Safety improvements made by Brett Landscaping and Building Products have been recognised at the 2016 Mineral Products Association (MPA) Health & Safety Awards, an annual event celebrating innovation and achievement across the industry.
Brett Landscaping won awards in the Occupational Health and Well Being and Engineering Initiatives categories, with a further individual award going to Rob Buston, Works Engineer at Cliffe, for his personal contribution to health and safety.
(Pictured Right: Rob Buston, Michael Chatterton, Jorge Dorrego-Ortiz, Pat Hastings and Neil Frost receiving awards at the recent MPA Event in London.)
“We are delighted to see the ongoing commitment of the business to health and safety, recognised by the MPA,” says Alastair Forbes, Managing Director, Brett Landscaping and Building Products. “Many of these ideas and recommendations came from our guys on site and, with the backing of management, they have become reality, creating a safer working environment for all.”
Occupational Health and Well Being
This was won for the automation of the production of a mixed-size patio project pack at Brett Landscaping’s Pocklington plant. The project pack consists of garden paving slabs in three different sizes, bundled together as a single product. In the past slabs of each size were produced separately, then lifted manually onto pallets in the yard in the correct numbers and sizes to make up the pack. This process involved heavy lifting and bending and the only way this could be avoided was to automate the production of these project packs.
Automating the process was no simple task as the production line was set up to only produce slabs of a single size at a time. A new type of mould box was installed that would produce all three sizes in a single process. To then retrieve the slabs from the mould entailed extensive reprogramming of the machinery and some mechanical modifications. Robot programs also had to be modified to handle the palletising of different sizes together.
“We were teaching it to do something it wasn’t designed to do, so it was quite time-consuming and involved lots of trial and error, but we got there in the end and it works brilliantly,” explains Kevin Matthews, Maintenance Team Leader at Pocklington.
“After all the work that has been done on site by the maintenance team, the project pack line is now fully automated - completely eliminating any manual handling,” says Michael Chatterton, Site Manager at Pocklington. “The guys on site appreciate what we have done and the ideas are now coming in thick and fast on the back of this project.”
This award went to Brett Landscaping and Building Products for modifications to the Penta block rumbling line at the company’s site in Poole, Dorset. Maintenance has to be carried out at least once a week on the line, which rumbles standard blocks to create an antique effect. In the past, this involved an operator climbing up a platform and onto the conveyor belt, lowering a ladder into the hopper, turning on a light, then climbing down the ladder into the drum. The team set about looking at how best to modify the area to improve accessibility.
As a result, doors have been installed in the building wall allowing safe, direct access to the drum, which has been fitted with a removable end panel. This provides clear visibility into the drum and good airflow. A cage has also been fitted across the opening for added safety, enabling an operator to see and remove any blocks that might otherwise fall on him when clearing a blockage.
The team has also created a chute that can be attached to the opening in the drum to facilitate rescue, should someone be taken ill or an incident occur in the drum.
Dale Brown, Senior Manufacturing Team Leader at Poole is delighted with the improvements. “The modifications we have made provide clear visibility all the way down the tunnel, the air and lighting are vastly improved and, should we need to rescue someone from the area, we can do it safely, quickly and efficiently.”
Rob Buston, Works Engineer for Brett Landscaping at Cliffe, won an individual award for his part in the re-design of mould carrier casings on the Reker block making machines, of which there are three at the Cliffe site.
The Reker’s machines undergo regular maintenance in rotation, including the replacement every six months of poles in the mould carrier casings that wear out. Removing these poles was a difficult task. Not only were the poles and the carriages that run on them heavy and awkward to remove, but the job had to be carried out in a limited space, adding to the difficulty and safety risk.
Rob Buston takes up the story: “We had a brain-storming session with the whole maintenance department and came up with ideas on how we could improve this situation. A couple of our guys went over to the manufacturer, Rekers, in Germany and sat down with their design engineer – the result of which was the modifications we have in place today.
“The whole mechanism is now made up of smaller components that are much easier to dismantle and manipulate and much lighter to manage. Rekers have taken our solution on board and now install it on all new block making machines as standard,” says Rob.
Brett Landscaping’s winning submissions for the MPA Health & Safety Awards were among 140 entries from 36 different organisations across the industry.
Kevin Stevens, MPA’s Health and Safety Manager said: “The sharing of best practice shows how a like-minded community are doing their utmost to think outside and beyond our present circle of ideas to improve health and safety in our industry. For, every idea gained and shared is another step towards Zero Harm.”
This year’s MPA Conference and Awards focused on inspirational and effective leadership and the critical role this plays in achieving the industry’s goal of Zero Harm. Brett Group Chairman, Bill Brett, along with CEOs and representatives from MPA’s members restated their pledge to “achieve zero harm by setting an example and leading in all aspects of safety and health”.