May 4, 2023 - Fenner Conveyors’ easy-to-assemble modular conveyors have been a hit in the food processing and agriculture industries for years – and now demand is growing in the mining sector.
On the western edge of the Sahara, where the desert sands meet the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find one end of the world’s longest conveyor belts.
A Fenner modulaveyor en route to a customer from the Dandenong manufacturing facility.
Clocking in at almost 100km and regularly transporting 2000 tonnes of phosphate rock per hour, you can even see it from space.
Suffice it to say that conveyors can be enormous, with the infrastructure and price tag to match. But bigger isn’t always better, and not everyone has the luxury of working in a space as vast as a desert.
Budget constraints, infrastructure limitations and the challenges of working in small spaces can sometimes call for a more subtle tool.
That’s why Fenner Conveyors’ modulaveyor exists. The modular conveyor is a lightweight, easy-to-assemble conveyor line. Think a high-quality Meccano set that can be customised to suit any game or player.
“It’s essentially a jigsaw puzzle that has a lot of extra add-ons that can be fitted reactively or proactively to suit the customer,” Belle Banne Conveyors regional manager Beau Weiss told Australian Mining.
The Belle Banne Conveyors brand is 100-per-cent-owned by the Fenner Conveyors company.
“Fenner’s modulaveyor is designed to accommodate situations where a traditional conveyor system might not be the most applicable answer due to certain time restraints, cost, workspace or infrastructure,” Weiss said.
Fenner first bought the design around six years ago, and the machine has been making waves in the agriculture and food processing sectors. Fenner is now expanding its range and abilities due to increasing demand in the mining sector.
Weiss recounted some of the modulaveyor’s greatest hits, such as the time a primary conveyor broke down at a mine in Tasmania.
“The mine operators needed to get material out of their pit in a really confined space on short notice,” he said.
“There was really no way to move it out because nothing could get in. So on five days’ notice, we manufactured a 65m modulaveyor that sat directly next to the existing conveyor system, and we managed to sort out their problem.”
On another project, a customer at a major port used the modulaveyor to increase its grain capacity.
“A traditional conveyor system was going to take several months’ worth of engineering, and longer again for design and manufacture,” Weiss said.
“We supplied them a couple of modulaveyors and increased their throughput by 10 per cent at essentially 80 less cost – and we did it in six weeks.”
The modulaveyors are on the smaller end of the scale, primarily for bulk materials or package handling applications such as ore extraction, sand, coal, gravel, woodchip, recycling or even just boxes, with a capacity of 200 tonnes per hour.
This is exactly what makes the product so handy in a pinch.
“It’s cheaper, it’s faster and it can be constantly changed,” Weiss said. “You can’t change the length of a traditional conveyor system, but the modulaveyor is fully customisable.”
The adjustable design means it can be assembled by just about anyone, if Fenner’s expert technicians don’t beat you to it.
“At the present time and historically, we’ve made and are making conveyors on short notice and planning projects for customers,” Weiss said. “We’ve got customers that have revenue of $200,000 a year and customers that have revenue of $2 billion a year. The modulaveyor can suit most applications.”
Key to the fast turnaround is the fact that all fabrication and design of the modulaveyor is handled in Victoria, with manufacturing done exclusively in Dandenong.
The conveyors are fully built and tested at the factory, then dissembled based on a customers’ site-handling requirements.
In other words, the modulaveyor will not be arriving on-site in 100 separate pieces.
Fenner has a 100 per cent domestic capability when it comes to conveyors, sourcing all of its mechanical and electrical components from other Fenner names and primary partners like SEW-EURODRIVE, Flexco, and many more.
And there are benefits of working within a business as enormous as the Fenner Conveyors Group.
“Because we’re such a large, integrated specialty group, there’s essentially a resource for every and any problem,” Weiss said.
“That’s one of the benefits of having a national footprint. We have so many fantastic professionals it allows us to offer an array of expertise to our customers on short notice.”
The modulaveyor captures such a niche in the market that customers keep coming back for more.
“Around 70 per cent of our modulaveyor orders are actually repeat customers,” Weiss said.
“Normally, if we sell one to a medium or larger company, they’ll tend to come back for another modulaveyor, be it for another project or site.
“We’ve actually got 11 of these things running at a particular mineral sands project in Australia.”
With its customisable design, fast arrival, ease of assembly, and backing of vast support network, the modulaveyor is providing essential machinery to the mining industry without the usual headache.
“The modulaveyor’s got a range of applications, big and small,” Weiss said. “Major industry players, right down to small artisanal miners, they’ll all get something out of it.”