts of the world.

Sims Metal Management Group CEO Alistair Field told investors the company is strongly positioned to become a global leader in the circular economy and act as responsible stewards for the environment.

Mr Field said the company plans to acquire or build a minimum of 50 Megawatts of sites within the next six years.

To generate electricity the company will capture the energy available in non-metallic residue produced during the metal shredding process.

Mr Field addressed opportunities for growth within the company’s existing metals and e-recycling businesses, as well as plans to establish new businesses to reduce waste and produce renewable energy.

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ACOR call for $150M into regional recycling

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) is urging the federal government to grow regional Australia’s recycling industry with a one-off investment of $150 million.

The investment would go towards better sorting, increased reprocessing, community education and government procurement of recycled content product.

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ACOR Chief Executive Officer Peter Shmigel said recycling has a good base in regional Australia, which can be grown for more jobs and economic value in country areas.

“It’s one of the readily accessible ways to diversify regional economies and make them more resilient against droughts and global market forces,” he said.

“Our industry already has a good place in the bush including lube oil recycling, battery recycling, tyre recycling, industrial plastics recycling and consumer packaging recycling in country areas.”

Mr Shmigel said an independent report from MRA Consulting showed investment in local recycling could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can use waste plastics and glass that can’t go back into bottles as part of asphalt in government-funded road projects,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Roads are the biggest asset in country areas and they can be recycled content rather than virgin materials at competitive cost and quality – if governments positively procure for that,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said using recycled content materials in the Snowy 2.0 scheme alone would massively contribute to more jobs and deliver on the community’s recycling expectations.

ACOR members with operations in regional areas include Southern Oil Refinery, Kurrajong Recycling, Re-Group, Visy, Envirostream, Tomra, SIMS Metal Management, ResourceCo, O-I and Downer Group.

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