Regardless of the site you’re working on, conveyors could be a belting idea. Construction Plant News Editor, Lee Jones talks to Coveya about the benefits of its solutions
The Covid-19 crisis has seen new ways of working unceremoniously thrust upon us, and it is a mindset that the construction industry will need to maintain in the months and years ahead. When it comes to materials handling, the concept of conveyors has already gained a hold across a whole range of muck shifting tasks, and their benefits are now finding an ever wider and more receptive audience. Removing the necessity for wheeled plant, requiring fewer boots on the ground, or freeing up your workforce for more productive and skilled tasks, are just some of the gains that can be accrued, whilst they are versatile enough to be deployed in any number of sectors.
“We were already seeing the emergence of a construction industry that was more willing to embrace innovation,” explains Coveya’s Ron Farr, “and the pandemic will accelerate that process. Contractors are always looking for a competitive edge, and to be seen to be trying new things is one way to prove to clients that you are actively endeavouring to shorten build programmes, and improve productivity levels.”
Coveya has more than 30 years of experience in the manufacture, design and installation of these systems. In its early days, the Bristol-based firm would dig out a niche in basement construction on existing properties, particularly in London, and since then its modular units have been carrying all before them. “From basements we moved into larger top down excavations,” continues Ron, “where the superstructure is being built at the same time as the underground levels. Demolition would prove profitable for us as well, especially where a listed façade needs to remain intact, and the building is brought down from within. Under those conditions a conveyor is always a much easier proposition for the removal of waste.”
Whilst, initial successes would see Coveya expand its reach on restricted sites, or where conventional plant cannot physically venture, the same principle of moving construction spoils more profitably can be translated to virtually any site. If you’re digging the footings for an extension, for example, then a conveyor can transfer material to the front of the property much quicker than a dumper. “This is where we’ve seen real growth,” Ron enthuses, “in more mainstream construction applications, and we’re also now seeing a move towards bringing materials, such as sand, back into site. In the rail industry we’re seeing some of our conveyors being used to move ballast up an embankment, for instance.”
Whether it’s moving in or out, one factor that shouldn’t be underestimated is safety. A conveyor liberates site workers from potentially punishing physical labour and, at the same time, removes more moving plant from the equation. With the visibility issues associated with forward tipping site dumpers making them a problematic piece of equipment for many building firms, this is certainly not an inconsequential consideration.
So what, then, of the current Coveya range and where is it being deployed? At the smallest end of the scale, the Invader 45 is a robust aluminium framed portable unit – in a choice of either a 4 or 6m length – which can shift up to 50 tonnes per hour. It can be set up very quickly straight from unloading from a vehicle, and the optional wheeled undercarriage means it can be easily moved around site.
The Coveya EasiKit brand encompasses a whole range of modular solutions that can be bolted together to achieve the length a contractor requires. At just 300mm, the EasiKit 300 has the narrowest belt width in the portfolio, and is ideal for tight spaces, but can still accommodate up to 20 tonnes an hour, even at steep inclines. Moving through the options this unit is joined by a 450, 600, 900, 1,200 and 1,500mm machine, with the last of these, moving up to 110 tonnes per hour at a distance of up to 40m.
The newest solution to enter the family is the GP750, a 750mm wide conveyor, with a heavy-duty design that is designed specifically for the demolition sector, whilst the biggest beast in terms of appetite for material is the HC1000 Monstaveya, which will transport up to 500 tonnes per hour. There’s also a range of bulk feed hoppers and wheeled or tracked stockpilers available.
Coveya will either sell equipment direct to end users, distributors and plant hire companies across the UK and worldwide, or it is available for hire, but the service doesn’t end there, as Ron explains. “Site surveys are routine for us, and we will then prepare a proposal of how our conveyors can help, including drawings of how the units will fit within a project. We will then deliver it to site, install it, provide operators with the necessary instruction and, when the hire period comes to an end, dismantle the system and take it away.”
With the coronavirus still amongst us, site managers have had to utilise all of their problem-solving skills to keep jobs on track, but Coveya can here again help. Where staffing levels have been reduced a conveyor can fill the void, whilst reducing manual handling can facilitate social distancing.
“There has previously been a perception that conveyors should be deployed where access is an issue,” but that is no longer the case, argues Ron. “Whether it’s construction, demolition, waste or rail, we can provide a solution wherever spoil need to be removed and wheeled plant is currently operating. For us, it’s a question of educating contractors that the alternative can be vastly more efficient.”