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,”
“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.”