Amid times of workforce challenges, it is imperative for companies to adopt automated scrap recycling solutions that reduce manual labor and prioritize worker safety. As labor shortages persist, preventing injuries, maximizing operator utilization and promoting uptime will be essential to efficient and profitable processing. Adding or upgrading material handling equipment is an apt place to start. With that in mind, here are three ways automated material handling solutions help reduce workforce challenges.
1. Automated material handling equipment inherently improves efficiency and increases productivity.
Any recycling process that is completed more efficiently allows for valuable resources to be used in other areas of the operation. Conveyors, for example, are proven to raise productivity by up to 60 percent, according to data from Prab. Compared with manual transfer processes, they move metal scrap more quickly and consistently to help support continuous processing. Additionally, systems that automate load-out processes not only save time and labor, but they also optimize container fill. These systems can include automatic level sensors that provide visual alerts when the container is full, integral scales that verify containers are not exceeding road weight limits and automatic notifications sent directly to the scrap haulers when a pickup is necessary.
2. Metal scrap recycling facilities that leverage automated material handling equipment improve workplace safety.
With approximately 250,000 people injured per year due to a fall in the workplace, it’s no surprise that Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations require employers to have clean, dry floors. Large piles of metal scrap coated in cutting fluids put operators at risk for trips, slips and falls. Lifting heavy items and forklift accidents are other leading causes of workplace injuries.
Dumpers, conveyors and load-out systems that automate the transfer of metal scrap are shown to improve workplace safety up to 25 percent, according to Prab data. They promote ergonomic processing, reduce forklift traffic and help keep operators a safe distance away from shredding, crushing and melting equipment.
Preconditioning metal scrap to ensure downstream equipment can process the material can also prevent hazardous working conditions. For example, augers and steel belts sometimes fail to consistently move bushy bundles of metal scrap because they are unable to grab hold of stringy wads of material. Instead, the bundles bounce around the in-feed hopper—usually until an operator manually breaks them up or forces them up the conveyor. This practice is incredibly unsafe.
Additionally, when equipment isn’t performing optimally, employees may become frustrated and dissatisfied with their job. Adding equipment that tears stringy wads of chips, turnings and bundles apart prior to the auger or steel belt conveyor will help minimize the need for operator intervention altogether.